asheville is pretty sweet, i moved here from durango last summer. i will say that this is a creeking town, hardcore playboaters that don't creek much won't really be happy. not really any good after work playspots near by(generally they are about an hour outside town. if you are into playboating primarily chattonogga(sp?) tn. would be a better place.
if you are into creeking most of the time asheville is the shit. so many good class 4-5+creeks within an hours drive. its amazing. we are also only 4 hours from west va.
to me cost of living is about the same as it was in durango. the only difference that i feel is that in durango our rent was 700bucks/mo. and we lived about 30 mins. outside town, for 50 bucks less we are living in town here in asheville. the house pricing is going up, but i feel you could get more house for the money here.
hope this helps a little,
i think i'm happer here than in durango,althougo i miss being able to get up above treeline. year round paddling is the shit and pretty much makes up for co. life.
p.s. if you have anymore ? post em up.