EZ Home Search Guide to Living in Transylvania County, NC

Photos taken from Transylvania County, NC with waterfalls and mountains

EZ Home Search Guide to Living in Transylvania, NC

Be enchanted by the Land of the Waterfalls, Transylvania County, North Carolina. While it's a popular place to visit for its 250 waterfalls, there's much more that makes life engaging in this Appalachian Mountain County. Residents enjoy pristine land, lots of outdoor recreation, and small-town communities that make you feel right at home.

Explore the Transylvania County profile to see if this could be a great place for you to live.

About Transylvania County

Situated in Western North Carolina's beautiful mountains, Transylvania County is about halfway between Asheville, North Carolina, and Greenville, South Carolina. It has the nickname "Land Of The Waterfalls" because over 250 waterfalls are located within its borders. Whitewater Falls is one of the highest waterfalls in the eastern United States. The county is framed by the Blue Ridge Mountains and two large swaths of preserved forests. 

It should be no surprise that Transylvania County is one of the wettest counties in the state. It receives over 90 inches of rain annually, which helps feed the rivers, creeks, and famous waterfalls. The warmest month of the year is July, where the average high is 82F, and the average low is 61F. January averages highs of 48F and lows of 24F. While it is a mountainous county, it only averages 5-6 snow days a year, with February seeing the most snow. The highest point is Chestnut Knob, which stretches over 6,000 feet to the northwest of the county seat of Brevard. 

Residents get to enjoy all the natural beauty and a lower cost of living compared to the national average. The cost of living index places the United States average at 100. Overall, Transylvania County rated 94.7, meaning its overall cost of living is lower than the national average. The least expensive category was transportation, while the most expensive was health care. Housing was under the national average with an index of 95.3.

Transylvania County History

Evidence of Paleo-Indian hunter groups has been found throughout Transylvania County dating back to 7000 BC. The most recent American Indian groups to live in the region were the Cherokee. Their legend says that they have always lived here, utilizing Transylvania as hunting and gathering grounds. They hunted for buffalo near East Fork and deer and elk near Cherryfield. The original inhabitants traveled through the Eastatoee path, which started in the South Carolina lowlands and crossed the French Broad River near Rosman.

When European trappers and hunters discovered the trail, it led them right into the bounty of Transylvania. Settlers begin to move into the region using the Eastatoe Path. Today, parts of the path are still in use along the Pickens Highway.

Early visitors arrived to enjoy the cooler mountain weather in the summer. A summer colony was established near Dunn's Rock, where you can find remnants of the fine homes.

The railroad was built into the area in 1895, increasing accessibility to the mountains. The result was a tourism boom, with the construction of several hotels and inns. The area became known as America's Switzerland, attracting notable Americans like the Vanderbilts, Rockefellers, Thomas Edison, and Henry Ford.

Around the same time, logging operations began in Transylvania County. Rosman was a boomtown for the logging and tanning industry. The Cradle of Forestry, established in 1898, was the first forestry school established in America to protect and manage these critical assets. Industries followed, like Dupont and American Thread. Today, these plants are closed, but the assets that they brought into the area remain. 

Transylvania County Cities and Areas

Transylvania is surrounded by the other mountain counties of Western North Carolina. These include Henderson, Jackson, Haywood, and Buncombe County. It also touches on the borders of South Carolina, sharing space with Greenville, Pickens, and Oconee Counties.

Two large national protected areas are inside the borders. Parts of the Blue Ridge Parkway run through Transylvania County, and this scenic road is a popular visitor attraction. Part of the Pisgah National Forest and its 55,000 acres lie inside Transylvania.

Brevard serves as the county seat. With over 7,500 residents, it is at the entrance to the Pisgah National Forest. It serves as a tourism and cultural center for the region. It's also known for its unusually high population of white squirrels. 

Rosman is a small town at the end of US Route 178. It was first called Jeptha, renamed Toxaway, Eastatoe, and finally, Rosman. It is at the eastern boundary of the Pisgah National Forest. The North Fork and West Fork of the French Broad River converge just west of Rosman before winding through the town.

Transylvania is also made up of various townships with small unincorporated communities. These townships include Eastatoe, Dunn's Rock, and Little River.

Another notable area in the county is The Pisgah Astronomical Research Institute, which is about six miles north of Rosman near Balsam Grove. This is an important center for astronomical observation using radio telescopes.

Transylvania County Job Market

The leading employing industries in Transylvania are education, health and social services, arts, entertainment, recreation, and food services. Construction is another large employing industry for the area. The July 2021 unemployment rate was 4%, below the North Carolina rate of 4.6%.

