The Cost of Living Diaries: Asheville, NC
A resident shares what it's like to live and work in the Asheville area.
Welcome to The Cost of Living Diaries. How much does it cost to live in Asheville, North Carolina? What’s an average mortgage, a cocktail, or a week’s worth of childcare? Keep reading because we asked an Asheville local to tell us all about the cost of living in this thriving city!
Nestled in western North Carolina is the beautiful mountain community of Asheville, a city that exudes an infectious earthy, creative vibe. The city often appears on our annual Top 100 Best Places to Live list, and it’s easy to see why. Here, life is a little more laid-back, and residents can find delicious food, plenty of craft beer, cute community gatherings and plenty of career opportunities.
To find out more about what it’s like to live and work in this unique region, we sat down with Jeff Catanese, who opened Attic Salt Theatre Company with his business partner in New York City 25 years ago, and then brought his company with him when he moved to Asheville in 2010.
Q: Why did you decide to move to Asheville?
A: Well, honestly, I had vacationed on North Carolina’s Outer Banks, and I really liked the vibe, and when New York got to be too much, and I needed something a little more chill, a bunch of people mentioned Asheville, and having heard the name, I realized I had seen it on a bunch of lists of the happiest towns to live in America and things like that, and so I said, “Asheville sounds good.” A quick Google search made me realize that I wasn’t going to be missing out on much that New York had to offer.
Q: How would you describe Asheville and its residents?
A: I would say Asheville is in a transitional state as of right now. When I arrived here, it was a very hippie kind of culture with “Keep Asheville Weird” as sort of the watchwords, but in the past few years, especially since COVID and inflation and all the other things, it seems to be gentrifying a lot more.
Q: What do you love about living in Asheville?
A: The thing I love about living here is you are constantly reminded to be in a state of chill, so even if you are anxious or in a hurry or very busy, you only have to look up at the beautiful mountains we are constantly surrounded by and be reminded that you are in a beautiful place, and all is well.
Q: Do you own a home or rent an apartment? What’s that been like?
A: I went the apartment route. I’ve been an apartment dweller my whole life. Up until now, it’s been affordable. I’m lucky that I’ve been in the apartment I live in for almost 10 years now, so the rate has stayed relatively flat, and I also live a little bit away from the center of the city, so it’s a little bit better for me. In general, I pay $1,200 for a little over 600 square feet.
Q: What is your favorite place to eat in Asheville, and how much is dinner and drinks for two?
A: My go-to is Universal Joint. It’s a great place with outdoor seating and very cool people that is primarily pub food, and being a very utilitarian eater, I love being able to tell a friend, “Meet me at Universal Joint,” and we can just go and grab a burger or sandwich, have a beer. Dinner and drinks for two is about $40. You can get a full meal with a drink or two.
Q: What’s your favorite coffee shop, and how much is your go-to drink?
A: High Five (Coffee) on Rankin Avenue is right in the heart of downtown, and they have a great staff. It’s a very friendly place. A lot of fun, but also the kind of place where you can sit and do work if you want, and (they have) some fabulous coffee. My go-to drink there is just the drip coffee. It’s just, “Give me the caffeine.” I don’t need the fancy stuff, but they do have the barista special, which changes every month and is always amazing. A medium drip coffee is about $3.