Review of Asheville, North Carolina

Hard to make a living and get decent housing
Star Rating - 7/9/2019
I lived there from 2000-2013. It's very hard to make a living wage and afford a rental much less a house. Since the job market is dominated by the service industry, the pay is not only low, but it's also seasonal (think tips if you're a server). Couple that with the fact that home prices have been skyrocketing for years and are out of reach for many residents due to at least two factors: 1) wealthier people from the North or Florida move there and buy homes at peak prices (because to them peak prices in Asheville are cheap) and/or 2) people have moved there as well-paid remote workers for their out-of-state/town employer. As expected the cost of rent followed suit. Many people need to have roommates to afford their apartment, and let's face it — if you're well out of college, it stinks having roommates. Or, people end up renting dumps, and there are plenty of those. Two-income households could swing a house purchase, but if they had kids or planned to, their expenses would be through the roof.

When my salary finally broke $40k c. 2010, it was a big deal. The bookkeeper at my company, who was also a friend, said half jokingly, "I don't think they realize what they're paying you." I never thought I'd ever hit that benchmark (can you believe I called $40k a benchmark?) when I was living in Asheville. That's how hard it is to achieve that. Sure, that was nine years ago, but I've visited a few times since then. Things didn't seem to change except for the increase in traffic and more hotels. Over the last few years I'd occasionally look at Asheville job listings on Craig's List for curiosity's sake. It appeared to be even worse than when I was there. No full-time employment offers unless you're a truck driver. Mostly part time or contract employment, and not in industries that pay well.

Previously I had two part-time non-profit jobs. It ended up being terrible because I didn't earn benefits, and one of those jobs was full time by nature. I was so stressed trying to get eight hours of work done in four.

It really bothered me that so many people there would tell me Asheville is perfect, when I knew people struggling to get by. There's a big gap between the haves and have-nots. Those snow-capped mountains don't look so great when you can't pay your heating bill in February. Many people there are very delusional, in denial, or part of the wealthy minority that doesn't give a f---.

When I was there, I learned that the drug scene was quite rampant, but most people are unaware of this. My bookkeeper friend's daughter hangs with some chemical friendly people, and the last year I was there five of her friends overdosed on one thing or another.

There also isn't any diversity no matter what someone tells you. It's 70% white and has been for a long time. The only so-called diversity is within the white demographic: retirees, hippies, hipsters, skater kids.

If you like the Portland-esque scene, make at least $50k (better make that $60k for comfort), have job security, or you're wealthily retired, you could consider living here. You'd also have to be cool with lots of traffic and temperatures in the teens right after Halloween. (That was my experience the last 2-3 years I lived there. Not sure about now.) You also have to be cool with living in a liberal echo chamber. And if you happen to tell people you occasionally eat at McDonald's, shop at Walmart, or drive an SUV, be prepared to be crucified.
F | Black Mountain, NC
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5 Replies

Sandra, Do everyone a favor and jump off Buzzard Rock. With your wife as well, AND, your demoralized thought processes. YOU are part of the problem with the Asheville area. Belittling other human beings that may not agree with YOUR OPINION on politics, does not in any way make them "a racist". People like yourself enjoy putting others down and throw temper tantrums when NOBODY gives your little "self-entitled, everyone owes me something" ego a stroke. Pack your trouble causing, white trash self up AND LEAVE. NOBODY WANTS YOU HERE, OR ANYWHERE ELSE FOR THAT MATTER. DO THE WHOLE ASHEVILLE AREA (Maybe even the entire world...) A FAVOR, PACK YOUR PATHETIC EXCUSE OF A HUMAN ASS UP AND DONT EVER COME BACK HERE AGAIN. YOU ARE A DISGRACE TO HUMANITY AND A PRIME EXAMPLE OF WHY MOTHERS SHOULD EAT THEIR YOUNG. People like you dont deserve to basque in the beauty and kindness this area has to offer. Including the true "Southern Hospitality" from the generations upon generations of locally born & raised families in this area. PLEASE DO NOT WAIT! NOBODY WANTS YOU HERE.
Natas | Asheville, NC

