Where are you in NC? I go to Wilmington sometimes, and will be next week again.
You could take a look at Ithaca, which is not too far from NYC (about 3.5 hours), 1 hour South of Syracuse. They have always been a big veggie town. It's small, a bit pricey in-town, but since it's small, lots of rural places around that cost less.
I'm not so sure on what kind of work you could find there, but Cornell is there, which is an Ivy League school, so there are obviously some good jobs if you can land one.
The real good side is there are lots of vegetarian options there. Wegman's (like Harris Teeter) has a vegetarian hot buffet during the day, veggie sushi. There is the ABC Cafe which feels hippie-ish, but is all vegetarian except for an occasional shrimp dish. The Moosewood Restaurant (the source of the cookbooks) is there (I don't personally like their operation), There is a truly vegetarian friendly Thai place (they do not lie and put fish sauce in your food) called Sticky Rice, there is an excellent Indian restaurant Diamond's, and if Capital Corner is still there, it's a Chinese restaurant with lots of vegetarian options including a good selection of fake meat dishses.
If you like goth/industrial stuff, they have a G/I night on every Sunday which can be fun.
Single vegetarian for 19 years seeks tasty vegetables to devour. Reply only if interested in being consumed whole.