Best Places to Retire in Western North Carolina

Asheville, North Carolina consistently ranks as one of the most desirable locales in which to retire in the US. Over the past few years, Asheville’s popularity among many demographics has driven enormous growth here both culturally and economically. I often offer these tidbits of information when showing properties and exploring Asheville with my clients, and understandably, no one is ever surprised to hear them.

I felt the same sense of awe when I visited Asheville for the first time as a fresh-faced 19-year-old seeking adventure some years ago. Having been raised in Newport News, Virginia, and being quite accustomed to taking advantage of outdoor activities in beautiful surroundings, I was still humbled by the spectacular backdrop of the Blue Ridge Mountains. My best friend was attending Warren Wilson College (only a short distance from Asheville) at the time, and I would leave my own college in Georgia to visit her on weekends as often as she would have me.

When I would comment repeatedly, and perhaps a little annoyingly, on the glorious weather in the area, my friend would always remind me, “That’s because Asheville is protected by the bosom of the Blue Ridge, Heather.” Thankfully, over the intervening years, my friend and I have had literally hundreds of occasions to laugh and reenact this exact same conversation while enjoying a beautiful Asheville day together. I imagine that the mild weather is one of the reasons why so many people choose to retire to this area. Although I’m far from retirement, I chose to move to Asheville the moment it became feasible, and my love for this area remains as strong as it was when I first arrived 20 years ago.

One might be forgiven for experiencing difficulty in describing Asheville to those that have never visited. It’s difficult to reduce the Asheville experience to just a few adjectives. Part of this joyous irreducibility is born of the fact that Asheville is so much more than its beautiful natural environment. Beyond the breathtaking scenery, the inhabitants of Asheville also play a part in its uniqueness. Those that call Asheville home wear many hats: foodie, outdoors enthusiast, musician, farmer, internet entrepreneur, doctor, beer lover, poet, and more often than not, some wonderfully peculiar combination thereof.

When I first moved here, I had a tendency to describe the experience in an oversimplified manner as I hadn’t yet lived in Asheville long enough to discover all that it had to offer. People understood what I meant when I described Asheville as artsy or eclectic, and while those adjectives are appropriate to a degree, I’ve come to realize that possibly the greatest characteristic of this place is that it can be whatever you want it to be. Whatever you feel called to be or do in life, the citizens of Asheville generally aim to provide a supportive environment. However varied your interests may be, there’s a strong chance that you’ll find some folks here who share the same passions.

While I could ramble on romantically for hours about the spirit of this great city, there are also a number of practical advantages to living in the Asheville area.

The first of which, our mild weather, is probably of particular interest to those seeking to retire here.



Mild Weather:


Asheville sits in a valley surrounded by the Blue Ridge Mountains and is protected from harsher weather patterns that may exist in neighboring areas. The average year-round temperature in Asheville is 67 degrees, and only occasionally will it heat up to over 90 degrees in the summer months.  The average snowfall during each winter month is between four and five inches whereas the surrounding mountainous areas may receive much more should you decide to visit one of the nearby ski resorts. The Fall and Spring seasons generally see highs in the 60s and 70s and lows in the 40s and 50s. With such great weather, one might be inclined to…


Go Outside and Play!


Outdoors enthusiasts will marvel at the myriad opportunities for outdoor fun in and around Asheville. Here are just a few:


– Pisgah Forest National Park

– The Blue Ridge Parkway

– DuPont State Forest

– Chimney Rock State Park

– Mount Mitchell, Grandfather Mountain, and Cold Mountain

– The NC Arboretum

– Cataloochee Ski Area

– Craggy Gardens

– and lest we forget…


The Biltmore Estate:


The Biltmore Estate is simply awe-inspiring. It is America’s largest home boasting 250 rooms. It also sits on 8,000 acres offering luxury hotel accommodations, shopping, dining, a winery, a farm, a garden and many miles of outdoor trails. There are always rotating and special exhibits on display in the main house, and a yearly concert series in the summer. One simply cannot say enough about the Biltmore Estate. It is truly a magical place! And if we travel a couple of miles north, we’ll arrive in…


Downtown Asheville:


It’s difficult to keep an accurate count, however, there are over a hundred places to grab a bite to eat in downtown Asheville. One would have a hard time not finding something they liked with options ranging from not-so-humble food trucks to upscale seated dining. In addition to the many culinary delights in downtown Asheville, there are just as many, if not more, places to shop. Art, antiques, fashion, books, cigars, geological oddities—Downtown Asheville probably has a store that caters to your needs!


Health & Wellness:


A recent study by Smart Asset, a financial website, ranked Asheville the 9th
“Least Stressed City” in America. Part of that wonderful distinction comes from the thriving wellness industry created and supported by our health-conscious population. Moreover, the pursuit of healthy living here isn’t limited to the aforementioned outdoor adventures available. There are yoga studios, dance studios, CrossFit gyms, homeopathic stores, organic eateries and grocers, and of course, the fabulous farmers market.

The Western North Carolina Farmer’s Market has purveyors of local meats, produce, dairy, wines, honey, gardening supplies, plant-life and novelty items all year round in both indoor and outdoor booths. The Farmer’s Market is a huge draw for both vendors and consumers as it is a cost-effective way for all to produce and consume in a more health-conscious manner.

Interested in keeping your brain healthy as well? Then peruse the current course offerings at the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at the University of North Carolina at Asheville! The Osher Institute was created to serve those retirees in the community with insatiable desires to learn everything from working with Apple computers to writing poetry.


While I’ve provided some helpful starting points here, there is so much more that Asheville has to offer, and there are more reasons to explore this great city being created every day. I hope you’re able to find what speaks to you here in Asheville. I know I certainly have!

If you are looking to retire in the Asheville area, then make sure you have your own representation. North Carolina is a buyer beware state. I am an SRES (Senior Residential Estate Specialist). We are your local experts. Give us a call today to learn more about the different retirement communities in our lovely mountains.

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