EZ Home Search Guide to Living in Henderson, NC

Photos of North Carolina and Henderson County, NC

EZ Home Search Guild to Living in Henderson, NC

Are you seeking a quiet mountain lifestyle in North Carolina? Do you consider home to be the apple of your eye? Check out Henderson County, North Carolina. Located between the iconic Blue Ridge Mountains and the popular Great Smoky Mountains, Henderson is near Asheville. While big-city amenities aren't far away, residents appreciate the laidback lifestyle and small-town charm found in the mountain communities. They love living where others come to vacation and play.

Learn more about life in Henderson County, North Carolina, in our community profile.

About Henderson County

Part of the Asheville Metropolitan Statistical Area, Henderson is in western North Carolina and part of the Blue Ridge Mountains and Eastern Continental Divide. The unique geology means the county experiences wide variations in its climate, with the Blue Ridge Plateau in the northwest and Blue Ridge Escarpment in the southeast. The terrain consists of mountain ranges, isolated peaks, a rolling plateau, and level valley areas.

Major rivers include the French Broad River, one of the world's oldest rivers, which winds its way to the Holston River and Tennessee River beyond. Other creeks include the Mills River, Broad River, and Green River. Three national protected areas are located in the county: the Blue Ridge Parkway, Pisgah National Forest, and Carl Sandburg Home National Historic Site.

Averaging 2,200 feet above sea level, the annual mean temperature is 55.1F. Lower temperatures are found the higher in elevation you go. July averages a high of 85F, while January averages 45F for highs and 25F for lows. 

Getting around by car is best, with I-26, a major east-east interstate, running from the Tennessee state line to Asheville, NC. This interstate is just two miles from downtown Hendersonville. 

Are you looking to travel farther away? The Asheville Regional Airport is on I-26, just nine miles north of Hendersonville. Carriers include Allegiant, American Airlines, Delta, and United. Hendersonville Airport handles small craft and is just a few miles from downtown Hendersonville.

Surrounding Henderson County is Buncombe, Rutherford, Polk, Transylvania, and Haywood counties in North Carolina and Greenville County, South Carolina.

Residents enjoy a moderate cost of living. The index places the national average at 100; Henderson County reported an overall index of 102.9. Health care was the most expensive category, while transportation was the least costly.

Henderson is notable as a leading apple producer. Not only is the state's largest apple-growing county, but it grows 40 different varieties of apples. 

Henderson County History

The county was formed in 1838 from the southern part of Buncombe County. In the succeeding years, parts of the county were removed for the creation of other counties. Henderson County as it is today was created in 1861. 

Agriculture was the primary driver in the county's early years, thanks to its climate and geology. Corn, wheat, rye, potatoes, and cabbage, were staple crops, but the introduction of apples led Henderson County to become a leading producer. 

Henderson attracted Southerners seeking cooler, milder summers away from the sweltering agricultural lowlands. Flat Rock was called "Little Charleston" because of the colorful second homes built by Lowcountry planter families. 

The result has been over a century of a robust tourism-based industry. 

Henderson County Cities and Areas

The town of Hendersonville is the county seat and the most populated city in the area. The historic downtown is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. It's the epicenter for retail, art galleries, museums, and town festivals. Over 14,000 residents live in Hendersonville. 

Fletcher is the second-most populated area, with over 8,000 residents. It is a quiet, small-town community close to the Blue Ridge attractions.

Mills River, NC is near the Pisgah National Forest and has strong agricultural roots. The town has a 12-mile multi-use trail and a canoe/kayak launch. 

The historic village of Flat Rock is known for brightly colored houses. It historically was a vacation town for southern residents.

Henderson County Job Market

As of June 2021, Henderson County reported an unemployment rate of 4.3%, below the North Carolina average of 4.6%. Top employing sectors by size were health care, manufacturing, leisure and hospitality, and construction. Based on the number of employees, the leading employers included Pardee Memorial Hospital, Ingles Markets, Park Ridge Health, Henderson County, Continental Automotive Systems, Meritor, Inc, and Sierra Nevada Brewing Co. 

Henderson County Real Estate Market 

Reports from August 2021 demonstrate the greater Asheville region is in high demand with home buyers. New listings remain low, even though year-over-year (YOY) listings increased by 1.5%. The median sales price for an Asheville area home was $352,375. 

