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  1. #1
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    Thinking about moving

    Hey guys, the wife and I are considering moving and are looking at the NC area as a potential fit for us. We both work from home, so being near a city is not a requirement for us here. We currently are on the Front Range in CO. Population density is really challenging (trails are getting overcrowded). The riding season is a bit weird and can be a bit shorter than I'd like. I'm also missing the east coast technical riding (wet rooty goodness). There are a few things that we're both looking for.

    Low cost of living
    MTB trails right from the door (even if it's a few miles to the trail head, riding instead of driving there is preferable)
    I like big all-mountain riding. Currently my rides are 1,500+ ft to the top, then bomb down as fast as I can.
    Vibrant art community (art galleries, plays, festivals).
    Plenty of yard space for gardening and building pump track/dirt jumps.


    What do you recommend?
    How's the riding season? (I won't ride in below 40F weather or snow. Just not fun for me)
    How busy are the trails?
    How is population growth?
    How much does it rain?

  2. #2
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    I will try to answer your questions but keep in mind a lot of what you asked is subjective. Nevertheless:

    I lived in Boone NC for 20 years.
    Riding season is pretty much year round
    Awesome trails including lift access bike park
    Cost of living is relatively low
    Slightly competitive to find a place in town
    Plenty of places close but outside of Boone
    You won't find that kind of vertical in Boone or neighboring Wilson Creek. But you will have plenty of technical riding plus Rocky Knob Bike Park that has a pump track

    I have lived in Asheville NC for the past three years
    Higher cost of living
    We live in the North East side of town near Warren Wilson college
    I can pedal from my house and be on the trail in 20min
    Housing and jobs are extremely scarce and competitive
    The closer to town you are the more crowded the trails are
    There are hundreds of miles of trails here that rival the best trails in the country
    Population growth is steady and it can rain a lot. Just depends
    Year round riding with inner sustained descents than the Boone area

  3. #3
    RDO
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    Brevard has most of what you want. Bike scene is well known, so I won't go into that. You can definitely bike to trails from in town without going on life-threatening roads.

    Art scene, depends on what you like, that said the boosters are always boosting it, but it's not so great for me. Pretty good music scene, not a theatre buff, but I know there is a local playhouse that puts on productions as well as whatever the college does. Brevard College adds a nice youthful element that somewhat offsets the ubiquitous retiree population. It also brings some culture and sport however it's financial status is tenuous and now that some of the NC public universities have dramatically lowered their tuition things could get worse.

    Out of town you'll get more acreage and less scrutiny. Downside is you don't have a lot of say if your neighbors create a shooting range or dirt bike track in their yard.

  4. #4
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    We just moved to WNC, so I can share my experiences.

    There is a ton of riding in Brevard and Asheville, with Bent Creek, DuPont, and Pisgah within a 20min drive, you have as much as you could ask for and a ton of variety. I'm not really into the art scene, so I can't comment, but the quality of life here is great with all sorts of good events, great food, beer, etc. It's a really cool place to be.

    Important for me, it's also not so remote that you don't get the benefits of being near a city. Yea, the airport isn't CLT, but it's close and we have really good internet access. If you work from home, the latter would be really important to look into, because some places do and others do not. Some we looked at didn't have it at all.

    As for riding to the trails, that was what I was hoping for, but it didn't work out. Mainly, because all the houses we looked at that were within riding distance to somewhere were too remote. I work from home in a tech business and having unreliable 10mbps internet isn't going to suffice for me. Most of the places in Brevard or Pisgah Forest that we looked at were on bad providers and were borderline riding distance anyway.

    I think that's the part where you are going to struggle to find a place. I understand the desire to ride to the trails, I lived within a half mile of my trail system where we were before and it was awesome. It sucks to have to drive to ride, but you end up with great trails and a lot of variety to choose from. I think you'll be hard pressed to find a place that you can ride out your door in the Brevard/Pisgah Forest area. I think the closest you'll find is Asheville near Bent Creek, there are a few neighborhoods with access trails that dump in there, but they are a lot more expensive, you have to deal with the city of Asheville, and they are moving quickly.

    That and real estate right now is hard to come by. The good houses are moving quickly, like hours of being listed. We ended up renting, but would have liked to buy, we just couldn't find anything because everything good moved so fast. When you browse online, it looks like you have a ton of options, but you really don't unless you want something that needs work or you'll have a hard time selling because of the neighborhood. Some of the neighborhoods here are getting cleaned up slowly, but a lot of the houses we looked at have neighbors with literal trash heaps in their yards. Considering the houses were in the $300k range, we would have never been able to turn around and resell until that was gone. Either that or the HOA was extremely strict (e.g. golf courses).

