Living Here Guide

Less means more in Gaston County

When you hear about fast-growing pockets of the Charlotte region, Gaston County rarely comes into the conversation. Mind you, this is a good thing.

Great, in fact, because it means a better quality of life and less hassle. Enchanting, in some ways, because as America slowly turns into one giant subdivision and strip mall, you’re exposed to small-town Southern charms and still have easy access to a big city playground a short drive away in Charlotte. And for practical matters, you also wind up with more house and yard for the money.

Here’s Gaston at a glance:

The county seat is Gastonia, a city of about 73,000, 25 miles west of Charlotte along I-85 and U.S. 74. It’s a former textile center in the middle of a huge transition. We often judge the heart of a city by the energy and appearance of its downtown. Don’t make that mistake here. Yes, downtown’s not very attractive – but they’re working on it.

The most exciting change underway: A massive redevolpment of the former Loray Mill textile plant, once the largest of its kind in the world. The $39 million first phase includes 190 loft apartments, 79,000 square feet of commercial space and 34,000 square feet of amenities. Developers have a commitment for a bar/restaurant and a bookstore/coffee.

The Schiele Museum of Natural History often has a lot going on for families and is a regional attraction. Or, if you’re into good deals and people-watching, the massive Barnyard Flea Market at 3856 Dallas High Shoals Highway in the small town of Dallas is a must. There’s an excellent chance you may never have seen anything quite like it.

Across Gastonia, there’s an ever-expanding mix of the new suburban-style homes that families seem to favor these days, and strong schools. Heading east toward Charlotte lie several small towns with affordable home prices and an easy lifestyle.

Check out tiny Cramerton and its Goat Island park along the South Fork River. The 30-acre island has playground equipment, picnic shelters, a kayak launch and 18-hole disc golf course. Other public connections to the river include the South Fork River Park near Gastonia and the 2-mile South Fork Trail between McAdenville and Lowell. You can access it in McAdenville.

Mount Holly and Belmont are particularly popular with newcomers because of the easy commute into Charlotte.

Belmont, where I live, has undergone breathtaking change since we moved here 15 years ago, when liquor by the drink had just been approved by voters. Downtown looked quaint, but was practically dead. Today, it’s got several pubs and restaurants, better shopping and the Friday Night Live summer music series packs the streets. And it’s clear that more economic activity is on the way.

Downtown is literally 10 minutes from the airport along Wilkinson Boulevard (U.S. 74). Rush hour commutes to uptown can be as short as 20 minutes, depending on where you’re heading.

Mount Holly is also getting a lot more attention these days, with action picking up downtown. Stop into Mt. Holly Farm Supply, a great old-time hardware store.

Now, you give up a little with the decision to move to Gaston County. Depending on where you settle, there’s a good chance that the grocery stores won’t be as fancy as Charlotte and there are fewer sophisticated shopping choices as well.

But you’ll probably be enjoying life too much to notice.

When you hear about fast-growing pockets of the Charlotte region, Gaston County rarely comes into the conversation. Mind you, this is a good thing.

Great, in fact, because it means a better quality of life and less hassle. Enchanting, in some ways, because as America slowly turns into one giant subdivision and strip mall, you’re exposed to small-town Southern charms and still have easy access to a big city playground a short drive away in Charlotte. And for practical matters, you also wind up with more house and yard for the money.

Here’s Gaston at a glance:

The county seat is Gastonia, a city of about 73,000, 25 miles west of Charlotte along I-85 and U.S. 74. It’s a former textile center in the middle of a huge transition. We often judge the heart of a city by the energy and appearance of its downtown. Don’t make that mistake here. Yes, downtown’s not very attractive – but they’re working on it.

The most exciting change underway: A massive redevolpment of the former Loray Mill textile plant, once the largest of its kind in the world. The $39 million first phase includes 190 loft apartments, 79,000 square feet of commercial space and 34,000 square feet of amenities. Developers have a commitment for a bar/restaurant and a bookstore/coffee.

The Schiele Museum of Natural History often has a lot going on for families and is a regional attraction. Or, if you’re into good deals and people-watching, the massive Barnyard Flea Market at 3856 Dallas High Shoals Highway in the small town of Dallas is a must. There’s an excellent chance you may never have seen anything quite like it.

Across Gastonia, there’s an ever-expanding mix of the new suburban-style homes that families seem to favor these days, and strong schools. Heading east toward Charlotte lie several small towns with affordable home prices and an easy lifestyle.

Check out tiny Cramerton and its Goat Island park along the South Fork River. The 30-acre island has playground equipment, picnic shelters, a kayak launch and 18-hole disc golf course. Other public connections to the river include the South Fork River Park near Gastonia and the 2-mile South Fork Trail between McAdenville and Lowell. You can access it in McAdenville.

Mount Holly and Belmont are particularly popular with newcomers because of the easy commute into Charlotte.

Belmont, where I live, has undergone breathtaking change since we moved here 15 years ago, when liquor by the drink had just been approved by voters. Downtown looked quaint, but was practically dead. Today, it’s got several pubs and restaurants, better shopping and the Friday Night Live summer music series packs the streets. And it’s clear that more economic activity is on the way.

Downtown is literally 10 minutes from the airport along Wilkinson Boulevard (U.S. 74). Rush hour commutes to uptown can be as short as 20 minutes, depending on where you’re heading.

Mount Holly is also getting a lot more attention these days, with action picking up downtown. Stop into Mt. Holly Farm Supply, a great old-time hardware store.

Now, you give up a little with the decision to move to Gaston County. Depending on where you settle, there’s a good chance that the grocery stores won’t be as fancy as Charlotte and there are fewer sophisticated shopping choices as well.

But you’ll probably be enjoying life too much to notice.

