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Moving To Asheville

Are you considering a move to Asheville? We'd love to help you get oriented! We've gathered some helpful information about Asheville that should make your move a bit easier. Do you have questions about something you don't see here? Email us!

Asheville Stats

Asheville City Population: 92,500 people 

Buncombe County Population: 259,000 people

Asheville MSA (Metropolitan Statistical Area) Population: 459,000. The MSA includes Buncombe, Haywood, Henderson, and Madison Counties. Other towns in the MSA include Hendersonville, Waynesville, Biltmore Forest, Black Mountain, Canton, Clyde, Flat Rock, Fletcher, Hot Springs, Laurel Park, Maggie Valley, Mars Hill, Marshall, Mills River, Montreat, Weaverville, and Woodfin.

Elevation: Asheville is situated in a valley at 2,134 feet elevation, surrounded by much higher peaks including Mt Mitchell 6,684 feet, the highest peak east of the Mississippi River.

Colleges: The University of North Carolina in Asheville is the largest college with 3,600 students. See our guide to Schools in the Asheville area.

Transportation: Asheville Regional Airport welcomes 1.5+ million passengers each year. The Asheville Transit Systems includes 16 bus lines. There is no passenger train service. See our Transportation & Driving section for more.

Weather varies greatly in our mountains due to the elevation differences. With four distinct seasons, our mountains protect our valleys from severe weather and extreme temperatures. The annual average rainfall in Asheville is 46 inches. Many areas of the mountains surrounding the city are a temperate rain forest with 80+ inches each year at places like Gorges State Park. Annual snowfall ranges from 10 inches in the city to 90 inches per year atop Mt. Mitchell. Check out Asheville's stats from the U.S. Climate Data website or the Asheville Chamber of Commerce Climate Report

The Cost of Living Index for Asheville is 100.4 (the national average is 100). By comparison, Atlanta is 102.3 and Charlotte is 98.2.

Average home cost (As of January 2023): $519,000


Utilities & Services

If you live within the Asheville City limits, it is likely that you will have access to sewer, water, trash and recycling services through the city. Check the City of Asheville website to see if your home has access to these services. 

If you do not have access to these utilities through the city, here are some alternatives, which may vary based on your location:

Trash & Recycling: Waste Pro USA, Waste Management

Water & Septic: See our Personal Services Guide for recommended well water and septic service providers.  

Other Utility Providers: Access to these may vary based on location. Your real estate agent can help you find out this information for your new home or an area that you are interested in moving to. We highly recommend verifying whether internet services can transfer to new homeowners. 

Electric: Duke Energy

Natural Gas: Dominion Energy

Propane Gas: Blossman Gas, Suburban Propane, AmeriGas, Freeman Gas

Cable: Spectrum, Dish, DirecTV

Internet: Spectrum, Optimum, AT&T (Fiber in some locations), Verizon, Frontier, Skyrunner

Places To Stay

Asheville is full of accommodations options for visitors and the choices can be overwhelming! 

Your primary consideration might be location - do you want to be within walking distance to everything in town, or do you want to wake up to a view over the mountains? Or perhaps you want to see what it's like to stay in a neighborhood in a specific area of town? 

Other things to consider are cost, and whether you're traveling with kids or pets. The links below give some great suggestions for a variety of accommodation types and if you need more recommendations, feel free to reach out to us - we're here to help! 

AirBnB

Cabins & Cottages

Hotels & Resorts

Bed & Breakfasts & Inns

Campgrounds & Hostels

Romantic Asheville.com Places To Stay

Wilson's Riverfront RV Park

Team Firefly Picks:

Chestnut Street Inn

Foundry Hotel

Wrong Way River Lodge & Cabins

The Moonlight - AirBnB at Muddy Boot Farm (Glamping!)

The Bee's Knees - Pet Friendly AirBnB in Swannanoa

AirBnB - 1 Bed / 1 Bath Studio, 5 minutes from Downtown Asheville - Mountain Views!

AirBnB - 1 Bed / 1 Bath Studio, 5 minutes from Downtown Asheville - Mountain Views & Dog Friendly!

Barkwells - The Dog Lovers' Vacation Retreat

Retirement Information

Asheville's ideal location, seasonal weather and opportunities for connection make the area a big draw for retirees. Whether folks are seeking a more mild climate from the far north or south, hoping to be closer to family, or are looking for low-maintenance living in a beautiful setting that is not too big or too small, Asheville has the right recipe for many looking to make the most of their next chapter. 

