On Starting Anew in Asheville

Happy so far: The family outside our new home in Asheville.

I’m writing this post from my brand new chair at my brand new desk. In my new office in my new home, in Asheville, NC.

It all feels a bit weird, but in an exciting kind of way, just as this entire move has felt.

When we told our friends and family that we were moving eight hours away, to a small city in the mountains of western North Carolina where we didn’t know anybody — and without one of the standard reasons, like a job, that generally causes a move — the responses varied pretty wildly.

Some people thought we were crazy. Some were sad (and of course, so were we to leave them).

But a few people told me how inspiring they thought it was that we would move so spontaneously, and not because we had to, but simple because we wanted to.

And that’s why I’m writing this post about our move, and about Asheville. Not just to explain our reasons for moving, but to (I hope) inspire others who feel stuck where they are but are afraid to make a change.

You’ll see that it’s not terribly far off topic for No Meat Athlete, either — as far as vegeterian- and vegan-friendliness goes, Asheville beats any other city I’ve ever visited.

From Baltimore to Asheville, via San Diego

2011 was the first year that I did any considerable traveling. I went to Austin, Portland, Cape Cod, Boston (twice), San Francisco, and San Diego, and discovered that the world — actually, the country — had a lot more to offer than did Bel Air, Maryland, the nice, suburban town outside of Baltimore where I grew up and had moved back to a few years after college.

And so we decided that we’d move. Maybe not permanently, but since running a business online affords us a lot of geographical freedom, it seemed a shame not to try living somewhere other than the default option before our son reached school age and we’d want to settle down.

The funny thing is that we were within one day of signing a lease on a place in San Diego, after several weeks of planning the move. But two things caused us to abort that plan at the very last minute:

  1. The pain of moving our two-year-old son 3,000 miles away from his grandparents, and of being so very far away from our friends and family.
  2. The cost — we discovered it would take $10,000 just to get out to California, before even considering the higher cost of living.

Why Asheville?

Just two months ago, I hadn’t heard of Asheville more than a couple of times. I knew it as a funky, hippie-ish city somewhere in North Carolina, and one that consistently showed up in those “Happiest Places to Live” lists that magazines and websites post every so often.

But the night we changed our minds about San Diego, Asheville was the first place I thought of as an alternative. (By this point, the idea of staying put after so much planning and anticipation wasn’t one we were willing to consider.)

Two days later, I was in the car driving to Asheville, on a dual mission to check out the city and find a place to rent if it felt right. This was immediately following a 20-mile run, so I can’t say it was the most enjoyable ride I’ve ever taken, but my mom came with me and helped out with the drive and finding a place. Thanks Mom!

It took a day for me to come to understand what it was about Asheville that made people so happy, but sure enough, I did.

The next day, I found a place to rent, and we signed a lease and made it official just two days later.

So far…

Here’s what we love about Asheville so far, in our first week of living here:

  • The local food scene is amazing. Besides tons of farmers markets and a few co-ops, there are local producers of all sorts of things, even tempeh and kombucha. And lots of beer — Asheville has 11 breweries and has been named Beer City USA three years in a row.
  • It’s extremely vegetarian- and vegan-friendly. I’m not exaggerating when I say I think it’s even more so than much larger cities like Portland, Austin, and San Francisco. Granted, I’ve only explored these cities for a few days each. But a major difference I’ve noticed is that here, although there are plenty of all-vegetarian restaurants, even in the restaurants that aren’t specifically vegetarian there are always several options for us on the menu. Some even have special vegan menus. And the servers have all been very helpful and have even reminded me when I ordered something that is non-vegan (caramelized onions on pizza, for example).
  • We live in a quiet, woodsy neighborhood that’s very hilly and great for running, with a park right behind our backyard. And we’re only a mile from downtown, a combination I never thought I’d find anywhere.
  • There are street musicians all over the place. Not just playing guitars, but also violins, banjos, cellos, basses, harmonicas, drumsets, trumpets, accordions and even crazy stuff like saws. My son, who is obsessed with music, absolutely loves this. If only they would play Weezer covers for him…
  • Everything is eco-friendly. Pretty much every restaurant recycles and composts, and any coffee I’ve gotten to-go has come in a special, compostable cup. (I won’t pretend to know why this is better than recycled paper, but I imagine it is.)
  • Lots of dogs. They’re even allowed in some stores and restaurants, and there are tons of pet-centric businesses.
  • There’s a thriving arts scene, and lots of nationally-known artists, bands, comedians, and authors come through this relatively small city (80,000 people or so). Chi Running author Danny Dreyer and well-known vegetarian cookbook author Deborah Madison will be in one of the bookstores this month. And if I knew more about art and read more fiction, I’d probably recognize a lot more of the names.
  • We’re surrounded by some serious mountains! We went for a drive on the Blue Ridge Parkway this weekend, and within 10 minutes we had some amazing views. And of course, there are lots of trails for running and mountain biking, but we have yet to explore any of them, other than a tiny one that’s a just quarter mile from our house.

Underlying all of this, there’s a friendliness and slowness to the city that we’re really enjoying. I’m one of the mostΒ  laid-back people I know, and yet in the coffee shops here, I feel like I’m the high-strung northerner who can’t relax. But there’s an acceptance of all different types of people (“It doesn’t matter whether you’re a businessman or a hippie,” as one person told me).

All in all, it feels like this is a place where one can be centered, be creative, and find time to focus on things that really matter.

The move itself

To finish up this post, I want to write just a little bit about the moving process that we went through (and, in some ways, are still going through).

Before this experience, I had never seriously thought about what goes into transplanting your family from one place to another. I imagine that this post will stir up the urge to move in some people who have the desire, but perhaps bring with it a feeling of overwhelm at the prospect. So my hope is that laying out our experience might make it all seem a little more feasible.

Here are the most significant things that went into our move.

