So you’re considering a move to Delaware, but your knowledge of the state is as nonexistent as most other Americans. Don’t worry, friend, you've come to the right place. For both your curiosity and your convenience, we've compiled an informative, though goofy at times, little guide to all things Delaware. It includes what we think are some of the most important factors to take into consideration before a cross-country relocation—like trivia and weird facts and stuff.
No matter where you choose to move in Delaware, make sure you're covered with an affordable home insurance policy.
The First State in a Nutshell
First of all, Delaware was the earliest states to ratify the U.S. Constitution in the year 1787—earning itself the nickname The First State and a reputation as being a strong trend setter. Being the second-smallest state by landmass in the country at only 2,490 square miles, it also easily earned another nickname, The Small Wonder.
But good news: The nicknames don’t stop there. The title The Diamond State was given to Delaware because Thomas Jefferson called the land a "jewel" among the other states due to its "strategic location on the Eastern Seaboard," according to delaware.gov.
But why stop there? It's also referred to as The Blue Hen State because of its unique blue chicken breed (though the eggs aren’t blue, we checked), which is both the state bird and the official mascot of the University of Delaware.
Despite it’s teeny size, Delaware has a population of about 971,180. And because it packs a high population in such a small space, Delaware ranks as the sixth-densest state by population. Basically, what it lacks in size, it makes up for in people who are never far away.
Delaware Job Market
Delawareans are pretty much packed in like sardines. So are there even enough jobs for everyone? Let's dive in and take a closer look at the job market.
The First State's current minimum wage is $10.50/hour, which is just over three dollars higher than the Federal minimum, according to minimum-wage.org. The state's unemployment rate sits at 4.5%, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, which is slightly higher than the national average.
Some of the fastest-growing careers in the state are as home health aides, business analysts, electricians, HVAC technicians, software developers, carpenters, plumbers and registered nurse practitioners.
As for the highest-paying jobs, we’re talking surgeons, OB/GYNs, dentists, pediatricians, sales managers and psychiatrists. So while jobs in the medical field are currently ranking as the highest paid, it seems that plenty of blue-collar jobs are in increasing demand.
Where to Live in Delaware
Unless you plan on sleeping in the cramped back seat of your car, odds are that you'll be looking for a place to live when you move. Don’t let the population density scare you—it’s time to talk about Delaware’s great housing market.
To begin, the current median home value in Delaware is $349,500. Sale prices of homes are at $295,000 on average. Are you a renter instead? Well, current house rental averages $1,647/month.
Don’t worry, we didn't forget about apartments. Rental costs vary throughout the state and depend entirely on the kind of setting you’re looking for. When it comes to the average 1-bedroom apartment, it’ll cost $1,392/month in Wilmington, $1255/month in the state capital of Dover, and $775/month in Milford.
There’s so much new construction going on in The Blue Hen State, it's ridiculous. Almost the entire state has new construction underway. There's tons of activity popping up all around Bethany Beach, Rehoboth Beach, Milford, Dover and Wilmington.
The Culture & History of Delaware
Delaware’s population is pretty eclectic. It’s home to beach bums, farmers, Blue Hens (alumni or fans of the University of Delaware), hunters, the Du Pont empire ,and crabbers. In addition, since it’s so close to Philadelphia, Atlantic City and DC, you'll find a melting pot-style cultural blend.
If you’re more of a “small town vibe” fan, you’ll definitely fit right in with the Delaware crowd. Residents say you can find this vibe across the entire state—as if the state itself feels like one small town. This is due not only to the high population density, but also the nature of the land's locals. Everyone knows everyone else. Do you like that? Great. People aren’t your thing? May want to rethink your relocation.
Delaware’s highly liberal crowd has earned it recognition as a blue state. In fact, The Small Wonder State ranked at number four on the list of the 10 Most Liberal States. Rehoboth Beach is a popular vacation spot for many, including a sizable LGBTQ population. There are more than 200 LGBTQ-owned businesses, with a vibrant nightlife and welcoming daylife.
