Are you thinking about moving to Asheville, North Carolina?
I’ve been living in Asheville for the past 6+ years and have found myself pleasantly surprised by this progressive and artsy city.
Nestled between the Appalachian and Blue Ridge mountains, Asheville is best known for outdoor recreation, hospitality, artsy residents and a robust music scene.
The charming city offers the perks of a big city (tons of restaurants, breweries, music venues, etc) while maintaining a coveted small-town feel. It’s no wonder 91,000 people choose to call this city home.
Curious about daily life in this charming place, I was asked to share my personal list of the pros and cons of living in Asheville, based on first hand experience.
While reading this, keep in mind that this is my personal list, not everyone will feel the same way about living in Asheville.
Regardless, I hope you find it helpful, let’s jump right in.
Note: This post is part of the Local Living Series, wherein locals share honest insights of living in a specific city through comprehensive pros and cons lists. If you’d like to reach out to the author directly with questions, please do so in the comments below and our team will ensure it gets to the right person.
Pros of living in Asheville
#1. Access to nature
Do you love adventure? If so, then you will love living in Asheville because the access to nature and plethora of outdoor recreational is hard to beat.
This mountain town is surrounded on all sides by the breathtaking Appalachian and Blue Ridge mountains and the hiking opportunities are endless — not to mention the biking and fishing options, too.
If you’re a nature nut you’ll never find yourself bored. Most weekends are started with a hearty hike before capping off with brunch, it doesn’t get better than that!
#2. Mild weather year-round
One of my favorite things about living in Asheville is the mild weather. With average winter temperatures of 50°, you can say goodbye to bone-chilling winter months.
Summers in Asheville are warm but because of the city’s higher elevation, they’re not as humid or hot as cities further east and south. Average summer temperatures clock in at 85°.
All this to say, you can really enjoy daily life in Asheville because the weather is mild so you don’t need to plan around it (thinking of winters in Chicago).
Of course, climate change is shifting the temperatures and it’s anyone’s guess where the average temperatures will land 10 years from now. But for now, the temperatures are blissful.
#3. The lively music scene
One thing that surprised me most before moving to Asheville was learning how robust the city’s music scene is — so much so that the city is considered one of the ten best music cities in the country.
You can catch a live show practically every weekend, and it’s not uncommon to see lines spilling from venues and wrapping the block.
You practically can’t escape the lively music scene in the city, even if you don’t go to shows. Downtown Asheville is peppered with talented street-performers on practically every block.
So if you’re an avid music fan, or simply enjoy the sound of live music while strolling downtown, you’re going to love living in Asheville.
#4. The breweries
Did you know that Asheville consistently ranks as one of the top brewery cities in America? I sure didn’t before we moved to Asheville.
So imagine my surprise when I learned that the metropolitan area is home to 30 breweries — the second most breweries per capita in the country.
I can confirm that Asheville’s breweries live up to the hype. I’ve been blown away by some of the brews I’ve had, some even better and more memorable than brews I’ve enjoyed in bigger cities.
I highly suggest checking out Asheville Brewing Co., Burial Beer Co. and Lookout Brewery.
#5. Friendly community feel
The south is known for hospitality, and North Carolina is no exception. It’s not uncommon to walk into a cafe and be greeted by name or asked about your weekend.
Since the city’s population is less than 100,000 people, you’ll be running into the same folks from time to time and people will want to get to know you over time.
I’ll be honest, the friendly community feel took some adjusting at first because I’ve mostly lived in large cities where being greeted by name was deemed unusual.
However, after adjusting to the difference, this is one of my personal favorite perks of living in Asheville.
#6. Proximity to everything you need
As mentioned earlier, living in Asheville means that you have access to amenities usually reserved for larger cities. You’re never far from a grocery store, favorite brunch spot, great cafe, music venue or hospital.
The city was planned in a way that makes it easy to get to everything you need without much hassle. Don’t get me wrong, I couldn’t imagine living in Asheville without a car, but it’s easy to get where I need to go.
#7. Asheville is a foodie’s paradise
When most folks think of foodie cities, I doubt this city comes to mind but let me tell you, the food scene is one of the biggest perks of living in Asheville!
Asheville residents take great pride in local and seasonal cuisine. The city is home to incredible restaurants that offer everything from cheap eats to memorable celebration meals.
Another thing worth mention is that the brunch scene is alive and well in Asheville. You can expect up to an hour wait during the weekends, but start your morning at Early Girl Eatery and you’ll see what all the fuss is about.
#8. The relaxed and quirky vibe
Asheville has a very relaxed vibe because people are seldom in a hurry. What’s more, the city also has a quirky vibe made evident by the numerous Keep Asheville Weird memorabilia you’re bound to see.
