Rutherfordton, North Carolina

OK, so you’ve had it with urban living. New York, New Jersey, Chicago, Denver, Dallas, San Francisco, or LA, the urban landscape isn’t working for you or your family. So now you’re thinking, what’s my next move?  Florida is too congested and hot as Hades at least half the year. South Carolina is lovely, but also too sultry. And do you really want to be in Myrtle Beach or Hilton Head forever, tussling with bugs the size of small planes, alligators and hurricanes? 

asheville nc
Asheville, North Carolina

What about North Carolina? Asheville, with its eclectic vibe, copious breweries and beautiful views, might be worth a look.  The majestic Biltmore Estate, the historic Grove Park Inn, and the shops and restaurants downtown are wonderful places to enjoy. However, the secret is out and home prices have skyrocketed the last decade.

Both Charlotte – home to the Panthers and Hornets, mega banks and button-down crowd – and “the Triangle” with its fast-growing cities of Raleigh, Durham, and Chapel Hill and burgeoning technology scene can be nice cities to raise a family. But with the flood of new residents and traffic, it can also be tough to find enough open space to take a deep breath.

If you’re looking to slow down and simplify life in these crazy times, Rutherford County, right in the middle of Charlotte, Asheville, and Greenville, SC might just fit the bill. Surrounded by towering trees, and rolling hills in a serene, sanctuary-like setting, the area has grabbed the attention of Hollywood, with movies like Dirty Dancing and Last of the Mohicans filmed here. 

But Rutherford County is much more than picturesque scenery and a small-town pace.    

downtown rutherfordton
Downtown Rutherfordton, NC

Here are 5 good reasons (and one negative one) to consider Rutherford County, and more specifically, Rutherfordton – the small town with the long name – in your next home search.

1. Homes and land are cheap here. You can buy a 2,000+ square foot, single-family home here for $300,000 or less. For the same 3 bedroom/2 bath house in Asheville and Charlotte, you can expect to pay 50 to 100 percent more. 

2. You can build a new home here in six months and maintain your sanity. There are several nice subdivisions in Rutherfordton with affordable land that is platted, surveyed, and construction-ready for new homes. Local builders like Matt Stamey and Jeremy Huskey have put up 50+ homes in the last ten years and will build from a custom set of plans.

Well-established subdivisions like South Ridge Estates and Gilbert Town offer pretty wooded homesites with utilities and paved roads in place. Homesites range from a half-acre and larger with reasonable prices, starting at $14,900. Construction costs are approximately $150-200 per square foot.

Chimney Rock State Park
Chimney Rock State Park

3. Rutherford County also offers an abundance of cool places to hang out. Beautiful Lake Lure, where the movie Dirty Dancing was shot, is just a short drive from Rutherfordton. You can grab a bite on the lake at the quaint LakeHouse Restaurant, and then drive over to Chimney Rock State Park. Take the elevator to the top floor and enjoy 50 mile views in every direction! On the way back to town, stop at the iconic Lake Lure Inn where they have annual Dirty Dancing parties and film showings. Experiences like these make living in Rutherford County very enjoyable, indeed.

4. Rutherford County feels safe The county has a population of 65,000. And people here are family-oriented and friendly. They welcome newcomers and smile at you when you pass by on the street. In many larger cities, that would be considered suspicious or even crazy. But not in Rutherford County! And since crime is almost non-existent, many people here don’t worry about locking their front door or car when they leave.

5. Rutherford County has low property taxes. Property taxes on a $300,000 house in Rutherfordton are about $1,500 year. Not bad considering taxes on a similar house in some cities in the Northeast can run 10X as a high.

So what’s the negative? It won’t be long before this hidden gem, with the great quality of life, is discovered by others. But for now, it is our little secret. I hope we can keep it that way!

Oh, almost forgot. If you’re a chicken sandwich fanatic, there is one more negative. The nearest Chick-fil-A is about a half-hour away, in Shelby.

But don’t worry with light traffic and beautiful surroundings, it’s an easy drive.  Or, better yet, you may find a neighbor who recently made a run. If so, you can be sure they will share.