Rank these cities please- Mtbr.com
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  1. #1
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    Rank these cities please

    Currently pursuing an awesome opportunity in the Carolinas. The firm has a few offices and has requested I rank them. I originally thought the position was for Charleston, but it seems there is some lee way.

    Obviously I figured I'd turn to the mountain bikers of the internet for opinions...

    My biggest thing with a potential new local is access to the great outdoors. I'm a mountain biker first, but I love to backpack, hike, climb, canoe, xc ski, and more. I grew up in a small town, I want culture and city amenities, but not the big overgrown mess. I'm young so stuff like school systems means little. I like good food and good beer. So please, if you can, give me some background and state your case for the following:

    -Asheville, NC (okay I already know they rock for beer, riding, and forest/mountain access so they I think are number 1)
    -Charlotte, NC
    -Raleigh, NC
    -Fairfax, VA
    -Charleston, SC

    Thanks for the help.
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  2. #2
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    Think you got it nailed, don't waste anymore time 2nd guessing yourself.
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  3. #3
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    Asheville then Charleston then the rest. Obviously Charleston ain't close to the mtns (not that far away either), but the quality of life is very good there nonetheless.

    If they had an office in Charlottesville, VA I'd give that one a nod too based off of what you describe. It and Asheville are generally ranked the high in the mid-atlantic.
    I like 'em long, low, slack and playful

  4. #4
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    I would tend to agree with your list and the order. However, the CLT area has a lot of great trails and is pretty close to Asheville, is closer to the coast, and has somewhat milder winters, in addition to some "big city" qualities. Raleigh area (where I live) is a great place as well. Don't see how you can go wrong with any of the top 3.

  5. #5
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    I would rank them like this:
    -Asheville, NC - duh
    -Charlotte, NC - decent biking, close to linville(climbing, hiking, camping), Wilson Creek, Dark Mtn. Beech and Sugar aren't that far either (lift accessed riding and snow sports) Not far from asheville either. Whitewater park for watersports. Tons of climbing within 2 hrs. Crowders Mtn (hate the hike and style of rock) is right there. Great downtown.
    -Charleston, SC - About the same distance to the mountains as Raleigh, but its the beach and an awesome town.
    -Raleigh, NC - Decent riding, decent town, 2 hrs from beach, 3+ hrs to the mountains. A lot of things going for it, but the location sucks, especially when you can pick one of the other cities.

    I know nothing about Fairfax so I can't rank it.

    Cost of housing will be the most in Asheville. Gas and other items are decently high as well. Raleigh and Charlotte aren't cheap either, but there are tons of houses of all ages and lots of suburbs. Not sure if your salary will change at all based on location (doubt it) but it is something to think about.

  6. #6
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    It's pretty obvious that your first choice should be Asheville. The only thing "wrong" with the area is the lack of jobs so if you've got that covered you're golden.

    Charlotte and Raleigh are decent 2nd and 3rd choices.

    I've got an old riding buddy who is now living in Charleston and he loves the area for access to surf and paddling opportunities but he says it's awful for cycling (both road and mountain). If riding is important to you I'd cross Charleston off the list.

    I know nothing about Fairfax so I can't comment on it.

  7. #7
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    Thanks for the info everyone. I suppose in my gut I knew what to do, but doesn't hurt to get feedback from people in the area. I pretty much told him Asheville is tops and Fairfax is the bottom (metro DC, no thanks).

    Charleston would definitely be cool. Culture, food, a change from New England. I find recreation wherever I go. I love to paddle. I'd survive.

    Curious, what are the winters like in the mountains? A quick Google search shows NC has ski resorts, really? I mean I understand there is elevation but I figured the latitude would play in.

