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Old 06-20-2011, 12:36 AM
Location: New Mexico
23 posts, read 31,661 times
Reputation: 12


Hello everyone! I have been lurking around this list since December 20, 2010 (mostly in the Western NC area). I finally joined the list and this is my first post. First I want to thank all of you for being here and supplying local info and good advice.

So, to tell you my story:
I spent the first third of my life in central New Jersey (rural, lots of woods and streams) and about an hour drive from the Atlantic. Spent one or two weeks at the Jersey shore every summer (nothing like the ridiculous show that is on TV now).

I've spent the second third of my life in New Mexico, the last 20 of which have been in a Pinon/Juniper forest at 7800 ft. I am looking for a place to settle for the last third of my life. Based on my research and my criteria, North Carolina seems like it may be the place for me. I just need to find the "right" place in NC.

After living in New Mexico for over 30 years (and over 10 of those have been since my husband passed) it is time to return closer to my "roots." I miss the Atlantic, I miss the brooks and streams, I miss waterfalls. I miss WATER!!!!! And yes, I even miss the humidity. The other day the humidity here was 4%. I miss the hardwood forests.

A few years ago I finally realized that I could leave the house I lived in with my husband. Getting older, I also wanted to be closer to family. All of my family is in New Jersey and I have stepsons in Massachusetts. I don't want to live in either of those states so I started googling. I entered in things like "four seasons," "deciduous forests," "streams," "waterfall," "moderate winters," etc. I realized if I wanted deciduous forests I had to pretty much go east of the Mississippi.

After weeding through everything all these months and reading a lot of the posts of the NC city-data forum, North Carolina seems like the place I may be able to call home. Funny thing is, if I draw a line across the US map from Albuquerque, NM, the center of North Carolina is about at the same latitude.

I would like to tell you how I see my new home and hope for some good ideas and suggestions from all of you.

Atlantic Ocean - I love the Atlantic and miss it so much. But, I love the beach in the off season. I don't swim. I don't sunbathe. I don't play beach volleyball. I love to be bundled up in a soft sweatshirt and sit on the empty beach and just look out at the ocean. I love to walk barefoot just at the water's edge. I love to pick up an occasional seashell. I don't want to live by the beach. I don't want to be inundated with summer people. I just want to be able to drive to the beach for a 4-day weekend a couple of times a year to get an "ocean fix." A one-day drive away would be fine.

Seasons - I enjoy all four seasons but my favorites are Fall and Spring. I want to live where the Fall and Spring are longer than Winter and Summer. I want to live where you measure snow in inches, not feet. I enjoy a snowfall but where I live now we can get two feet at a time and my road might not get plowed for 24 or 48 hours (especially if the schools are closed). I want to live where there is more rain. NM has been in a drought cycle for years. I miss the rain. Lately I have been listening to a CD I have of thunderstorms. I am tired of worrying if a forest fire is going to hit my neighborhood. I am tired of not being able to barbecue on my own deck due to risk of forest fire. I am tired of going from winter to summer. I miss Spring. I miss the lush green of non-desert environs.

Gardening - the growing season where I now live is so short I gave up. You can't plant until after Memorial Day. The last time I tried to grow a patio tomato I had green tomatoes in late September. And we get our first snow in early October. I was able to ripen some on my window sill.

Town/coffee shop/groceries/wine : ) Right now I live about 14 miles from a small town where there is a good coffee shop and a fairly nice grocery store. - too far. It's about 20 miles into Albuquerque to everything else.

Dog Friendly - I adore dogs. I have two. Albuquerque is one of the top ten dog-friendly cities in the US. I am self-employed as a dog groomer and am also a Registered Veterinary Technician.

I would love to get a wooded lot (no evergreens) of 1 or 2 acres and put up a small (800 sq.ft) eco-friendly modular house on a country lane about 5 miles from a small town that has a coffee shop and a grocery store. I'd love to be able to ride a bike to "town." I want to grow a vegetable garden and maybe have some chickens for eggs.

The area needs to be dog friendly. My dogs go everywhere with me.

I'd like to be within a decent drive time to a place like Ashville. It sounds like a cool place. I love going to farmer's markets and arts and crafts shows. I love to browse quaint stores.

I consider myself a moderate - liberal on some things and conservative on others. I consider myself spiritual but not religious.

I will be semi-retired and want to pursue a long-time dream of creating pottery. I would like to be near artist communities and want to take classes at a community college or university in pottery. I want to set up my own studio at my house. I have a BA in Art and had a 30 year career in graphic design and technical illustration before I turned to dogs.

I plan on setting up a "home base" at my sister's in New Jersey while I tour North Carolina and try to find "my place." I'm hoping people on this forum will help me narrow my search a bit. Also, I am by no means wealthy. I will have whatever I get from selling my house after the mortgage is paid off, Social Security, and what I can earn from a part time job.

I have a lot of work to do on my house before I put it on the market (paint inside and out, tile the kitchen and dining room, etc.). I'm hoping to get out of NM by Spring 2013 the latest.

Sorry if I have rambled too much, but I wanted to give you as much info as possible. I have been thinking about all of this for over a year.

Thanks!!!! I look forward to your input!

K9s and Me (Dried out in New Mexico)
"A Dog is a reflection of his master"
-Captain Max v. Stephanintz
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Old 06-20-2011, 03:42 AM
3,776 posts, read 3,649,873 times
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Check out the town of Black Mountain. It is one of the dog friendliest towns I've been to on the East Coast anyway.
Also close to Asheville and very beautiful. If you need a hiking fix you can be on the trails in Montreat in a flash.


