I lived in Boone, in NW NC, for about 15 years, but moved away 16 years ago. Wife and I both have family there and get back pretty frequently. I also lived near Asheville for several months.
In general, I think the Carolinians are the friendliest, most good-hearted people you'll ever meet. And being raised as a military brat, I lived in a lot of places. I wouldn't hesitate to recommend anywhere in the mountains of western NC, although I would advise against my old stomping grounds, in Boone. It's become very popular among vacationers and tourists, so traffic is horrible. And property values have gotten so high that the only people that can afford to buy or build are the wealthy flatlanders who want week-end and summer get-aways. It's made it pretty tough on the natives. And besides, Boone already has 3 bike shops and it's a small town (maybe 20,000 when the university is in session).
Anyhow, good luck in your search, and if you have any specific questions, send a personal message... I'll answer what I can.