Delaware is a haven for charming beach towns, enticing colonial history, and natural beauty. Best of all? Its small size means that you’re never more than a few steps away from seeing it all. Delaware truly is a state where you can escape the big cities while being close enough for a day trip to New York, Philadelphia, Baltimore, and Washington DC.
If you’re considering moving to this small but awesome state this is the guide for you! Delaware according to US News ranks #23 in states in which to live.
We’ve compiled this information to share tips on moving to the first state from families that have moved both recently and not so recently but also moms that have been here their whole lives. Hopefully, this guide makes your move easier!
You get all four seasons in Delaware and snow doesn’t last for months like in the Midwest! March typically breaks the frost and we ate outside for thanksgiving 2020 (because well COVID but also it was above 60!). The weather is different at the northern end of the state vs the southern end.
Cost of Living
Overall, Delaware has a fairly reasonable cost of living compared with its neighbors up and down the east coast. Especially when it comes to property taxes which we get into later.
Cost of Day Care
As this post is written (2021) we’ve heard the cost of quality childcare varies by county. Sussex rates for a one-year-old range from $130 – $180 a week. Dover: $175 a week and up New Castle County $175 to 300 a week. Please note these rates are what has been reported to Delaware Moms and you should always call around to check pricing.
Health and Medicine
Healthcare costs are a major concern for many individuals and families. According to US News, Delaware is the 13th best state to live in when it comes to access to healthcare. Unfortunately, those who move to Delaware can expect to pay a premium, with overall costs in the state coming in at around 16% higher than the national average. But many of the hospitals are newer which is a perk.
However, in some areas access to healthcare is a complaint. There is also a lack of holistic practitioners for families if that is something your family is used to receiving. However, here are a handful of holistic practices scattered through the state.
More good news. Kiss sales tax GOODBYE! Honestly, that was my favorite thing upon moving to Delaware. What you see is what you get when it comes to shopping, no 10% markup like other areas with high sales tax.
The median property tax rate is less than .5% which makes the state the 4th best state in the nation for low median property taxes as of 2020. There are also social security benefit tax exemptions. In fact, anyone over 60 is exempt from nearly $13,000 of their pension or retirement income.
Delaware has the School of Choice Program. The goal is “to increase access to educational opportunity for all children throughout the state regardless of where they may live.” You can find the application here and applications open in November most years and close in January. Honestly speaking, many schools do not have space for children outside of the district but lucky families are able to get their children in different schools.
There are also some schools in which you can only apply through the School of Choice program including charter, magnet, and language immersion programs. It is important to note that applications for the language immersion programs are considered first by in-district students. Also, the School of Choice program is not something to rely on if you’re counting on getting your child into a particular school district. Each year there are disappointed families who are waitlisted to never have their child able to attend their first, second, or even third choices on the application. The best option is to buy or rent in the district in which you want your child to attend, this way you avoid any heartache when it comes to enrollment time.
One important point is for “School of Choice’ schools that your child may get into out of district you will need to provide transportation.
Public Schools by County
New Castle County
The best school district in New Castle County is the Appoquinimink District with Olive B Loss being the best elementary school in that district according to GreatSchools.Org. This district offers language immersion programs in both Spanish and Chinese to incoming Kindergarteners. With all the growth in Middletown and southern Newark, it is hard to get children into this district by using the School of Choice form. We aren’t saying it is impossible but many moms have been disappointed even when it comes to Pre-K.
The best school district in this county is Caesar Rodney School District. This district also has a language immersion program. J. Ralph McIlvaine Early Childhood Center houses both the Chinese and Spanish Immersion Programs then students in Spanish continue on to W. Reily Brown Elementary School and students in Chinese continue on to W.B. Simpson and Allen Frear Elementary Schools. School of Choice is also very difficult when it comes to this district.
The best school district in Sussex County is the Cape Henlopen District according to GreatSchools.Org.
New Castle County is the home of most of the private schools in the state as well. The top private schools in the state according to Niche.com are St Andrew’s High School in Middletown, Tower Hill K-12 in Wilmington, Wilmington Friends School (K-12), Archemere Academy (Highschool) in Claymont, the Tatnall School (K-12) in Wilmington, and Sanford (K-12), in Hockessin.
Private School Review lists all the private schools in the state, https://www.privateschoolreview.com/delaware, and says 60% of the private schools are religiously affiliated mostly Christain schools.
Language Immersion Schools in Delaware
Language Immersion programs are application-based programs. Half the day is taught in either Spanish or Mandarin and the other half in English. This is more than a simple language class. Math or History could be taught to your child in another language allowing them to be fully immersed in the language. The result is children become fluent fairly quickly!
Each county has its own language immersion programs, but not each school district. If this is something you are interested in make sure you research the programs. We’ve heard as of writing this guide it is easier to get your child into Chinese Immersion than Spanish.
For a full listing of Chinese and Spanish Immersion Options click here.
Delaware has its share of charter schools. You apply to these with the Choice application and many of the schools will have testing to go along with their random selection.
We’ve heard from a few moms from states like New York and New Jersey that Delaware requires additional shots and boosters like Chicken Pox for students. If you have questions about that it’s best to call the school nurse and speak to him or her directly. You can check out Delaware’s Immunization Requirements here, Delaware offers two types of exemptions to immunizations: Medical and Religious both must be documented.
The housing market as of 2021 is a booming force. This has skyrocketed the price of homes in many localities. However, there are new homes being built every day in each part of the state.
If you need help buying a home, check out our Delaware Realtor Guide for tips on how to pick the right Realtor!
Since Delaware is situated so close to cities like Philadelphia, Atlantic City, Baltimore, DC, and New York, there’s a melting pot feel to the place and a healthy variety of cultures and backgrounds.
However, the cultures of northern Delaware and Southern Delaware are different. Many people call below the canal “lower slower” Delaware. While there are many interpretations of this, the way it was explained to me is that there’s more of a small-town vibe below the canal. I have also heard that Delaware is split between the north and the south, therefore if you are familiar with life in the north then northern Delaware may be best for you, while if you’re a Southern Bell life below the canal may be best.
Politically speaking, Delaware is a pretty liberal state and is firmly blue in every election in recent years. It has actually been ranked as the 4th most liberal state in the nation.
Delawareans also take a pretty progressive attitude to most social issues, for example at Rehoboth Beach, where there’s a strong LGBT community that welcomes residents and tourists alike.
Random Quirky Delaware Things You Should Know
In some areas, there are “Pool Clubs” or “Swim Clubs” where you are a member and pay to use their pool. Prices vary but you can expect to pay about $500 a season for a family of four. There are also YMCA’s, the JCC in Wilmington, and public pools as well.
There are limited places to get the “yeast” type donuts besides Dunkin and Krispy Kreme (donut guide plug) but you’ll learn to love cake donuts just as much! We have a donut guide here.
Beware of the beach traffic… During the summer months getting to the beaches can be a horrible traffic experience if you don’t leave early!
Good luck and Welcome to Delaware!!!
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