UNC Asheville is home to the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute (OLLI), an award-winning, internationally-acclaimed learning community dedicated to promoting lifelong learning, leadership, community service, and research, with the goal of enabling their members to thrive in life’s second half.

From social clubs and volunteer opportunities to soaking in the outdoor, art and food scene, we can see why so many retirees are called here. Here are some resources from OLLI and other places that can help those planning for a retirement move.

AARP

Area Agency on Aging

Asheville Chamber of Commerce Retirement Resources

Assisted Living Research Institute

Blue Ridge Center for Lifelong Learning

Carolina Living Choices

College For Seniors Program

Creative Retirement Exploration Weekend

Leadership Asheville Seniors

Osher Lifelong Learning Institute

Industries & Employers

In 2022, six key industries were identified that represent about 80% of the Asheville metro area economy, based on data from Riverbend Research provided by the Asheville Chamber of Commerce.

Those industries, in order of employment numbers are: Education & Health Services (18% or 36,900 employees), Leisure & Hospitality (14% or 27,900 employees), Retail Trade (14% with 26,000 employees), Government (12% with 25,800 employees), Manufacturing (11% with 22,400 employees), Professional & Business Services (11% with 20,900 employees)

Broken down in an even more granular way, the employers that are top in the four counties that make up the Asheville metro area are as follows (2021 data from Asheville Area Chamber of Commerce)

Buncombe County (1,000+ employees each:

Mission Health Hospital

Ingles Markets, Inc. 

Buncombe County Board of Education

Veterans Administration

Biltmore Workforce Management, Inc.

County of Buncombe

City of Asheville

Wal-Mart Associates Inc.

Haywood County (1,000+ employees each): 

Haywood County Consolidated Schools

Evergreen Packaging

Henderson County (1,000+ employees each):

Henderson County Board of Public Education

Margaret R. Pardee Memorial Hospital

Ingles Markets, Inc.

Advent Health

Madison County (250-499 employees each)

Madison County Schools

Mars Hill University Inc.

Madison County

Ingles Markets, Inc.

Neighborhood Guide

Asheville has a wide range of neighborhoods in terms of population, types of homes, proximity to amenities, walkability, and just about any other factor you could name! If you're looking at a map and Downtown Asheville is the center, think of the quadrants just north, east, south, and west of town. That's roughly how we've organized our neighborhood guide. If you're searching for your Asheville home and you're unfamiliar with the neighborhoods, take our quiz to help you narrow down your search! 

Click here for our complete neighborhood guide with descriptions of the neighborhoods and areas immediately surrounding Downtown Asheville. We will be adding guides for surrounding towns and areas in Western North Carolina soon, so check back soon! 

Asheville: Best Of Lists & Accolades

Asheville Area Chamber of Commerce Rankings

15 Best Cities in the United States -Travel + Leisure

Top 10 Music Cities in the U.S. - National Geographic Traveler

12 Best Places to Retire in the U.S. - Condé Nast Traveler

The 28 Friendliest Neighborhoods in the US - National Geographic

Happiest City For Women - Self Magazine

Top 100 Best Places to Live - Liveability

Local Government Resources

City of Asheville Website - Find information here about Parks, Recreation & Greenways; trash, recycling & city upkeep; water & utilities; property permits and more!

Buncombe County Website - For information about Fire Departments; Hospitals & Urgent Care; Schools & Education; Courts & Legal System; and more county resources.

Transportation & Driving

Asheville Regional Airport (AVL): 1,828,793 passengers flew to or from AVL in 2022. In the last few years, AVL has added new parking decks, off-site long-term parking with shuttles, and recently broke ground on a new air traffic control tower. AVL is served by six airline partners: Allegiant, American, Delta, JetBlue, Sun Country and United, who offer nonstop service to 25 unique airport destinations throughout the country.

Asheville Rides Transit (ART): There are 18 bus routes in Asheville with 640 stops. Bus routes cover an area from New Leicester Hwy at Walgreens to the Broadway St at Sutton Ave stop and from the Valley Rd at Complete Care stop to the Wnc Ag Center Park-N-Ride stop. Click here for a real-time bus app.

NCDOT: Some helpful hints about the services offered by the DMV for folks relocating to the area. See our tip below! 

Getting Around: If you're visiting or live in or near downtown, you could get around without a car by bus, foot or bicycle. To access neighborhoods, services and amenities outside of the city limits and bus routes, a car is ideal. 

Do I Need 4-Wheel-Drive? This depends on where you live and/or work. For those who mainly drive around town with the occasional weekend jaunt to a well-traveled hike, there's no need for a 4WD vehicle. However, if you yearn for year-round mountain living away from the city, you should consider 4WD. The best practice when home hunting is to check with a local real estate agent who is familiar with the area so that you can stay within your comfort zone.

