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Finding the Best Place to Live Near Asheville, N.C.

There’s no denying it, Asheville, North Carolina, is a cool spot to visit and a great city to call home. It has award-winning and diverse culinary scene, an abundance of craft breweries, and art galleries galore. Adventure always awaits outdoor enthusiasts, too. Thanks to the pandemic, the city grew at lightning speed these past few years, so you might be wondering where’s the best place to live near Asheville, N.C., that still feels like a small town.

While still a small to mid-size city, the Asheville metro area’s population balloons to more than 250,000 people in the warmer months. Asheville is the hub for diverse cuisine, the arts, music, and outdoor recreation, so it draws a lot of visitors turned new residents every year. As a result, traffic is thicker, housing prices have increased substantially, and the existing infrastructure struggles occasionally to keep up with demand.

Finding the best place to live near Asheville, N.C.

If you’re considering building a custom home in the area, then looking up to 45 minutes to an hour outside of Asheville proper is a great idea if you’re after seclusion or a slower pace of life. This list will help you find the best place to live near Asheville, N.C. that works for your budget and your lifestyle.

Black Mountain

Many people who move to the area from elsewhere do it because they love the mountains, and they want to leave behind the fast-paced bustle of city living. Just 25 minutes east of Asheville off I-40, Black Mountain is a quintessential small town located at the base of Greybeard Mountain, a storied peak in the Black Mountains that tower over the area. The town is home to a renowned arts community and is beloved for its unique shops and restaurants, music scene, and access points to outdoor adventures.


Weaverville is a short drive north of Asheville, just off I-26. Its arts scene is underrated and thriving, bolstered by the town’s annual Arts Safari tour of artist studios and galleries. Main Street is active and meandering, with bakeries, galleries, restaurants, shops, breweries, and a nature trail. Weaverville enjoys a strong sense of community that includes parades, festivals, and farmers markets. Lake Louise Park is located on the southern end of the town and is popular with locals for its walking trail, playground, fishing, and community center. Access to the Blue Ridge Parkway is only a few minutes east of town. For people who want easy access to Asheville yet want to feel a world away, Weaverville is the best place to live near Asheville, N.C.


Nestled on the banks of the French Broad River and flanked by mountains, Marshall is rich in history, scenery, outdoor activities, and mountain culture. Historic Downtown Marshall is home to the historical county courthouse, old-time stores, art galleries, shops with unique home decor and gifts, restaurants cooking with produce from local farms, a Sunday afternoon farmers market on the island, and more. Marshall is also becoming a haven for artisans. Marshall is an easy drive from Asheville by highway or a longer, scenic route along the river.

Mars Hill

Home to the small liberal arts Mars Hill University, Mars Hill is known for its quality of life. The community has taken care to maintain its rural charm and scenic beauty while pursuing responsible economic development and managed growth. Tucked into the Blue Ridge Mountains, Mars Hill is a delightful place to live, work, shop, learn, and enjoy a more leisurely pace of life. Mount Mitchell, the highest peak in the eastern United States, is visible from town on a clear day. Skiing, hiking, cycling, and whitewater rafting are among the many easily accessible outdoor activities around Mars Hill.


In Burnsville, you can enjoy small town charm and fresh mountain air at the gateway to Mount Mitchell. Locals describe Burnsville as “a small town with big verve.” Eclectic shops, restaurants, art galleries, and greenspace line the red brick sidewalks of the historic town, which was named for the seafaring captain Otway Burns, who loved these mountains. Burnsville is a thriving hub of activity surrounded by the serenity of nature and high mountains, rural in every sense. A short scenic drive leads to the Blue Ridge Parkway and Mount Mitchel State Park just beyond. Mountain Air, the highly sought after and exclusive golf community, is located on the southwest side of town.