    The other thing to consider, and this reflects my riding experience/skill, you'll want to pick trails you can ride at the end of the day that meet your base level of riding ability. What I mean by that is, a lot of trails here have some pretty high consequence sections and can be pretty technical. At the end of the day, after spending 9 hours in front of a computer screen, I'm not focused enough and my baseline skills aren't high enough to rip down Bennett or Middle Black. I have to seriously get myself focused and hyped at the top before doing something like that and that's not something I can do on a daily basis. If your base skills (the type of stuff you can ride without putting intentional effort in) are higher, then this will be less of an issue, but it's something to consider. So being near a place like Bent Creek or DuPont is likely to provide more "after work" riding than Pisgah. As part of your consideration in moving here, I'd ride some of the trails and pick what you want to be closer to. In general, DuPont and Bent Creek are lower consequence, but Pisgah has some trails that work really well for after work stuff too, they're just fewer or further in (e.g. Sycamores, N Slope during the winter, Lower Black, Cove Creek).

    Oh yea, *rabble rabble rabble* Florida drivers *rabble rabble rabble*

    I'll also add that Boone is a great place, I grew up spending the summer there and it's a great town. You don't have the quantity of riding you do here, but Rocky Knob is really awesome and I'd consider it ideal for daily, after work rides. You have Beech during the summer and Emerald Outback, too. It is a little further out than Asheville area is, though, which is one of the main reasons we didn't move there.

  5. #5
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    I've lived in Charlotte, Raleigh/Durham, and now Asheville and I would recommend either Charlotte or Raleigh/Durham or one of the many many outliers in those areas.

    WNC (Asheville, Boone, etc.) is an area that is getting very crowded and there are very few well paying jobs and no affordable housing. Youd be waaay better off living in a cheaper place with more jobs and just driving up here to ride/hang out. Charlotte is only 2.5hrs and Raleigh 3.5hrs from AVL so you can easily do it in a day or long weekend.

    Based on you questions I would recommend Charlotte since the riding there is better than Raleigh and its closer to the mtns.

    If you arent bringing a good paying job with you, you are going to find it very challenging finding work and housing in Asheville or the surrounding areas. This is a tourist town with a ton of affluent folks and there isnt much left for the average guy.

    While the culutre, riding, etc. is amazing it would suck to have to work two jobs and live in a flop house just to be in a cool place. I really enjoyed living and riding in Charlotte and the riding scene there is STRONG. And rent/home prices are doable. I could get 4x the house in CLT that I could in AVL with money left over to buy a new bike haha.
    On your left!

  6. #6
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    WNC- even Asheville- is still cheap compared to the greater Denver Metroplex, which is where I think the OP is posting from. Also, he reportedly is BYOJ (bring your own job) equipped.

    It's awesome here. That's why it's growing so much.

    The high speed internet availability problem is real. Like, real to the point it's always being looked at by state legislature, federal office of rural development, and other entities as an economic development issue for more rural areas.

  7. #7
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    @ Adodero Thanks for the super awesome really thorough response. We're noticing a very similar thing here in Denver. Houses go within a day for 20k+ their already overpriced asking price. 450k is still a fixer-upper.

    Internet access is a really big deal as well, so thank you for mentioning that. That certainly does limit potential options, but if the gov is looking to fix it, it may not be so bad in 5-10 years.

    Like mentioned about we would be coming from Denver metro. I've got lots of trails within 20 minutes drive from me, and expanding that out more for weekends I've got access to high alpine backcountry rides and places like Moab. I understand that NC isn't this, but I'm looking for something that gets me more that style of riding. Bigger climbs followed by really fun fast descents. I like some flow, but it's not my thing if theres more technical options available.

    So far it's looking like Asheville area is hitting that most of what we're looking for. We had the opportunity to stop here for a few days last year and I really enjoyed the riding. Got to ride Black Mountain, Kitsuma, and Dupont. I'd definitely need a bit more time in the saddle to know which one I liked most of all, but Black Mountain and Kitsuma definitely fit my style a bit more.