#1 Tip For Navigating The DMV: If you are moving from out of state, go ahead and make your appointment at the DMV for a new license now. Even if you're moving here in 3 months. And, be sure you have an appointment before you show up at the local DMV. The license plate agency (yep, you have to go to a separate place for these in NC) is much easier, but be aware of the DMV wait time. 

Schools

The Asheville area has many options for education. When searching for homes to buy, pay attention to the school district - having a home within the city limits does not necessarily mean you are in the district for Asheville City Schools.

If you're outside of the city school district, you will be districted for a school within Buncombe County that is closest to your home. 

There are also a number of free public charter schools and private schools in the area, regardless of where you live. There's a wide range of choices - if you don't know where to start, check out some of the local Facebook Groups focused on parenting and schools. 

Click here for more details and links to schools in the Asheville, NC, area!

Healthcare

Healthcare is the leading provider of jobs in Buncombe County. With many hospitals, primary care providers and specialists to choose from, you can be sure to find the care you need to be healthy and comfortable in Asheville. Our Healthcare in Asheville page includes recommendations from our past clients and team members. There may be others on the list that we haven't noted so email us if there's someone else we should add! Click here for our list of recommended healthcare providers. 

Nonprofit Organizations

There are many passionate people and organizations in the Asheville area who are striving to make a positive impact in the community through service, volunteer and philanthropic efforts. These are just a few of many local nonprofit organizations that are near and dear to our team members, clients, and friends. 

ABCCM

Appalachian Sustainable Agriculture Project (ASAP)

Asheville GreenWorks

Asheville Grown

BeLoved Asheville

Bountiful Cities

Eblen Charities

Eliada Homes

Fostering Hopes

Green Opportunities

Homeward Bound WNC

Hood Huggers International

MANNA FoodBank

Mountain Pet Rescue

OnTrack WNC

Visiting Asheville? Check out these itineraries! (Coming Soon!)

1 Day

2 nights, 3 days

5 nights, 6-7 days

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Visiting & Living In Asheville

Do you need recommendations for your next Asheville visit, or are you new to town and looking for things to do? Or if you're like us, you may get asked often for recommendations from family, friends and others who are new to town or visiting. Share this page with them! Did we miss something? Email us!

Personal Service Providers

We often get asked for recommendations for service providers for people's homes, and we do have an extensive database of recommendations for house cleaners, movers, contractors, builders, electricians, plumbers, landscapers, and many others in trades related to real estate. We're happy share those recommendations - just email us with your needs! 

These folks come recommended to us for personal services that are not necessarily related to real estate or houses - because you need them too! 

Accounting & Financial Services

DMJPS - Taxes, accounting, auditing

Baird - Financial advisors

William Sampson, Edward Jones Financial Advisor

Attorneys

Bull & Reinhardt, PLLC - Family law, criminal defense, and personal injury

Automotive

Fender Tire

Fender Wrecker Service

Eric's Automotive

Bruce's Automotive

North Main Automotive (Hendersonville)

Expertech (mechanic)

Carpet Cleaners

ZeroRez Asheville

Tool Rental Service

Asheville Tool Library

Insurance

ISA insurance

Painters

Interior Painting of Asheville

Small Business Services

AMH Marketing

Betty Douglas Graphic Design


Pets

Folks in Asheville love our pets! Besides the ubiquitous hiking options in the mountains surrounding Asheville, there are lots of places around town for four-legged family members to join the fun. Check out several public dog parks and private ones for rent, as well as outdoor dining, breweries, bars, and yoga studios where you can bring your pup!  

If you're visiting or new to Asheville, check out this guide from Explore Asheville for some FAQs. Click over to our Local Facebook Groups list and find several pet-specific groups there for even more resources, and here are a few places where your pets can be cared for, pampered, and part of the crowd:

