Tell me about Asheville, NC

Due to some recent job circumstances, our family is looking at the possibility of moving “South” out of Ohio. We are atheist Democrats, so I am thinking we may not “fit in” with most of the North Carolina, South Carolina and Georgia regions.

I researched Asheville a little, and it seems to be a great fit - but really, what can you know by just looking at the tourism websites, right? Anyone know much about the area and living there? Are they just putting on a good face? :dubious:

Nah, they’re just trying to get you down so they can have a good lynching.

Nah, Asheville is full of ex-hippies and artsy types. I’d be a lot more afraid of Ohio than Asheville.

I found City-Data (dot) Com and their forums are a great place to find info about various cities in the USA

My dad’s family is from Asheville, and I lived and visited there off and on for many years. I love Asheville- I’m here in AZ because my family’s here, but if I could move anywhere in the country, it would be back to there. The city of Asheville is fairly small, but has a vibrant artsyfartsy new age musician-friendly hippydippy feel. Then the outlying areas can be so country and southern and rural… I have relatives close to there that only recently got indoor plumbing! The downtown is lively and cultural. There’s a University of NC there.

Asheville is just off of the Blueridge Parkway, which is beautiful. It snows just enough in the winter and is not godawful hot and humid in the summer (too much). I love it there.

Thank you for the replies!

Marxxx I just checked out those forums, and they look like just what I need. Appreciated!

Alice We come from rural (although we’ve all had plumbing!), so that sounds just fine! The weather and scenery are what is really drawing me in.

My main concern with a move South is just picking a random town. My husband is a doctor, so a job could probably be found just about anywhere. I know from living in NE Ohio, there are pockets of Democratic mindsets amidst the overall Red State, you just have to know where to find them! And not that I am against conservatism, it is just always nice to be somewhere with others like you.

I LOVE North Carolina from the times we have visited family, etc. and Asheville seemed like the best fit on paper. Thanks for the input, and keep it coming!

Nah, you’ll be fine in North Carolina. You’ll get invite to church a few times, but as long as you respectfully decline, you’ll be fine.

I live in Ohio, and have for much of my life, but I’ve also lived in North Carolina, and I have family in North Carolina (different parts), so I have hands on experience. People are tolerant, but as with anywhere, don’t like their beliefs to be actively challenged.

Really nice folks, in general, in North Carolina. The only problems I ever had were of my own making, egging people on because I was an antisocial dick.

Asheville is a really good place to live. Used to be mainly a big retirement area and it still is but now a lot of young artsy and outdoors people move there. They get snow but not as much as the northern NC mountains. I would like to live there but there are not many good jobs there , mostly just service jobs - working in stores, waiting tables, etc.

Asheville politics are pretty liberal, they always voted for the Dem even when their district in Congress was won by the GOP.

Left Hand of Dorkness has lived in Asheville for quite some time, IIRC. Maybe the OP should send him a PM?

I live about 40 minutes from Asheville. Even 40 minutes removed from that liberal bastion, I have never seen a single lynch mob. I also have known several homosexuals. Not only have I never gone to church, but I’ve never been asked to go to church. There are exactly as many retirees as rednecks. I’m fairly certain that western NC people are the exact same as all other people. We are far too normal to be afraid of.

I am summoned.

So others have talked about the idea that we’re a buncha toothless rednecks. No, not all of us–just the family we saw at the park yesterday, and they were very nice, even threatening to kidnap our baby and take her home with them.

Race and politics is complicated in the South everywhere, including here in Asheville. For years I assumed that our population was about 10% or so African-American, based on who I saw socially and in public. No: it turns out that we’re about 25% African-American. It’s just that Asheville is, socially, segregated by race. It’s very easy for a white person to see few black people in social outings (and, I assume, vice versa). I worked for years at an institution with 30 employees, and for the majority of that time, we had a 100% white staff. That’s not really what you’d see in Durham or Atlanta or Chapel Hill (two of those from personal experience, one from what I hear).

But that doesn’t mean Asheville is overtly racist. Our Democratic mayor is black and is tremendously popular. But that might be changing, and this points again to the complication of race and politics. She’s in a jam right now because she was one of the few people in city council who voted against (a proposal to move ahead with) extending domestic partnership benefits to same-sex couples, a vote she made based on her Baptist beliefs and that she’s defended by calling the proposal political maneuvering. She’s lost my vote over this.

Anyone that tells you race and politics in the south is simple is a simpleton.

Okay, that said, here’s a warning about Asheville: the cost of living is very high here compared to the rest of the South. Our unemployment rate is lower than average in the state, but a disproportionate number of jobs are service sector, based on the tourism industry: in my age cohort (mid-thirties) nearly everyone I know has been employed by Biltmore Estate or Grove Park Inn at some point, at measly wages. It’s difficult to find a living wage here in town.

On the bright side, medicine has been a major part of our job base since the early twentieth century and the tuberculosis sanitariums that opened up here; we still have a big medical industry. That may or may not be a good thing for your husband: there are a ton of doctors here already. Given the difficulty of finding jobs, I would recommend finding a job before moving here–I know of one professor-and-ENT couple who moved from Asheville because the doctor couldn’t find work.

