Are You Cut Out For Rural Living in Appalachia

A group of cows outside of a Appalachian cow farm in a rural community in the High Country of North Carolina

It’s no surprise that city living vs rural living can be drastically different. The lower cost of living and lower real estate prices, compared to the city, have a lot of people considering rural living.

5 Things to Consider Before Moving to the Country

If you’re considering moving to the High Country of North Carolina there are a few things to consider before making the move.

#1: Understand Wells & Septic Tanks

Approximately 48 percent of homes in North Carolina depend on septic systems. These systems are the most effective way to manage wastewater in small communities. A septic system will reduce the risk of disease transmission, remove pollution from surface water and is cost effective to communities that aren’t large enough to collect wastewater through larger infrastructures.

Similar to septic systems, private well systems are heavily used throughout large parts of North Carolina. They will require permits, occasional maintenance and possible filtration systems. To find out more, visit the EPA’s resources for private wells.

#2: Technology is Different

This may be a given, but internet and cell reception can become an issue when you’re moving to a rural area. This isn’t something to fret! Most small communities have local service providers that can provide alternative services to their nationwide competitors.

Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, the North Carolina State Department of IT and Broadband Department and Governor Roy Cooper are working to increase broadband internet access to rural communities across North Carolina, including the High Country region. We predict that internet access in the rural parts of the region will only continue to rise in the coming years!

If the distance from internet and phone connection could be something you’re looking for, perfect! There’s nothing wrong with disconnecting and enjoying the peace and quiet the country has to offer.

#3: Smaller Schools Don’t Mean Poor Education

A common misconception among mountain towns in Appalachia and other rural communities is that education is overall lacking in quality. In many cases, this isn’t true! While some schools may lack financial resources, they often make up for in other aspects.

Take Appalachian State University as an example! What once was a small teacher’s college has become a premier public university. It ranks among the top for study abroad programs, student-to-professor ratios and athletics. Students make up more than half of the population in Watauga County during the school year.

If you’re concerned about the quality of education in the High Country, don’t worry too much! There are also plenty of great public schools in addition to charter and Montessori schools for alternative learning.

#4: Learn to Love Your Commute

A good question to ask yourself before moving to the country is, “how long do I want to spend commuting to and from work/school?”

A longer commute comes with rural living. Depending on how far out of town you decide to live places like grocery stores, gyms and schools will be further away.

I’ve always lived a little ways out of town. My high school was about 25 minutes away as was the shopping mall and various restaurants. You learn to not run to the grocery store every day. Instead, you stock up, plan, and prepare!

While, yes, certain things may be further away, it’s more the roads and winter weather that make the commute much different.

I’d suggest having an All-Wheel Drive (AWD) vehicle if you’ll be moving to the High Country of North Carolina. Not only will this make traveling in different weather conditions safer, but you won’t restrict yourself to the confines of your neighborhood during a snowstorm. Many private driveways up in the mountains are not serviced by the state. An AWD vehicle will make it much easier for you to travel when the roads are icy and unplowed.

5. Lack of “City Conveniences”

If you’re used to services like public transportation, garbage collection, DoorDash and Uber, you won’t find that everywhere in the Appalachian North Carolina. Depending on your location, these services may be unavailable. There are local alternative delivery and transportation services like Boone Delivery and the Appalcart (free public transportation around App State’s campus), but these are only located near the hustle of Downtown Boone.

How to Adjust to Living in the Appalachian Mountains

If you’re timid about moving to a rural community, here’s my best advice: embrace it. The slower pace of life, peace and quiet, wildlife and local community camaraderie is priceless. Each area of the High Country has its own niche, and you’re likely to find one to fit right into.

Here are a few tips to help you adjust to living in the remote communities in the Appalachian Mountains of the High Country of North Carolina.

Get Involved With the Community

At 828 Real Estate we believe in giving back. One of the easiest ways to adjust to living in a rural community is to get involved with your local community.

One of my favorite parts about living in the High Country is that I can walk through almost any part of town and see a friendly, familiar face. I enjoy spending my time as a volunteer with public radio station, WNCW in Spindale.

In a time when people are isolated and disconnected, it can be easy to forget the community which surrounds us. Rural living gives you a group of friends that will always have your back. People don’t have to be shut away in their apartments, they sit on their front porches and wave to cars passing by instead. Dogs play together in the park and their owners become friends!

Relax and Enjoy the Peace & Quiet

In the Appalachian Mountains of North Carolina, there are plenty of places to relax and enjoy the peace and quiet. Whether you’re exploring Crab Orchard Falls Trail or grabbing a cup of coffee, the pace of life here is a lot different from major cities. Enjoy it and savor the distance from all the hustle and bustle!

Should I Buy a Home in the Rural North Carolina Mountains?

If you’re ready to slow down, plant your roots, and enjoy all the High Country has to offer, you should buy a home rural North Carolina mountains. You won’t regret moving here.

828 Real Estate is here to help you find the perfect weekend mountain getaway, permanent residence, or undeveloped property to start your own Appalachian homestead. Browse our available properties or contact our team today to get started on your High Country journey.

About the Author

Lauren holds strong roots to the Appalachian region. Having grown up right down the mountain in Bethlehem, North Carolina, she has a love for the culture of this area. Her family is tight-knit and all have big hearts for dogs, especially their three poodles. With two brothers as musicians, she also plays piano, guitar and clawhammer banjo and is an avid vocalist. This love for music has inspired Lauren to continue sharing the traditional music and dance of the Appalachian region with others.


She recently graduated from Appalachian State University with two degrees in Public Relations and Journalism in addition to a minor in Appalachian Studies. When not traveling, she spends time fishing, cooking and hanging out with her standard poodle Bentley! 


Lauren feels so fortunate to live and work in such a beautiful area, and she is excited to be the newest addition to the 828 Real Estate family! She is eager to help you with whatever your needs may be.