    One thing I love about New England is the distinct seasons, and winter is a favorite. I haven't downhilled in a while but I want to get back into it. But I love to xc ski and snowshoe a fair bit.
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  8. #8
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    On the plus side you do have distinct seasons, and on the bigger plus side, fall/winter is NOT 7 months long.
    On the minus side, you're not gonna be seeing Windham-type slopes but it seems like most of the serious skiers go to Snowshoe in West VA anyway.
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  9. #9
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    Asheville is in a valley and gets mostly rain with a few decent ~6 inch snowfalls a year. The ski areas are ok, but extremely short compared to Northern areas. You spend more time in line for lifts and on the lift than you do on the slopes. Lots of ice and man made snow with some powder days mixed in. Still a fun time though. When the mountains get some snow (6+ inches) the blue ridge parkway is an awesome place to xc ski/snowshoe. Parts of the parkway (the higher elevations) are closed during the winter months (like 2 months here), so it is perfect for skiing. You can also access the fields/balds from the parkway, ie the bowl near Mt Michell and Black Balsam. Some limited ice climbing (lead and top rope-able) as well.

  10. #10
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    It's hard to top Asheville, but I'd rank Fairfax above Charlotte or Raleigh any day. Much closer to the mountains than either of those other towns, and the general population is a bit more high brow.

    There is fantastic mountain biking 35 minutes west of Fairfax in Front Royal. To the south is Harrisonburg, to the north is Frederick. Both towns have great mountain biking, and access to other outdoor pursuits. You won't find any bulldozer trails there, but if you like rocks...

    Fairfax is also on the Metro line, which takes you into the city and the surrounding area, where you will find great music, museums, and food. You won't find much of that in Charlotte, while there are some gems there, they are fewer and further between than anything in NOVA and you won't find as many blue jeans and white sock types, if you catch my drift.

    I don't know much about Raleigh, nor do I care to.

    Charleston is amazing, but it is the beach. Not much else to say. Fishing, surfing, kayaking, etc...all fun.

    Consider Greenville, SC also. It is not far at all from the Asheville area and has a great downtown, and is really close to some whitewater, decent riding year round and has a bit more color to offer than Asheville.

  11. #11
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    Would the firm let you work 3 months in each location and then decide? Or could you take a couple weeks to explore each spot?



    Each one has plusses and minuses and it's tough to get a feel based on biased internet opinions.

    Here's my opinion:

    Asheville - Amazing biking. I'm becoming less of a fan of downtown Asheville but I love Brevard. Wish it was closer to lakes or the ocean.

    Raleigh - Jack of all trades. Will probably need to travel some for epic adventures. You can do it in 1 day, but it'll involved 6+ hours of driving

    Charleston - small town feel for a city. Feels more Southern than the rest.

    Charlotte - Cool downtown. Clean and nice.

    Fairfax - Cool town. Suburban sprawl, horrible traffic at least around DC

  12. #12
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    Asheville, NC is #1 by far.

    Charleston, SC is not even on the radar.

    These 2 I will rate fairly equally.

    Raleigh has better mountain biking than Charlotte but Charlotte does have the White Water Center which is pretty cool. Also is half the distance to Western NC where all the cool sh!t is.

    I used to live in Fairfax. Iremember some trails when I was a kid that I thought were cool but not sure what it is like now 27 years later.

    If you have a choice and your selection is going to be based on outdoor activities, there really is only one choice. In comparison the others are not even a consolation prize.
    Just stick it in granny and start grinding.

  13. #13
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    1. Ashevlle (moved here from Charlotte area)
    2. Charlotte
    3. Raleigh
    4. Charelston
    5. Fairfax(never been there)

    Asheville and surrounding areas has it all if your into outdoor adventures. Plus the nightlife is better than all the other places IMO. Charelston might be close for night life but there is no mountain biking of any sort down there. A few trails but the other places on your list are significantly better.

    Charlotte would be my second choice. Quality of life is high and you can get more bang for your buck there and its a nice place to live, if you can put up with all the yuppies/bro-dudes downtown. Second best next to Asheville for riding. The local club there maintains over 100 miles of singletrack, all within 30-45 minutes of downtown. Your also only 2-3 hours from good riding in the mountains. However, Charlotte is fairly crowded and commuting into/out of the city is a SOB during the week.

