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Moving to North Carolina?

In 2019 I started a new job in New York City. At the start of 2020, I was packing up my Denver home and preparing to move to the East Coast. Then the pandemic started and lock-downs happened all around the world. I knew a move was not going to happen for me. So I unpacked my boxes, settled back into my Denver home & deepened into pandemic isolation. 

Now, here I am 4 years later at the airport, getting ready to board a plane and head to North Carolina to do the house hunting trip I was planning to do right before the pandemic started. Times have changed. It will be interesting to see what type of expiernace I have in North Carolina.  

It’s important that I take this trip. These past 4 years I’ve held on to some sadness about not moving when I was planning to. I’ve had a feeling of being “behind schedule” because I stayed in Denver past its expiration date for me. I also know that staying in Denver through the pandemic was good for me in many ways. I am trying to find acceptance & forgiveness with the whole situation. This trip will help with that effort.

I will either love North Carolina & decide to move there next year, or I will validate this dream is no longer a fit for me. Either way, this trip will support me with closing a pre-pandemic dream that's been stagnant in my life for several years. It is time for me to step out wider into the world and explore a new future calling me forward.

The Pros

I explored North Carolina for almost 2 weeks. The cities & towns I visited throughout the state were lovely. The 2 main cities I explored were Raleigh & Asheville…and a whole lot of small towns in-between. 

I drove around much of the state looking at rentals & houses for sale to get a feel for what my budget could get me in the region. It was fun to dream a bit & get a vision of what life could be like if I lived in North Carolina. I stayed in hotels, cabins & a yurt to "play house" and had meals in town most days to get a feel for things on the urban front.

The two main cities I visited were clean, easy to travel through, had very little traffic, and very little homelessness. I didn’t see any tent cities, which is a stark contrast to Denver, which has deteriorated so much over the past 5-7 years. 

Even though Raleigh & Asheville are considered larger cities in the state, they both have a small town vibe to them, which I appreciate. They also have the amenities I want from a larger city, such as culture, health care, restaurants, art & urban wonders to explore.  

Raleigh had a lot of racial diversity which I appreciate & miss so much living in Denver. Asheville is mostly white, however it has an art scene that inspires me. Either one of these cities could be my home base…except for the cons, which I'll highlight later. 

It was awesome to know someone in each of the cities I visited. I met with two amazing women while I was there. It was lovely to have social connection time built into my road trip. My social skills have changed so much since the pandemic. It's nice to know if I moved to North Carolina, I have connections to help get me started in community.

I drove hundreds of miles through the state & was impressed with the quality of the roads. They were smooth & easy to travel on. I was in a small rental car so I didn't 4-wheel drive, however, with the amount of rain this area gets, you’ve got to be good at dealing with mud around here.

The Cons

Trees: Who would of thought too many trees was a thing…but it is for me. The constant tree cover throughout North Carolina was nice the first couple of days, but after a while it felt heavy and congested. And there was no getting out of it. Wide opens spaces are limited in North Carolina. Forest covers at least 60% of the state.

After a while, everything started to look the same to me. The trees obscured views. It was hard to see the architecture of buildings or store fronts from the road. Even highways were challenging for me. The view stayed constant; a wall of trees on both sides for hours (and days). You almost have to know where you're going to find something...and that felt restrictive to me.

I drove through a lot of the state & couldn’t quite find a change in the eco-system. I'm used to Colorado where I have access to the plains, foothills, mountains & desert all within a 4 hour drive. I like a variety of landscape; it helps cultivate different aspects of my being. As I contemplate moving to North Carolina, I wonder if I could live so far from the desert?

Not only did the tree cover limit the amount of sunshine that hit my skin, it limits the amount of light that comes into a home space. I used to think I wanted a home with trees all around it. Now I see how important light & open space are to me; especially in & around my home.

The hardest part of the constant tree cover for me was that it obscured the sunrise & sunsets, along with the moon & the stars. The sky was very much off limits to me in North Carolina. This trip made me realize how important it is for me to see sky & the shapeshifting clouds that move through it. It never occurred to me that the sky would not be available.

Water: I love to be near water, especially rivers & lakes. One of the things I often do is find a water source to be next to for the day, so I can play, make art, and enjoy nature & wildlife. This was close to impossible for me to do throughout North Carolina. It was shocking.