When you hear about fast-growing pockets of the Charlotte region, Gaston County rarely comes into the conversation. Mind you, this is a good thing.

Great, in fact, because it means a better quality of life and less hassle. Enchanting, in some ways, because as America slowly turns into one giant subdivision and strip mall, you’re exposed to small-town Southern charms and still have easy access to a big city playground a short drive away in Charlotte. And for practical matters, you also wind up with more house and yard for the money.

Here’s Gaston at a glance:

The county seat is Gastonia, a city of about 73,000, 25 miles west of Charlotte along I-85 and U.S. 74. It’s a former textile center in the middle of a huge transition. We often judge the heart of a city by the energy and appearance of its downtown. Don’t make that mistake here. Yes, downtown’s not very attractive – but they’re working on it.

The most exciting change underway: A massive redevolpment of the former Loray Mill textile plant, once the largest of its kind in the world. The $39 million first phase includes 190 loft apartments, 79,000 square feet of commercial space and 34,000 square feet of amenities. Developers have a commitment for a bar/restaurant and a bookstore/coffee.

The Schiele Museum of Natural History often has a lot going on for families and is a regional attraction. Or, if you’re into good deals and people-watching, the massive Barnyard Flea Market at 3856 Dallas High Shoals Highway in the small town of Dallas is a must. There’s an excellent chance you may never have seen anything quite like it.

Across Gastonia, there’s an ever-expanding mix of the new suburban-style homes that families seem to favor these days, and strong schools. Heading east toward Charlotte lie several small towns with affordable home prices and an easy lifestyle.

Check out tiny Cramerton and its Goat Island park along the South Fork River. The 30-acre island has playground equipment, picnic shelters, a kayak launch and 18-hole disc golf course. Other public connections to the river include the South Fork River Park near Gastonia and the 2-mile South Fork Trail between McAdenville and Lowell. You can access it in McAdenville.

Mount Holly and Belmont are particularly popular with newcomers because of the easy commute into Charlotte.

Belmont, where I live, has undergone breathtaking change since we moved here 15 years ago, when liquor by the drink had just been approved by voters. Downtown looked quaint, but was practically dead. Today, it’s got several pubs and restaurants, better shopping and the Friday Night Live summer music series packs the streets. And it’s clear that more economic activity is on the way.

Downtown is literally 10 minutes from the airport along Wilkinson Boulevard (U.S. 74). Rush hour commutes to uptown can be as short as 20 minutes, depending on where you’re heading.

Mount Holly is also getting a lot more attention these days, with action picking up downtown. Stop into Mt. Holly Farm Supply, a great old-time hardware store.

Now, you give up a little with the decision to move to Gaston County. Depending on where you settle, there’s a good chance that the grocery stores won’t be as fancy as Charlotte and there are fewer sophisticated shopping choices as well.

But you’ll probably be enjoying life too much to notice.

When you hear about fast-growing pockets of the Charlotte region, Gaston County rarely comes into the conversation. Mind you, this is a good thing.

Great, in fact, because it means a better quality of life and less hassle. Enchanting, in some ways, because as America slowly turns into one giant subdivision and strip mall, you’re exposed to small-town Southern charms and still have easy access to a big city playground a short drive away in Charlotte. And for practical matters, you also wind up with more house and yard for the money.

Here’s Gaston at a glance:

The county seat is Gastonia, a city of about 73,000, 25 miles west of Charlotte along I-85 and U.S. 74. It’s a former textile center in the middle of a huge transition. We often judge the heart of a city by the energy and appearance of its downtown. Don’t make that mistake here. Yes, downtown’s not very attractive – but they’re working on it.

The most exciting change underway: A massive redevolpment of the former Loray Mill textile plant, once the largest of its kind in the world. The $39 million first phase includes 190 loft apartments, 79,000 square feet of commercial space and 34,000 square feet of amenities. Developers have a commitment for a bar/restaurant and a bookstore/coffee.

The Schiele Museum of Natural History often has a lot going on for families and is a regional attraction. Or, if you’re into good deals and people-watching, the massive Barnyard Flea Market at 3856 Dallas High Shoals Highway in the small town of Dallas is a must. There’s an excellent chance you may never have seen anything quite like it.

Across Gastonia, there’s an ever-expanding mix of the new suburban-style homes that families seem to favor these days, and strong schools. Heading east toward Charlotte lie several small towns with affordable home prices and an easy lifestyle.

Check out tiny Cramerton and its Goat Island park along the South Fork River. The 30-acre island has playground equipment, picnic shelters, a kayak launch and 18-hole disc golf course. Other public connections to the river include the South Fork River Park near Gastonia and the 2-mile South Fork Trail between McAdenville and Lowell. You can access it in McAdenville.

Mount Holly and Belmont are particularly popular with newcomers because of the easy commute into Charlotte.

Belmont, where I live, has undergone breathtaking change since we moved here 15 years ago, when liquor by the drink had just been approved by voters. Downtown looked quaint, but was practically dead. Today, it’s got several pubs and restaurants, better shopping and the Friday Night Live summer music series packs the streets. And it’s clear that more economic activity is on the way.

Downtown is literally 10 minutes from the airport along Wilkinson Boulevard (U.S. 74). Rush hour commutes to uptown can be as short as 20 minutes, depending on where you’re heading.

Mount Holly is also getting a lot more attention these days, with action picking up downtown. Stop into Mt. Holly Farm Supply, a great old-time hardware store.

Now, you give up a little with the decision to move to Gaston County. Depending on where you settle, there’s a good chance that the grocery stores won’t be as fancy as Charlotte and there are fewer sophisticated shopping choices as well.

But you’ll probably be enjoying life too much to notice.

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