Is Gastonia, NC A Good Place To Live?

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Gastonia, NC is a city of approximately 80,000 people located A few miles west of Charlotte, NC, on Interstate 85. Being within easy commuting distance of Charlotte, NC, has led Gastonia to become one of the fastest-growing communities in North Carolina.

In general, the proximity to Charlotte and all it has to offer makes Gastonia attractive as a suburban community. Being in a more rural setting, Gastonia offers access to many parks, outdoor recreation, and a less frantic lifestyle than urban Charlotte. Lower taxes and cost-of-living contribute to Gastonia’s appeal.

For those looking to relocate to central North Carolina, Gastonia offers some real advantages. A blend of old and new with urban and rural flavors gives Gastonia a unique feel. Many people find this charming, while some seemed turned off by the mix. Being on a major Interstate highway and so close to a metropolitan center does pose problems. Gastonia is not without its issues.

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Built on Cotton

Gastonia originally served as a railroad station at the crossing point of two major rail lines. The early 2oth century saw the rise of the cotton textile industry in Gastonia. At its height, eleven textile mills operated in Gastonia, gaining it the “yarn capital” of the world.

However, as the textile industry wained and those manufacturing jobs went overseas, the prospects of Gastonia wained as well. Gastonia has begun to benefit from Charlotte’s prominence in the world of finance, technology, and research.

From the roots of the cotton textile industry, a fresh new beginning for Gastonia as Emerged. The redevelopment of many historic structures is at the leading edge of a new Gastonia. A move to capitalize on Charlotte’s growth and the economy is in the making.

A Small Town Feel Without the Small Town Lacks

Most people living in Gastonia describe the experience as “living in a small town without missing the amenities of a big city.”  There are still many mom-and-pop type stores along the retail district. Closer to the Interstate, you can find almost any of the big chain restaurants and stores.

The atmosphere of Gastonia is also very small town. The people are friendly and outgoing. People still shop at locally owned businesses instead of going to Charlotte and are often on a first-name basis with the business owners. The most common term used to describe Gastonia is “quaint.”

The Other Draws to Gastonia

It isn’t just the easy commute to Charlotte that is drawing many new residents to Gastonia. Younger couples and families find the move to Gastonia puts them closer to recreational venues and prospects.

Cultural attractions also abound in and around Gastonia. If the outdoors isn’t your thing, art and nature may still be of interest. Several world-class institutions call Gastonia home, offering some of the best cultural opportunities in the nation.

Crowder Mountain State Park

If being outdoors in magnificent scenery is your thing, Crowder Mountain State Park won’t let you down. Just minutes from downtown Gastonia, this gem of a state park offers any outdoor amenities you can imagine. Biking, hiking, cliff climbing, and fishing abound in this paradise just a short drive from Gastonia.

Daniel Stowe Botanical Gardens

If flowers, landscaping, and horticulture attract you, a visit to the Daniel Stowe Botanical Gardens should be on your list of things to do. This 380-acre botanical wonderland sits on the shore of Lake Wylie. Magnificent formal gardens, fountains, and trails make this a wonderland for the senses. The conservatory features tropical plants and orchids on display, while the visitors center offers a garden store, displays, and educational opportunities.

The Schiele Museum of Natural History and Planetarium

Take a stroll through time and space at the Schiele Museum of Natural History and the attached planetarium, Not just a place stuffed with old artifacts. The Schiele hosts varied attractions such as wine and beer tastings, children’s events and learning activities, and special planetarium shows that will fascinate anyone.

Who is Moving to Gastonia?

The 30-minute commute from Gastonia to Charlotte is a primary reason many people choose Gastonia as their home. The past few years have seen a surge of families who work in Charlotte but choose to live in Gastonia. By and large, these are upper-middle-class families whose income derives from the growing finance and technology sectors in Charlotte.

These families electing to live in Gastoni and work in Charlotte are, by and large, college-educated. As the influence of these individuals grows in Gastonia, there is increasing interest in improving the infrastructure, schools, and medical facilities.

The Economic Side of the Equation

Overall, Gastonia ranks with the average of most North Carolina Cities in its size and class. Recent statistics tell the tale of how Gastonia ranks among North Carolina and American cities.

