5 reasons to live in Nash County

From a prime location to affordable housing to a buzzing art and culture scene, Rocky Mount is a hidden gem in eastern North Carolina.

Posted Updated

Abbey Slattery
, WRAL Digital Solutions
This article was written for our sponsor, Nash County.

Scenic trails winding along the Tar River, local breweries and restaurants at the historic revitalized Rocky Mount Mills, a 45-minute commute to Downtown Raleigh — Nash County is a hidden gem of Eastern North Carolina. Once dominated by farmland and country roads, the area has undergone major transformations over the past decade, all without sacrificing its unique small-town atmosphere.

Whether searching for a tight-knit community or a quiet place within commuting distance to Raleigh, here are five reasons to consider a home in Nash County.

1. Location, location, location

Situated just off I-95 and Highway 64, Nash County is a hop, skip, and a jump away from all North Carolina has to offer, from the crystal waters of the coast to the scenic peaks of the Blue Ridge Mountains. Not only that, but as the halfway point between Florida and New York, the county also provides easy access up and down the East Coast.

For those looking to work in Raleigh but escape the hustle and bustle of the city, Nash County offers a quick commute time under an hour.

"The location is perfect. Areas in the county range from 25 to 55 minutes away from the Raleigh-Durham Airport, the beach can be done in a daytrip, and the mountains aren't far, either. Our location is fabulous, and it's really helped grow this population," said Barbara Green, Executive Director of Travel and Tourism at Nash County. "You can enjoy what's here, but you can also easily go to Raleigh or so many other places in the state, as well."

With a location relatively central to popular areas, Nash County brings the perks of small-town living all while providing easy access to all the nearby cities and beaches have to offer.

2. Quality of life

There are plenty of factors that contribute to a positive quality of life, from affordable living to good school districts to an active social life. In Nash County, all of those foundational elements are present.

"Everything is pretty close in Nash County, so really no matter where you are in the county, it's just 10 minutes or less to get into Rocky Mount. Then there are lots of things that Rocky Mount has to offer, from restaurants to breweries to parks," said Kendall Cobb, office coordinator at Four Seasons Contractors, a new home builder and general contractor in Nash County. "Obviously traffic isn't bad here, and since it's so easy to get around from one area to another, you can work in Wilson or Rocky Mount or even Wake County and have an affordable place that's located centrally."

Location and affordability are two key factors contributing to Nash County's great quality of life, but they're far from the only highlights. While major companies like Pfizer, Cummins and the Cheesecake Factory — which opened a bakery in the county — provide an active and growing job market, the community still knows how to clock out and put on a good time.

From Nashville to Rocky Mount, residents enjoy a packed social calendar filled with annual events and weekly get-togethers. Some events, like the Eastern Carolina Barbecue Throwdown are so highly anticipated, they bring in visitors from miles away.

"We have barbecue teams that will come in here from all over to compete, and the whole town and everyone around it get to try out the different kinds of barbecue. Then they're all judged, and there's music and dancing to close out the event," said Green. "Then there's also the Blooming Festival in Nashville, which brings in carnival rides and vendors. Really, we have lots of events, and there's always something going on. We've got the best people that just love to get together and eat and drink and have fun."

3. Affordable housing market

It's no secret the housing market in Raleigh is one of the most competitive of its kind in the country. Even in the midst of a global pandemic, housing prices in the city have soared, vastly limiting the options for buyers based on budget.

Thanks to Nash County's size, the area is able to balance price and inventory, offering buyers a wide selection of options within a reasonable commute to towns and cities across Central and Eastern North Carolina.

"One good thing about Nash County is you can get a house that would be a million dollars somewhere else for half that price, but you're still close to other big cities," said Green. "We have a lot of people that will work in Raleigh, but live here, because it's financially easier for them. Plus, with all of the companies that have opened up recently, we're also getting more and more homes built around the area."

Green is right — the new housing market around Nash County has taken off as of late. At Four Seasons Contractors, Cobb and the rest of the team offer new construction and custom built homes in a variety of neighborhoods across the county.

"We like to hit a lot of different price ranges, floor plan options, neighborhood options, lot sizes, and locations — just to give people as many options as we can," said Cobb. "We have some neighborhoods starting in the $180k range all the way up to the $460k range. Depending on what buyers are looking for, we can build spec homes or custom builds from scratch."

4. The Great Outdoors

Thanks in large part to the scenic land surrounding the Tar River, Nash County boasts over 50 parks and dozens of acres of green space, making it a hub for hiking, biking, paddling, and more.

"We have over seven acres of trail across the county, so there's a lot to do as far as walking and biking. Then of course we have the Tar River — people like to get their kayaks and go out on the water," said Green. "With the water and historic sites, there are so many scenic spots. I always recommend the pedestrian bridge in Battle Park, which is one of the largest wood span bridges in the United States. That history here is amazing, and we've really been able to hold on to history and revitalize it instead of knocking everything down."

The Tar River itself is a testament to local history — with roots dating back to the colonial times — getting its name from its historic role as a path to the open ocean for tar-laden barges. Now, residents of Nash County enjoy paddling down the storied waters along the Tar River Paddle Trail and camping at the sites that dot the banks along the way.

With the recent opening of Rocky Mount Mills, the entertainment and local business scene in Nash County has undergone a renaissance. (Photo Courtesy of Nash County Economic Development)
5. Arts, entertainment, & local businesses

With the recent opening of Rocky Mount Mills, the entertainment and local business scene in Nash County has undergone a renaissance. Not only does the Mills offer a handful of new dining and shopping options in one convenient location, but it also hosts events that bring out the whole community.

"If someone was visiting Nash County, I'd definitely recommend the Mills and the restaurants and breweries out there. Lots of times they also have outdoor concerts or live music, a lot of races like 5ks are based out there, just a variety of events," said Cobb. "We do have lots of other restaurants sprinkled throughout the city, like Barley Burger and Lou Reda's."

Echoed Green, "It is absolutely amazing to see what Nash County was and what it is becoming, especially because of the Rocky Mount Mills area. People can go and have a great meal because there's several different restaurants that offer unique foods, like specialty tacos from TBC West, Tipsy Tomato has wood-fire pizzas, then you've got the Tap 1918 that offers all kinds of neat food, a coffee house, a bottle shop — just so many things to do."

In addition to the entertainment that the Mills has to offer, Rocky Mount is also home to numerous other entertainment and sporting events at the Rocky Mount Sports Complex and Rocky Mount Event Center. The Dunn Center at Wesleyan College offers an annual lineup of excellent talent through concerts and theatre shows.

For those looking to invest in local arts, Green recommends checking out a few classes taught by Dan Finch, an award-winning potter, or purchasing unique pieces from local artists at the Bel Air Art Center, which is home to work from over 90 local artists. Another great art gallery to visit is the Imperial Centre for the Arts & Sciences. The Arts Center Permanent Collection consists of 500 + works by artists primarily from North Carolina and the southeast.

This article was written for our sponsor, Nash County.


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