Emergency Animal Hospitals

MedVet Asheville

Upstate Vet Asheville

Veterinary Emergency Group

Western Carolina Regional Animal Hospital

Veterinarians

Allen Animal Hospital - Weaverville

Animal Hospital of North Asheville

Best Friends Mobile Veterinary Clinic

Charlotte St. Animal Hospital

Mountain Animal Hospital

Pet Sitting & Dog Walking

Anything But Alligators Dog Walking & Pet Sitting

Miss Jane's Pet Sitting

Mountain Pet Valet

Pet boarding & daycare

Mills River Dog Camp

Pet Vet on Patton

Grooming

Shampoodles

Pet Supply Stores

Patton Avenue Pet Company

Dog Training

JMM Dog Training, Walking & Care

Ruff Life Dog Training Services

Large / exotic animal care

All Pets Animal Hospital

Appalachian Animal Hospital

Foothills Large Animal Hospital

Sweeten Creek Animal & Bird Hospital

Dining & Drinking

Asheville has no shortage of restaurants to please all palates - whether you're looking for traditional southern fare, local farm-to-table selections or authentic international cuisine, you'll find it here. Many restaurants cater to dietary restrictions, from bakeries with gluten-free fare to barbecue restaurants with vegan delights. And there's a wide spectrum of dining styles available, such as food trucks at breweries, family-friendly staples, neighborhood pubs, casual counter service, and fine dining. To help narrow down the choices, check out AIR Asheville for a list of local restaurants that can be filtered by location and food type, and the GoLocal Asheville website to find a comprehensive guide of local restaurants that honor the locals discount card. And of course, there are plenty of breweries, bars, coffee shops, tea houses, and more for all of your thirst-quenching needs. Like to hit the town but looking for alcohol-free spaces? Check out this list from AVL Today

Click here to see recommendations from our team members, past clients, and friends. If there's a local eatery you think we should add, email us

Spas & Wellness

Asheville, N.C., has been a wellness destination for visitors for over 200 years, as people were drawn to the vital benefits of the healing mountain climate for a range of ailments. Today, folks have plenty of options for maintaining holistic health and well being such as yoga and massage, as well as both traditional and unique spa experiences.  

Here are a few recommendations for health, wellness, and personal care providers. Email us if there's anyone you'd like to see added to our list! 

Asheville Yoga Center

Fresh Aire Spa & Salon

Gaze Lash & Brow Bar

Hot Springs Resort & Spa

Miranda Watson - Workplace & in-home yoga

OWN Physical Therapy & Pilates

Recline & Unwind Social Spa

Salon Zhenya

Sarah Schuetz with Happy Body for Orthobionomy

Sauna House

Shoji Spa & Retreat

Sol Vida Massage - Christa Hebal

Soulfire Medicine

The Drawing Board Tattoo

Vitalee PT

Wake Foot Sanctuary

Sports & Outdoors

People are drawn to Asheville for the outdoor offerings, with lots to explore in the surrounding mountains, lakes, rivers, and even around town. Whether your speed is a full day of hiking off the beaten path, cycling along a greenway, strolling the manicured gardens of the Arboretum, or paddling the French Broad, there's something for every outdoor whim. 

If you're into cycling, hiking, running, paddling, disc golf, or other nature-centric sports, look for Facebook or Meetup groups to find your people through leagues, clubs, or casually organized groups. 

Do not overlook the City of Asheville Parks & Recreation department for its many recreation sports opportunities for kids and adults, as well summer camps and after-school programs. They are the most affordable options in town. You can also find playgrounds, parks and greenways through their website, as well as special events and programming throughout the year. 

Here are a few options for getting outdoors, from free, self-guided fun, to outfitters and organizations who offer plenty of adventure!

Asheville Adventure Center

Botanical Gardens at Asheville

City of Asheville Greenways

City of Asheville Parks

City of Asheville Recreation & Sports

Cultivate Climbing

North Carolina Arboretum

The Riveter

French Broad River

French Broad River Outfitters

Hiking

Riverlink

Waterfalls

WNC Disc Golf Association

Firefly Team Favorites (Coming Soon!)

Coming Soon!

Kids & Families

Between the 8 parents on the Firefly Realty team, we have 16 kids between the ages of 1 and 15. So this section of our Asheville Guide could go on forever - but we'll try to keep it concise!

One of the most comprehensive resources for family-friendly activities, events, and attractions is the Family Friendly Asheville Facebook Page. Click through and give them a follow to stay up to speed on all things kid-related in the Asheville area. You can also find where to get free or discounted meals for kids on their website.

Click here to check out our guide to recommended summer camps, family-friendly attractions and activities and more!

Tours & Attractions

There are so many ways to see, learn about and experience Asheville! From self-guided excursions to group tours to private guides, you really can choose your own adventure. Mix it up with a blend of well-known attractions like the Biltmore Estate and local experiences like Hood Huggers International, dedicated to sharing the powerful story of the past, present and future of African Americans in Asheville. Check out the art galleries of the River Arts District, the Moogseum downtown, and take a farm tour outside of the city. 

Are we missing something fun from our list? Email us to let us know!