  • At first, it seemed like it would be impossible to line up three things, all of which had to happen around the same time: a place to rent in Asheville, renters for our house in Bel Air, and a job for my wife (she works part-time as a pediatric occupational therapist). But it turned out not to be so hard — we started all three processes at the same time, and had a little faith when we made each commitment that the next opportunity would present itself soon enough.
  • My job is what you’re looking at, so that part was convenient and I recognize that our situation is different from most people’s. If we were more typical and had needed to find one or two full-time jobs here, we probably would have started with that and only lined up the other things once the jobs were taken care of.
  • We made all of this happen in about a month’s time. But we had laid the groundwork with our San Diego false start, placing ads to rent our house and selling some of our stuff.
  • We sold and donated a ton of stuff to become more mobile, and it feels great. I bet we got rid of about 25 percent of what we owned, and we fit everything into a 900 cubic-foot unit from PODS plus our two cars. The experience of reducing our possessions was liberating and wonderful, and I’m inspired to go further with it and own less and less. Karol Gajda, Adam Baker, and Leo Babauta were major inspirations for this start down the minimalist path, and I owe all three of them a huge thank-you.
  • Once you account for the cost of the POD, the people who helped us unload it, the gas to get here, cleaning expenses at our old house, a pet deposit fee, the cost of restocking our fridge, and some basic home improvement stuff for the new place, I estimate the move cost us around $4500 to $5000. That sucked, but it’s better than $10,000, and think it’ll be more than worth it.
  • What sucked even more than the cost, though, was saying goodbye to our closest friends and family in Bel Air and Baltimore. We’re eight hours away by car and it’s actually a nice drive through the mountains, so that’s way better than being across the country — but still, we won’t get to see the people we love nearly as much as we used to. There’s no getting around that. I’m holding out hope that the time we do get to spend with loved ones (in person or via Skype or by phone) will be more deliberate, savored, and enjoyable than ever.
  • We know almost nobody here. Jason helped me get my bearings here when I first visited, and I believe that Adam from Man vs Debt, whom I met in both Austin and Portland when his family was touring the country in an R.V., also lives here now. But we don’t know anyone else in Asheville except our realtor! Fortunately, my wife is way more outgoing and less shy than I am, so I’m sure in time we’ll make friends, especially in a place with so many like-minded people.
  • Nobody says it has to be permanent! We signed one-year leases, so if we decide after a year that we want to come back, it’s always an option.

Looking back, it was a ton of stress. I don’t know how moving a family can’t be. But we took it one step at a time, and now we’re here, in an exciting new place, with a renewed sense of enthusiasm.

Finally, I’m excited to be back to work, and to get into the swing of things again with this site. This was the first time No Meat Athlete has gone 10 days without a fresh post, and not having any time to write sure made me realize how fulfilling this work is and how much I need it!

I know this move will be a great thing for the site, and I hope that as I feel more inspired in our new location it will come through in my work. NMA has a lot to look forward to. πŸ™‚



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  1. I have wanted to move to Asheville for over a year now. It is so nice to read your account of the area. Thank you so much for sharing!

  2. congrats on the move!

  3. Kudos for being brave and making the change, Matt.

    Having just made the move from Seattle to Boston this past July, I can sympathize with the high cost of the move. That said, anything you donated to make room is tax-deductible. Also, if you frame the move as being for your wife’s job, so are most of the moving expenses (huzzah, $10,000 tax deduction).

    As someone who has moved around a lot, I’d like to tell you that you should never be afraid of change. For all you No Meat Athletes out there, this world has a lot to offer. But it only offers it to those who are willing to take a risk and try something new.

  4. Welcome to Asheville Matt (and family!). You’ll continue to fall in love with this area. See you around!

  5. Welcome to Asheville, Matt! Started following your blog to help my athletic daughter (who is pescatarian, but only eats fish and seafood about once a month or so) stay healthy and strong. So glad you have found our wonderful city, and hope you find the community you are seeking. There are many opportunities to meet new people, and lots of cool stuff happening. 19 years ago, my husband and I packed up and moved from New York. It was much easier, as we were a brand new couple, with no kids and family in the area. We haven’t looked back!

  6. I was just in Asheville last week on vacation! You have some great reasons for moving there, all things I really loved about the city while we were visiting. The devotion to local foods & being Eco-friendly was so awesome. I wish more cities were like Asheville. Btw, everyone seemed super friendly in Asheville, so im sure you guys will have no trouble making friends. Good luck to you guys! Enjoy your new city! πŸ™‚

  7. I moved from Texas to North Carolina (the coast for us) this past summer, and you are not kidding about how sad and expensive and stressful it is. But I agree in the end – definitely worth it! Living in NC has given us so many opportunities we never would have had in Texas. I hope you enjoy our time in Asheville – I’m hoping we’ll be able to move out that way, once I’m done with grad school.

  8. Congratulations on the move, Matt. Having moved from the California bay area to Charlotte, NC recently with 2 kids, I can’t agree with you more on the cost of the move as well as the feeling of leaving friends and family behind but it gets better with time. I haven’t visited Asheville in particular but have driven through the Blue Ridge Parkway in fall. The fall colors are just awesome at that time of the year. Once you spend the fall in Asheville, I am sure, you will renew your lease for many more years. Good luck with the settling down and keep up the great work at nomeatathelete.com.

  9. Sue Gury says:

    Well, yeah, yeah, but but you don’t have Falls Road Running or Charm City Run πŸ™‚ Asheville is a gorgeous city, a wonderful place to live and raise children-bst of luck in your new home town!

  10. Matt, Congrats again on the move! Asheville is an awesome city, and the mountains throughout western NC are some of the most beautiful in the world. They certainly have a big place in my heart!

    I bet you’ll find more connections down there than you know, and you sure wont have any trouble getting people to come visit!

    For a little afternoon excursion, I’d recommend traveling down the mountain maybe 20 minutes to Black Mountain. It has a great little small town downtown and some fun restaurants. And if you are in black mountain, you can’t skip a visit to Pisgah Brewing Company for a quick beer. Oh man, my mouth is watering just thinking about it!

