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Pink sunset of the Asheville, NC skyline

10 Things to Know About Living in Asheville

Want to wake up to a breathtaking mountain view? Do you enjoy art, historic architecture, and great food? Asheville might just be a great fit for you! One of the best places to live in the South, Asheville offers affordable housing, excellent job opportunities, and plenty of things to do for all ages. Ready to pack your bags? Check out these 10 things to know about living in Asheville!

Abundant Employment Opportunities

Although Asheville ranks as just the 12th most populous city in North Carolina, its job market is thriving. Boasting a 3.4% unemployment rate (nearly 1% below the national average), this North Carolina city offers a variety of career opportunities that range from healthcare to climate technology. Asheville is home base for Mission Health, one of the largest healthcare systems in western North Carolina, which employs over 10,000 people. In fact, it was voted one of the best places to work in 2018 based on pay and company culture. Another unique opportunity is with The Collider, which helps develop and train new businesses that provide climate change-related products and services. Additionally, you can check out positions at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and the National Centers for Environmental Information (NCEI), which are located just around the corner from The Collider.

Great Neighborhoods

Where are the best places to live in Asheville? Kenilworth and Five Points are among the best neighborhoods in Asheville for singles and young professionals who want affordable housing and easy commutes into the downtown area. Looking for family-friendly suburbs in Asheville? Biltmore Forest and Biltmore Park are growing communities with luxurious homes, safe streets, and highly-rated schools. Or maybe you’re searching for an affordable area with a good mix of urban and suburban amenities? Check out West Asheville, which appeals to young adults, families, and retirees alike!

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Spend the Day at Biltmore

Visiting Biltmore Estate is one of the best things to do in Asheville! Tour the beautiful Biltmore House, a 178,926-square-foot mansion once owned by George Vanderbilt where you can see examples of artwork and architecture from the Gilded Age. Head outside to the 8,000-acre “backyard” to experience everything from biking and fly fishing to riverboat trips and even falconry. And you can’t leave without grabbing dinner at one of the 15 on-site restaurants. Menus feature fresh meats, produce, and award-winning wines all from the estate’s grounds. Polish off your stop by shopping your way through Biltmore’s stores. Whether you’re looking for classic toys, arts and crafts, or a bottle of wine to go, you won’t be disappointed!

Try Some Un-Carolina-Like Barbecue

Brisket an rib platter with sauces. Photo by Instagram user @12bonesribes

Photo via @12bonesribs

North Carolina is traditionally known for its own particular style of barbecue, but 12 Bones Smokehouse breaks the mold and plays by its own set of rules. Known as one of the best places to eat in Asheville and located just south of the River Arts District, this restaurant is tough to miss, as the exterior is covered in murals. Inside, you’ll find the menu scribbled on chalkboards behind the walkup counter. And while you’ll find classic barbecue staples like pulled pork and brisket, you won’t want to miss out on 12 Bones Smokehouse’s signature dish—Blueberry Chipotle Ribs. The dish is so desirable that former President Barack Obama once stood in line while on vacation to grab a slab!

No Barbecue for You? No Problem

Crostini with apple on top from Curate. Photo by Instagram user @curatetapasbar

Photo via @curatetapasbar

Besides great barbecue, Asheville’s loaded with cuisine to satisfy anyone’s appetite. For a unique night out, try Curate Bar De Tapas. Located in a bus depot from the 1920s, this Spanish spot specializes in sharable plates, sherries, and wine. If you’re looking for a restaurant for a special occasion (or any occasion, really), drop by Bouchon and enjoy French comfort food like Boeuf Bourguignon. For a quick bite, check out local favorite Rocky’s Hot Chicken Shack. This no-frills chicken joint serves classic hot chicken that lets you customize the heat—just don’t forget to polish off your meal with their Coca-Cola Cake. And if you need a seafood fix, pop in to The Lobster Trap. Besides serving up classic lobster and oyster dishes, you’ll also get to enjoy local craft beers and live music.