With that caveat (and with the obligatory “Asheville is full, go away!” snark that we all have to do toward outsiders–sorry, it’s in the bylaws), I love it here. Been here a little over a decade, and I suspect I’ll stay here the rest of my life. The mountains are beautiful, the downtown is lovely, West Asheville is a great neighborhood for walking in, the schools are pretty good (they rank very high in NC school systems), and it’s just all-around a great place.

I’d also recommend looking at Carrboro, a sleepy little town that adjoins Chapel Hill, with a similar culture. Its proximity to RTP and to several major hospitals (UNC Memorial, Duke, and the big one in Raleigh) may make your husband’s job search easier, and I think that jobs are easier in general to find in that area. If I were to move anywhere else in NC, it would be Carrboro.

Lemme know if you have specific questions, and I’ll try to answer them!

Left, anything to say about Wilson, NC?

Best thing I can say about Wilson is it’s near the Raleigh area where I live, about 1 hour east. There is not much to do there or many jobs. It’s pretty much the way it was 50 years ago, not many transplants or new jobs. If you get a job there you could live on the east side of Raleigh and commute since it’s a 4 lane highway the whole way.

Sorry–I know nothing about Wilson. On that subject, I’ll say, stay away from Cary, IMO.

I, on the other hand, think you’d like Cary just fine. On the topic of Asheville, I’ve never met a person who said they didn’t like it.

Heh–sorry, Whitetho. De gustibus and all. My main associations with Cary are the notorious acronym joke, and the sense that the architecture is all that postmodern style deliberately designed to strip a location of its sense of place, and a feeling that every restaurant and bar and other business there is based on a business plan rather than on a passion for the cuisine/drink/subject of the business, which tends to strip the place of any soul. There’s a new development in Asheville that I insult by saying it seems like Cary. (Telling hypocrisy disclosure: I go there anyway, since it has the best-equipped theater in town).

But I do know some folks who live there and like it just fine, and those people are just fine. It’s just a place that really rubs me the wrong way.

FWIW, there are plenty of folks I’ve known who didn’t like Asheville. They tended to be the uber-hipster types, though, for whom Asheville just wasn’t hip enough.

Thank you so much - very helpful. I am somewhat looking at all of NC, just trying to find that “right fit”, so the recommendation of Carborro is fantastic. I will certainly look into that further. I did see they have what seems to be a big farmer’s market, which is fantastic for me as I run a home based cookie business and have been drumming up business through our market here in the summers.

Any recommendations on some coastal areas? I’ve read Wilmington is decent, is that true? Any sleeper areas you might know about? As I said, we are looking at all areas, and truly are drawn to either the mountains or the ocean (moving from Ohio, those are HUGE draws!!) Thanks again.

Pittsboro used to be a sleeper place but now it’s getting a lot of people moving there from Chapel Hill, it’s about 10 miles south of CH.

Wilmington is nice but the economy there is mostly tourism. They have a movie studio that gets a lot of use for movies and TV shows - Dawson’s Creek was filmed there and now One Tree Hill is. There is a big CRO company headquartered there - PPD.

My mom’s family grew up in Wilmington. But I still don’t have much of an impression of it. The outer banks are phenomenal, but understand that they’re rollover islands, and any land purchased there is a temporary setup. I mostly gravitate to the mountains.

And yeah, Carrboro has a great farmer’s market!

I don’t know about the rest of NC, but there are quite a few Ohio transplants* (I’m one of them; also agnostic liberal) in the Charlotte area, so I think you’ll fit in just fine down here. There’s just enough southern culture to appreciate, but it doesn’t seem totally steeped in southern stereotype. Try to get used to ordering your tea without sugar if you don’t want your teeth to rot out. Sweet tea is the default and when they say sweet, they aren’t just whistling Dixie.

Charlotte is the largest city in NC and is only about 2 hours away from Asheville. We are also only about 3 hours from Charleston, SC on the coast. But in Asheville, you’ve got the Blue Ridge Parkway in your backyard and some fantastic hiking and camping right there (pretty good skiing, too). If you like the outdoors, I would say that Asheville is the perfect place to settle. If you need some big city time, you can head to Charlotte or Atlanta, which is only about 3.5 hours away. Plenty of great places near enough to drive to for weekend getaways.

You get much better weather and can spend more time outdoors. People are very friendly and welcoming. There’s a fair amount of conservatism and bible belt mentality, but there are also pockets of liberalism – Asheville, as noted earlier, being one of those pockets. I’d say Charlotte is an interesting mixture. Charlotte has nightlife and football if that’s your thing. NASCAR is here too, but it’s not too in-your-face, unless you want it to be.

I live in a small university town in SC, just south of Charlotte and while it’s less expensive over the border, I wouldn’t say it’s all that great. Traffic into Charlotte isn’t too bad, taxes are certainly less, and goods are cheaper, but education is not SC’s strong suit. Politics suck here, too, but who doesn’t know that? Don’t even bother looking at the rest of SC (other than Charleston, maybe), sadly. Sorry if that offends anyone, but yeah we’ve got a LOT of room for improvement.

That said, after nearly 15 unhappy years in Ohio, I can easily say I’m in love with the Carolinas. Good luck to you!

*Shortly after we moved here, I got my current job and discovered two of my co-workers were both recent transplants from Ohio. Instant bonding. That certainly makes adjusting a lot more comfortable.