Last edited by Booya; 06-20-2011 at 03:58 AM..
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Old 06-20-2011, 06:09 AM
Location: Up above the world so high!
45,264 posts, read 83,871,336 times
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Originally Posted by Booya View Post
Check out the town of Black Mountain. It is one of the dog friendliest towns I've been to on the East Coast anyway.
Also close to Asheville and very beautiful. If you need a hiking fix you can be on the trails in Montreat in a flash.

A Cultured Retreat in the Shadow of the Seven Sisters - NYTimes.com

Love Black Mountain (and Montreat!), but it can be expensive to buy a home or land there (though "expensive" is a relative term ) She could branch out toward Swannanoa to perhaps find something more affordable.

Black Mountain North Carolina: Black Mountain - Swannanoa Chamber of Commerce
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Old 06-20-2011, 08:02 AM
Location: New Mexico
23 posts, read 31,661 times
Reputation: 12
Thanks Booya and LovesMountains for the quick response. i will check out the links. I am starting a Word file with a list of places to visit when I get back east.

K9s and Me (Dried out in New Mexico)
"A Dog is a reflection of his master"
-Captain Max v. Stephanintz
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Old 06-20-2011, 09:13 AM
Location: The Sand Hills of NC
8,776 posts, read 13,536,849 times
Reputation: 11816
Here is an area the might work out for you. It is Seagrove NC. It is the pottery center of NC.
Property is relatively inexpensive so you should have no problem finding a place to call home.
It is about 2-3 hrs drive to the Atlantic beaches and about 3-4 hrs to Asheville.
The negatives are it is hot in the summer 90+ for most of the summer.
Pine forests abound but you might find something without all the pine trees.
It's a 10-12 hr drive to NJ.
This is probably not exactly what you are looking for but sometimes you have to compromise to get most of what you want.

Here is a link to the potteries.

Seagrove Area Potters Association NC - Official website of SAPA and Seagrove area pottery shops, stores, galleries, and studios around Moore, Montgomery, and Randolph Counties in North Carolina.
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Old 06-20-2011, 09:22 AM
Location: New Mexico
23 posts, read 31,661 times
Reputation: 12
Thanks PDD. I have read up some on Seagrove. I will definitely check it out,although I am not too keen on the "90+ for most of the summer."
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Old 06-20-2011, 09:30 AM
Location: Western North Carolina
143 posts, read 292,143 times
Reputation: 110
Black Mountain certainly sounds like it would be a great place for you. However, as lovesMountains pointed out, it can be a bit expensive. If your budget will allow it, I would suggest that you look closely at Black Mountain. However, if you need something a little less expensive, you might want to look a bit down the mountain... McDowell county has a lower cost of living, but has easy access to Black Mountain and Asheville. Old Fort is at the base of the mountain and is a small town with a small grocery store and local coffee shops. Marion is bigger, but still has that small town feel to it. There are several shops along Main Street and multiple grocery stores to choose from. Nebo is more spread out and doesn't really have a main street with shops, but it does have Lake James and the Lake James Cellars.

My husband and I moved to McDowell County about 4 1/2 years ago from Vermont and really love it here. We love the small town feel with easy access to more ammenities to the east and west of us. With the availability of land here, we were able to find a wonderful place for our dogs to be able to run on and everyone welcomes them whereever we go. As a matter of fact, we ofter bring them shopping with us and they are able to go into most stores with us. The people at Lowes know us more by our dogs than any other way.

Check out this relocation guide from the McDowell County Chamber of Commerce:

Best of luck
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Old 06-20-2011, 09:49 AM
Location: Santa Fe, NM
647 posts, read 1,160,091 times
Reputation: 970
Long post, but plenty of good information for people to chew on.

There are a several “burgs” here that fit your wants. I'd also check out Weaverville and somewhere around Waynesville. Your budget will point to or away from some of these places.


Atlantic Ocean – A 4-6 hour drive to the coast, somewhere between Charleston and Wilmington, NC.

Seasons – Things are lush and green, although this year spring could have been longer. We skipped right from the low 60's to mid 80's. You could still get snowed in for a few days, depending on where you wind up. But, I think you can check this box safely.

Gardening - Check

Town/coffee shop/groceries/wine : ) Depending on your ultimate location, check.

Dog Friendly - Check. Dogs are everywhere.

Housing: Don't discount finding an existing house along those lines. Also, keep in mind acreage here is not necessarily what it appears. We have friends that have 5 acres, and they do. But because of the hillside, about one or so is actually usable.

Drive to Asheville: Depends on your definition of a decent drive.

Political/Religious leanings: Not a problem. We have extremes on all ends of what you laid out, but as a college professor of mine once said (back when classrooms were in caves), “just smile, nod and think to yourself, 'here's another one.'”

Pottery/Interests: There are a number of good potters around, so you'll find yourself in decent company.
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Old 06-20-2011, 09:52 AM
3,627 posts, read 6,864,266 times
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You definitely need to be in the mountains, or you will have a long, hot summer. I'm almost in the mountains (western piedmont, 950 ft) and we have a short (and usually early) spring followed by a long, hot summer. No one has mentioned the growing season in the mountain areas mentioned, so I'll just bring it up again. When do you mountain people plant? When does the growing season end?
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Old 06-20-2011, 11:05 AM
Location: Raleigh, NC
10,298 posts, read 18,006,314 times
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NC does have four seasons, but fails on the "spring and fall longer than summer and winter". Summer is LONG everywhere. Less so in the mountains, but then again, you'd be 5 hours from the beach, which you list as another criterion. You might consider one state to the north in Virginia, where the mountains come closer to the beaches, and the summers aren't quite so hot. perhaps somewhere like Charlottesville? Otherwise Western NC fits most of your bullet points, but not the "beach" one. But being near the beach, you will get our long, hot, humid summer. You should go to the Western NC subforum for specifics about that region.

"Feet" of snow won't be an issue in NC or VA.
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