Smithfield, North Carolina is home to a real-life Hollywood Western town named Shadowhawk. Built by William "Wild Bill" Drake and featuring a saloon, a chapel and a jail, among many other things, the "town" has been used as a set for numerous Hollywood films over the years.
Located in Johnston County, NC, Smithfield is a small, rural town; at the time of the 2010 census, it had a population of 10,966. It has a quaint small-town flavor and a close-knit community. The town hosts an annual Ham and Yam Festival and has a historic downtown area.
Moving to Smithfield
Smithfield, NC, is a small town. We hear you thinking, "well duh, I knew that," but think about it for a minute. Small-town living has some significant upsides and downsides that bear consideration.
Cost of Living
This is a definite upside in Smithfield: the cost of living is significantly lower than the national median. This should mean that whether you're looking at apartments for rent or 3 bedroom houses for rent, your monthly rent check will be a little bit easier to write out.
The downside is that as a small town, many residents will need to travel to nearby Raleigh or Fayetteville day in and day out, a commute of just over a half-hour or 45 minutes, respectively -- more during rush hour traffic. Commuting means driving, and driving means gas, so be sure your gas budget will cover a daily commute of this kind. You don't want to have to stress about how to get there or have to rely on the kindness of your new neighbors to lend you their car or give you a ride -- a reliable car is a must here.
Finding Just the Right Place to Rent
As is often the case, your apartment search may throw you a few curveballs. Notably, pet-friendly apartments are tricky to find in Smithfield -- you may have to widen your search to surrounding areas if you're bringing Brutus the Chihuahua or Cleopatra the Burmese. Smithfield does, however, have a large number of neighborhoods to choose from, so finding the right place should be possible if you're willing to spend a little time doing your research.
That close-knit community
This is both a big upside and a potential downside. Being part of such a close-knit community is much like having a large extended family, a family who support each other and are there in times of need. However, moving into such a community as an outsider can be a challenge, precisely because you're not a part of it -- yet. The key to really becoming a part of the community around you is to get involved. Read the local paper to get a handle on what's happening in the town and what the local issues are. Get involved in local events. Volunteer. Join community groups, and put your hand up for things that need to be done. Be seen, and make yourself a valuable -- and soon, valued -- member of your new community.
Smithfield has quite a list of different neighborhoods, many of which you may love. Here is a small cross-section of ones you might want to check out:
Heritage Place: Heritage Place is a tiny, sparsely populated suburb. As of the 2013 census, Heritage Place had an impressive 14 residents. The vast majority (over 80 percent) of homes in Heritage Place are owned, not rented, and of course, there are only a few homes to choose from to begin with, so finding a rental property in Heritage Place may be a tall order.
Fairfield: Fairfield is a rural community in Smithfield. Most properties in Fairfield are rented, so this is a good place to check out if you're looking at places to rent. Rental pricing is reasonable in Fairfield, too.
Booker Dairy Plantation Park: Booker Dairy Plantation Park is a suburb located just west of US 301 between Selma and Smithfield. Populated with quality family housing, most properties in this suburb are owned, meaning finding rental housing in Booker Dairy Plantation may be tricky -- though not impossible.
Living in Smithfield
Located along the Neuse River, Smithfield, NC, is quaint and steeped in history. From the Ava Gardner Museum to the Johnston County Heritage Center, Smithfield is proud of its history and culture. The downtown area is historic and worth a visit.
For those who love the outdoors, the Buffalo Creek Greenway walks are a nice weekend activity, or if you're looking for some interesting touristy activities, you can't forget Shadowhawk, the Western town built by William Drake and used as a backdrop for several Hollywood movies.
For culture lovers, the Neuse Little Theatre is a thriving theater community that will appeal to you, whether you're a player or a watcher. Pop in to catch the latest live show, or better yet, join and be part of the next one! End your week with dinner at Bistro On Third, followed by a movie at Howell Theatre.
If a night in is more your style and your arteries allow the odd fried chicken indulgence, order a take-out bucket of The Chicken Barn's chicken, which, rumor has it, is good enough to have terrified "the Colonel."
If the guilt of fried chicken on the couch at home is too much to bear (go on!), take your bucket down to the river and achieve balance by breathing in the fresh air and watching the sunset -- just be sure to take your bucket (and bones!) with you when you leave. Ava Gardner may have left, but you? You've just come home.