Why We Passed on Asheville
Asheville is a cool city, no two ways about it. This is the Austin TX of NC, but -and here’s the kicker- without the jobs. The eclectic neighborhoods, the artsy vibe... there are fun eats and a good overall quality of living. Winter is never too harsh, but the skies are often gray and you will get the seasons. The nearby mountains offer great hiking in summer. If you are retired, or not in need of earned income, Asheville should be on your short list. Still, housing isnt cheap- your dollar will absolutely go further than in NY, CA or DC- but is Asheville the best fit for you?
We (a 30 and 40 something couple) asked ourselves the same question. One of us works remotely out of NYC, and more sunshine, a fun and funky downtown, diversity of thought and in people... this was our ask. While we liked Asheville, many of the local transplants (read: advanced degrees, now working for $10 an hour in retail) warned us not to move unless we both had jobs lined up. Since the neighborhoods weren’t total bargains, we decided to keep looking. As both of us enjoy travel (national and internationally) we were also a bit concerned that Asheville might be somewhat ‘cut off’ from other major cities.
If you kidnapped the city of Asheville, cut the housing prices, kept the awesome restaurants, added more dog parks and the kiddie friendly green spaces, but made it into a port city (yay waterfront!) 20 minutes from the beach, you'd have.... Wilmington, NC. Possibly one of the best kept secrets on America’s East Coast, Wilmington was never destroyed during the Civil War- so many of the historic neighborhoods are walking distance to downtown. Dawsons Creek and One Tree Hill were both filmed here (amongst others) and trendy Carolina Heights has visits regularly from fans wanting to snap selfies with their favorite houses. The tree lined streets are somewhat Savannah-esque with their hanging Spanish moss... and many of the micro breweries (there are more by the week!) and restaurants are dog friendly. Our local airport is less than 10 minutes drive away, offers direct flights to NYC, and we are always able to book flights without a worry.
We feel incredibly lucky to have found Wimington, while the prices were low. They can’t stay this way for forever- the riverfront is undergoing a resurgence, luxury condos are being constructed and there are neat houseboat communities getting developed along the river.
Ultimately, where Asheville brings you the mountains, Wimington offers the beach. One is inland and one has water... but when your dollar goes so much further in one city than the other, its hard not to resist the draw!
Samira | Wilmington, NC