Swain County – a Great Place To Visit, And You Would Want To Live Here

Swain County, North Carolina has an agreeable climate, excellent schools, close-knit communities that emphasize family life, abundant recreational opportunities and beautiful surroundings.

The location is unique because it allows residents quick access to some of the largest expanses of wilderness in the eastern United States, with urban areas such as Asheville, Knoxville, and Atlanta within easy driving distance.

All About Living in Swain County, NC

If you're considering a move to Swain County, the following information may be helpful. If you have a questions that isn't answered below, please give us a call.

Printable PDF of the information on this page

Automobile Tags — Within 30 days of establishing North Carolina residency, you must obtain a NC automobile tag. The tag office is in the Swain County Administration Building, 101 Mitchell Street, Bryson City. 828-488-8247.

Beverages — In Bryson City, liquors are sold at the ABC Store on Veterans Boulevard (9am to 9pm, Monday through Saturday). Beer and wine is sold only at grocery, convenience and package stores within the city limits. Hours vary from store to store, but may be from 6 am to midnight, except on Sunday, when sales are only permitted from noon to 6 pm. Some Bryson City and Swain County restaurants offer alcoholic beverages.

Burning Permits — Inside the town limits, permits to burn yard waste are issued at Town Hall, 45 Everett Street. Outside the town limits, permits are issued at “Old” Clampitt Hardware, 129 Main Street, and Kings Grocery in Lauada on Highway 74 West.

Business License — A Privilege License to do business in the Town of Bryson City may be obtained at the Town Hall, 45 Everett Street, 828-488-3335. No license is required if your business is outside city limits.

Bus Services — Commercial bus service is available in Maggie Valley, approximately 40 miles from Bryson City. The Cherokee Boys Club offers a charter bus service for the area. Transportation services are also offered by Swain Transit, 828-488-3213; and Cherokee Transit, 866-388-6071 or 828-497-5296.

Childcare — There are fourteen licensed childcare facilities in Swain County with a total attendance of 551 children (Q4, 2016*) .

Civic Organizations — Local civic groups play active and critical role in a variety of public service activities. Here's a complete list of Bryson City civic organizations.

Climate — Swain County has four distinct seasons. January has an average high temperature of 51° and a low of 28°. July’s average high is 84° and the low is 61°. Snowfall can be seen as early as October and as late as April with an annual accumulation of 11 inches. Annual precipitation averages approximately 57 inches. The average relative humidity is around 70% in the summer and 66% during winter. More about Swain County's climate.

Commercial Airports — The closest airport is in Asheville, NC, which is approximately one hour away. Other options are Knoxville, TN, Greenville/Spartanburg, SC and Atlanta, GA.

Cost of Living Index (2012): 82.7 (US average is 100).

County Map — A detailed map of Swain County and the Great Smoky Mountains National Park is available at a cost of $5 and may be picked up at the Swain County Chamber of commerce. For mail orders make check or money order payable to Swain County Chamber of Commerce, and mail to PO Box 509, Bryson City, NC 28713.

Driving Distances
Atlanta, GA - 165
Asheville, NC - 70
Charlotte, NC - 185
Greenville, SC - 113
Knoxville, TN - 80
Raleigh, NC - 309

Education — The county takes great pride in the academic and athletic achievements of its students. Swain County Schools are administered by a five-member board of education elected by county voters and employ a superintendent who carries out policies adopted by the board. Swain County Board of Education: 828-488-3129.

The public school system consists of a Head Start program, Bright Adventures Pre-K, two K-5 elementary schools, a 6-8 grade middle school and a 9-12 high school.

Mountain Discovery Charter School is a public, tuition-free school for grades K-8. Admission is based on space availability. It employs a teaching approach that addresses individual learning styles while adhering to the North Carolina standard course of study.

Grace Christian Academy offers a Pre-K program and K-8 instruction. The school uses the A Beka Curriculum which provides a Christ-centered education. Before and after-school programs are also offered..

Southwestern Community College is based on neighboring Jackson County and operates a learning center in the Almond area of Swain County.

Western Carolina University, part of the University of North Carolina system, is located in the Cullowhee area of Jackson County, approximately 45 minutes from Bryson City.

Electric Service — Duke Energy provides electric service to the area. Residential service may be started, stopped or moved by calling:1-800-777-9898. Bill payments can be made (for a small processing fee) at US Cellular in the Valley Village Shopping Center located at 204 Hwy 19 S; or at Partons Trading Post, 7530 Hwy 19 West.

Emergency, Fire and Law Enforcement Services — The Swain Emergency Medical Service (EMS), Bryson City Police, Swain County Sheriff, Swain County Rescue Squad and four volunteer fire departments are reached for emergencies by calling 911. The Swain EMS provides ambulance services. The Swain County Rescue Squad is a volunteer organization that provides wilderness search and rescue operations, river rescue and traffic control at accident sites; the squad has eight certified emergency medical technicians.