    Raleigh is another locale where you can get more bang for your buck as far as housing, etc. The riding isnt as good as Charlotte or AVL but there are still some nice trails. Bad side is your looking at a 5+ hour drive to get to good riding in the mountains. But your close(ish) to the coast so theres that. Raleigh as decent nightlife and you have a few other towns (Durham, Greensboro, etc) you can visit if you get bored with Raleigh.

    Charleston is cool but no good riding and your 4 hours from the mountains. Nice place to visit but wouldnt want to live there.

    Fairfax Ive never been too so who knows? It could be awesome.
    On your left!

  14. #14
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    ^^^ agree with the above, Asheville rocks! We live in Charlotte and we have a ton of local trails and a great biking community with the mountains very close by. We have lived in Charleston twice, and while is a great place to visit on vacation it has a different vibe. I would not live there again.

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by Banjopickin View Post
    1. Ashevlle (moved here from Charlotte area)
    2. Charlotte
    3. Raleigh
    4. Charelston
    5. Fairfax(never been there)
    This. Throw Fairfax out. The cost of living will be significantly higher than any of the others. Yes, it is close to rocks of VA (and PA for that matter). It is worth it for anyone to make a long weekend out of RothRock and Allegrippis in PA, but I wouldn't want to live up there just for that.

    I live in Raleigh, a rare native. Plenty to do here. Same for Charlotte. I wouldn't complain if I had to move there. If I had the opportunity to go to Asheville, I'd jump at the chance.

  16. #16
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    I've lived three of the five since I started riding mountain bikes (Asheville, Raleigh, and Fairfax...currently Asheville, no plans to move.)

    Asheville's great.

    Raleigh's pretty good.

    Fairfax is a complete pain in the ass and your paycheck will go about half as far as anywhere else on the list.

  17. #17
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    Asheville
    Charlotte
    Charleston (It's really nice down there)
    then the rest as I don't really know much about them.

  18. #18
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    Update: They're trying to fly me out ASAP as I hopped through all the little hoops so far. The thought is I'd start in Charlotte (HQ) with the idea of moving to the satellite office in Asheville after a year or two.

    So here's my question... what's Charlotte like? I had no idea it was such a bgi city until I googled it. I'm more of a rural boy, I sort of despise suburban sprawl, not to sound like a douche.

    But I enjoy the idea of good culture, restaurants, a close airport, all that jazz. Is there good beer? Music (as in like local scene, not that big name bands have to come in to town)? Is traffic a *****? I'm from New England remember, I had long shaggy hair for a while, and I pedal an SS; will I be that odd hipster yankee with the liberal views (fyi I could care less about politics)?

    I'm up for an adventure, I bet Charlotte could deliver. US Whitewater Center sounds sick. I bet there is a climbing gym in town (stopped climbing here on Cape Cod). I'm not a football guy. Pro sports don't do it for me. I'm all about getting in the woods and playing. I guess I will be giving up xc skiing down there.

    And as far as riding goes. I was checking out the Tarheel Trailblazers page, definitely looks like there is riding. But it seems...short. 3 miles here, 6 miles there, with little possibility of linking it up. Granted, I know zilch about the area. But I've always been blessed with 30-50 miles of singletrack out my door. Lots of opportunity to make different loops, not ride in a circle. Variety. Nice 2-4 hour spins without hitting a trail twice.

    Thanks for the great info, Charlotte is like the Cape. I never planned to move there, but hell, I love something new so its feeling like a good idea.
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  19. #19
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    Inner Peaks is the climbing gym and there is a 40+ ft wall at the Whitewater Center as well. Crowders mtn is like 15 minutes to the east for some real climbing. But I hate the rock and the hike up (steep gravel road to steep steps). Also lots of tourists at the top who may throw **** down on you, but that is only the first couple of climbs. Also a boulder spot, d!ckson(spam filter) School boulders IIRC. I can hook you up with some friends that hit the gym a lot if you are interested.

    Definitely some good beer and most of the places will have a good selection of other beers including some of NC's finest.

    Traffic isn't too bad, although it is not fun at 5 on a weekday. But there are tons of surface streets to bypass the clogged highways once you know your way.

