Why Asheville, NC, is a Great Place to Live
Home, sweet home! Asheville rolls out the welcome mat to new residents and has excellent amenities.
Asheville is the kind of place locals never want to leave, and visitors frequently decide to make it their home. More than a vacation destination for craft beer and outdoor enthusiasts, this thriving city is exploding with career opportunities and a relaxed, artsy vibe with loads of quality-of-life assets to go around, regardless of what you’re looking for.
“My wife and I were living in Atlanta in 2008 and had never been to Asheville, but we had heard that it was a ‘creative’ city, so we drove up and just instantly felt a connection to the city and thought, ‘This is where we have to spend the rest of our lives,'” says Craig McAnsh, founder of Mojo Coworking. “We had an opportunity to live in New York City for three years, and we kept our house in Asheville and came back, and it’s even sweeter the second time around.”
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While Asheville has experienced the same housing cost increases as most other American cities, it remains affordable compared to major metro cities on both coasts. For example, while the median home value is $772,000 in New York City, $815,000 in Boston and $1.6 million in San Francisco, it’s only $437,000 in Asheville (all figures from Zillow, August 2022).
The abundance of outdoor activities in the area, which provide free or low-cost entertainment, also makes it a more affordable city with a high quality of life.
A variety of outdoor activities can be found in and near Asheville. For example, residents love exploring The North Carolina Arboretum, hiking Chimney Rock State Park and the Craggy Pinnacle Trail, just off the Blue Ridge Parkway, and taking part in a slew of water activities, like kayaking on the French Broad River.
“Just driving the Blue Ridge Parkway and seeing the mountains makes you exhale, and having outdoor activity really is healing and is a healthy approach to a balanced life, so you can sit in nature or go on a hike,” says Leah Wong Ashburn, president and CEO of Highland Brewing Co. (the city’s first legal brewery to open after Prohibition). “Or you can go to a brewery that has volleyball courts, disc golf and trail access.”
“Just driving the Blue Ridge Parkway and seeing the mountains makes you exhale.”
Leah Wong Ashburn, Highland Brewing Co.
Plenty of Careers
Career opportunities run the gamut in Asheville, as the area is home to various major employers, such as Mission Hospital, Eaton, Thermo Fisher Scientific and the University of North Carolina Asheville. The region has added more than 22,000 jobs since 2012, and career opportunities continue to grow.
Remote workers can thrive in Asheville, with access to reliable internet and a number of coworking spaces, should they need to work somewhere besides their home. A few examples include Hatchworks Coworking, Mojo Coworking and Focal Point Coworking.
These resources fuel a flourishing community of entrepreneurs, many of whom are a part of the tech sector.
Diverse & Welcoming
Asheville is home to a relatively diverse population, and it’s becoming more welcoming and inclusive. The city’s Black population is over 11%, and its Hispanic or Latino population is about 7% of the total. The city’s Office of Equity and Inclusion is working to maximize the access and opportunities that all people have to satisfy essential needs, advance their well-being and achieve their full potential.
“Asheville just encourages you to embrace your interests and pursue them. People are very external in their expressions of their interests and will seek out other people that share them,” says Wong Ashburn. “We also have an extraordinary number of nonprofits, so there is a deep and common desire to be involved in the community and to help in whatever area aligns with your values.”
Community of Creatives
Asheville is known as being a mecca for creatives. Artistic creations can be found all over the city, and murals decorate the sides of buildings everywhere. Plus, the River Arts District offers a variety of creative classes as well as the chance to see artists’ working studios and galleries. As far as other entertainment options, Asheville is home to a flourishing dining scene, countless breweries, and a full calendar of downtown events, like LEAF, a notable world cultural arts festival held every year.
“For me, art was a huge draw, and I wanted to be in the mountains. I love to hike and to be outdoors,” says Julie Ann Bell, president of the River Arts District Board of Directors. “I used to come to the arts district before I moved here and go to events like Studio Stroll — our arts district is unique because we run a square mile, with hundreds of artists.”
Want to learn more?
If you’d like to learn more about the Asheville area, check out the latest edition of Livability Asheville, North Carolina.