  11. Vickie Frazier says:

    It’s all so exciting! And a HUGE salute to the wife who agreed to the move, sight unseen of both Asheville and the house you chose. She must be very trusting or loves the adrenaline rush of jumping into the unknown! I’m thinking it’s the first. πŸ™‚ Seriously, it all seems like a wonderful fit. Good luck!

  12. Welcome to WNC! I live just a little east of you (45 minutes down I40) and I love it! Hope you enjoy your stay!

  13. Colleen says:

    You’re probably wondering why I am commenting on the blog about the move…after all, you are my brother in law and we did the tearful goodbye thing you mentioned. Admittedly, I am a bit weepy even writing this comment but I wanted to address the move on the blog because your lifestyle, values and this business were huge forces in the decision. No matter how much I miss you guys and no matter how much it hurts to be 8 hours away, I am VERY proud of you guys for taking this leap. Erin and I have a sibling bond that is unlike many others but I don’t just miss her…I miss all of you. I excited for this new adventure and will embrace every outlet I have to see you and to stay connected. You have a great thing going here and a lot of support to see it succeed. Good luck and keep taking good care of my little sister. Love you:)

  14. Hey Matt, I ran the half marathon with you in DC last month and I live in Asheville. Do you and your wife have FaceBook? I would like to invite your wife to an all girls vegan brunch in a few weeks. Or email me if interested.

  15. It was lovely meeting you here in MD! Good luck!

  16. congratulations! I am so happy for you and your fmaily. it sounds like an incredible place to live πŸ™‚

  17. Welcome to NC!! Sorry for the record pollen this spring (1st time in my 12 springs here that I’ve had allergies)……but I bet you will learn to love Asheville even more as summer rolls in. Remember…you’ll be 12 degrees cooler than those of us in the Piedmont! Great restaurants. We go to Salsa’s everytime we come into town and when we come for long weekends love the tapas place right down from Malaprops books. Oh, the fun things you’ll find for friends and family when it comes time to CHristmas shop!!! Sounds like you are already exploring the great shops.

  18. Hey Matt, contact my cousin: https://www.facebook.com/xferdon
    Just send him a message on his Facebook and tell him that his cousin Ricky recommended you contact him. He is a musician in Asheville and all-around fantastic person. Namaste!

  19. I loved this post as I love so much moving around! I lived 9 years in the town I was born, then 9 more years in the city where my mum grew up (as my family moved) then 5 years to another city for uni (of which I spent 4 months in London with a student exchange program), then moved to England for work this autumn, I’m somewhere in the Midlands now and hope to move to London again in a few months. I think I’d get bored if I stayed in one place too long! :p However, I always moved by myself (or as a kid it was my parents doing everything). I can only imagine how much more tiring and complicated it must be to move as a family. So congratulations on not being afraid to take the leap. The town sounds fantastic, and if the comments above are any indcation you’ll have plenty of friends soon! Good luck in your new start! πŸ™‚

  20. Congrats and goodluck. Sometimes it feels good to LEAP! πŸ™‚

  21. Congrats on the move. My husband and I are planning a move south in the next year or two… because we’re tired of PA’s winters and want to live somewhere warmer. Need to wait until our sons finish school., but reading this makes me look forward to it even more. Life is too short to stay in one place… especially on where you don’t like something as major as the weather.

    Missed NMA posts… looking forward to some new ones.

  22. Congratulations on the move. I just posted this blog article for my friend on FB to help her get the needed push on moving from rural Vermont.
    This is useful to me, too, since I’ve been trying to put more effort to finding a job out West. I’d like to see the different geographies and cultures of the US before settling down somewhere closer to family. I’m inspired! And now Ashville is another possible destination on my list. I’m craft beer guy and love trail running. Cheers and thanks.

  23. You make me homesick! We moved to Southern Colorado from Brevard, NC about 8 years ago. Fabulous people here too, but I do miss home!

  24. Congratulations on the move! We did a very, very similar move recently – from the Seattle area to Central Oregon. I have to agree that purging and “minimalizing” has been one of the more rewarding aspects! My husband and I live by two ideas: 1)It’s only money, we’ll make more and 2) We’d rather make mistakes pursuing happiness than never change and live a life full of “what ifs”.

    Enjoy your new hometown and thanks for telling us the story behind the move!

  25. Marty Cowan says:

    Congrats on your move to beautiful Asheville! I can’t believe you endured a move right after the Rock and Roll Marathon DC, my hat is off to you and your family. Savor this time – it goes by entirely too fast!

  26. Vegandrew says:

    Hey Matt, I live in Waynesville- 30 minutes west and ride mtbs at Bent Creek in Asheville two or three times a week. Not a runner yet, but if you want to sample some top trails on the bike w/ a local let me know.

  27. Great post! Sounds like you have an awesome start in your new home and city. I made the move from the East coast to San Diego a couple years ago, and though my move wasn’t optional (it was a military move for my husband), I have to say that it’s been one of the scariest yet coolest things I’ve done in my life thus far. Props to you for making the move just because you and your family wanted to, that’s amazing!

  28. Congrats, man. I live just west of you guys in Johnson City, TN. I make the excursion out to AsheVegas at least once a month. My wife and I recommend hitting up Plant on Merrimont if you haven’t already. It’s completely plant based food. I also recommend Nine Mile on Montford for killer Jamaican. I also recommend the Carolina Asheville for movies. It’s out towards Black Mountain. They’ve got vegan options for snacks, and a theater with sofa seating. An awesome experience. Welcome to Appalachia! (btw, it’s App-Ah-latch-Ah, not App-Ah-Laytch-Ah. That will help you sound more local)

  29. Jen Heaslip says:

    Welcome to Asheville! I really enjoy reading No Meat Athlete, even more now that you are local πŸ™‚ You’ll meet people quickly, hope to see you out running!