    No skiing in charlotte for sure, minus a 10 incher or so every couple of years. Beech, Appalachian Ski Mtn, Sugar mtn only a short trip up hwy 321 though. Maybe 2 hours to Sugar/Appalachian.

    Don't know much about the riding in Charlotte. Uwharrie is pretty sweet, but it is about an hour away from downtown, to the northeast, and that is about half the time to the sweet pisgah riding (so tough to justify it). It isn't too long either, but easy to do the 2 loops multiple times for 20+ miles.

    If you like music and culture, you might want to look at getting a place close to the lynx (light rail). It will take you into the city where you can access all of that stuff.

  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by iceboxsteve View Post
    Update: They're trying to fly me out ASAP as I hopped through all the little hoops so far. The thought is I'd start in Charlotte (HQ) with the idea of moving to the satellite office in Asheville after a year or two.

    So here's my question... what's Charlotte like? I had no idea it was such a bgi city until I googled it. I'm more of a rural boy, I sort of despise suburban sprawl, not to sound like a douche.

    But I enjoy the idea of good culture, restaurants, a close airport, all that jazz. Is there good beer? Music (as in like local scene, not that big name bands have to come in to town)? Is traffic a *****? I'm from New England remember, I had long shaggy hair for a while, and I pedal an SS; will I be that odd hipster yankee with the liberal views (fyi I could care less about politics)?

    I'm up for an adventure, I bet Charlotte could deliver. US Whitewater Center sounds sick. I bet there is a climbing gym in town (stopped climbing here on Cape Cod). I'm not a football guy. Pro sports don't do it for me. I'm all about getting in the woods and playing. I guess I will be giving up xc skiing down there.

    And as far as riding goes. I was checking out the Tarheel Trailblazers page, definitely looks like there is riding. But it seems...short. 3 miles here, 6 miles there, with little possibility of linking it up. Granted, I know zilch about the area. But I've always been blessed with 30-50 miles of singletrack out my door. Lots of opportunity to make different loops, not ride in a circle. Variety. Nice 2-4 hour spins without hitting a trail twice.

    Thanks for the great info, Charlotte is like the Cape. I never planned to move there, but hell, I love something new so its feeling like a good idea.
    Charlotte is a cool city plus you're only roughly an hour and a half from DuPont and the Mills River areas of the Pisgah NF.

  21. #21
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    Charlotte is surrounded by rural towns. Depending on where your office is, you shouldn't have to go too far outside the city to find a quaint spot.

    The area has a lot going for it, so I don't think you would be disappointed. And its 70 today. Perfect area for year-round riding.

  22. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by iceboxsteve View Post
    But I enjoy the idea of good culture, restaurants, a close airport, all that jazz. Is there good beer? Music (as in like local scene, not that big name bands have to come in to town)? Is traffic a *****? I'm from New England remember, I had long shaggy hair for a while, and I pedal an SS; will I be that odd hipster yankee with the liberal views (fyi I could care less about politics)?
    You will be happier when you get to Asheville. lol

    However, Charlotte will keep you entertained enough for a year or so if that is all it really takes.

    As far as being a 1.5 hours from DuPont and Mills River, that is true if you live in Eastern Suburbs outside of Charlotte. However if you live in Charlotte you are looking at more like 2 to 2.5 hours without traffic depending on where you live.
    Just stick it in granny and start grinding.

  23. #23
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    All of the above is true. I lived outside of Charlotte almost all of my life and its not a bad town. It has come a looooong way as far as culture(music, food, art, etc.) in the last 10 years. There is also a pretty strong local cycling community there and plenty of folks to ride with no matter what you favor (mountain, road, cross, etc.) There are a few eclectic neighborhoods (NoDa), a few decent breweries, and its not a bad town over all. Compared to Asheville its still a very conservative, "wine and button down shirt" town.

    +1 on living in the outskirts if you can. You wont be close to nightlife but you can get better deals on housing, taxes, etc. I lived in a town southeast of Charlotte, out in the county. We had chicken houses and cows across the street, we could have a bonfire, and shoot skeet or hunt on the weekends whenever we liked, and we could be in uptown Charlotte in 45mins.

