This time last year my husband and I were ready to close on a mountain house, looking forward to the summer of 2016 with gorgeous mountain views and no need of an air conditioner. Having spent our summer in Wolf Laurel, we have returned, and have a few observations for those inclined to follow our footsteps…
Location – we took several trips to North Carolina, trying to decide which area we wanted to spend our summers. First criteria on our list was to avoid, at all costs, anything that resembled The Villages. Gravitating to college towns like Boone and Asheville, we made sure we would live in a mix of young and old alike. Boone didn’t offer us enough in terms of city life so we wound up looking within an hour’s drive of Asheville. Good choice as we fell in love with this crazy city of weekly drum circles and talented street performers. The huge amount of breweries didn’t hurt, either, as well as the phenomenal restaurants supplied by local farms. Only downer here is having to look at the scale at the end of the summer…must be more disciplined next year (right!).
Elevation – once we chose the general area, our criteria was to be at least 3,000 feet above sea level. Our research told us that we would be assured of cooler temps the higher we climbed. Landing in Wolf Laurel at 4,400 feet up, we accomplished that goal. No A/C in the house and never needed it. Temps never got close to 80 and we were comfortable with the windows open. These “warm” temps only last about 2 ½ months, however, with chilly temps in late spring and early fall sometimes causing us to use the fireplace. Not complaining a bit!
The view (or lack thereof) – We compromised on this and have a few regrets about it. Expansive views are expensive. Houses are either on a ridge or in a “holler” below. The difference in cost can be more than $100k, which is why we jumped at the chance for a home perched on the side of the mountain, with a babbling brook below, priced below our budget. Of course, we ran from it when our inspector found major structural issues underneath. We now regret not pursuing this house further. Warned the repairs might push us over our limit, we should have tried to work with the owner, maybe convincing him to meet us halfway. We love being surrounded by forest but sometimes yearn for that porch overlooking rolling mountains in the distance.
Visitors – We had many! And we loved every minute of their stay. We never tired of showing them “our” mountain and hiking the Appalachian Trail to Little and Big Bald, just 2 miles from the house. Western North Carolina is loaded with hiking trails, mountain tops and quaint towns to keep visitors busy. Sometimes just vegging out on the deck listening to the quiet and catching a glimpse of deer wandering the property is all they really wanted. It’s a happy place!
As a friend warned, it might take a year to get used to owning a second home in an area completely opposite our norm. We now look at temps in the 20’s up there and hope the winterizing is working, with no burst pipes awaiting our arrival when we return. We learned early on to get to know our local hardware store as we leaned on them for those burst pipe replacements and the occasional word of advice.
All in all, our summer in North Carolina was wonderful and we will greet the new year with more educated expectations. Looking forward to another summer of adventures and wine-toting visitors!