Take a Brews Cruise

Looking for fun things to do in Asheville? Jump on board a big yellow Brews Cruise bus and head to the South Slope Brewery District. Catering to everyone from beer novices to brewing aficionados, Brews Cruise allows you to tour several different local breweries and try ample amounts of tasty craft beer samples. Locations on the tour list include Catawba Brewing Co.Hi-Wire Brewing, and Twin Leaf Brewery. And if you’re looking for an extended tour, you can venture over to the River Arts District, where you’ll tour three additional locations like Pisgah Brewing Co., which features organic beer. If you’d prefer to get exercise while experiencing one of the best beer cities in the U.S., Brews Cruise offers walking tours as well.

Explore the Excellent Shopping

With more than 200 stores to peruse throughout Asheville, shopping is always a good time. Pop into Ten Thousand Villages, where you’ll find handmade artisanal home decor from around the world. If you’re in the mood for a good book and a drink, Battery Park Book Exchange and Champagne Bar is a fun stop! Head over to Virtue Boutique to pick up boho-style outfits and accessories, or find vintage-style clothing from indie designers at Hip Replacements. And don’t forget to check out Flipside Boardshop, Asheville’s only snowboarding and skate shop!

Head Out to Mount Mitchell State Park

skyline of the Blue Ridge Mountains on a cloudy day. Photo by Instagram user @hikingjean

Photo via @hikingjean

Looking for a family-friendly activity? Head to Mount Mitchell State Park. At 6,600 feet, Mount Mitchell tops the Blue Ridge mountain range. The summit has an observation deck with a 360-degree view where visitors can look out up to 85 miles. With hiking trails for all skill levels, you can take a gentle stroll down the Balsam Nature Trail or test your abilities on the Deep Gap Trail. No matter which trail you choose, you’ll be surrounded by 91 species of birds and a variety of rare plants.

Check Out the DAAD

Glass blowing at Lexington Glassworks. Photo by Instagram user @lexingtonglass

Photo via @lexingtonglass

If the arts are your thing, exploring the Downtown Asheville Art District (DAAD) will be one of most fun things to do in Asheville. The DAAD features 20 different locations that are all within a two-mile radius. On the first Friday of each month (April through December), join other enthusiasts on art walks. On these self-guided tours, you’ll get the chance to see fine art and studio crafts from both local and nationally-known artists. One of the local favorites in the area is Blue Mountain College Museum + Arts Center, which is known for its events like the annual “{Re}happening,” as well as loads of performances and installations from local and international artists. If you’re looking for a truly unique adventure, head on over to Lexington Glassworks to find a working studio where glassblowers create custom pieces and put on demonstrations six days a week.

Get Your Groove On

Named by Thrillist as one of America’s top 12 music cities, Asheville has tunes for everyone. Attend a festival like Downtown After 5 in Downtown Asheville, where you’ll regularly find more than 5,000 people in attendance and loaded stage lineups. Want to get in on the action? Shindig on the Green features a massive stage at Pack Square Park, where you can relax and listen or join in with one of the informal jam sessions happening throughout the park. Head down to the world-renowned venue The Orange Peel, which has hosted acts like Bob Dylan and Skrillex over the years. Fun Fact: Asheville is the hometown of the late Robert “Bob” Moog, who invented the Moog synthesizer and is considered a pioneer of electronic music. You can even take a tour of the Moog Factory, where Moog’s products are still produced!


10 Things to Know About Living in Asheville, NC

About Mike Beutler

Mike Beutler is a writer and digital content specialist who transitioned to self storage in 2020 after several years in the airline industry. His travels cultivated a passion for exploring cities across the U.S. and abroad and inspired him to learn more about practical insights for urban living. With 14 moves under his belt, both locally and cross-country, he also has a passion for minimalism and organization, and sharing tips to help others make any space feel like home while staying organized.