  30. Welcome to NC!! You will love Asheville, I certainly do and consider moving east often…your post has inspired this hippy, vegan, gypsy of a gal that I might just have to re visit the idea!

    Enjoy and have fun!!

  31. This post was unbelievably β€œserendipitous” for my wife and me. We’ve been talking about moving to Asheville (from Michigan) for months now, for nearly every reason you described (mountain running, vegetarian/vegan food scene, art scene, friendly people, dog friendly, eco-friendly, etc). The night before you posted this, we had a long conversation about how Asheville was beginning to feel more and more like the place for us, at least for a year or two. It sounds even better than we had imagined! I think your post sealed the deal for us. Thanks!

  32. Matt, we wish you three the best on life in your new chosen town. Think about that – you were able to take a pin to a (carefully chosen town on a) map of the USA and just decide to live there. What portability and freedom our ancestors only dreamt of! I hope your story motivates others who may be thinking that a change of scenery could be a “missing piece” in their life, but not to approach it haphazardly. One can always take comfort in knowing that a move like this is reversible – although it may never have to be.

    We moved to Boulder, CO from Boston three years ago, and being away from close family is probably the hardest reality we face. Everything else about it has been validated as gain, and you captured much of it simply by writing of your own experience.

    My wife and I read NMA often (I’m all over your RSS!) and we’re using your training plan to run a half (I already ran my first-ever last month, something I didn’t think I could do before.) We have many conversations about/because of your content and I know you, along with our chosen city, have provided me much motivation. Cheers!

  33. Great post Matt. It is so nice to hear a story like this. At your age and place I wouldn’t hesitate to do such a thing. Unfortunately for us we are invested in our jobs and aren’t young anymore. We do love to travel to new places to see where we might want to retire! Con grats on the move and hello to Erin and Holden.

  34. Seat Matt and Family,
    I just would like to reassure you that you are going to love Asheville. We have a vacation home in Banner Elk, NC, which is about 1 1/2 hours north of you, and we love it. I just went on a beautiful country run today, past horse and cow pastures, through the forest, and with beautiful mountain vistas and breezes. You will have much of the same in Asheville if not more and I know you and your family will love it. I love visiting Asheville as often as possible, and I’m so,jealous that our town isn’t at all veg friendly like Asheville.You will be amazed at how much there is to do in the summer and the fall. Best of luck to you and your family–I know you will love it.

  35. Congratulations on the move! Asheville is on our list of places to visit. It sounds AMAZING!!!

  36. Congratulations on the move! Asheville is such a fun place. I’m right down the street in Greenville, SC and I drive through Asheville frequently. Welcome to the mountains!!

  37. Great post, and beat of luck in your new city. I’ve visited Asheville and it’s amazing. Kind of off topic, but why do you say caramelized onions aren’t vegan? They’re just onions cooked for a long time over low heat. Right?

  38. All the best to you and your family, Matt!

  39. Christina says:

    Good luck to you and the family. We just moved back to SC after living in Boston for the last 3 years and we are having some major homesickness. Asheville is only a stone’s throw from where we are and it is a fun little town and I love how veggie and earth friendly it is. We are still adjusting to non-city life and missing New England so much. I can appreciate your move and the distance from family (having a 1 year old). Best of luck! Enjoy!

  40. So glad you’re back! I’m about to move from Baton Rouge back to my hometown of Austin and I’m so excited! But also counting the cost. Thanks for forging the way of moving because benefits outweigh costs.

  41. North Carolina is one of my favorite places, and I feel so blessed to get to visit a few times a year (my company is based there, though I live and work in New York City).

    Good on you, and enjoy your new home!

  42. Michelle Novak says:

    congrats on the move!! i’m jealous! since we’ve moved (originally also from Bel Air, MD) to NC (greensboro) we’ve developed a real fondness for asheville and pre-kids and pre-vegan most of our weekend trips or getaways were to asheville. we’ve always talked about retiring there, but you make me think why wait! kinda wish i thought of the idea before our kids turned school age πŸ™‚

    I’m excited for you and the future of NMA πŸ™‚

  43. This may sound weird, but my sister reads your blog, and sent me this post, because she thinks your wife was my roommate in college. Looking at her picture, it’s either a strange coincidence, or she’s right. Is your wife’s name Erin by chance?

  44. Hey Matt, Congrats on taking the big step and making the move! I did something similar in 2006 when I moved out to Santa Cruz, California from Fairfax, Virginia (so I have some idea of what Bel Air was like….). At the time I “needed” a reason financially so I applied and got into grad school out there. =) Asheville sounds *a lot* like SC, right down to the restaurant scene, compostable paper cups for take out, and local grocers making their own vegan/vegetarian items. If you are ever out in the SF area again for work or racing I urge you to head down to SC and join up with some local (extremely friendly) runners for some trail running. You could also sign up for a http://pctrailruns.com/ run some day as an excuse. And if you do, contact me via facebook and I’ll put you in contact with some people and their families who might even let you stay with them for a few days. πŸ™‚


    (For marriage reasons I’m now in Berlin, Germany, which I love, too!)

  45. Congrats on your big move. I have lived in the same area for all my life….it’s hard to contemplate moving away from everything and everyone you know. We are vacationing in Asheville next month and am even more excited after reading your post. I am now afraid I didn’t give myself enough time to see your new city! πŸ™‚

  46. Congrats on the move. Asheville is one of the prettiest towns I have ever been to. I moved from NY to NC in 98 for a year and it was one of the best years of my life. I am not trying to get my husband to move somewhere out of NY.

  47. Matt, welcome to Asheville! My wife and I moved up here from FL 3 years ago, and it’s a wonderful place. So many great places to run, eat, and drink. I’m sure you’ve already done your homework, but check out Laughing Seed, Early Girl, Green Sage, Mela and Rosetta’s Kitchen for food. For running, the Mountains-to-Sea trail runs along the parkway, then Bent Creek and NC Arboretum are beautiful as well.


