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Living a Golf Lifestyle in Highlands, North_Carolina

Highlands is located in extreme southwestern North Carolina. It is in the southern Appalachian Mountains, within the Nantahala National Forest. The permanent population was 924 at the 2010 census. The population can swell up to 20,000 during spring to fall. The town got its name from its high elevation (4,118'). In the 1930s the town became a center for golf when Bobby Jones of Atlanta and some of his golfing buddies founded the Highlands Country Club. That club remains as one of seven successful residential country club communities in the area.

Where to Retire in Highlands and Home Prices

Highlands tends to attract a well off group of residents so real estate is expensive. Zillow had the late 2022 median home value at $723,282 which reflects a 32.5% increase over the past year. There are at least 7 residential golf communities in the area, many of them between the small hamlet of Cashiers (pronounced Cashers) and Highlands. A lot of the homes outside of the developments are in the hills above and around town. The Highlands Golf Club is surrounded by nice homes.

What Is Special about Highlands

It's location in the mountains of western NC is pretty special. The link to golf great Bobby Jones is part of the appeal.  The town is dotted with many shops, antique dealers, a well-known auction house, and restaurants. The Old Edwards Inn is a charming old hotel. The outdoor lifestyle is a big attraction with hiking, waterfalls, and fishing in Harris Lake and others.

What Is Not Special about Highlands

It is very small (population under 1,000) and very remote. During the winter it is even smaller. It is a tourist town. On a recent October visit almost every license plate downtown was out of state.

Climate and Physical Environment

Highlands is located along the South Carolina border in the extreme western end of the state. The mountains and elevation of 4100' give this town a cool winter climate (average in the 30s during January) and cool summers as well (averages in the 70s). The area averages about a foot of snow a year.

Restaurants & Cultural Scene

There are four theaters: The Highlands Playhouse the Instant Theatre Company, the Highlands Community Players, and the Martin-Lipscomb Performing Arts Center, which hosts touring groups.  The Bascom is a nonprofit visual arts center that is housed on a six-building, six-acre campus, and offers exhibitions and educational programs.


There is a high rate of property crime involving burglary, and theft in Highlands, but other types of crime are low.

Medical Facilities

Highlands-Cashiers Hospital serves the town.


Highlands is hard to get to. The nearest municipal airport is Macon County Airport. There is no public transportation.

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