Wow! I was offered a government job in Asheville and you all have made me scared to death to take it. These reviews mike the area sound like the worse place to live on earth.
Elizabeth | Manchester, NH

Wow! I was offered a government job in Asheville and you all have made me scared to death to take it. These reviews make the area sound like the worse place to live on earth.
Elizabeth | Manchester, NH

I would agree with the above assessment except for the following: 1) one person may survive on $60k/year, but 2 people or a small family can't live on only $60k. Spouse and I spend over $400 weekly on Food alone. This does Not include alcohol, meat, animal food (cat/dog), beauty/health products (deodorant, shampoo, etc). Our food bill is basic foods and no fancy anything. A tax of nearly 9% punches up this insane cost. Food bills are far higher here in WNC than in major cities (NY, Atlanta, DC, etc) or very rural areas - and I have no idea why. 2) This area is Not liberal or progressive in any sense. Rather, its ultra conservative and very extreme fake "Christian" with the "Big Christians" sticking their nasty, ignorant beliefs down everyone's throat. Can't count the number of churches, especially Baptist. Forget it if you're Jewish, Muslim, other as you're not wanted here and that's made pretty clear. 3) Diversity. None. Prepare for culture shock of extreme redneck and few wealthy, well educated (northern) WHITE. I've cautioned black, Spanish, Indian, other non-white friends, colleagues, to avoid visiting or even thinking of living in this area. Racism is very ugly and extreme. This is Trump racist territory and make no mistake when you see or hear the little progressive comments or forward thinking movement. Extreme conservative, "Republican", gun loving, "rebel flag" draping ignorant and uneducated people. So. If you're a moderate or "progressive" sort, this area and its stupidity will drive you crazy. Spouse and I have lived here for 15 years and are in the process of getting house on the market to sell and move. We've had enough of the backwards mentality, incompetence, constant cost leaps in everything, lack of decent medical care, and now extremes in temperature (hot/humid spring thru fall and frigid in winter). That's two less well educated, reasonably wealthy Northerners leaving. This should please the locals, but, locals seem to forget that the inbound northerners are the ones actually Doing critical things and bringing in badly needed income to this economically barren region. Visit for 3 days. Have extreme culture shock. Find a better area to move to. Best advice you'll receive today. Housing costs are indeed high. My mortgage/taxes/insurance on a lovely single story, 2 acre secluded property with three mountain view costs Less than a basic rental of 2 bed/1 bath apartment. Now you see why the cost of living in western NC is so much higher than the rest of the US. Clearly, many things are terribly wrong in this area and only getting worse. Traffic is heavy and nasty. Drug abuse is rampant in the young. We aren't talking marijuana, rather the deadly crystal meth, crack, other highly addictive and deadly street drugs. Once on these drugs there is no way off. No need to visit and certainly do not move here
Sandra | Asheville, NC

Not enough room for most critical comments on this region's education system. You just spent $800K for a reasonable house in north Asheville. It's ok, nothing special and less than h as of an acre and no view except neighbors. Now, what sort of education will your children receive here? The answer is well below national standards. Look at education statistics and the ratings for the public schools. Abysmal. Private schools are simply costly and Abysmal. Education isn't a priority here and it seems that ignorance continues to reign supreme. I know several people who send their kids to boarding schools because of the low level of education. Add the drug situation and absolute lack of anything for young kids and teens to do, and bam, yet more money to send your kid(s) away to spare them lack of foundation education and probable drug addiction. Hit the local newspapers and read the mugshot section. Drugs, violent physical assaults and some property theft/damage. Easy access to addictive street drugs and bored kids -- great mix for an assured loss of high potential successful people. For the sake of your children -- don't move here.
Sandra | Asheville, NC
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