Hot Springs

True to its name Hot Springs is rich with natural hot springs of pure mineral water. A day spent soaking in the hot springs is a day well spent. Located about 45 minutes north of Asheville of I-26, Hot Springs is a staple in the hiking and waters sports communities. The Appalachian Trail cuts through town, which boasts top notch outfitters and gear shops, popular summer festivals, excellent restaurants, and the unmistakable, charming small town feel. In fact, Blue Ridge Outdoors Magazine named Hot Springs the Best Small Mountain Town from Georgia to West Virginia. Nestled in a river valley with rolling green pastures, the town is surrounded by foothills that rise to high mountains.


Waynesville is west of Asheville, situated in a high valley flanked by mountains. The town sits along the main throughfare to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and is a popular yet lesser-know spot for vacation homes. The quaint downtown is known for quirky shops, delightful dining options, and its walkability. Waynesville is a perfect launchpad for outdoor and recreational activities.


Brevard just might be the best place to live near Asheville for its lively and thriving arts community, including its world-renowned Brevard Music Festival. Pisgah National Forest, Dupont State Forest, and the Davidson River provide endless outdoor adventures from hiking, mountain biking, and horseback riding to camping, fishing, and rock climbing. Locals call the area the land of a thousand waterfalls, including the unforgettable Triple Falls, Rainbow Falls, and many more. Brevard College and the picture-perfect old town make Brevard a sweet location reminiscent of an undiscovered Asheville.

Mills River

Conveniently located between Asheville and Hendersonville and in close proximity to the Asheville Regional Airport, Mills River is rich in agricultural history. Incorporated in 2003, the community has deep roots at the forefront of horticulture, sod farming, and horse farms. Home to Blue Ridge Community College, Mills River is fast gaining in popularity as the best place to live near Asheville for those looking to establish a small farm or homestead away from the bustle of city life. Pastoral settings for a private custom-built home are plentiful across the broad valley.


Hendersonville is located roughly thirty minutes south of Asheville. Known as the “City of Four Seasons,” there is always something going on in the pedestrian-friendly downtown area. Main Street boasts wide sidewalks, a thriving culinary scene, and a collection of wineries, breweries, cideries. Hendersonville is a celebrated arts community and is home to the Flat Rock Playhouse and three Blue Ridge Craft Trails. Agritourism plays a central role in the community, especially during apple season. The area is known for its dozens of apple orchards that welcome visitors to enjoy fresh cider and other baked apple treats, pick apples, and play in corn mazes and pumpkin patches.


Over the mountain southeast of Asheville lies the tiny community of Gerton between Fairview and Lake Lure (of Dirty Dancing fame). One main road threads the bottom of Hickory Nut Gorge as secondary roads lead up and along the canyon walls. A community more than a town, Gerton feels remote and rural despite being only 45 minutes from downtown Asheville. The area is lush and green, with protected hiking trails leading in nearly every direction.


Fairview is a quiet, picturesque farming community located southeast of Asheville. An easy twenty-minute drive from downtown, Fairview is surrounded by rolling pastoral hills and mountaintops. There is a strong, growing community of creators, farmers, and entrepreneurs who have embraced the area’s rich land and agricultural heritage. Fairview offers an eclectic edible adventure with its mix of breweries, cideries, coffee shops, local farm stands and restaurants. Fairview is home to a popular mountaintop bald at the top of Bearwallow Mountain.

Take your pick

As you can tell, within a one-hour radius of Asheville, you can take your pick from several charming mountain towns. Any one of which could be the best place to live near Asheville, N.C., for you. We’ve build custom homes in nearly every one of these sweet spots, like this modern take on a farmhouse in Mars Hill, this Frank Lloyd Wright inspired home in Mars Hill, this mountain modern beauty in Marshall, and this certified green-built home in Gerton.

Our experience creating custom-built homes in these Asheville area communities offers clients unprecedented value and advantage. While gorgeous, these mountains hold complex challenges for builders with steep slope experience, and it has, over four generations, reinforced our sensitivity to the topography, materials and construction methods that are appropriate and most successful in our unique environment.

If you’ve picked the best place to live near Asheville, N.C., for you and you’re ready to start the process of designing and building your dream home, please give us a call.