  48. Matt,
    So glad you and the family are enjoying Asheville. We also moved here 5 years ago from Baltimore, and it has exceeded our expectation by a bunch.
    Please stop by our B&B sometime to say hello….we are just around the corner from the ChiRunning office. Danny, Jeff, Liz and the gang have been here several times and we are big promoters of ChiRunning.
    Welcome to the neighborhood
    Jim & Chris Muth

  49. Welcome To Asheville! I hope your family will love it here. You already found out some of the best highlights of this town.It is a great place to raise kids too πŸ™‚ Also, the trail running is fantastic! Lots of runners & bikers and such a great community. I always feel lucky to live in such an amazing town!

  50. Welcome to our fair city!

  51. Great write-up on the rationale and process for the move, and hope it works out for you. Looks like things are off to a good start.

  52. Great post and really hit home with me as my husband and I are strongly considering moving to Asheville. We live in N.C. about three hours from Asheville and live near family, which we love, but I have always wanted to live in Asheville. I am a potter and would love to have a studio in The River Arts District. Check it out if you haven’t already. I became a vegan last June so the town is perfect to fit my dietary needs. My biggest reason not to move is family and my children having to change schools. Anyway, Thanks for the post. It got me thinking even more about moving and if we do, we will have to look you guys up! Thanks for all the great info on your blog!! Love reading it!!

  53. Congrats on the move; Asheville is a special town.

    Wedge Brewing = heaven on earth.

    • Anthony, I’m planning a trip to Asheville this summer. Any other breweries you would recommend?
      I just got back from Founder’s Brewery bar in Grand Rapids with growlers of Imperial Stout and Free-Style IPA. (I recommend both, they dominate from both sides of the spectrum!)

  54. Just finished 4 years relocation from Israel to South California with my work.
    That was one of our greatest life experiences!
    As you wrote, looking at it as a not permanent move makes it much more enjoyable.

  55. Good for you!
    I did the same thing in 2005….moved clear across the country. My mantra was “Its only for a year, if I don’t like it I can go back.”
    Its now 7 years later and somehow I never ended up moving home again πŸ™‚

  56. Sounds awesome! Congrats on the move. Definitely nice having the option of going back after a year if you want! Good luck πŸ™‚

  57. Congrats on your move! We relocated from DC to Seattle last May while I was pregnant, and it was overwhelming (and expensive!) to say the least. But we absolutely love it out here, and like you said, we can always go back eventually. πŸ™‚

  58. Fantastic post, Matt, and so integrative! I love how you blend thoughts on family, food, life change, and simple, practical tips all the way through. I hope I can come visit you sometime! I’d love to see Asheville.

  59. Love visiting Asheville on our way to Charlotte, NC (where my hubby’s fam lives). I imagine it is great to live there! Congrats!

  60. Jon Weisblatt says:

    Hey Matt, congrats on taking a chance on a new adventure. Very exciting. I e always wanted to visit the area but haven’t done it yet. Now with you and Danny Dreyer there I may have buy a plane ticket and do some celebrity stalking. Danny is a great guy if you get to meet him and I believe there are organized weekly chi runs. Good luck and have fun!

  61. Congrats on the move, Matt. Having lived in both Baltimore and Asheville myself, I have to say you will really enjoy the unbelievable runs you’ll be able to explore in the Blue Ridge mountains.

    As a suggestion when you have time this summer, take a trip to Moses Cone Park in Blowing Rock (http://www.blowingrock.org/mosescone.html) for a run. Having run in almost every training mecca in the US, these trails are in my top 3 all-time.

    Also, you’ll inevitably run across the athletes in the professional training group Zap Fitness (http://www.zapfitness.com/) as they use the park for their normal training day runs. Don’t be intimidated, all the athletes, and especially the coaches, are down to earth and love meeting up and talking with local runners. They even do quite a few free clinics and group runs; I guarantee you’ll learn a ton from their coach Pete Rea.

    Enjoy the mountains and the fresh air!

  62. Congrats on the move! Two of my best friends have moved to Asheville in the past three years. I had never been but now visit regularly and agree: it’s an awesome little city. You forgot to mention that even the big festivals and street fairs are ridiculously kid-friendly. I loved seeing all the little hippie kids with their parents at the art fair while we were there in the fall.

    We’ll be there again for the weekend this weekend, so I’ll be thinking of you! Planning to hit Jack of the Wood and the Vault for a bachelorette party.

  63. Congrats on the move! I’ve always wanted to go to Asheville. I’m actually getting ready for a big move myself, from Ohio down to Texas so it was good to read this! I’m not looking forward to the drive down there & just want to be settled but I’m sure it’ll go smoothly. Although I don’t have kids, I do have 3 pets to take on the move! Hoping they handle it ok…!

  64. Welcome to the area! Asheville has a good running scene, and you have a great one just south of you in Greenville SC area. Hope to see you at some of our local area races. You are certainly welcome in our vegetarian/vegan household if you need a place to stay.

  65. Asheville vegan society says:

    Welcome!! Google us “Asheville vegan meetup” or hit us on FB πŸ™‚
    -joe, the Asheville Vegan Society

  66. I just found your website and really LOVE it. I’ve been vegetarian since I was 11 and went through all the stuff everyone talks about. Congrats on your move. I haven’t been to Asheville but I have heard that there is a wonderful college called Warren Wilson there, so just another interesting place to check out for you!

  67. So glad you are moved and successfully settled! Who knew Asheville – or anyplace in the south! – would be so veg’n friendly! Enjoy exploring your new area πŸ™‚

  68. Matt- Welcome to Asheville. My wife and I moved to here from Florida 5 years ago and wouldn’t live any place for all the reasons you mentioned. What got me plugged right into the community was joining the Asheville Track Club. I’m now the President of the club and would like to invite you to join or at least check out our website. Our next race is the Ramble Run 12K/5K. Visit http://www.ramblerun.com for more info. Hope to see you on there. -John

  69. Welcome to Asheville, Matt! Hope our paths cross one of these days.

  70. Welcome to Asheville! This is where my family is from… Candler to be more specific. it’s gorgeous there and I loved spending summers in the Mountains! You guys are going to love it.

