Enjoy the view – and so much more
by Carlene Cobb
In western North Carolina, every scenic overlook brightens your outlook. Rise early enough to sip coffee on your deck or balcony with the sunrise lighting the panoramic vista of misty mountains. You will understand the attraction to this lush area where mountains may be caped in clouds, dotted with dogwoods, ablaze with autumn foliage or capped in snow – every season has its appeal.
At dusk, settle into a front porch rocker and watch the hillsides twinkle in Mother Nature’s light show, like stars on vacation from the sky. In between, fill your day with hiking to summits, exploring caverns and waterfalls, whitewater rafting, horseback riding, arts and crafts fairs and galleries, fly-fishing, zip-lining, llama trekking, watching the deer graze at Cades Cove and sliding down Looking Glass Rock into the cool splash that just may change your life.
More and more Floridians who venture north for mountain getaways in Asheville, and surrounding areas of western North Carolina decide to make a home there. It may be a second home or a retirement home, or it may be a relocation inspired by the desire to work and raise a family in a charming small town surrounded by misty mountains and friendly people. It seems there is a natural Florida-North Carolina connection. Many people compare the peace and beauty of sunsets over seashores to the serenity of majestic mountain views that await one day’s drive north. Each amazing vista is an irresistible attraction.
“People tell me it’s all about the view,” says Allison Frank who grew up in Tampa and moved to Asheville, North Carolina 18 years ago. “Fifty percent of my business as a real estate agent came from Floridians.”
Making the Florida – North Carolina connection with people interested in buying real estate in the Asheville area continues to be a satisfying endeavor for Frank, who now manages a real estate referral service, specializing in matching buyers with real estate agents because she says she knows “who all the really good agents are.”
Frank says she loves “Asheville’s charm – a small town built in a forest in the mountains, where stunning views are everywhere, the people are kind, there is plenty of art, music, culture and restaurants, the Biltmore mansion – and there are four fabulous seasons that naturally divide life into luscious vignettes,” she says. “My favorite seasons are fall and winter. This morning, I walked for an hour, and I couldn’t do that in July in Florida. I remember my first trip to North Carolina, the 4th of July, 1971, with three other college kids. We hiked in our sandals, camped in tents and hung our food in the trees, which the bears ate. It was cool enough to wear a jacket in July, and that, to me, was Paradise. I loved the place ever since that first trip.”
So, the Florida-North Carolina connection is about access to beautiful views close enough to reach in a single-day drive, the seasons and cooler climate, quiet, picturesque towns where people are friendly and willing to help you make the most of your time in the area. If you are visiting or moving to areas near Asheville, Franklin, Waynesville and Highlands, you will likely encounter some fellow Floridians you already know. Say hello and pull up a rocker.
“My favorite season in the North Carolina mountains is spring,” says Vicki Bartz who manages community relations for Tidewell Hospice serving Sarasota, Manatee, Charlotte and DeSoto counties. “It’s so beautiful with the dogwoods and so many wildflowers popping out in bloom. We love to sit in our rockers, watch the birds and enjoy the view.”
Vicki and her husband Bob Bartz, president of Manatee Chamber of Commerce, say they love Florida, and they’re not thinking about retiring any time soon. Their home away from home in Franklin is for vacations with family and friends, sometimes enjoying the largest 4th of July fireworks display in western North Carolina. After visiting many areas of North Carolina since 1984, they found the perfect place to buy in 2004. It is in Franklin, centrally located to so many mountainous adventures.
“We have a son, daughter-in-law and three granddaughters, and they love to come visit Oma and Opa up here in the mountains,” says Vicki Bartz. “My advice to anyone considering buying any property would be to take your time. Franklin was always on our list, but we had a budget and wanted to stay on budget. We visited all over the area before we decided to buy. When we saw the view, we knew immediately it was the one we wanted.”
Kim Raich Overcash grew up in St. Petersburg, Florida. She and her husband Michael Overcash often camped and traveled in North Carolina, especially around Asheville and Black Mountain. They moved to Boone, North Carolina and Kim recently earned her Master’s degree in Higher Education, Community College and University Leadership from Appalachian State University (ASU) and she is employed at ASU as associate director of financial aid.
“What I like best about Boone is that it is beautiful and very much in tune with the environment. We wanted to raise our daughter, Caitie, in a smaller town and a safer environment,” says Kim Overcash. “I still love to visit my friends in Florida and have them come and visit us, but I am glad we were able to find our niche here in Boone – even with the long, cold winters. The spring, summer and fall are worth putting up with the winter, even for us Floridians.”
To contact Allison Frank for real estate referrals, email firstname.lastname@example.org. To learn about Asheville, visit RomanticAsheville.com. For information about Western North Carolina, visit VisitNC.com.