Welcome to Wilmington – Delaware's largest city, situated at the confluence of the Christina River and Brandywine Creek. Both waterways weave their way through the city, creating a picturesque landscape. But Wilmington has much more to offer than beauty alone. It's also a key East Coast hub, perfectly situated for easy travel to major cities such as Philadelphia, Baltimore, New York City and Washington DC.

Despite Wilmington's growing population of 71,000, it retains a small-town, community-oriented feel. The city has been lauded as one of the happiest in the US, with its easy walkability, revitalised downtown area, and abundance of parks considered major assets. The inclusive community, relative affordability and overall wellbeing of residents also contribute to Wilmington's high happiness rating.

Cost of living in Wilmington

Wilmington offers a more affordable lifestyle compared to nearby Philadelphia. Living costs in Philadelphia are 21 percent higher, making Wilmington a more attractive option for many. Homes in Wilmington are notably cheaper, being 19 percent less expensive than both the national and state average.

Wilmington residents benefit from utilities that are 12 percent more affordable than the national average. However, grocery costs are 11 percent higher, healthcare costs are 16 percent higher, and transport costs like bus fares and gas prices are 12 percent higher than the national average.

The median household income in Wilmington is 32 percent lower than the state average, and individual incomes are 8 percent less than the state average. Delaware’s progressive state income tax system impacts disposable income, so it’s crucial to understand how this might affect your finances when considering a move.

Getting around in Wilmington

Wilmington is a fairly small city, but it's easy to get around. It's situated in a prime position – right on the I-95 – making it a breeze to hop on and head to a nearby city or town. Philadelphia is just 30 minutes away, and you can reach Baltimore in under an hour. 

Traffic is fairly intense in Wilmington during peak times, though the average commute time of 23 minutes is still slightly below the national average of 26 minutes. Most people in Wilmington use driving as their main form of transport. 

Wilmington's main form of public transport is the DART First State bus service. For trips further afield, trains run by Amtrak and SEPTA Regional Rail are ideal. Wilmington is located halfway between New York City and Washington, DC, with regular train services to and from both cities.

Wilmington is becoming increasingly friendly for cyclists and pedestrians. The downtown area is easily walkable, and many of the city's residents enjoy getting around by foot during the day. Additionally, ongoing infrastructure investments are being made, with a bike-share programme a future possibility.

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Healthcare in Wilmington

Wilmington offers a variety of excellent healthcare facilities. The Wilmington VA Medical Center provides primary care, speciality health services, and a community living centre. Saint Francis Healthcare offers emergency care, cancer treatment, cardiology, women’s health, and family medicine. ChristianaCare is known for its comprehensive child and adolescent psychiatry services, while Select Specialty Hospital specialises in critical illness recovery. These facilities offer a wide range of treatments, making it unnecessary for most residents to travel to a larger city for healthcare needs.

Over 90 percent of Wilmington residents have some form of health insurance, and about 40 percent are covered by their employers. Health insurance is vital to access the top-notch healthcare available in the city. Read more about Understanding Health Insurance in the USA.

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Schools in Wilmington

Wilmington is home to several public school districts: the Red Clay Consolidated School District, the Christina School District, and the Brandywine School District, serving over 38,000 students in 70 schools. For vocational education, the New Castle County Vocational-Technical School District serves over 4,600 students across four schools, focusing on Grades 9 to 12.

In addition to public schools, Wilmington boasts over a dozen private high schools, with more than 5,000 students in attendance. Top-ranked institutions include Tower Hill School, Salesianum School, St. Elizabeth School, The Tatnall School, Wilmington Friends School, Padua Academy, and Saint Mark’s High School.

Charter schools in Wilmington offer alternative educational options, including The Charter School of Wilmington, focusing on a STEM curriculum, and The Delaware Military Academy, which is known for its disciplined environment and strong educational outcomes.

While there are no specific international schools in Wilmington, nearby Philadelphia offers several schools with international curricula. For more information, see our guide to Education and Schools in Philadelphia.

Weather in Wilmington

Located at the confluence of the Christina River and Brandywine Creek, which flow into the Delaware River, Wilmington lies between the Mid-Atlantic Piedmont Plateau and the Atlantic Coastal Plain. This varied topography, featuring hilly and flat areas, contributes to a humid subtropical climate with four seasons.

Wilmington's summers are hot and humid, with July temperatures averaging around 77°F (25°C). Frequent thunderstorms occur during this season. Winters are cool to cold, with January averages around 32°F (0°C) and snowfall averaging 20 inches (510mm) annually. Precipitation is evenly distributed throughout the year, with an annual average of 45 inches (1,151mm).

Wilmington is susceptible to natural disasters like tropical cyclones and hurricanes. The city has experienced significant storms, including heavy rainfall, flooding and occasional tornadoes.