No matter what your preferred pace of life, you should be able to find a town that's well suited for you in The Diamond State. The southern half of the state is referred to as the slower-lower portion by locals. The further south you go in Delaware, the more southern influence you'll find.
Locals who live closer to the tip of Maryland's backside (we're not sure how else to put it) are said to enjoy a slower pace of life, and embrace ideals of southern hospitality. If you're the type who likes to drive fast and get things done quickly, stick to the northern part of the state.
Delaware is the home of the famous Du Pont family, one of the richest families in America. They got their start as gunpowder manufacturers before branching out into the worlds of paint, plastic, dynamite and more. In Chateau Country, you can see absolutely rindonculous mansions and magazine cover-worthy gardens of the Du Ponts, and many of them are even open for guided tours.
Small Wonder Trivia
Despite the state’s diminutive size, there is no shortage of amazing things to do in Delaware. There’s a strong population of nature lovers who enjoy hiking, state parking, and beach bumming. Surf fishing is a big deal here, too.
Earlier we mentioned locals really enjoy crabbing, and we weren't kidding—there are many who dedicate a sizable chunk of their lives to this activity. Seriously, residents joke about how Delawareans have entire garages filled with crabbing gear. And with 30 miles of coastline, it's easy to see why.
Like pretty much everything else in this itsy-bitsy state, politics also tend to be right in your face, too. Elected officials are all well-known among locals and participate in local parades and other events.
Delaware is also home to Dogfish Head beer, and residents are crazy defensive about the stuff. In the way of food, there is some serious cheesesteak love among Delawareans—they say theirs are even better than Philadelphia's. If you wanna see for yourself, check out a place called Capriotti's. And bring one back for us, while you're at it.
Then there’s the tomfoolery. Every year there’s a special event known as Mischief Night which features—get this—a pumpkin-launching competition. That's right, locals call it punkin chunkin—how cute is that? Different teams show up with their various contraptions and hurl the seasonal squash as far as they can. Oh, man—you just can't make this stuff up.
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Can't-Miss Delaware Fun + Activities
Whether you're a fan of crabs, Blue Hens and their boring white eggs, killer craft beers or pumpkin-tossing, you'll find lots of stuff to see and do in The Small Wonder.
Here are just a few of the state's main attractions:
- Fort Delaware: One of three forts built in the 19th century to protect Philadelphia from attack, though it never once fired a cannon in defense. It became a prisoner-of-war camp for Confederate soldiers in the 1860s, and prisoners were subject to terrible conditions—including scarce food rations and disease.
- It’s now a park-slash-museum on the Delaware River’s tiny Pea Patch Island and is considered one of the most haunted sites in the world. They say it’s full of the ghosts of Confederate soldiers who remain unsettled. You can even go on your own little ghost-hunting tour there...if you dare. Mwa-hahahaha.
- Firefly Music Festival: This four-day annual event takes place in the woods of Dover. It's been called "the premiere music festival on the East Coast" and features a number of super-cool indie and alternative rock acts like Red Hot Chili Peppers and Modest Mouse.
- Bombay Hook National Wildlife Refuge: This refuge protects 16,000 acres of untouched nature and wildlife along the eastern coast of Kent County. Migratory birds are the biggest spectacle in the way of wildlife, but visitors can also enjoy "beautiful boardwalks ...or just the joys of seeing spectacular landscapes."
- To get to the Bombay Hook National Wildlife Refuge, you'll first enjoy a coastal drive on Route 9's Bayside Drive, which locals contend is one of the most breathtaking drives in the country.
- Running of the Bull: Spain Schmain, if you want a little adventure, just head to Dewey Beach. Delaware's perhaps misinterpreted adaptation showcases its own residents dressing up in bull costumes while others cinch on red bandannas and run like their pants are on fire. If you're up for a night of entertainment where you won’t get gored, look no further than this spectacle.
- Museum of Business History and Technology: Is old-school office equipment your thing? Head on over to Wilmington. This museum houses hundreds of clicky-clacky typewriters dating back to 1873, telephones (the ones that don’t fit in your pocket), calculators, telegraphs, cash registers and pencil sharpeners. It’s a really easy way to show the kids just how old you really are.
