What's it like to live in Asheville, NC?


Tayler Riouff

Profile written by local expert:

Tayler Riouff

Hailed as "The Land of the Sky," Asheville, North Carolina, is often considered by outsiders to be a delightfully strange place. At an elevation of just over 2,000 feet, Asheville sits along the Blue Ridge Parkway and between the Pisgah and Nantahala national forests. The area boasts an outdoor-friendly culture that’s complemented by a hip downtown.

Asheville's proximity to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park has propelled this relatively small metro area to the top of many travelers' must-visit lists. As a result, cultural attractions that cater to visitors have flourished in the region – much to the benefit of residents. With more than 25 art galleries, studios and museums within a half-mile radius of the downtown area, Asheville tends to draw creative types. The area's sidewalks become an impromptu stage for musicians and performers, and public art is scattered throughout the metro area. Meanwhile, the region is overflowing with craft breweries and farm-to-table restaurants.

Despite becoming a hot tourist destination, Asheville maintains a down-to-earth vibe. Those who move here from other parts of the country seem to appreciate the overall friendliness of this place – not to mention the mountain views.

Rankings

U.S. News analyzed 125 metro areas in the United States to find the best places to live based on quality of life and the job market in each metro area, as well as the value of living there and people's desire to live there.

Asheville, North Carolina is ranked:

#24 in Best Places to Live

6.9

Overall

Scorecard

Best Places to Live

  • Desirability
    7.7
  • Value
    6.3
  • Job Market
    6.2
  • Quality of Life
    7.2
  • Net Migration
    7.7

Read how we rank places

Asheville, NC Quick Stats

  • 441,724

    Metro Population

  • $40,330

    Average Annual Salary

  • N/A

    Avg High/Low Temps

  • 43.8

    Median Age

  • N/A

    Median Home Price

  • N/A

    AVG Annual Rainfall

  • 3.7%

    Unemployment Rate

  • $815

    Median Monthly Rent

  • 21.3 minutes

    Avg Commute Time

What's the cost of living in Asheville, NC?

The average cost of living in Asheville is slightly below the national average, though the region's growing population has caused housing costs to rise. The median income of Asheville residents falls below the national average, so potential homeowners can expect to devote a larger percentage of their income to housing costs. The region's growing popularity has also sparked a rise in the cost of everyday expenses, including groceries, health care and gas.

Value Index

Index Score: 6.3 /10

How we calculate this.


Asheville offers a lower value than similarly sized metro areas when you compare housing costs to median household income.

Buying or selling a home? Find top real estate agents in Asheville, NC.

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What's the weather like in Asheville, NC?

The weather in Asheville is best described as mild. During the summer months, nearly each day is punctuated by a fierce thunderstorm that seems to come out of nowhere. With well below the national average snowfall, Asheville winters are a mild season. Spring and fall are pleasant overall. 

What's the best way to get around Asheville, NC?

Driving a car is the easiest way to get around mountainous metropolitan Asheville.

Those who live close to downtown Asheville can get around on foot or by bike – that is, if the hilly terrain doesn't prove too challenging. The Asheville metro area is also serviced by several public bus routes radiating outward from downtown. However, the bus system – operated by Asheville Regional Transit – stops running later in the evening.

The Asheville Regional Airport can be found a little more than 15 miles south of downtown Asheville along Interstate 26, and it's serviced by American Airlines, Delta Air Lines, United Airlines and Allegiant Air. Residents can fly nonstop to Chicago and several destinations in the eastern U.S., including New York City; Washington, D.C.; and Atlanta. Intercity ground transportation is provided by coach bus companies like Greyhound.

Commuting in Asheville, NC

Means of Transportation
Driving
90%
Above national average

Bicycling
0%
Equal to national average

Walking
2%
Equal to national average

Public Transit
1%
Below national average
Average Commute Time

21.3 minutes

4.8 minutes less than national average

Average Commute Times by Zip Code

Data sourced from the U.S. Census Bureau's American Community Survey.

Who lives in Asheville, NC?

The University of North CarolinaAsheville draws about 4,000 young adults into the area – many of whom stay after graduating. The region is also a popular spot among retirees thanks to its pleasant climate and abundant activities. 

Just over half the population of Asheville identifies with a religion, with Protestantism accounting for a large portion of affiliations. 

Age Distribution

Marital Status Breakdown


Fewer single people in Asheville than
national average

Data sourced from the U.S. Census Bureau's American Community Survey.

What is there to do in Asheville, NC?

For many residents, the primary draw to living in Asheville is the area's prime access to outdoor activities. The metro area is located a short drive from the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, which features opportunities for seeing wildlife and stunning vistas, and hiking miles of trails. Asheville also offers easy access to the Appalachian Trail, and during the winter, opportunities to ski abound.

Asheville is home to an impressive art scene, housing a multitude of art galleries ranging from hole-in-the-wall single rooms to multifloored establishments like Blue Spiral 1 on Biltmore Avenue. Additionally, the metro area hosts numerous art festivals throughout the year, such as the Downtown Asheville First Friday Art Walks (held between April and December) and the Asheville Art in the Park market (held on Saturdays in June and October). Many of the smaller towns within the metro area – including Waynesville, Weaverville and Sylva – also have their own local art events.

During the warm months, restaurant menus throughout the region feature local produce. Meanwhile, residents can stock their own kitchens by shopping at places like the Western North Carolina Farmers Market, a 36-acre year-round marketplace where vendors offer everything from berries to preserves to honey. Other seasonal markets are held in Asheville and in other area towns.  

Asheville has also become famous for its craft brewing scene, housing more breweries per capita than any other city in the U.S. Residents can sample more than 100 different local brews, and come fall, the metro area celebrates its love of beer with the Brewgrass festival and Oktoberfest, held in September and October, respectively.