    It does seem like every area is blowing up right now, but I'm curious how "bad" it is. Here in Denver like I mentioned, houses are gone after the open house for 10k+ more than asking price with 20 offers. These are houses that should be in the 250k range going for 450k. We were looking last year, and since them the average price has gone up about 50k for the same thing.
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  8. #8
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    Asheville would be a great option since you will already have a job. You might want to checkout Chattanooga, TN as well as Knoxville, TN. Both are great. Not sure about the art scenes though.
    Only issue with Asheville is if you or your wife were to lose your job. It might be tough to find one in the area. As long as you think both jobs are stable or you feel you could find other remote work, then Asheville is great. I personally wouldn't move to Charlotte or Raleigh with your (stable) job situation.

  9. #9
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    IF you have a job that is stable that you are bringing with you... and your current home value is in the high $200s and up you could make it work in AVL.

    Its next to impossible to find a decent home in town for under $200k right now. Our neighbors 3 bedroom 1.5 bath, 1100sq ft home, built in early 60's, with no A/C, and almost no updates besides paint etc. just sold for $280k. And we're on the outskirts of town. If you're looking in town in the more pedestrian/commuter friendly areas (West AVL, River Arts, Oakley, etc.) you will be paying a fair amount more for a home that will need work.

    Good news is as long as you dont need alot of home your options are better...
    On your left!

  10. #10
    RDO
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    Chattanooga and Knoxville both have good mtb options and are larger (I think) than Asheville. Only downside is elevation, < 1000 ft. One of the main draws of WNC is the elevation and climate that comes with it.

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by james.stoup View Post
    Internet access is a really big deal as well, so thank you for mentioning that. That certainly does limit potential options, but if the gov is looking to fix it, it may not be so bad in 5-10 years.
    I wouldn't hold my breath on that. Maybe in the city of Asheville, but as you get further out, it becomes more challenging to run the lines needed and people care less about it. People have a cow when their yards get torn up by utility companies for upgrades and with an older population in some areas, it's not as much of a priority.

    Some newer developments are getting fiber, though, so all is not lost, and inside of Asheville you are more likely to get AT&T or Spectrum, which is decent enough. Some neighborhoods even in Hendersonville and Brevard will have the same, but others that are further out from main highways and roads will be stuck with satellite (unreliable, slow) or local providers (unreliable, slow, poorly rated customer service).

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by Adodero View Post
    I wouldn't hold my breath on that. Maybe in the city of Asheville, but as you get further out, it becomes more challenging to run the lines needed and people care less about it. People have a cow when their yards get torn up by utility companies for upgrades and with an older population in some areas, it's not as much of a priority.

    Some newer developments are getting fiber, though, so all is not lost, and inside of Asheville you are more likely to get AT&T or Spectrum, which is decent enough. Some neighborhoods even in Hendersonville and Brevard will have the same, but others that are further out from main highways and roads will be stuck with satellite (unreliable, slow) or local providers (unreliable, slow, poorly rated customer service).
    Most of the one's that don't care are just old fogies. I can assure you that living in a town of around 4500 year round population, most people that I talk to do care, and care quite a bit. Cord cutters and online gamers being the big push, but even things like Youtube now need higher bandwidth connections with 4k content. What's holding it up isn't people bitching about their yard (not that it's a big factor anyway, fiber can be ran aerially), it's money. Replacing old copper lines for newer ADSL service, or putting up new fiber or coax infrastructure is a shit ton of cost to the provider. In most rural areas they aren't willing to pony up because it would take too long to recoup the cost. I work for an ISP that put in a large fiber ring some years ago to light up N GA, and WNC.

  13. #13
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    I'm going to make a suggestion that you expand your search to Roanoke, VA area (anywhere up the I-81 corridor). I grew up in Asheville and was lucky enough to experience the area before the boom. I now live in the Blue Ridge of central VA and find the riding is just as good. The city of Roanoke is much better for a cyclist than Asheville as you can ride the greenway straight from downtown and hit the trails on Mill Mountain. Carvin's Cove is the second largest municipal park in the country and is 15-20 minutes from Downtown depending on where you are and has 40+ miles double track and trails with more trails currently being built and planned. Less than an hour a way you have 20+ miles of single track at Pandapas Pond in Blacksburg, similar at Douthat State Park, and ridge line riding on North Mountain Trail (which you don't get in NC). Even more options are within 2 hours for weekend trips; riding outside of Roanoke is remote and very much what Pisgah used to be. You can ride all day on rugged trails and not see another soul. Just a thought to expand your search beyond the trendiness of Asheville and the baggage that brings to an area.

