I have been to the Outerbanks for at least 6 different summer vacations... (typically weeklong). I have never stayed at Ocracoke - it is a very cutesy little village. I think the disadvantage there might be that EVERYONE who's on vacation anywhere at the Outerbanks comes down to Ocracoke for a day trip at some point during their week's vacation. I've seen a lot of traffic in the village, hard to park, long lines for the ferry, etc. Perhaps staying away from the village would be a good experience, though.
The further south you get from Nags Head, the quieter it gets and the fewer amenities to be found. The sets of villages sort of come in clusters, I think Rodanthe, Waves, Salvo area is the first cluster. There was a major chain grocery store last time we went. The next village cluster is Buxton / Frisco and lastly the village of Hatteras. There are gorgeous stretches between each of these clusters of villages - peaceful, uncrowded, unmarred by real estate & people.
My favorite village to stay in is Hatteras, which is the last stop on Hatteras Island (where you get on the ferry to Ocracoke). It's a bit of a drive, though, probably 60+ minutes from Nags Head area at the top. It's a quiet little village. There is some shopping available (over by the ferry area), but nothing too crazy . There is a small grocery, where fresh fruits & vegetables are outrageously expensive and aren't actually that fresh... they've had a long ride in by truck, I guess. If you decide to go far south, I recommend bringing most of your food in with you and filling up your gas tank on the mainland.
I also liked Rodanthe, because of it's "in-the-middle" location. From there it wasn't too far to do day trips in either direction - to the north to run up to the Wright's Bros memorial or the Dunes or to the south to run down to Hatteras or catch the ferry for that daytrip to Ocracoke. Wherever you go, it's a long time in the car though... and there's only 1 road, route 12, that takes you north / south along the islands and their villages.
Last note... if you go during hurricane season, you might want to consider trip insurance. It seems like the Outerbanks is threatened at least once a year with a hurricane.