The 80,000 residents of Asheville include a wide range of demographics, including:
Artists. Renowned around the leftist globe as one of the country’s most liberal and artsy cities, Asheville has become a popular stomping grounds for artists of all kinds. West Asheville is blooming with arts and crafts centers and full-blown artist communities, while the downtown area’s legendary Art Deco historic structures continue to attract hordes of architecture enthusiasts.
Retirees. It’s not just new age hippies, tree huggers (we use the term kindly), yoga aficionados, and drum circle fanatics living in Asheville, though. AARP has repeatedly singled out Asheville as one of the best places for retirees to enjoy their golden years, as the city boasts tons of attractions geared towards active seniors, including museums, parks, guided tours, scenic views, shopping hotspots, golf courses, and corner stores that sell crossword puzzles written in GIANT TEXT. Ample senior housing is available in the city as well, with several senior residences featuring high-quality amenities (washers and dryers in each room, multiple swimming pools, complementary shuttle service, etc) at prices hovering around only a grand.
Families. Many parts of Asheville, including southern neighborhoods like Biltmore Park, Skyland, and Ballantree, are dominated by young married couples and families with children. In many ways, Asheville is a growing suburban family’s dream come true: a city filled with tree-lined streets, safe neighborhoods, quality schools, boatloads of outdoors recreational activities, and a more than ample number of shopping, dining, and entertainment options.
Students. As if the city’s population wasn’t already diverse enough, more than 5,000 students, many of whom are enrolled at the University of North Carolina at Asheville, call the city home. Some of the most affordable (yet often unremarkable) rentals are located within walking distance of UNCA, and the university provides free shuttle service back and forth from most of them. Obviously, some residents feel out of place in apartments inhabited largely by students, so make sure you know a little something about an apartment’s residents before signing a lease.
Tourists. Although not permanent fixtures in Asheville, the city is almost always crawling with visitors who’ve come to admire the mountain views, gape at the world-famous architecture, or visit the tons, tons, and more tons of art museums (they’re measured in tons, right) that dot the streets. Bed and breakfasts can be found in abundance in nearly every part of town, and many of them are at full capacity year-round, so you better get used to sharing the streets with camera-wielding out-of-towners.
Actually, the streets of Asheville are as from “mean” as you’ll find anywhere, and you’re about ten times as likely to witness impromptu performance art demonstrations and street musician jam sessions than acts of violent crime. How, though, to travel through these hipster-filled streets? As much as the idea of emitting pollutants into the ozone courtesy of your own gas guzzler may disturb you, your best bet for working, living, shopping, and playing conveniently in Asheville is via your own set of wheels. The public buses do an adequate job hauling commuters around the downtown area but barely extend into the outlying areas. Although many parts of the city are walker/biker-friendly, many others are not, making the need for your own vehicle that much greater.
Between the various museums, galleries, live music venues, pubs, clubs, and festival grounds that line the streets of Asheville, you’ll probably never run out of things to do in the city. First things first, though: Before you start making plans for how best to whoop it up in “the Land of the Sky” (yet another nickname for Asheville is the “City with Too Many Nicknames”), let’s review some pointers for finding the apartment of your wildest dreams (and we all know how wild dreams about apartments can be, right? Right.).
It’s all about the ‘hood. What lies outside your apartment walls is often just as important as your actual living quarters. Do you want to live in an uber-creative part of town surrounded by neighbors who look like they spend most of their waking hours preparing for the Burning Man festival? Then check out the eclectic, mid-range apartments and duplexes in West Asheville (most of which cost well under a grand). If you have the bankroll and the right urban mindset to live among the hustle and bustle of the inner city, perhaps there’s a refurbished Roaring 20s loft downtown with your name on it. Other popular neighborhoods include the woodsy Grove Park neighborhood just north of downtown, the Montford area near UNCA (an ideal living locale for students), and the eclectic River Arts District, where even luxury lofts and condos can be found in the $800 range.
The warts of old age. Only about seven percent of all residences in Asheville were built post-1995, while nearly a quarter of all homes/apartments sprouted up in before 1940. Especially if you’re living in/near downtown or in one of the many historic districts, make sure you give your new place a solid inspection before moving in. Most rentals in Asheville are well-kept, but it’s no secret that older buildings tend to have some infrastructural problems that newer places don’t. Take your move-in checklist seriously and mark down even the most minor blemishes to give yourself a better chance of recovering your security deposit when/if you eventually move out.
Understanding your lease. Leasing agreements, though generally about exciting as an all-expenses paid trip to Nowhere, Alaska, are also important legal documents that are worth reading carefully. Landlords have different rules regarding pets, roommates, visitors, smoking, and using your walls as giant canvasses on which to paint your masterpiece, so make sure you understand every last detail of your lease before attaching your John Hancock to it.
Bring the basics. You won’t have to jump through many hoops to score a sweet apartment in Asheville, but most landlords will want to see proof of income and a respectable renting/credit history. Apartments are generally always available in Asheville, meanwhile, so feel free to shop the market leisurely in search of your dream pad.
One last thought: Asheville is home of the legendary Biltmore Estate, which, at 135,000 square feet, stands as the country’s largest privately owned property. Is it up for rent? Not exactly. But why not scrape a couple hundred friends together, pool your greenbacks, and make the Vanderbilt family, who own the mansion, an offer they can’t refuse? Or, of course, you could do the sensible thing and just find a regular apartment in “the San Francisco of the East.” Your call. And now that we’re out of nicknames for Asheville, it’s time to sign off. So happy hunting and best of luck!