Looking at Henderson County, new listings increased by 9%. That wasn't enough to impact the months' supply of inventory, which stood at 1.7 months, a 35% decline from August 2020. The median sales price of a home was $350,000, a 10.4% increase. Homes were on the market an average of 25 days before sale. Home prices have been trending up since 2012, with a more notable increase since 2020.

Drilling down into the town of Henderson, new listings decreased 4.1% YOY. The good news is year-to-date, they were up 11.7%. The median sales price was the same as the county, $350,000. The months' supply of inventory was 1.5, and homes were on the market an average of 31 days until sale.

North Carolina does not charge a state property tax. Henderson County charges a property tax rate of 0.5610 for $100 of assessed value. Additional assessments depend on your address; property taxes are charged for fire districts and the towns of Henderson, Mill River, Saluda, Fletcher, Flat Rock, and Laurel Park.

Henderson County Demographics

The number of residents reached 116,281 by the April 2020 Census, a growth rate of 8% over the decade. While the median age was 47.5 years in 2019, around 26% of residents were over 65. About 67% of residents lived in an urban area of the county. 

The majority of residents identified as white alone (83%), while 10% identified as Hispanic or Latino. Of the residents aged 25 and greater, 32% held a bachelor's degree or higher. The median household income was $55,945.

Henderson County Education

Henderson County Public Schools provides public education to over 13,500 students. It has four school districts (East, Hendersonville, North, and West). It had a total of 23 schools; 13 elementary schools, four middle schools, four high schools, one education center, and one early college high school. The school district was rated no.17 in the state (over 100 school districts total) and is a top-20 SAT score performer in North Carolina.

Fourteen private schools are available in the county. Top-ranked private schools included Captain Gilmer School, Veritas Christian Academy, and Fletcher Academy.

Blue Ridge Community College is a two-year, comprehensive post-secondary institution serving Henderson and Transylvania counties. Students pick from 100 degrees, diplomas, and certificates in 30 areas of study. It is one of the state's largest continuing education programs.

Wingate University operates a Hendersonville campus with a Physician Assistant study program and a School of Pharmacy.

Henderson County Health Care

Low-cost, basic health care services and immunizations are provided at the Henderson County Health Department. Healthcare providers consist of a physician, a physician's assistant, three nurse practitioners, and a clinical social worker. 

AdventHealth Hendersonville is the area's hospital with emergency care services. It has a Leapfrog Safety Grade A Hospital rating, a CMS 5-Star Hospital rating, and an Age-Friendly Health System Participant designation. Additional medical services include primary care, cancer, urology, mother and baby, orthopedic, neurology, diabetes, ENT, pulmonary, rheumatology, and spine. 

Henderson County Things to Do

If you're looking for mountain-based recreation, Henderson County has it. During the winter, hit the slopes for skiing or snow tubing. In the warmer months, head for the trails in Pisgah National Forest or DuPont State Recreational Forest. You choose if your adventure will be on foot, horseback, or mountain bike. The forests have a combined 60,000 acres of wilderness to explore.

Lake Julian is the local's place for cooling off in the summer, with a swimming beach on the 300-acre Lake Julian. If you'd rather be above the water, try white water rafting on the French Board or fly fishing on one of the area's many creeks and rivers. 

Henderson County has several local festivals hosted during the year. The Garden Jubilee Nurseries & Orchards Tour over Memorial Day weekend shifted to a countryside self-driving tour format in 2020 and 2021 and a Main Street festival. The Rhythm & Brews concerts series hosted in Hendersonville has live music, food trucks, and locally crafted beer, wine, and cider!

Henderson County Local Attractions

The Carl Sandburg Home National Historic Site is where Pulitzer Prize-winning Carl Sandburg, American poet, historian, author, and lecturer, spent his final 22 years of life. Connemara was originally built in 1838 and displays the Sandburg's furnishings as they lived at Connemara. 

Henderson County Heritage Museum is housed in the historic courthouse on Main Street. See a replica of a turn-of-the-century country store and other exhibitions relating to Henderson County history. 

The Cultural Center of Historic Flat Rock is a museum located in the "Old Flat Rock Post Office" building. The Center houses Flat Rock artifacts and original furniture from the post office and antique furniture manufactured in Flat Rock. The entire district of Flat Rock is included in the National Register of Historic Places.

The Mineral & Lapidary Museum features the natural beauty of minerals, gems, fossils, and artifacts found in North Carolina, in the United States, and worldwide. See a dinosaur egg cluster, fluorescent minerals, petrified wood, and a meteorite.

