The New York Times wrote recently about the lure of Western North Carolina and Asheville real estate:
ASHEVILLE, between the Blue Ridge and the Great Smoky Mountains in Western North Carolina, has been called the San Francisco of the East and the Paris of the South. While it may or may not live up to those expectations, its politics are diverse and progressive, its music and art are ubiquitous, its food is taken seriously, and its architecture is impressive.
Add a backdrop of rolling mountains, four seasons of moderate weather, and four navigable rivers, and it’s easy to understand why tourism, second-home ownership, and retirement have thrived there.
Real estate agents estimate that about 90 percent of second-home and retirement buyers are from out of state, and they say that people who once would have chosen Florida, California, and Texas, as well as points farther north, are looking at Asheville homes instead. Buyers tend to discover the city of 74,000 as tourists, then buy second homes before relocating permanently.
This trend is in keeping with the city’s history. In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, Asheville’s mountain air attracted visitors for health reasons. And in its heyday, the Biltmore Estate, the chateau-style mansion built by George Washington Vanderbilt in the late 19th century, hosted guests from around the world. Many of these visitors ended up buying property, eventually becoming residents.