21 Pros and Cons of Living in Delaware

An illustration of the Delaware flag drawn onto timber boards. It shows two men in colonial outfits, a colonial ship, and a cow

If you’re reading this, you’re probably planning your next big move with Delaware as one of your preferred destinations. If you don’t know much about this great state, dozens of questions are likely racing through your mind right now.

Is Delaware a safe place to live? What do the laws sound like? How’s the real estate market? What employment opportunities are available? Will the cost of living take a huge toll on your income? Luckily, this is the right place to find answers to these questions and more.

In this comprehensive guide, we’ll take a close look at the 21 pros and cons of living in Delaware. Keep reading to explore the most significant factors you should know before waving goodbye to your current home.

If you’re all set, let’s get started!

A Brief History of Delaware aka the First State

Before we dive into the pros and cons of living in Delaware, let’s run through a brief but necessary background of what is America’s second-smallest state. As with any other significant life decision, learning is a crucial part of the journey.

Because it was the first State to ratify the US Constitution in 1787, Delaware rightfully gained the title “First State.” The First State is surprisingly small too, and the maestros of nick-naming were quick to give it the title “Small Wonder.”

The entire state is no more than 2,490 square miles, which makes it the second-smallest by landmass in the whole country. But don’t let its tiny size fool you. Small Wonder is ranked eighth in terms of the most densely populated states.

You might also have heard someone referring to Delaware by the nickname: “Diamond State.” Interestingly enough, this has absolutely nothing to do with precious gemstones. Rather, Delaware’s strategic location on the Eastern Seaboard is what inspired one Thomas Jefferson to refer to the state as a jewel among other states.

The Diamond State is sometimes called the “Blue Hen State.” That’s owing to the fact that it’s home to a unique breed of blue chickens but whose eggs are incredibly white. In fact, the blue chicken is not only the state bird but also one of the official mascots of the University of Delaware.

Now that you have a rough idea of what sets Delaware apart from the other 49 states, let’s explore what it’s like to live in the First State.

21 Pros and Cons of Living in Blue Hen State

Just like any other state, Delaware has its fair share of upsides and downsides. So, before boxing up all your belongings, let us weigh the 21 pros and cons of living in Delaware. 

The Pros

After scouring dozens of online forums and speaking to several residents, we managed to find out what the upsides of living in Delaware are.

Here are the advantages of living in the Blue Hen State:

# 1: Awesome Tax Benefits

Delaware is one of only four states that do not impose a sales tax. That’s one thing to smile about as it implies the cost on price tags is exactly what you should be paying. However, it doesn’t just stop at that.

The Diamond State has one of the lowest real estate taxes countrywide. What’s more, there’s the exemption of Social Security benefits. Pensioners aged 60+ can happily exempt $ 12.5k of their retirement income and pensions from state taxes.

Finally, Delaware charges no inheritance or personal property taxes, although this might be subject to change.

# 2: Appealing State Attractions

A photo of riverfront Wilmington at night. It shows a car driving through a street covered with lights and decorations

The First State has a rich history and heritage that dates back at least four centuries. It is home to various historical landmarks, botanical gardens, lovely estate homes, and stunning 17th Century Dutch architecture.

Delaware is home to a long list of stunning travel destinations such as Henlopen State Park, Delaware Seashore State Park, The Brandywine River Museum, and the legendary Winterthur Museum.

In case you’re inclined to art, The Delaware Art Museum is a must-see. Jazz buffs, on the other hand, know just why The Clifford Brown Jazz Festival is the largest on the whole East Coast.

# 3: Awesome Retirement Places

Besides the huge financial benefits of living there, including tax exemptions on IRA’s and 401 (K) plans, Small Wonder has some of the best healthcare facilities in the US (we’ll explain later).

Amazing healthcare coupled with fun beach activities that promote an active lifestyle makes Delaware a small idyllic haven for empty nesters and retirees. What’s more, if you’re a senior and have loads of free time, there’s the Higher Education for Senior Citizens program at Blue Chicken State University (Delaware State University).

# 4: Appealing Suburban Neighborhoods

Delaware is home to numerous charming neighborhood suburbs including small communities such as Selbyville and Dublin Hill. At the same time, there are also large towns like Dover and Wilmington. The result is a broad array of choices when it comes to comfortable living areas.

# 5: Proximity to Major Metropolis

The Diamond State is particularly attractive to people who enjoy living in close proximity to urban centers on the East Coast. Baltimore, D.C., and Philadelphia are all within hairsbreadth. Plus, Newark and New York City are open for day excursions.

Delaware residents need only take a short drive or hop on a train to enjoy a rich collection of artistic and cultural events outside the state.