  71. Welcome to the area, Matt!! You’ve picked a wonderful place to live and enjoy…. The mountains, the people, the culture are truly special here. I live in Greenville, SC and consider myself blessed to be here. We have an amazing, quaint and vibrate downtown…I can ride my bike from my downtown home and make a wonderful trip to Flattock and Saluda. Hendersonville is also a neat area. As a vegan, I love to visit Asheville’s restaurants, especially the Laughing Seed and Rosetta’s Kitchen. I hope you and your family enjoy this amazing area as much as I do!!!

  72. I love Asheville, I went to school there. I was just visiting and Rosetta’s on Lexington has the best tempeh reuben sandwich. Go eat one for me!

  73. Just found your blog today…love it! After several years of thinking about becoming vegetarian on and off, I’ve decided to commit. I had to reply to this post, because I’m from eastern NC and absolutely love Asheville. It’s a really cool town. Hope you and the family are enjoying it!

  74. I’m graduating from a school in Boston in May and thinking of moving down to Asheville for the summer before figuring out the more permanent job thing! You’re part of the inspiration for it and I have far fewer obligations to hold me back! I’m hoping to train and race a lot down there (triathlons.) You’ll have to write another post letting us know how everything is going for you and your family!

    • Wow, Asheville seems like a wonderful place to go for a summer. We love it here so far. Trails, food, weather, mountains, music, beer … I could keep going. Let me know if you decide to do it!

  75. This was a great blog!! I loved hearing your story. It reminded me of when I graduated college and chose to move to Austin, Texas. Sometimes I don’t think many other people understand those of us who have an extreme connection to a certain city or location. So, when I read this I could tell you really know the value in life and how to appreciate an atmospheric wondrous blessing when you find one. Congrats to you and your family! I hope you continue to find inner peace, joy and personal growth through your experiences in your new homeland. Love, Rhonda

  76. Asheville is such a wonderful place to live, especially for vegans! I lived there for 3 years, moved away in January, and now I’m moving back next week because I can’t get that place out of my head. The food is incredible (try Nine Mile – best food in the world and almost everything can be veganized) and the attitude of the town is so friendly and happy. Congrats on your move.

  77. Matt, welcome to NC! I think you’ll love it here, Asheville is beautiful; especially in the fall. Maybe you’ll make it down to Charlotte for a marathon or two and we can meet. Take care.

  78. Lisa Notestine says:

    Hey Matt, Pat Irvin from VA sent me your blog info. She is married to my second cousin, Dennis, who lived here eons ago. I am a native of The Land of the Sky, born and bred here, still here after 61 years. There’s something about the mountains that make it impossible to leave them. My daughters and I would like to meet you and your family and show you around town. I know you’re busy working and getting settled, but email me whenever you want to see 3 smiling homegrown faces. Lisa Notestine (that’s 2 syllables pronounced as in ‘putting a note in a beer stein’, which is appropriate for Beer City, USA, wouldn’t you say?)

  79. I love Asheville, and I know you’re going to love it too. I’m a huge fan of the hiking and the beer.

  80. Thanks for the mention and link! You’ll start to notice our kombucha in all sorts of unexpected places around town like coffee shops, bars, hotels, hospitals, tattoo parlors, zip line courses, festivals…Asheville’s just cool like that. Glad to have you in town!

  81. I left NJ back in 2002 and drove cross country ALONE with my dog pulling a U-haul. We ended up in Scottsdale, Az. and stayed there for 3 years. I wanted to be closer to my daughter in Fl.so we packed
    up again and moved to Trinity (which I knew nothing about, just that a neighbor of mine from Az. was also moving there). I didn’t know that my daughter would be 5 hrs. away from me in FL. (she Fort Lauderdale, me in Trinity). The day I got there I cried and cried. I couldn’t wait for my lease to be up (yes, 1 year I had to stay there)and as soon as it was I moved back to Az. After so many years of being away from my children I picked up once again this past March and drove cross country to Delray Beach, Fl. For so many years I have had in the back of my mind Asheville, NC as I was a “flower child” back in the 70’s in San Francsico. I am a vegetarian (was a vegan, that didn’t last too long), live a healthy lifestyle, MISS the mountains, and so much that Az. had to offer.
    I broke my lease moving to Fl. so I once again have to stick it out here until the end of Feb. Then I will be moving to Asheville for sure after reading your blog. I just don’t know where I would fit in, a 62 year old white Jewish woman originally from NY
    moving to Asheville, NC? Would it be a log cabin in the mountains (yes, but I also would near to be near civilization) or perhaps Hendersonville as I hear it is a bit cheaper. I am not working and don’t know if I would be able to find work (nanny for many, many years and worked in a child care facility). Before that VP of a telecommunications Co., before that a MA(medical assistant).
    Now that you know basically my whole life history, would Asheville be the place for me??????
    Yes, I am still hippyish, and look and act much younger then my chronological years lol.
    I don’t know if I will get a reply back or not (I’m hoping I will) but I thought I would write down my thoughts on Asheville, NC.

  82. Hi Matt

    Asheville sounds very similar to where I live in the UK, Brighton.

    We also have a young family who have settled in brilliantly, and two years on we have have some great friends.

    Good luck with your move!



  83. Just noticed the Retirement and Good Living selected Asheville as one of its top retirement locations for 2013 at retirementandgoodliving.com/asheville/

  84. DianaPerry says:

    Hello, your website inspires me. Asheville seems very big compared to 6,000 here in Monticello, KY. But here they are lazy and fat and I want to move. I’ve always drove thru the Maggie Valley area to see family in NC. And, I’m drawn to it. I’m a vegan, artist and want to be in my eliment. What lil towns are close to Asheville? Thank you for sharing with us your adventure. Mine is heading your way.

