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Living in Rutherford County

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From mountain homes to lakefront life, in-town subdivisions to rural rolling hills, Rutherford County has you covered. Looking for a townhouse or family style home? A quaint farm house, traditional or colonial designed home? Rutherford County has housing options to meet everyone’s needs.
Quality education is a top priority in Rutherford County and is readily accessible through public, charter and private schools, as well as the home school network. Rutherford County Schools are comprised of four high schools, three middle schools, ten elementary schools, one pre-school center, and one alternative school. Two charter schools provide a rigorous classical curriculum preparing students for college and beyond.

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Isothermal Community College (ICC) is a comprehensive, two-year, public institution that serves the individuals in Rutherford and Polk counties. As a member of the North Carolina Community College System, ICC has over 3,000 students attending classes at its two campuses. In addition to individual courses, Isothermal offers certificate, diploma, and degree programs enabling students to transfer to a four-year institution or acquire skills for new or current employment, as well as function effectively as responsible citizens. ICC also provides training for area business and industry, personal enrichment courses, remedial and developmental courses, and community service activities. 

With over 100 college and university campuses within 70 miles, access to a higher education is within reach.
As part of the Rutherford Regional Healthcare System (RRHS), Rutherford Regional Medical Center offers excellent hospital and outpatient care. RRHS has a large network of distinguished physicians and many programs to support and educate the community. In 2014, RRHS entered into a joint venture with Duke LifePoint to strengthen RRHS for the future and give the system new resources to enhance the health care services offered. As part of the joint venture, RRHS shifted from nonprofit to for-profit status.

The County Health Department provides a myriad of programs to assist, educate and support the community, ensuring total well-being. Numerous independent healthcare facilities complete the circle, ensuring head-to-toe care for all Rutherford County citizens.
Cost of living indices are based on a US average of 100. An amount below 100 means Rutherford County, NC is cheaper than the US average. A cost of living index above 100 means Rutherford County, NC is more expensive.

Overall, Rutherford County, NC cost of living is 80.20.

Cost of Living Rutherford County, NC United
Overall   80.2 100
Grocery   95.7 100
Health   115 100
Housing   53.1 100
Utilities   97.4 100
Transportation   75.3 100
Miscellaneous   92.9 100
The heritage of Rutherford County and the surrounding areas range from Revolutionary War sites to film locations for movies such as Dirty Dancing, The Last of the Mohicans, and The Hunger Games. Quaint villages around the area offer everything from antiques to fine local crafts. Here is a sample of what you’ll find:


Home to Chimney Rock State Park, Lake Lure and numerous other scenic locations, Rutherford County is a fantastic setting to relax and enjoy all nature has to offer. There’s something here for everyone with camping, kayaking, boating, fishing world-class trout streams, gem mining, and picnicking near a rushing waterfall being favorite pastimes for residents and visitors alike. There are also several festivals held throughout the year and many museums and historical venues to visit. Don’t forget to check out Rutherford County Tourism Development Authority for festival and event information. Rutherford Outdoor Coalition is also a great resource for planning outdoor activities.

Ideal for hiking, biking, walking or   running, the Thermal Belt Rail Trail is 12’ wide, paved, and extends 13.5 miles through several of Rutherford County’s communities including Ruth, Spindale, Rutherfordton, and Forest City. The trail head in Forest City provides easy access to the Pavilion On Park Square (POPS). POPS is a multi-million dollar project that was completed in 2019 and is equipped with a 2,000 seat amphi-theater, covered stage, two splash pads, and a plaza with concession and restroom facilities. It is a state of the art venue!

Just a short four miles from the Rutherford County border in Polk County, North Carolina is the Tryon International Equestrian Center – one of the largest equestrian show and training facilities in the country. Take a peek at what you can expect to find at the resort.

Sports enthusiasts can cheer on the local Forest City Owls, a wood-bat collegiate summer league, at McNair Field. Seeking more excitement? Within one hour of Rutherford County you will find the NFL Carolina Panthers, NBA Charlotte Hornets, MiLB Charlotte Knights, AHL Charlotte Checkers, MiLB Greenville Drive (SC), ECHL Greenville Swamp Rabbits (SC), and the Class A MiLB Asheville Tourists; you can also experience NASCAR’s Charlotte Motor Speedway.

Rutherford County features eight challenging golf courses, including Forest City Municipal Golf Course, Cleghorn Plantation Golf & Country Club, Bald Mountain and Apple Valley Golf Courses at Rumbling Bald Resort, and Lake Lure Municipal Golf Course, to name a few; many more golf courses can be found in our neighboring communities.

With four large metropolitan areas within one hour’s drive, regional shopping ranges from modern malls to quaint antique and craft stores.