Moving to Ashville, North Carolina

Archived Q&A and Reviews

Move to Ashville, NC?

Feb 2003

In the never-ending conversation of can we-should we-will we- stay and raise our family in the Bay Area, we are once again looking at other possible communities in the U.S. Does anyone come from Ashville, North Carolina? Know anything about the life style - the educational opportunities for children - real estate? Would really appreciate a first -or even second -hand experience. Thanks so much. gia

I've never lived in Ashville, but I spent some time near there while working on my MFA at a college nearby (Warren Wilson). Asheville is lovely, and seems quite livable if you are willing to put up with some contradictions. The Blue Ridge Mountains there are beautiful. The French Broad River runs through it, and there are hills and valleys to hike in. If you want a feel for the terrain, you might check out the novel, Cold Mountain, by Charles Frazier. It's set right there, although set just after the Civil War.

Asheville itself is a very liberal, progressive town. There's a branch of the Univeristy of North Carolina there, and the small, alternative college, Warren Wilson, just fifteen minutes away. Accordingly, there are lots of book stores, cafes, food coops, art galleries, and some good restaurants, including one of the best vegetarian restaurants and the only completely Native American restaurant I know. It's a small town, about the size of Berkeley downtown, with a lot of residential, rural area around it. I don't know what rents or housing costs are like, but my guess is that it would seem very inexpensive after living in the Bay Area.

But Asheville is a bit of an island in the middle of the Bible Belt, and there is a very politically conservative, evangelical community everywhere you look.There are bill boards for Jesus along the freeways, and lots of businesses post a cross or born-again fish next to their logos. Your kids can even attend Billy Graham summer camp nearby.

All of the people I spent time with were affiliated with the college, so I don't know what the residents of Asheville are like, although they seem friendly and open. A lot of them are artists, or work with the Universities.

It would be worth taking a vacation there this summer if you are really interested in moving there. There is plenty to do, from watching the night-blooming primroses around the lake at Black Mountain to white water rafting. There are even some fine golf resorts in the area if that is your thing. If you do end up going, send me an email note, and I could get you some names and phone numbers of people who are there that you could talk to. cbw