I understand that you are looking for more detailed information on Carolina retreat locales. My wife and I both grew up here and have traveled quite a bit of the state. We live in the western end of the state (The Blue Ridge Mountains.) As far as the East is concerned, I'm with Joel Skousen as he gives it an "A". As long as you stay out of Buncombe, Henderson, and Macon counties. They've been invaded by rich Floridians, yuppies, hippies and drug-heads. But they do offer many employment opportunities, especially in the elder-care, nursing home, health related fields.
We live at about 2,300 ft, have abundant rainfall, and average about 6 inches of snowfall per year. We live in a county of 29,000 folks, very conservative, good many retired as well. There are many retreat locales available here for sale. But the influx of "carpet baggers" has bid the price up in many places. NC definitely has a reputation as the most heavily taxed state in the Southeast. High gas taxes and emissions inspections are creeping westward as well. Luckily, there are only 2 interstates that cut through this end of the state, I-26 and I-40, but they don't come close to the areas we would want to be in.
Eric Rudolph gave the far western end of the state (Andrews/Murphy) a pretty bad reputation while he was on the lam. But that area has excellent retreat potential/low population as well. In many of these counties, methamphetamine/crack has become a big problem, with the petty robberies,etc that goes with it.
Should anyone have more detailed questions, they can e-mail me at: email@example.com Keep up the fine work!! - S.P.