The top employers based on the number of employees included Transylvania County Schools, Transylvania County, Brevard College, Ingles Food Markets, Gaia Herbs, and Transylvania Vocational Services. Of note, Gaia Herbs was recognized as a 2021 Best Employer in North Carolina by Business North Carolina. The company produces herbal products.

Transylvania County Real Estate Market

Transylvania County is primarily a rural area where 76% of properties are owner-occupied. Based on data from August 2021, the median sales price for a Transylvania County home was $413,000, a 22% increase year-over-year (YOY). The month's supply of inventory was 1.7 months, a 61% decline from August 2020. This indicates the area is currently experiencing high demand from buyers. The average days on the market until the sale was 45, a 55% drop from the prior year.

Looking historically, the median sales prices have been slowly but steadily rising since about 2014. More dramatic price increases began about mid-2019 and accelerated through 2020. 

Transylvania County property taxes increased in 2021, the scheduled re-evaluation year. The new ad valorem property tax rate is set at $0.6033 per $100 of valuation. The fire district property tax rate was set at $.05 per $100 in each district. 

Transylvania County Demographics

The US Census counted 32,986 residents in Transylvania County for 2020. The population declined by about 104 residents. The Transylvania County profile estimates an annual population growth of 0.8%. 

Transylvania County residents have a median age of 51. The total population under the age of 19 is 5.4%. The Census reported around 31% of people are 65 years and older. Demographically, 90% of them identify as white alone. Only 3.5% identify as African-American, and 3.4% identify as Hispanic or Latino.

Of the residents aged 25 and older, 33% hold a bachelor's degree or higher. The median household income was $50,212. Around 60% of the population lives in rural areas. 

Transylvania County Education

The Transylvania County Public School District provides public education for students in grades K to 12. The school district operates four elementary, two middle, two high, and one alternative school for grades 9 to 12. Brevard High School has frequently received North Carolina's School of Excellence rating.

Five private schools operate inside Transylvania County. The top-ranked private school was the Outdoor Academy. 

Two institutions of higher education are available.  Blue Ridge Community College operates a campus in Transylvania County and Henderson County. The two-year community college offers 100 degree programs and certificate choices. 

Brevard College is a four-year private liberal arts college affiliated with the Western North Carolina Conference of the United Methodist Church. The roots of the college go back to 1853, but it merged with three regional schools to form its current campus in 1933. The 120-acre campus is inside Brevard. Popular majors include criminal justice, business, and organizational leadership, exercise science and wilderness leadership, and experiential education. 

The Pisgah Astronomical Research Institute also serves as a center for learning. Pre-college to post-graduate students have the opportunity to work and learn full-time at the center. It operates as a not-for-profit public foundation. 

Transylvania County Health Care

The Transylvania Regional Hospital is a 94-bed facility fully accredited by The Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations. It has comprehensive medical services with 120 active, consulting, and courtesy physicians in various specialties. The hospital is part of Mission Health, a top-rated health system. Some of the services you can find here include emergency care, family medicine, general surgery, mental health care, pain management, rehabilitation, radiology, urology, women's care, and wound care. 

Transylvania Public Health is the local health department. It focuses on preventing disease and injury, health hazards, and preventing environmental hazards. It offers health screenings, well-child visits, family planning, and immunizations. 

Transylvania County Things to Do

With access to thousands of national and state forest acres, locals and visitors have a range of outdoor activity opportunities. Choose your adventure. It can be as calm and relaxing as taking a picnic at a day-use area or as exciting as white water rafting. Miles of trails await exploration for hiking, biking, backpack camping, and more. On the mountain streams, relax while fishing, tubing, or canoeing.

Among these thousands of acres of pristine forest, you will find North America's largest concentration of waterfalls. There are so many waterfalls to explore; it will take you years to find them all.

Transylvania County is also known as the cycling capital of the south. Bike Magazine has chosen Transylvania County as the place for its annual gear guide test because Brevard is ground zero for some of the best riding in the nation. The Brevard College Cycling Team has won several national championships. Between Pisgah National Forest and Dupont State Recreational Forest, riders have over 300 miles of single track, plus hundreds of more miles of fire roads and road cycling options. The Assault on the Carolinas takes place in September. This popular bike ride offers 50k and 100K routes through the North and South Carolina Mountains. 

More high adventure thrills can be found if you're into rock climbing. Transylvania County has some of the best climbing in the southeast. Looking Glass Rock is one of the largest monoliths in North America and is a popular destination for climbing enthusiasts. The granite face has 2-8 stage climbs up to 600 feet. Another destination is Cedar Rock in the Pisgah National Forest, which offers pitches from 5.4 to 5.13.