You’ll quickly learn that living in Asheville means living in a lively city full of unique personalities, like artists, foodies and coffee/brew- aficionados. This mix of fun personalities creates a very intriguing yet relaxed vibe.
In fact, if you plan on moving to Asheville, I suggest strolling downtown during a Friday evening to experience the drum circle.
The drum circle is an organized event where folks bang drums while others sway with the music. It’s odd and interesting and downright weird — something you won’t want to miss.
#9. The wine country
One of my favorite ways to spend a relaxing weekend afternoon is by visiting a winery. Thankfully, there’s more than a dozen wineries within an hour’s drive of Asheville, not to mention the most visited winery in the country — The Biltmore.
The wineries near Asheville are nothing to scoff at either! I often find myself impressed by plethora of options and delightful blends.
Fun Fact: The Biltmore is the largest house in America, a tour is very much in order. I suggest getting the annual membership if you plan to move to Asheville because you’ll definitely get use out of it!
Cons of moving to Asheville NC
#1. High cost of housing
Let’s talk about the sticker shock of buying a home in Asheville, because it’s real. Like most folks, I assumed that buying a home in the south would be affordable, especially compared to the west.
Boy was I wrong. The average price of a home is $365,000, which might not seem high for folks used to seeing half-million starter homes, but that’s a nearly 19% increase from last year!
For reasons unbeknownst to me, the price of housing in Asheville is steadily rising and is not necessarily affordable when considering the average annual salaries.
Which gets me to my next point …
#2. Small city salaries
One of the biggest cons of living in Asheville is the lack of high-paying job opportunities.
Prior to moving to Asheville, I scoured the internet for jobs but wasn’t able to find any that justified the move, especially considering the disproportionate cost of housing.
Thankfully, I landed a remote gig that afforded me an opportunity to move to Asheville without compromising pay, and I plan to enjoy living in Asheville until the opportunity ceases.
So if you’re in a similar situation and able to work remotely, I highly recommend moving to Asheville because the quality of life is hard to beat. However, if you plan to apply for jobs within Asheville brace yourself for disappointment.
Based on my research, the average salary is currently $40,000-$55,000.
#3. The airport leaves much to be desired
Offering only a handful of non-stop destinations, Asheville’s airport leaves much to be desired.
Unless you’re flying to a handful of larger cities in the surrounding states (like Florida), a layover is all but guaranteed — with the exception of Washington DC, Atlanta, Baltimore, Philadelphia and New York City.
So anytime I have a west coast-bound flight, I know that a 2+ hour layover in Atlanta is inevitable, which is a bear.
Of course, the fact that we have an airport is a luxury not lost on me. But I travel often for work and having to rely on the Asheville Regional Airport is one of the biggest cons of living in Asheville.
During my first visit, before I committed to moving to Asheville, I found myself surprised by the homeless population in the city.
I met up with friends at a local brewery and couldn’t help but notice the large crowds of homeless folks congregating in the city parks after dark.
Mind you, I didn’t feel threatened, but I wouldn’t feel comfortable with my wife walking downtown alone at night.
And yes, I know that homelessness is not unique to Asheville. Frankly, the population of homeless is much smaller than other cities I’ve lived in, but it’s still worth a mention.
#5. The growing pains
As with most wonderful cities, the secret it out. There’s 90,000 folks lucky enough to call Asheville home and the recent interest in the city comes with its fair share of growing pains.
As you can imagine, not everyone is thrilled with new folks moving in because it drives up the price of housing and increases traffic congestion.
I’ve never felt unwelcome since moving to Asheville, but I’ve overheard conversations where locals gripe about new folks. It’s inevitable and it happens everywhere, so handle this with a grain of salt, I sure do.
#6. Public transportation
The good news is that Asheville offers public transportation, the bad news is that it leaves a lot to be desired.
Having a bus is better than nothing, but it doesn’t run on Sundays and the routes are reduced during Saturdays. All told, using public transportation while living in Asheville usually doubles travel time.
I moved to Asheville with my car and can’t imagine giving it up because the city is too spread out to walk (outside of the downtown core).
Moving to Asheville (Post Summary)
In sum, these are the pros and cons of living in Asheville North Carolina.
- Access to nature
- Mild weather year-round
- The music scene
- The breweries
- Friendly community feel
- Proximity to everything you need
- The city has a relaxed vibe
- Asheville is a foodie’s paradise
- The wine country
- High cost of housing
- Small city salaries
- Not the best airport
- The homelessness
- The growing pains
- Public transportation
And there you have it my friends – a quick roundup of my brother’s personal list of the pros and cons of living in Asheville.
Let me know in the comments below if you have any questions or if anything should be added to the post!
Until next time,