  85. Hello. well i am about to venture the same one you took in about 3 weeks. No place to go,
    and no job. But i do know THIS is the place where i want to be…wish me luck.

  86. It is very encouraging to read all of these positive comments about Asheville – the mountains, great running and biking trails, the fact that it is a great place to raise a family, the local food scene, etc. I have lived in several cities including SF, Boston, and Annapolis and currently have an opportunity to move to Asheville for a job. But after initially hearing great things about it, I have read some very negative comments about what Asheville is ‘really like’. On the one hand, that’s just the internet – a lot of negative stuff and you have to be careful and sift through. On the other hand, the things I have read have seriously deterred me from going! I don’t think NMA is the place to sort this out, but I am wondering if anyone reading this might be able to help by giving me the low-down on Asheville ; ) I would be especially interested in hearing from young families, thirty-somethings, and re-locators from Boston and CA – really, anyone who has a tried a true experience with Asheville. Thanks!

  87. Matt, a couple of years on, do you still find that you enjoy Asheville?

    • Yes! I love it more and more the longer I’m here. Like any place, it’s not perfect, but after my book tour across the country, the thought of returning to a place like Asheville was such a pleasant one.

      • I am glad you are liking it and thank you for sharing that it has grown on you. I moved here from Denver, CO and it’s been a bit of shock to my system in some ways – from climate to culture. I’ve lived in smaller towns before, but I am finding I miss the vibrancy, the sophistication, the health consciousness, and the feeling of opportunity out West that I am not feeling here. Maybe I have not gotten out enough yet. Only been here a month so far. I have eaten at some great Vegan restaurants and met some nice people, but I don’t know….I hope it grows on me. I do feel a nice homey vibe here and enjoy the slower pace. Denver was getting really expensive and is turning into a monster like L.A..

        • Hey Cat,

          I am looking to move my family from Orlando to Asheville. My uncle lives in Auroa, CO and I really wanted to move there but cant get my wife to go so far west. I have 3 small children and love the nature and mountains. You posted this blog about 2 months ago. What is it about Asheville that gets that negative vibe? Is it not really the best place to raise a young family. I really feel Asheville has alot ot offer. Is it a old city? Are you missing that fast pace Denver life style. Thanks for your input. I really seem to like Asheville from the outside looking in. Thanks again for your time

          • Hi Dan – Aurora, CO is sort of dicey in places (crime and gangs) and the whole area is getting more congested and expensive to live. I don’t know how I would feel about raising a family out there, but I bet the schools are better. There are some people on the city-data forums who complained of the schools out here, so I’d check into that first. AVL doesn’t have such a negative vibe at all. It has a soft, nurturing kind of a vibe, but I am still not adjusting to it as well as I had hoped.

            Maybe I’m just dealing with depression again, but I miss being out West for all the reasons I stated. I am going out socially a lot and meeting some nice people, but I am literally sickened by the smoking situation out here. I try to go to Open Mic night or a blues band at a bar and there are always about 5-7 people standing outside, smoking, with the smoke getting into the building and triggering migraines for me or at at least a bad headache all the next day. I feel like I can’t even roll down my windows in my car without some cigarette smoke wafting my way or open my windows in my apartment. I didn’t realize I had become so sensitive to it.

            I just feel that in this way, this place is pretty backwards with the rampant tobacco use. I hate seeing young parents smoking in their cars with a young kid in the back seat. Not that people don’t smoke in Denver, but it’s been easier to avoid and people are more into health and quitting if they started. Here, I feel like there is not much getting away from it. Always someone smoking in front of the grocery store or just about anywhere it seems. I am starting to associate this place with cigarette smoke.

            Socially, it’s a little too older of a crowd for me in terms of hanging out with single people who are into intellectual, spiritual, and cultural pursuits. I don’t feel I will meet many men in my age range here. In short, I feel at times sort of trapped in a small mountain town in the south. And I get a sense of haves vs have nots here. I feel the lack of economic opportunity here for many and that vibe kind of gets to me.

            All that said, I am still enjoying many things here and the people are very nice and kind. It is easy to get around, I feel safe here, and it’s very pretty. I think raising a family here would be fine, but for a single woman in her mid-40’s, I don’t think I will be able to stay here. I think if I had not come here alone or with a family, these other things might not be getting to me as much.

            I feel the need to shift my attitude more as the thought of going back to Denver doesn’t fill me with joy either, but feels like it holds more promise in terms of overall opportunity. I’m still exploring and finding out what is here. I could see myself going back to Denver and getting really disgusted with the harsh, insensitive city/yang energy of that area. For now, it is best to be in a nurturing soft feeling place with more feminine energy.

            Also, I am getting set to volunteer so I can feel I am doing something towards some of the things that bug me as well – like illiteracy.

            Good luck!

  88. I’ve been enjoying several of your blog posts immensely as everyone around me tauts paleo and I believe plant based is so much better. Your blog is my support. And now I see you live IN MY TOWN! It’s been a while, but welcome!

  89. Hello Matt,
    I think it’s interesting when you start thinking of new ideas (places, locations, jobs, etc.) that you stumble upon just what you need to see at that exact moment! I stumbled upon your site as I was purusing sites on Greenville, NC. I am a Boston native (born and raised) and in the Camp LeJeune NC area years back due to my ex being in the military (I absolutely hated it back then!). However, I am at a different phase in my life wanting to make a change and am actually considering a move down south, preferably Florida with family or North Carolina.