Fly fishing is a popular activity in Transylvania County. Within a one-hour drive of Brevard, fishermen have over 500 miles of trout streams and Waters to choose from. Popular local creeks include the Davidson River, Little River, Avery's Creek, and the North and South Forks of Mills River.

If heading outdoors doesn't sound interesting on that particular day, Transylvania County has a thriving arts and culture scene. Brevard is home to a world-renowned music center, the Brevard Philharmonic, Brevard Little Theater, Brevard Community Band, the Transylvania Choral Society, and the Paul Porter Center for Performing Arts at Brevard College.

Transylvania County hosts a range of festivals and events throughout the year. Perhaps one of the quirkiest is the White Squirrel Festival held in May. It is held in downtown Brevard, honoring the town's famous and unique white squirrel population. Explore street vendors, arts and crafts, mountain-themed activities, and live music. In addition, the town has a tradition of Summer Street dances. Tap along to a lively bluegrass band and caller as you move through the square and contra dance styles. Other events include the Plein-Air Festival in June, the Halloweenfest and Spooky Stroll in October, and holiday events in December. 

Transylvania County Local Attractions

Pisgah National Forest is one of the major attractions for Transylvania County, and it has over half a million acres spanning across 12 counties in Western North Carolina. The roots of American forest conservation area here in the Cradle of Forestry. A significant chunk of the forest lies inside Transylvania County, as well as popular landmarks Looking Glass Falls and Sliding Rock.

Dupont State Recreational Forest has 10,000 acres of rocky crags and rolling hills. It is an epicenter for climbing, biking, and hiking. It includes High Falls, Triple Falls, and the popular Bridal Veil Falls. The forest has also been the scene of major movie magic, with filming locations for The Last of the Mohicans and The Hunger Games.

At Gorges State Park, one of the newest additions to the parklands, experience a temperate rainforest running along the Jocassee Gorge. An impressive number of rare plant and animal species can be found here, thriving in the unique ecosystem. The park also has hiking, climbing, mountain biking, fly fishing, and camping opportunities.

Silvermont Mansion and Silvermont Park feature a restored historical building and eight acres of park space. The colonial revival mansion with 33 rooms dates back to the turn of the century. The property is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

The Allison Deaver House is the oldest standing frame house maintained in almost unaltered condition since 1815. It now serves as a House Restoration Museum and is on the National Register of Historic Places. You can also walk through the grounds and its newly opened walking trail.

The Brevard Little Theater is one of the oldest nonprofits operating in the region, and it is the official community theater.

Transylvania County Dining

The majority of your dining options will be in Brevard. While you can find popular dining options like Mexican and Italian, enjoy the fresh country-style and American cooking at the local venues. Many restaurants make use of farm-to-table dining or are locally owned and operated. Here's a sampling of what venues offer:

  • Dolly's Dairy Bar is a roadside ice cream stand and local landmark on the edge of Pisgah National Forest
  • Brevard Brewing Company is the region's first brewery specializing in lagers
  • Country Skillet is your source for down-home country cooking prepared in Rosman
  • Hawg Wild BBQ has a full menu of eastern and western BBQ style dinners and all the fixings
  • Pisgah Fish Camp has been in operation for over 50 years at the entrance to Pisgah National Forest.
  • The Falls Cafe and Grill is a casual dining restaurant with a great view of Toxaway Falls
  • Pisgah Inn is another venue with an outstanding view, with daily specials from the peak of the parkway
  • The Restaurant at Greystone is where you go for local fine dining. With floor-to-ceiling windows, the dishes match the high quality of the view
  • Oskar Blues Brewery is a popular craft brewery operating in Brevard

Transylvania County Shopping

Downtown Brevard hosts Saturday Stroll, where local businesses, retailers, art galleries, and restaurants invite you to participate in a dining and shopping event. It runs from April to September. The different participating retailers will often have some special or discounts. Of course, you don't have to wait for Saturday to explore the downtown local boutiques and stores.

Brevard publishes a dining and shopping guide so you can see all of the local boutique businesses available in the downtown region. 

Living in Transylvania County

If you like a little adventure in your life, Transylvania County could be a great place to live. This is true if you are a mountain biking enthusiast or simply enjoy fly fishing or hiking. You have miles of wilderness to explore right out your back door. In Brevard, make the most of a thriving mountain community with some great dining opportunities and local stores to explore. Cap it all off with an affordable cost of living, and Transylvania County is a great place to call home.

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