Visit the restored Apple Valley Model Railroad Museum in the Historic Train Depot. It has a highly detailed scale railroad layout typical of Western North Carolina. At the children's exhibit, they can operate a Thomas the Tank train. 

Hands-On! Children's Museum provides engaging interactive exhibits creating hands-on learning experiences.

Bullington Gardens is a 12-acre, nonprofit horticultural education center with a therapy garden, shade garden, butterfly garden, perennial borders, native woodland garden, pumpkin patch, and herb garden.

The Flat Rock Playhouse has presented entertainment productions for over eighty years.

Ride Kanuga has multiple one-way mountain bike trails designed by a world-champion downhill mountain bike racer. All trails are rated by skill level.

Golfers have seven courses to test their skills. Two notable courses are the High Vista Country Club and Broadmoor Golf Links.

Explore the wine country of Henderson County, with six stops along the lower elevations of the Blue Ridge mountains. 

For over 75 years, the North Carolina Apple Festival has taken place each Labor Day weekend in Marshall. Enjoy all your apple favorites, from fritters to donuts to cider, at this family-friendly small-town festival.

Street Dances take place from early July through mid-August. Show off your knowledge of square steps and other dance moves every Monday. 

Henderson County Dining

The heart of North Carolina apple country is ripe with orchards, with the region producing over 40 varieties of delicious fruit. Naturally you'll find lots of farm side stands, u-pick, and cideries. The Appalachian Ridge Artisan Cidery features artisan hard cider, fresh ciders, apple brandy, and apple products with a scenic back deck overlooking the orchard. Bold Rock Hard Cider is Carolina's largest cider producer, while Mills River Cidery only uses locally sourced apples.

There's more here to delight your taste buds than apples. You have farm-to-table dining, family-owned restaurants, vineyards, and local craft breweries. A few dining choices:

  • Arabella serves fresh and homemade breakfast and lunch with a Latin twist
  • Fireside Restaurant & Pancake Inn is a family-run local favorite a visitor mainstay
  • Postero is a popular New American restaurant with favorite Pimento Cheese
  • Brooks Tavern is a classic American bar and dinner serving never-frozen burgers
  • Moe's Original Bar B Que is a happening place for slow-smoked meats
  • Flat Rock Wood Room is slow-smoked BBQ and Neapolitan pizzas cooked in an imported oven

The Crest of the Blue Ridge is the area's wine trail, featuring six local wineries, which produce from hybrid grapes and North Carolina native varieties:

  • Burntshirt Vineyards
  • Marked Tree Vineyard
  • Point Lookout Vineyards
  • Saint Paul Mountain Vineyards
  • Sawyer Springs Vineyards
  • Stone Ashe Vineyards

The most well-known craft brewing company is Sierra Nevada, which operates a brewery, bottling, and distribution center in Mills River. The taproom has 20 beers on tap, and it serves farm-to-table dishes. Blue Ghost Brewing Company is located near the Asheville Airport. It offers a variety of craft beers such as IPA, a pale ale, a blonde, and a stout. Dry Falls Brewing Company's taproom serves beers that are brewed in-house, which include a variety of traditional craft beer styles. 

There is also one meadery, World's Edge at Point Lookout. You can visit all the local brewing action by following the Cheers! Trail.

Henderson County Shopping

Henderson County Curb Market has been in continuous operation since 1924. It's a unique farmers market where all sellers are Henderson County residents. All items sold at the market must be either hand-made or locally grown. 

Downtown historic Hendersonville is your place for locally-owned, high-quality stores and galleries. Find more than 100 shops, 25 restaurants, and their famous painted bears!

For brand retailers, the Blue Ridge Mall is anchored by Belk and Dunham's Sports. Other chains include TJ Maxx and Jo-Ann Fabric. 

If you want a U-Pick Farm experience, try Jeter Mountain Farm. They grow 23 varieties of apples in their U-Pick orchards in addition to peaches, blueberries, pumpkins, and Christmas Trees. The taproom has six hard ciders on tap.

Eight other farmer's markets are available throughout Henderson County, not to mention the many orchards with u-pick opportunities in the fall. 

Living in Henderson County

For those seeking a mountain lifestyle with big country amenities, Henderson County is the place to be. Not only do you have year-round mountain sports to enjoy, but they are complemented with excellent dining choices, an affordable cost of living, and proximity to Asheville. Wash it all down with a locally sourced cider, beer, wine, or mead. Live your life to the fullest in Henderson County. 

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