Attractions

Biltmore Estate

Blue Ridge Parkway

Grove Arcade

Thomas Wolfe Memorial

Farms

Chapman Farms

First Step Farm

Highgate Farm

Guided Tours

Asheville Adventures

Asheville Food Tours

Asheville Rooftop Bar Tours

Hood Huggers Tours

Greyline Trolley Tours

LaZoom Tours

The Flying Bike Tours

WNC Photo Tours

Self-Guided Tours

Art Galleries

Museums

River Arts District

Urban Trail

Shopping

When it comes to shopping, local is always on-trend in Asheville. Home to makers, artisans, and entrepreneurs of all kinds, you can decorate your home, fill your closet, accessorize, and stock your pantry with goods crafted right here in the mountains.

Visit our friends at Asheville Grown for a comprehensive guide of local, independent retail shops that offer discounts to GoLocal cardholders.

If you're looking for the perfect locally made gift for friends or loved ones, check out Asheville Goods in West Asheville or Locals Only Asheville downtown - both companies have storefronts and robust online ordering options, and will ship their goods for you!

Different areas of Asheville offer a variety of experiences for your shopping pleasure. Downtown is a mix of 200+ stores including local boutiques, art galleries, gift shops, antiques, and specialty stores tucked into historic buildings. Some have been around for decades, and some are post-pandemic success stories. You'll see a few known national chains, but not many. Don't miss: Malaprop's Bookstore/Cafe, Tops For Shoes, MTN Merch, Moonlight Makers, the Kress Emporium and Woolworth Walk

Art lovers should head to the River Arts District (RAD), where you can visit studios to see artists at work and purchase directly from them. Check out what's happening on Second Saturdays at Cotton Mill Studios, Pink Dog Creative, Riverview Station, and everywhere in between. There are several coffee shops, restaurants and breweries loved by Asheville locals along the way, as well as a paved greenway along the French Broad River that meanders past some of the town's best murals, and the wonderful Grail Moviehouse for an indie film at the end of the day.

West Asheville has become a destination unto itself in the last decade, with plenty of local boutiques, consignment stores, galleries, restaurants and bars lining Haywood Road from end to end. Start your tour with a cup of coffee from BattleCat CoffeeBar on one end, and reward yourself with a treat from Moo Cookies on the other as you hop in and out of shops like Garden Party Asheville, Flora Botanical Living, Mount Inspiration Apparel West, Morgan's Comics, Twice Round Vintage, Sparky's Toys & Gifts, and Ware AVL

Biltmore Village, just outside the entrance to Biltmore, is a mix of locally owned shops, galleries and restaurants, and national brands that you'll recognize, many in historic buildings or buildings crafted in the style of a small English village. Check these out: Southern Highland Craft Guild, Provisions Mercantile, New Morning Gallery, Nest Boutique, Gardener's Cottage, and Eileen's

A bit south of town, Biltmore Park Town Square is an urban village filled with shops, restaurants entertainment venues, condos and a hotel. Here you'll find many familiar retail brands with local restaurants and shops sprinkled in. With plenty of parking and the vibe of a nostalgic Main Street with a modern twist, Biltmore Park has something for everyone.

If your ideal shopping day involves spending time outside and coming home with bags full of local produce and food, you're in luck. There are plenty of local tailgate markets that happen throughout the week in different parts of town. You may see some of the same vendors at each market, but each one has a unique scene that is worth experiencing. The variety of days, times and locations make fresh, local food accessible to everyone in Asheville. Find details about these markets at Appalachian Sustainable Agriculture Project (ASAP) and sign up for their newsletter for a weekly report of what's fresh. 

Other Firefly Client & Team Recommendations. Email us to add to this list!

Bagatelle Books

Claying Around

Luxe Wedding Designs

Mattress Warehouse of Arden

Mr. K's Books

Provisions Mercantile

Reems Creek Nursery

Regeneration Station

Spice & Tea Exchange

Teresa's Yarn Shop Around the Corner

Ware AVL

Whist


Entertainment & Music Venues

Asheville is well-known for its live music scene which can be experienced year round with local bands at breweries and bars, intimate performances in unique spaces, and national headliners at one of several well-known venues. There's plenty of other ways to stay entertained while in Asheville with local theater performances and screenings of indie films at eclectic movie houses. Here are some of the places around town to check the performance calendar for your next visit or if you're getting settled in as a new local.

Asheville Community Theater 

Asheville Music Hall

Diana Wortham Center for the Performing Arts 

Different Wrld

Fine Arts Theatre

Flat Rock Playhouse 

Harrah’s Cherokee Center

Montford Park Players

Orange Peel

Rabbit Rabbit

The Grail Moviehouse

The Grey Eagle