Jimmy and I lived in Asheville proper for nearly 20 years, in both North Asheville and West Asheville. We loved living in town and being able to walk to restaurants or downtown. All four of our “in town” houses gave us some ability to “walk-to” things, and we were happy as could be. When you work in real estate, temptations arise, and over the years, especially early on, we sometimes went on adventures in the country, fantasizing about having land, a mini-farm, a creek, and abundant privacy. Then we would drive back into town and breathe a sigh of relief – city living was for us.
But sometimes things change and that change brings you a new sensibility. This past winter, I decided that we needed to give-up our much loved smallish house on the most prime lot in the best located part of West Asheville (between “downtown” West Asheville/Haywood Rd and the River Arts District with a view of downtown Asheville – sweet!). We loved our neighborhood and our neighbors and thought we were perfectly content. But I needed, for peace of mind, a home into which my mom could move if she needed to make a change (from her big home of nearly 50 years) in a hurry.
We knew we wanted to stay close to town. It was January, and we needed to do this quickly before our busy season started in March. It didn’t take long to exhaust the options in town, especially in North or West Asheville where we wanted to be. One day, I told Jimmy that we were going to look at Biltmore Lake. We have always liked that neighborhood, which was begun about 2002, around Enka Lake, a small lake that fed water supply to the now gone Enka/BASF plant to the east of it.
But Biltmore Lake is “suburbs.” It is about 15-20 minutes outside of downtown Asheville, and Jimmy was highly resistant. “But they have trails,” I said. “And the lake” (small lake for paddle boating and swimming). I dragged him out, we drove by the four possibilities, and decided that one was appealing, if a bit large and over-budget for us. It was one of those moments that I love when they happen to my clients. We walked in with an open mind, and just kept nodding and getting more excited as we looked through the house. This was it! The house suited our needs, and we loved most things about the floor plan. But the setting is special, nestled in the trees (I thought I had to have bright sunshine, but there is still abundant natural light), with a creek in the front and stream in the back. Tranquility!
We moved in April, immediately both had the flu for 2 weeks, and then began to settle in to the house and our new neighborhood. While we do miss the vibe of being in town, we found that the peaceful natural setting, quiet, and privacy more than compensated for town. And the commute, which was a real adjustment when you are used to being 10 minutes from everything, turned out to be a great disconnect from the hectic day at work. It felt like coming home to a sanctuary apart from the hustle and bustle of Asheville proper.
And, we and the dog are in much better shape. While we enjoyed walking our in-town neighborhoods, it was hard to take the dog because she was so distracted by other animals in close proximity to the sidewalk. Now, we literally walk out of our backyard onto a trail that connects with about 6 miles of trail system just within Biltmore Lake. Some of the trails do run behind homes, so there are still encounters with other dogs, but somehow it goes better. Then we discovered that we could walk up the mountain behind the neighborhood onto another system of trails that ultimately connects into Bent Creek Experimental Forest. We walked so much more this summer and fall than ever before, which has been great for all of us ageing pups.
So all of this is to say that where you live really does affect the quality of your life. You would think I would have known that after 15 years selling real estate and having lived in something like 7 homes of my own since leaving apartment life. But it really became clear with this move. I think it took us a few homes to figure out what was really important to us. But it also may be a different season of life where we want to chill in the outdoors and go into town for the energy and fun rather than live in the energy and visit the outdoors for the chill.
As you begin to think about buying your next house, really take some time to note what matters most to you. Setting (location, location, location is not just about resale value) as well as the floor plan and features of the house can really impact your enjoyment of the property and quality of life.