    The riding is probably the best in NC east of the Blue Ridge. The Trailblazers do an amazing job of maintaining tons of trail right in town. No you cant get 30 milers in but you can do some fun rides if your not worried about doubling up stuff. Plus the mountains are only 2 hours away.
    On your left!

  24. #24
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    Agree with most things said above about Charlotte however I would not want to live on the outskirts but that's a personal thing. I live close to uptown which is great as I can ride to work. Although the traffic isn't that bad compared to some places it's enough that it would drive me crazy... so I guess that all depends on where you are going to be working.

    There is a local music scene. Snug Harbor in Plaza Midwood is a great place to see local bands and sample great brews. Noda is also good for music (Neighborhood Theatre and Evening Muse) as well as Charlottes two best breweries (Noda Brewery who won best IPA at the American Beer festival this year and Birdsong Brewery)

    The riding is good for the week days then head 2 hrs to Wilson Creek or 2 and a bit for Brevard area trails for the weekend.

    Yes there are plenty of douchy types around but that just makes the counter-culture stronger :-)

  25. #25
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    Hey all. Probably should've posted this sooner. In Charlotte for an interview. Not getting any riding in (have a bone to pick with Industry Nine, tore a part a four month old hub, another story).

    What shops do people like? I judge a city on its bars, coffee shops, and bike shops. Looking for places to stop in and say hi. Since bike snobs are a bit of a turn off I wanted to see what's in the Queen City. Though I'm realizing I only have tomorrow so hopefully a shop or two is open Sundays... Thanks all.
    Don't buy upgrades; ride up grades.

  26. #26
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    I tried to move to Asheville once from Columbia SC, for a similar position at a similar firm. You haven't mentioned cost of living in your criteria, but salaries for professional level jobs in Asheville are lower than adjacent larger cities AND cost of living in Asheville is higher than adjacent larger cities. So you should expect about a 15%-20% hit to your pocket book if you move to Asheville. Other than that, its a great town.

  27. #27
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    Yeah, I was right, most shops were closed Sunday. Which worked out well because we went drinking instead. Birdsong and NoDa were a good time. Great beer. I was really impressed with the city. Since its bigger than Boston I didn't know what to expect. Pretty clean and didn't feel that big. Good food. Inner Peaks looked good, Whitewater Center was cool. I think I could survive there a bit. Thanks for the tips folks.
    Don't buy upgrades; ride up grades.

  28. #28
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    Yeah it is a nice city. Probably the best the piedmont has to offer. Much closer to the mountains than Raleigh, G-boto/Winston are just as close (and closer to good climbing) but not as nice citywise.

    There is also another climbing gym being built with 45ft walls, or so a charlotte friend tells me. Not sure when it is set to open.

  29. #29
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    Next Steps

    They offered me the job. I've been watching a lot of Pisgah videos to get stoked. Though Charlotte really seems like a nice place to try out for a few years at my age.

    Anyone have tips/leads/etc. on places to live? I was originally thinking Southend to be near the light rail/heard good things/local riding. But Plaza Midwood and NoDa look like fun places for me. Not as close to riding or work but not terrible by any means.

    Bad neighborhoods? Places to avoid? Know of a cousin/uncle/brother renting a place out? Need a cool young roommate who can pay rent on time, likes good beer, and getting in the woods whenever he can?
    Don't buy upgrades; ride up grades.

  30. #30
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    Sorry I missed your post; hope you found a decent shop or 2 to drop in on. My son lives in the Dilworth section, immediately south of 277. Great area. If you will be working downtown, living in the city is the place to be to avoid having to commute in traffic. He usually rides his bike to work. Still easy access to in-town trails (Backyard, Renaissance Pk, etc.), Whitewater Center (they just had the Rumble in the Concrete Jungle, DH and short track races there last weekend), and not too far from Lake Norman St Park trails, etc. CLT is a blast; you will enjoy it!

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