Even though there are many rivers & lakes in the state, there are very few pull offs with easy access points to the water. I found a few day use areas where you could pay to park and access public swim areas, but not much is wild, private & easily accessible. You pretty much need a boat or kayak to access the lakes in North Carolina. Thick trees most often lead up to the waters edge, which makes finding space to lounge near the water quite tricky as well.

I'm grateful I paid for a yurt on a stream so I could easily access water and have some open space to breath in. This spot held me well, and allowed me to be with the questions: Could I really live here? Did I want to? Is there enough in this region that excites me? Does this land want me? Is this the location for my next home base?

Highlights of My Trip 

  • Meeting with friends for meals (Stephanie & Suzanne

  • Finding fun places to eat in urban areas 

  • Waking up to bird song 

  • Sleeping in the yurt (the bed was so comfy) 

  • Hanging out with butterflies on Old River Road 

  • Creating a page in my art journal from magazines found around town 

  • Buying a new purse in Asheville & a new jacket in Cherokee 

  • Jacuzzi time at the yurt

  • Dancing naked in the rain

  • Taking pictures & posting them on my Facebook page

  • Seeing a green heron, a black ferret, and a huge red headed woodpecker

Here's a video featuring more of my expiernace in North Carolina.

The Verdict

Taking this trip was so good for me. My dream of moving to the east coast was cut off so quickly when the pandemic started. These past 4 years I’ve held onto a story about what my life would have been like if I had moved. This trip proved that I made the right decision to not move. 

I liked the urban areas I explored in North Carolina. However, equally important to me is the eco-system & nature access of an area. I was so disconnected from the land throughout the state. It was quite surprising. I really wanted a big YES from North Carolina. I wanted my next home base to just show up, loud & clear and excite me...and that's not what happened for me.

Getting such big No's throughout this trip was hard & sad for me. I found myself exploring what compromises I would be willing to make to live in this region. Every time Spirit heard me having these internal conversations, she presented me with another experience that validated this was not the place for me.

It’s a like a romantic relationship. When you first start dating someone you want it to be fun, exciting & sparked with passion. The right fit is easy & inspiring. My time in North Carolina was not this for me. 

Towards the end of my trip, I knew this was not the location for my next home base. I spent time in the yurt creating a page in my art journaling to honor this message coming through. In this process, Spirit reminded me that sometimes you have to find your "No" before you can find your "Yes".

All the No's I got on this trip are helping me get more clarity around what I do want for my next home base. I have more clarity around what the wild animal of me needs for my well-being, especially as I age & consider where I want to die. As I plan this move, I am thinking about the home-space and ecosystem I want to hold me during my end-of-life transition.

I would totally visit North Carolina again, and make it more of a vacation experience than a home scouting trip. I met some great people and I would like to explore more of the urban areas, and some of the neighboring states. The East Coast is not totally out of the running for my next move.

As I bring conclusion to my North Carolina trip:

  • I release the fantasy I had in my mind about what my life would have been like if I had moved to North Carolina before the pandemic.

  • I release the self judgment I’ve had about being wishy-washy and wanting to move for so many years, but never doing it.

  • I honor my staying in Denver. I am healing through an intense aging portal. I chose to stay in Denver, near friends, in an ecosystem that is medicine for me, and in a home that holds me well. I honor my staying, and there is a lot of healing for me in that.

  • I open to divine timing and to the fullness of this now I am part of. May my journey continue to guide me to wonderful locations that support & inspire me as I continue my quest to find my next home base.

  • May the place that I am meant to be in touch my heart with a loving yes, and may I have the courage to take an inspired leap into the next phase of my life adventure.

Thanks for going on this journey with me....

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Ahva Lenay
Ahva Lenay

I really appreciate your approach and unique assessment of this region. I have often dreamt myself of what it would be like to live in such a environment. Now, through your lens I can say this wouldn't be for me either. Who knew .... too many trees! That's wild, and one of the things that called to my soul. I hope you find the perfect and wild wandering that lands you in your full YES of home place. Blessings on you and your journey always!


Laura Plumb
Laura Plumb

I love this. Thank you for taking us on the journey with you. I had a quick little trip to Asheville this spring. Full expected to love it. Instead found, like you, I did not. As beautiful as it is, it made me appreciate all the more that I am already in the perfect place. Lots of love 💛

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