  • Gastonia’s cost of living is slightly lower than the average cost of living in North Carolina
  • Overall, the average real estate market reflects a 13 percent lower cost than the North Carolina state average
  • It is typically cheaper to rent in Gastonia than in comparable cities in North Carolina
  • Key real estate statistic rank Gastonia’s liveability score at 66 out of 100

Gastonia offers many advantages to families looking for a relocation site. A moderate cost of living index makes Gastonia a prime location close to the Charlotte metropolitan area. Key components of the financial aspect of Gastonia need consideration as well.

The Real Estate Market

Shopping for a home or real estate in Gastonia can be an eye-opening experience. Gastonia features eight distinct neighborhoods with home prices ranging from $5,500 to 2.9 million dollars. Overall, a summary of the real estate market in Gastoni shows in these figures.

  • Median listed price for a home in Gastonia – $205K
  • The median price per square foot – $131
  • Median selling price for Gastonia homes – $230K

Anyone shopping for real estate in Gastonia must understand that real estate prices are also escalating like any area rising in popularity.  This rise in real estate prices is not peculiar to Gastonia and is happening all around the Charlotte area.

Once Settled, How Much Does it Cost to Live in Gastonia?

Cost of living is another big factor in deciding where to live. Fortunately, Gastonia enjoys a relatively modest cost of living. In almost every category surveyed, Gastonia enjoys an advantage in these costs.

  • Food and grocery costs average 6 percent lower than the US average
  • Healthcare costs are slightly higher than the national average
  • Utilities cost the typical homeowner about 8 percent less than the national average
  • Transportation is also slightly less than the national average

Overall, it costs about 5 percent less to live in Gastonia than in comparable cities in the US. Less cost of living means more income you can devote to investment or recreation.

On the Flip Side of the Coin

Like most other American cities of this size, Gastonia has its problems and its negatives. The pros and cons of living in Gastonia need consideration when deciding about relocating your family.

Gastonia struggles with the same sorts of problems that plague the vast majority of mid-sized American towns and cities. Infrastructure problems and crime top the list. The big question is, how big of a problem are these issues?

Small Town Population, Big City Crime

Unfortunately, Gastonia reflects a growing problem across the US in mid-sized cities and towns. Crime has become a major factor in almost every city of this size. Gastonia is not immune and the statistic reflects the situation.

  • The National Crime Index rates Gastonia a 3. That means that 97 % of similar cities are safer than Gastonia.
  • The violent crime per 1,000 citizens is 7.20 in Gastonia. In North Carolina as a whole, the rate is 3.2 per 1,000 citizens. Nationwide, the number is 4 per 1.000. The truth is that you are almost twice as likely to be the victim of a violent crime in Gastonia as in other comparable cities and towns.
  • Crimes against property in Gastoni measure 47.52 per 1,000 residents. Nationwide, the median for cities the average size of Gastonia is only 21. North Carolina as a whole comes in at 23.57 per 1,000. Again, you are almost twice as likely to suffer a crime against your property in Gastonia as anywhere else in the US.

The proximity of Gastonia to Charlotte is a contributing factor to these statistics. Factor in the route of Interstate 85 and you can understand why Gastonia is a target for criminals. A rapidly rising population made up of upper-middle-class professionals attracts criminal activity anywhere.

Growing Pains and Aging Aches

Much of the older portions of Gastonia were established and built at the turn of the 20th century. The infrastructure of some of these older areas of the town is showing its age. Water lines, sewer lines, and utility services strain to meet the needs of redevelopment and current uses.

Along with trying to cope with replacing or repairing aging infrastructure, Gastonia also faces the needs of an ever-growing new population. Rapid development puts pressure on the city to provide essential services in new areas. At times, keeping existing infrastructure operating takes a backseat to the needs of developing areas of the city.

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The Best of Both Worlds?  Maybe

Gastonia may offer the best of both worlds to prospective new inhabitants. The charm of old rural North Carolins with the conveniences of the 21st century is a tantalizing offer. For those who work in the high-pressure stress of Charlotte, coming home to the laid-back atmosphere of Gastonia may be a perfect blend.

However, crime and growing pains may put a damper on the prospects. The question facing many prospective residents is how do these pros and cons tip in the scale. There is no doubt that Gastonia has a bright future if the right choices and decisions are made. It may well pay to become a part of that future and have an influence on those decisions.

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Dennis Howard

Dennis is a retired firefighter with an extensive background in construction, home improvement, and remodeling. He worked in the trades part-time while serving as an active firefighter. On his retirement, he started a remodeling and home repair business, which he ran for several years.

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