  14. #14
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    I'll second the suggestions for checking out Chattanooga. Very vibrant outdoors scene, cool town, tons of riding nearby. Not a ton of big mountain rides near it, but you can get some serious tech at TTC 30 minutes west. And it's only about a 2 hr drive to Brevard. Chattanooga is nicknamed "gig city" because they have such fast internet, so it would tick that box as well.

  15. #15
    Big Mac
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    Quote Originally Posted by rpearce1475 View Post
    I'll second the suggestions for checking out Chattanooga. Very vibrant outdoors scene, cool town, tons of riding nearby. Not a ton of big mountain rides near it, but you can get some serious tech at TTC 30 minutes west. And it's only about a 2 hr drive to Brevard. Chattanooga is nicknamed "gig city" because they have such fast internet, so it would tick that box as well.
    Hmmm, 2 hours to Brevard? What is your method of travel?

  16. #16
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    Yeah it is more like 3:15 to 4 hours to Chatt from Brevard. Unless you are going mach 1 on 40 or 64.
    Also, unfortunately TTC is currently closed because of losing access to the the top of the big side. That may change at some point, either the new owner granting access, moving access to Troy's or reopening the little side (but need decent 4x4 to get up there). Sure hope it reopens, that place is awesome.

  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by matty22c View Post
    Yeah it is more like 3:15 to 4 hours to Chatt from Brevard. Unless you are going mach 1 on 40 or 64.
    Also, unfortunately TTC is currently closed because of losing access to the the top of the big side. That may change at some point, either the new owner granting access, moving access to Troy's or reopening the little side (but need decent 4x4 to get up there). Sure hope it reopens, that place is awesome.
    There's some other trails in TTC you can access by pedaling up the fire roads, we used them in a race there in April. I believe you can use those if you pay the day use fee at the main area?

  18. #18
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    I don't think that would be a problem. However I would hop on the Facebook page, https://www.facebook.com/groups/279412218762485/ , and check. The trails are actually all on TTC property, it is just the shuttle drop-off that isn't. So you could ride/hike all the way to the top of 6 or goat if you wanted to (and Troy/FB group said it was ok). You can also take a fireroad to the top of the little side, but those trails haven't been maintained in years.

  19. #19
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    What about out by Western Carolina University? I haven't been there myself, but have a friend who grew up and went there and says it's pretty amazing for outdoor stuff. The university often takes the top spot for outdoor colleges in region. Housing will be very cheap compared to Asheville. It will be less crowded. Singletrack Sampler on YouTube just rode the new trails in Cherokee and had an absolute blast.

    I'm guessing there isn't as much in terms of arts or big mountain stuff and may feel more like the south, but tough to check everything off the list.

    With all that said, definitely worth checking out WNC yourself first hand. Ask to ride with some people on here and for them to show you around - maybe even have a place to crash? If it was me and I was moving solely for biking, I think I'd chose Brevard.

  20. #20
    Big Mac
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    Quote Originally Posted by bank5 View Post
    What about out by Western Carolina University? I haven't been there myself, but have a friend who grew up and went there and says it's pretty amazing for outdoor stuff. The university often takes the top spot for outdoor colleges in region. Housing will be very cheap compared to Asheville. It will be less crowded. Singletrack Sampler on YouTube just rode the new trails in Cherokee and had an absolute blast.

    I'm guessing there isn't as much in terms of arts or big mountain stuff and may feel more like the south, but tough to check everything off the list.

    With all that said, definitely worth checking out WNC yourself first hand. Ask to ride with some people on here and for them to show you around - maybe even have a place to crash? If it was me and I was moving solely for biking, I think I'd chose Brevard.
    Cullowhee really doesn't have much to offer. Very little in terms of biking, restaurants, arts, and what not. Brevard, absolutely.

  21. #21
    Purpnurp
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    I just moved to charlotte from nyc/nj area and Im never going back. Its beautiful here and most people I have encountered are involved in some sort of outdoor activity. I recently got another bike after being off of one for almost a decade and took up many other outdoor recreational activities as well. Great weather and lots of economic growth in many fields down here. Cost of living in Charlotte is NOT cheap, not as cheap as I thought it would be. It is almost comparable to north jersey where I am from. If that is a factor, some of the other places mentioned already are probably better.

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