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Finding the Best Places to Retire Since 2006!

Vol XIII   Issue 30      Home     July 31, 2018

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In Lush Western North Carolina, Brevard Beckons with its Musical Soul, Bountiful Outdoor Recreation and Reasonable Cost of Living

Cost of Living:  Meets the National Average

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Nestled in the lush Blue Ridge Mountains of western North Carolina, cozy Brevard (population 8,000) has been attracting attention for its combination of outdoor recreation, cultural activities and mountain town sophistication. It is the Transylvania County seat and home to Brevard College (650 students). With its location near the entrance of the stunning, 500,000-acre Pisgah National Forest, it is also a busy tourist stop.

Brevard has mushroomed by 45% within the last couple of decades and has a mature demographic. In fact, 50% of residents are age 45 or better. Thirty-five percent of locals have at least a four year college degree. The town has some racial diversity, and residents lean to the right politically. The crime rate meets the national average, as does the cost of living.

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The median home price is $210,000. Many residences are ranch ramblers or raised ranch ramblers, and nearly all are on a wooded lot. Very nice, planned housing developments include Deerlake and Windover Farms. College Walk is an independent living and assisted living retirement community. Apartments are not in great supply, but dozens of mobile home parks, some for people age 55+, are in and around town.

North Carolina is not particularly friendly when it comes to taxes and retirement. Social Security is still exempt from taxation, but the state taxes most other retirement income (IRAs, 401(k)s, private and public pensions), less a $15,000 deduction for married people and a $7,500 deduction for single people, at a flat rate of 5.49%. The Bailey exemption keeps some retirement benefits received by state and federal government retirees if they had five or more years of service as of August 12, 1989 safe from taxation. There is also a tax credit for long term care insurance premiums, up to $350 per person per year. Real estate is assessed at 100% of fair market value, but people age 65 or better with less than $29,000 annual income may have the greater of $25,000 or 50% of the appraised value of their home excluded from the taxpayer's assessment. The state also has a circuit breaker tax deference program in place for residents age 65 or better. In Brevard, the annual taxes on a $350,000 home are approximately $1,680.

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Brevard, North Carolina


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Newcomers are almost always impressed by the this area's natural beauty. With woods and forests all around, playing outdoors is a way of life here. The mountains lend themselves to all sorts of activities, including hiking, camping and bird watching. Fishermen love the trout running in the nearby French Broad River, and rock climbers find a challenge at Glass Rock. Brevard is also a hub for bicycle enthusiasts, with numerous trails in the Pisgah Forest and up Bracken Mountain.

Transylvania County is called the Land of Waterfalls, and 250 natural waterfalls are within a few miles of Brevard. Picnickers, nature lovers and photographers are drawn to them, and they have a way of soothing the soul. Many of these waterfalls are not even on the map and take a day of adventure to find them.

Brevard is particularly known for its music scene. The Brevard Music Center is a well-regarded music institute that draws 400 students and produces dozens of public concerts each summer. More than 50,000 people come to town every June through mid-August to revel in the music in the mountains. The beautiful Paul Porter Center for the Performing Arts is located on the Brevard College campus and hosts performances not only by students and professors but by the Brevard Philharmonic and the Transylvania Choral Society. Throughout town, jazz ensembles, string quartets and banjos pickers are found performing nearly every night of the week.

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The cute downtown area is peppered with bistros and retailers and has at least nine art galleries. Every fourth Friday the town holds its Gallery Walk, a time when artists open their studios to the public. Workshops and classes are ongoing throughout the year. The Scenic 276 Arts Corridor is a somewhat touristy 13 mile stretch of studios, shops and galleries just south of town. The Brevard Little Theatre is a community theater and has a full schedule. Festivals are a staple here, too, and include the Banff International Film Festival and the White Squirrel Festival, a celebration in honor of the many little white citters in the area.

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Dining options include some nicer restaurants and a good number of diners and cafes. The Transylvania Farmers' Market happens every Saturday during the summer. Other shopping venues, though, are limited and the ones that are here tend to cater to tourists. Wal-Mart and Belk are in Pisgah Forest, about five miles down the road.

The mission of the Silvermont Opportunity Center is to enhance the quality of life for adults age 60 or better, and it does so through a wide range of services. These include noon congregate meals, classes, a readers theater, board games, a walking group and more.

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Transylvania County provides van transportation for people age 60 or better and travels to shopping venues, recreation centers, banks, the post office and grocery stores. The service also has rides to the nutrition center at the Silvermont Opportunity Center. Reservations must be made ahead of time. Asheville is 35 miles away and has a regional airport, but the nearest international airport is 125 miles away in Charlotte, North Carolina.

Transylvania Regional Hospital (94 beds) is accredited by the Joint Commission and accepts Medicare patients. Asheville, about 30 miles away, has a VA hospital.

The Transylvania Public Library has a bookmobile, an interlibrary loan program, a storytelling festival, a brown bag arts series, a great books discussion group, free wi-fi and more.

Brevard enjoys a temperate climate with summer temperatures in the 70s, 80s and low-90s. Winter temperatures are in the 20s, 30s and 40s (the elevation is 2,230 feet). On average, the area receives 65 inches of rain and 8 inches of snow each year.

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A Brevard retirement does have some drawbacks. Traffic has increased over the years, and long-time locals complain about congestion and changing traffic patterns. Driving around town during tourist season, particularly downtown, can be a headache.

Despite these issues, residents seem to love living in this mountain burg. For many, retirement does not get much better than in Brevard, North Carolina.

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