# 6: Diverse Educational Opportunities

A picture of the SUNY System Administration Building in Delaware. It is a huge building in the gothic architectural style. In the foreground is several bright green trees and hedges

Whether it’s a preschooler or a jumpy kid you’re ready to send off to college, Delaware offers an impressive collection of quality private and public learning institutions.

# 7: Small-town Culture and Friendly Locals

Are you a fan of the small-town vibe? Do you enjoy a melting-pot-style cultural blend? Full-time Delawareans know the thrill of the vibrant community fairs and festivals that make up a big part of the local culture.

Residents also get to enjoy frequent wine-tasting tours and stunningly colorful artistic events such as:

  • The Clifford Brown Jazz Festival
  • St. Anthony’s Italian Festival (Wilmington)
  • Wilmington’s Art Loop

On top of these, Delaware residents are pretty liberal with the majority taking remarkably progressive stances when it comes to social matters such as appreciating the LGBTQ community.

# 8: Great Housing Market

Space is at a premium in Diamond State. Regardless, housing is reasonably affordable. You’re looking at an average home value below $210,000 and a median value below $ 240,000. Rentals are likely to go below $ 1,000 in Dover, Rehoboth Beach, and Wilmington. A single-family home could set you back approximately $1,400 monthly.

# 9: Gorgeous Beaches and Wonderful Seaside Retreats

The state of Delaware features a lovely collection of beachside getaways. Since it’s pretty difficult to single out the best one, residents often hop from one onto the next – from South Bethany, through Lewes, and up to Fenwick Island.

# 10: Quality Healthcare

This Mid-Atlantic state offers an excellent medical infrastructure that is perhaps unrivaled elsewhere. Dover and Wilmington are the most notable mentions and are graced with top-rated healthcare facilities.

# 11: Numerous Career Opportunities

Despite its tiny size, Small Wonder is home to nearly half of the Fortune 500 companies. Consequently, there are plenty of job opportunities for the right candidates.

That includes plumbers, electricians, HVAC technicians, financial analysts, loan processors, industrial mechanics, software developers, home health care aides, registered nurses, personal care assistants, doctors, surgeons, and so on.

# 12: Reasonable Living Costs

Food and groceries are reasonably priced but may cost slightly higher than the national average. To be more specific, that’s about 1.9 – 3.5% higher. However, utilities won’t take up much of your budget. Overall transportation costs come in below the national average by about 4 – 14 %.

# 13: Sunny Side of Blue Hen State

Among the features of Delaware that residents are most proud of are their state’s sunrises and sunsets. The seaside offers breathtaking views every morning and evening.

# 14: Vibrant Night Life

A photo of a group of people sitting at a table at an outdoor seafood restaurant in Delaware. They are all smiling and enjoying their drinks. In the background you can see several yachts docked

Across the state’s major urban areas, sunset kick starts a bustling nightlife complete with all kinds of bars, clubs, and restaurants. Delaware foodies can experience various delicious fare and masterfully crafted drinks at Dewey Beach, Rehoboth, Wilmington, among countless other entertainment spots.

But What Are the Cons of Living in Delaware?

While you might be seeking a new lovely home, Delaware is far from a perfect utopia. Small Wonder has huge benefits but it also has its own fair share of challenges that are definitely worth examining.

Before deciding whether or not Delaware is your next home, you need to be on the lookout for the following potential drawbacks:

# 1: You’ll Have to Put Up with Massive Crowds

The Delaware population falls just slightly shy of a million residents all crammed inside the smallest state in the US. Unfortunately, the crowds and congestion are quite overwhelming. As such, you might have to contend with large crowds more often than not.

# 2: Soul-Crushing Traffic and Reckless Drivers

Blue Hen State isn’t famed for its great road statistics. Residents have to deal with frustrating road snarl-ups almost on a daily basis. In fact, Delaware is ranked the ninth-worst in careless driving.

# 3: A Few Heart-wrenching Crimes

Although the First State is hardly a hotbed of crime, it could use some improvement. Wilmington once ranked the top in cases of violent crimes, including sex offenses.

# 4: Too Much Urbanization

A blurry photograph showing a busy street filled with pedestrians and shops, representing urbanisation

This tiny state has a strip mall nearly everywhere you look. Although we can’t frown at the convenience, some may view this excessive urbanization as a major downside of Small Wonder

# 5: Poorly Rated Public Schools

While Delaware has numerous star-rated private schools, there’s rising concern that some public-school resources (in grades K through 12) may not keep pace with the demands of the swelling population.