Pros & Cons of Living in Delaware
In case all the amazing sites, stories, tastes and trivia we just walked you through weren’t enough, here are a few pros and cons of living in The Blue Hen State.
Pros to Living in Delaware:
- No sales tax: That's right—Delaware is one of only four states in the country with no sales tax. Now you can take pleasure in knowing that the cost on the price tags isn’t all just a lie.
- Seaside sunrises/sets: Locals just love to go on and on about their state's sunrises and sunsets. Checking them out seaside-style is apparently a life experience that needs to be added to your bucket list, pronto.
- Soak up the breathtaking coastline views and snap a few panoramics, they’ll look lovely as a Facebook cover photo—#NoFilterNeeded.
- Beach towns everywhere: There are a ton of incredible beach-side getaways in Delaware, from South Bethany to Lewes to Fenwick Island. You could pretty much visit a new one each day all week—talk about variety.
- Proximity to Philadelphia, DC and Atlantic City: Who wants to go on a day trip? Delaware is super-close to some pretty major metropoli, a big pro in the books of locals. You could spend a weekend hopping from one to another and be back before sundown on Sunday.
Cons to Living in Delaware:
- Claustrophobia: Residents point out that the state's population density can be a bit much at times, and the crowds and congestion can become overwhelming. So if you’re more into wide-open spaces and room to breathe (physically, mentally and emotionally), consider this a heads-up.
- Over-urbanization: Locals offer up one of their home state's downsides as being "strip malls as far as the eye can see." Certain parts of Delaware have been built up to the point of being downright unattractive to many. But with all the population growth, people need their phone stores and their iced lattes.
- Traffic/drivers: The Diamond State was ranked the "worst for careless driving resulting in death." Insurity also ranked Delaware as the second worst state in the country for "drivers involved in at-fault accidents." Residents say that drivers can be pretty crazy behind the wheel, honking at the drop of a hat. But how can you blame them, when you are in their way?
- Crime: The town of Wilmington is #1–though not in a good way. It gave Delaware the title of worst state for violent crimes, and it’s also the top spot for sex offenders per capita. With a rep like that, it’s no wonder it earned itself the nickname Murder Town, USA.
Get ready, because this’ll probably be your favorite part of the tour. We've compiled a list of some of the strangest, head-scratchingest laws still in existence in the great state of Delaware:
- Prosthetic limbs can't be used as payment at pawnshops. So the saying, "They're charging an arm and a leg" wasn't meant literally, then. So confusing.
- No pretending to be asleep on the benches of Rehoboth Beach's boardwalk. We can only imagine this one started when people would pretend to be asleep, then jump up and scare passersby with "Boo!" or "Gotcha!" Otherwise, we just don't get it.
- If you get married on a dare, you're legally allowed an annulment. Don't worry, when your friends quadruple hog triple dog double frog dare you (the highest form of dare), you can rest easy knowing that your dare wedding can easily be annulled.
- No changing clothes in the bathrooms at beaches. You're not allowed to change your clothes on the beach or in a public restroom. This seems like it would make beach trips quite inconvenient—who wants to go home in their soaking wet swimsuits? Ew.
Ready to Make It Big in The Small Wonder
Well, there it is, folks—our little insider's guide to all the weirdest and coolest details about The First State, served up with a side of Thrasher's boardwalk fries (pass the vinegar). While we can't even pretend that we've covered all of your concerns (we'd probably pass out from exhaustion if we tried), we're hoping that you've at least been able to soak up some helpful insights on the state.
This is where we turn the tables over to you, friend, to decide if you're ready to become a Delawarean. Keep in mind the abundance of beach towns, music festivals, natural beauty, beer, rich history, cheesesteaks, museums and ghost selfie ops, because there are thousands of amazing experiences waiting for you in the little D. Make sure you're covered with an affordable home insurance policy.
So good luck—and we’re not kidding about you bringing us back one of those cheesesteaks!