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Working in Wilmington

Nicknamed the 'Corporate Capital of America', Wilmington is a great choice for those looking to climb the career ladder. The city offers a lower cost of doing business than the national average, which attracts many companies, as does its useful position as a hub between major East Coast cities. 

Wilmington is a centre for financial services and FinTech, hosting industry giants like Chase, Capital One, Barclays and Bank of America. The healthcare industry has also grown substantially. The professional, scientific and technical services sector, including legal, architectural, and engineering services, as well as scientific research and development, is one of the fastest-growing in Wilmington. Due to its central location and proximity to the Port of Wilmington, the city's construction, logistics and port operations are also key industries.

Remote work is popular among Wilmington residents, with 36 percent of job applications aimed at remote positions. While many residents work locally, many commute to nearby cities like Philadelphia.

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Accommodation in Wilmington

Wilmington offers a range of property rentals to suit different preferences and budgets. You can find various houses for rent, from luxury to affordable options. Online platforms like Zumper and Apartments.com are useful resources.

Wilmington boasts a variety of unique neighbourhoods, each with its distinct charm. The Riverfront area, a revitalised former industrial zone, features attractions like the Riverwalk, Frawley Stadium, and Shipyard Shops. Trinity Vicinity, a historic neighbourhood of brick townhouses and carriage homes, offers a strong community feel and is named after the Gothic Revival Trinity Episcopal Church.

Trolley Square is one of the most popular neighbourhoods, known for its vibrant nightlife, restaurants and bars and the Delaware Art Museum. It has an urban, walkable atmosphere and is among the more expensive areas. Brandywine Hills is an affluent neighbourhood with homes built from the 1930s. The Ninth Ward, historically a working-class area, became integrated in the 1960s and remains a stable community. Other notable neighbourhoods include Baynard Village, Brandywine Village, Eastlawn, and Eastlake.

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Lifestyle in Wilmington

Wilmington boasts a vibrant arts and cultural scene, and nature lovers will appreciate its lush parks and gardens. The Riverfront area is a bustling hub of activity along the Christina River. Wilmington’s historic districts, like Rodney Square, showcase architectural gems from the City Beautiful movement of the early 20th century.

Shopping in Wilmington is a delight, thanks to Delaware’s tax-free shopping. Christiana Mall, located south of Wilmington, features over 150 shops, including Nordstrom. Concord Mall, north of the city, offers over 90 shops, such as Macy’s and Best Buy. Boutique shopping in downtown Wilmington and the Brandywine Valley region presents locally produced gifts, high-end fashion, and unique arts and crafts.

The dining scene in Wilmington is diverse, with farm-to-table restaurants, seafood from the Delaware shore, and globally influenced cuisine along Union Street. Fine dining options are available along Market Street and in Historic New Castle.

The Hagley Museum and Library spans 235 acres along the Brandywine River, featuring stone ruins and restored buildings from the original DuPont black powder works. The Nemours Estate, a 77-room mansion modelled after an 18th-century French château, showcases immaculate fountains and formal gardens. The Delaware Art Museum is renowned for its British Pre-Raphaelite collection, while the Delaware History Museum and Winterthur Museum offer insights into the state’s past and American decorative arts.

For family-friendly activities, the Delaware Children’s Museum provides interactive science and nature exhibits, and the Brandywine Zoo features animals like red pandas and bald eagles. The Can-Do Playground is a fully accessible playground designed for children of all abilities.

Wilmington hosts a variety of annual events and festivals. The Wilmington Street Food Festival in May features top food trucks and live music. The Ladybug Music Festival, also in May, celebrates women in music. St. Anthony’s Italian Festival in June offers Italian food and culture, while the Holy Trinity Greek Festival presents Greek food and dance. The Delaware State Fair in July includes amusement rides, concerts and agricultural exhibits.

For nightlife options, Trolley Square and Downtown Wilmington feature a variety of bars, lounges, and dining options. Jazz enthusiasts can enjoy live music at various venues, while upscale lounges provide intimate experiences. Popular live music spots and casual pubs offer lively and relaxed atmospheres. Craft cocktail bars with speakeasy vibes and rooftop bars in boutique hotels provide elegant nightlife options.

Wilmington offers many popular sports and recreational activities. Baseball enthusiasts support the Wilmington Blue Rocks at Daniel S. Frawley Stadium, and basketball fans cheer for the Delaware Blue Coats at the Chase Fieldhouse. The city also has teams like the Delaware Black Foxes in rugby and the First State Midnight Riders in soccer.

Wilmington has parks like Brandywine Park, Rockford Park, and H. Fletcher Brown Park providing hiking, picnicking, and scenic views. Alapocas Run State Park features Delaware’s only natural rock-climbing wall, and Fox Point State Park offers fishing and beautiful views along the Delaware River.

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