# 6: Limited Public Transportation Means

Everyone in Delaware seems to drive themselves. As you might guess, this makes for some crazy traffic. Catching international flights is also quite a hassle. You need to get outside the state to catch a flight to other parts of the country or elsewhere in the world.

# 7: Hurricane Hazard

Because of its coastal location, Delaware is highly susceptible to hurricanes. In 1962, a bad gale destroyed the seafront of Rehoboth. However, Delaware has escaped major weather-related storm catastrophes for more than 100 years.

In 2012, residents were horrified when Superstorm Sandy turned left unexpectedly and began approaching Delaware. Luckily, the storm missed by a whisker. But according to PrepareDE, the First State doesn’t have to suffer a direct hit to feel the harshest effects of nearby hurricanes and storms.

Small Wonder’s Unique Laws and Fun Facts

Before we wrap it up completely, we thought we should take a sneak peek at some curious laws and facts about Delaware:

6 Fun Facts About Delaware

# 1: It Has the Fewest Counties

Have you ever wondered which state has the fewest counties on record? Well, look no further. Delaware has only three, namely Kent, New Castle, and Sussex.

# 2: It’s Full of Bugs

A photo of a ladybug beetle sitting on a green leaf. The bug is very cute and has a bright red shell with black dots

Contrary to what you might be thinking, we’re actually talking of adorable ladybugs. Blue Hen State has the ladybug as one of its official state symbols which was adopted in 1974.

# 3: It’s Wide but Small

Delaware is about 35 miles across at its broadest part.

# 4: Contagious Crabbing

Thanks to Delaware’s 30 miles of coastline, one of the most prized delicacies among Delaware residents is crab. It’s therefore not uncommon to find locals with entire garages stuffed with crabbing gear.

# 5: Out of League Sports Only

Unfortunately for sports buffs, Delaware is among just a handful of states that aren’t home to any major league sports. Perhaps it’s because residents dedicate a huge chunk of their lives to other fun activities such as crabbing!

# 6: Mischief Night

This yearly spectacle form’s a key part of the state’s local culture. In some sense, the First State’s locals don’t actually miss out on sports entirely thanks to Mischief Night. On one night each year, the Diamond State’s locals are known to host their own annual World Championships. It’s dubbed the “Punkin Chunkin” contest.

And in case you’re wondering what it’s all about, it’s merely a friendly pumpkin launching competition. Excited residents assemble in various teams and compete to see who can hurl seasonal squash the furthest. 

4 Strange Laws in Delaware

This is perhaps the most head-scratching part of our tour, as some of the laws in Delaware are quite different from what you might be used to. However, if you’re considering calling the First State home any time in the future, you need to get familiarized with some of its more unusual laws.

Here’s a quick look at the most striking laws followed by Blue Hen State residents:

# 1: If you get married on a dare, you’re legally entitled to an annulment

Whoever thought of this must’ve saved countless folks from regrets the morning after, or the life-long torture of drowning in alimony!

# 2: The beach or any nearby bathrooms aren’t changing rooms

Sadly, this unfortunate piece of legislation means that beach goers have to stick around a bit longer than usual for their clothes to dry. The other alternative is to return home in a drenched swimsuit that’s also covered in white sand.

# 3: Pretending to be asleep on the benches of Rehoboth Beach’s boardwalk is illegal

That’s right. Delaware maintains zero tolerance for everything but a genuine nap. This is arguably the most difficult to comprehend among all the peculiar laws. However, the law is the law.

# 4: You can’t pay at a pawn shop using prosthetic limbs

Wait, did this come as an amendment when people complained that they’re charging an arm and a leg? No idea.

Wrapping Up

The ball is now in your court. If you have made it this far, the ultimate decision on whether or not to become a resident of Delaware rests in squarely your hands.

On one hand, the great state of Delaware has countless amazing experiences in store for you. At the same time, however, living in Small Wonder does present its fair share of challenges. It’s small yet it runs replete with countless wonderful opportunities.

So, before you pack your bags and boxes, you might want to consider the 21 pros and cons of living in Delaware. This ultimate guide should assist you to decide whether the Diamond State is the right home for you and your loved ones.

It’s also vital to fully understand the history of Delaware and why it stands out among the other 49 states. Finally, before deciding to move, you need to get familiar with some of the local laws that may be different from your current state’s.

Quite frankly, our brief insider’s guide doesn’t really exhaust everything you should know before deciding whether or not to move to Delaware. Can you think of anything we might have left out? If so, please do not hesitate to let us know in the comments.  

That being said, I hope you’ve gained some useful insights into all that the Blue Hen State has to offer and that this article will help you make the right call.