    I want honest opinions/advice/suggestions please…
    I am in the administrative field so finding a job that offers healthcare/benefits is huge. I also want a small/safe and pleasant place to live. Plus being in a community that offers vegan restaurants/grocery stores, libraries and an overall sense of goodness is what is most important to me. Am I crazy for wanting to try something new? Can I succeed on my own making this change? I am at a pivotal point in my life wanting to better myself with wonderful changes and I would appreciate any and all feedback!

    best and warm wishes,

  90. This is my first time ever commenting on anything on the internet in my life… so WOW how special… Just had to say WOOOHOOOO I’m sure I’ll run into your outgoing wife in Asheville because We’re moving our family down there too! πŸ™‚ See you there! BOOOOOYAAAAAA! πŸ™‚

    And P.S. Thank you for posting all your observations about the good things in Asheville- It was very helpful for us!!

  91. Is Asheville a safe place to raise kids?

  92. Any towns or areas outside, but within 30 minutes, of Asheville you recommend? We’ll be house hunting very soon and I’d love any suggestions of keen health-friendly wooded places to check out.

  93. I love Asheville! I live in New Orleans, but frequently make it up that way to visit family/run. There’s some really great mountain runs organized by the WNC Trailrunner wiki group in case you hadn’t already come across them!

    Hope to see you out on the trails sometime!

  94. So happy to see someone having an positive experience. My husband and I have been thinking of relocating to Asheville. I read an overwhelming amount of horrible comments about jobs (not so much an issue for us, I work remotely) and the people. Coming from a larger city, I couldn’t imagine it being as horrible as people make it out to be.

    Have you came across any downfalls since being there? Particular things you don’t like? Also, neighborhoods to avoid?

  95. I just came across this article doing a search…we will be relocating to Asheville (from PA…and after considering San Diego!) shortly and I was looking for helpful information. Thank you for what you shared! We are runners with two small children and are excited to connect with the community! Thank you for the information!

  96. Avi Marranazo says:

    I’ve heard there is a libertarian nullification/secession movement afoot in the surrounding area. What can anyone tell me about that? Ignoring the imperial dictates emanating from Washington is something that greatly interests me.

  97. I loved your post. My husband just retired and I am sick and tired of the rat race of NYC living. We have been searching for places to live, that would be stimulating enough, i.e. art, music and good restaurants, but much more “human”. We are coming for our scoping out of Asheville this fall. Maybe we will see you around! All the best to you and your family! PS: My husband is a vegetarian runner, so although I read this article for Asheville, I am sure we will be back to you site.

  98. Congrats on the move! My husband and I live in bohemian Venice Beach and love socal living for its weather, it walkability, its food trucks, its outdoor movies, its coffee shops, its wine bars, and its young, entrepreneurial, creative vibe {and our dear, dear friends}. Curious how many 20somethings and 30somethings you’ve met who are aspiring or thriving in creative careers and/or entrepreneurial endeavors? Does Asheville attract neighborhoods of Personal & Professional Development seekers? Compared to San Diego, or for us Venice, how progressive and artsy have you found Asheville? Any one big thing you really miss compared to socal?

  99. hi Matt,

    I have to ask, 3 years later, how do you like Asheville? My husband and I discovered Asheville in 2004 and bought a second home in 2010. We visit frequently and will be moving there next year. Oh, and we are also from Bel Air, MD!

  100. Bob Dobrow says:

    Hi Matt,

    Enjoyed your post on Asheville. I am thinking of retiring there. Now that you’ve been there for 3 years, do you still like it? Any new thoughts or suggestions about relocating there?


  101. Amanda Hunter says:

    I happened over here from your “healthy lifestyle” post. We will be vacationing in the Asheville area in September. This is our 3rd time vacationing there. We LOVE it. So, 2 questions: 1. What are your favorite restaurants? 2. Where are your top hiking spots (with a 6 and 8 year old who are accustomed to hiking and running 5Ks)?

  102. Funny that I would be googling “living in Asheville” when I stumble upon a fellow vegan athlete’s site. Do you still love it there? I recently (over a year ago) moved to FL from Ohio leaving a job in engineering for my own business. It’s been great but I can’t help but think we didn’t get the location quite right. I’d love to live somewhere with the hippie vibe and some place where the air gets cold a little bit longer.

  103. Brilliant!
    Aloha from Hawaii, where there are not unending ongoing trails…have decided for many reasons to move to Asheville – close to friends nd family on that coast, trails, mountains, health conscious, and i realized “uh oh, what about being vegan? ” saw how many restaurants, and then ! Your blog- bringing it all together! Thank you and wonderful! I would love to chat with you and your sweetie, feel free to contact me offpost… Thanks for inspiring!

  104. Hi! My husband and I are debating on moving to either Colorado or the Asheville area in the next couple of years, once our 2 kids are set with college plans. We live in Chicago and can’t stand the cold and snow!! We’ve been to Asheville a couple times and really liked it, but wonder if it’s too laid back for us. The positive is that it would be warmer than Colorado. Please post on how you like the area now that you’re there for a while. (It looks likes you haven’t posted in a while). Thanks!

  105. Hello,

    I currently live right outside of DC and I have been thinking about moving a lot lately for a number of reasons. Mostly, I’m ready for more authentic place and people. With all of the places I am looking at I seem to keep running into Asheville, NC and I’m hoping to take a trip soon to check it out in person. Really, the only concern that I have is the job market; I’ve periodically checked out available job opportunities in the area and they seemed limited. In your opinion is that the case? And, are you still enjoying the area?

    Thank you for sharing your experience!

  106. Hi do you still live in Ashville? Do you still love living there? My husband and I are wanting to move there, and open our own business. Ive been reading a lot of negative things from other websites about this town. Thanks for responding.

  107. Hello!
    I wanted to ask you how you like living there, if you still are, and I see a lot of others have asked the same question. My boyfriend and I are considering this a place to move together in the future, and we are planning a visit. I have heard wonderful things about it, and also read a lot of negative things about the reality of living there. Do you have any comments now that you’ve been there a while? Do you still love it? I imagine you may have written a follow up post to this one, which maybe you could direct me to? I’d love to hear your thoughts!


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