2016 Q2* Annual Employment:
Total Government: 6,360 Total Private Industry: 4,105

Top Employers:
Swain County Schools: Education & Health Services: 250-499
Consolidated Metco Inc: Manufacturing: 250-499
Swain County: Public Administration: 100-249
Great Smoky Mountains Railroad: 100-249
Nantahala Outdoor Center: 100-249
Shaw Industries Group Inc: 100-249

Garbage Collection — Garbage collection is provided by the Town of Bryson City (828-488-3335) provides garbage pickup. For county residents, a garbage and recycling center is located on Old US 19 and accepts paper, colored and clear glass, #1 and #2 plastic, tin and cardboard.

Government, County — Swain County has a Board of Commissioners and a County Manager. The board meets on the second Thursday of each month at 6 pm in the County Administration Building. 828-488-9273. website

Government, Town — Bryson City has a Mayor, Board of Aldermen and Town Manager. The board meets on the first Monday of each month at 6 pm in the Town Office. 828-488-3335.

Health CareSwain Community Hospital, a Duke LifePoint hospital,  is a 48-bed, fully-accredited critical access hospital, which has been serving the residents of Swain and Graham counties since 1948. 828-488-2155.

There is also an urgent care facility, Smoky Mountain Urgent Care and Family Medicine Center, which offers on-site x-rays labs, and wellness coaching. The urgent care center is open seven days a week and the family care practice is open Monday through Thursday. 828-538-4546.

Additional medical facilities include eye care, dentists, an assisted living community, skilled nursing facilities, public health provider, home care providers, and mental health center.

Highways Serving the Area — US Highways, 441, 74 and 19. North Carolina Highway 28.


The most current information on rentals, homes for sale and land for sale can be found in The Smoky Mountain Times. Click here for a list of Swain County Real Estate companies. The average home sale price is $160,708 (Jan-Jun 2017, Swain County, MLS)

2014 Est* Median Family Income: $45,183
2014 Proj• Median Household Income: $35,385

Industrial Park — Swain County offers an industrial park just west of Bryson City on Old US 19. Utilities include city water and sewer, electric, natural gas, and fiber optics for broadband needs. For more information call 828-488-9273.

Labor Force Training — Southwestern Community College assists companies in training the local workforce for special applications.

Swain County Technology and Training Center: The technology center is designed as a regional facility capable of on-site or remote classroom or conference center for up to 25 people. The center also features large format digital touch screens as well as full robotic training. 828-488-9273.

Western Carolina University: The Center for Integrated Technologies offers precision metrology, rapid prototyping systems, a telecommunication laboratory, and an OptoElectronics laboratory. The school also offers the WNC Technical Assistance Program to provide WCU expertise to the business community. 828-227-7368.


The Marianna Black Library is la member of the Fontana Regional Library System. Corner of Rector and Academy Streets, just up the hill from the Police Station. In addition to library services and programs for adults and children, among the services offered are the use of computers and the Internet. For more information: Fontanalib.org/brysoncity or call 828-488-3030.

Marriage License & Wedding Information

Marriage licenses are issued by the Register of Deeds at the Swain County Administration Building, 101 Mitchell Street, Bryson City. 828-488-9273. Monday - Friday, from 8:30 am to 4:30 pm. For more information on requirements as well as ministers and florists, click here for a downloadable pdf Weddings - Bryson City.


Newspapers serving Swain County include the daily Asheville Citizen-Times and weeklies The Smoky Mountain Times, Cherokee One Feather and Smoky Mountain News. The local radio station is WBHN (1590 am).

Places of Worship — Denominations represented in Swain County include Anglican, Baptist, Catholic, Church of Christ, Church of God, Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, Church of the Nazarene, Episcopal, Pentecostal, Presbyterian, Seventh Day Adventist and United Methodist. Two Jewish Synagogues are located in Asheville and Jewish services are held regularly in Franklin, 40 minutes south of Bryson City. Listing of Places of Worship

July 2015 Certified Population Estimate* – 14,953
2014 Bryson City – 1,436**
2014 Proj* Median Age: 42
2019 Proj* Median Age: 43
Note: seasonal residents do not qualify for population studies. Seasonal residents may total up to 25% of Swain County residents.

Post Office — The main post office is located on Slope Street in Bryson City. 828-488-3481. Almond, Cherokee and Whittier also have post offices.

Quality of Life – Swain County has something to offer every age and family dynamic. Excellent schools, quality healthcare, pleasant climate, numerous recreational activities, and close-knit communities that encourage and emphasize family life. And for those who still “hanker” for a more urban environment, Swain County is conveniently located within easy driving distance of several major cities.

Recreation – In addition to the many outdoor opportunities offered in Swain County, there is also an organized Recreation Department which offers a variety of classes and events. It also offers a public swimming pool, tennis courts, several public ball-fields, and playgrounds. You may reach the Swain County Recreation Department at 828-488-6159.

Right-to-Work State – North Carolina is a right-to-work state. The percentage of unionization is one of the lowest in the nation.

Shipping – Motor freight carriers serving Swain County include Old Dominion, Roadway, J.D. Hunt, John B. Lenoir, Virginia-Carolina, and C-W Transport. United Parcel Service, Federal Express, Airborne, Emory, Roadway Parcel and DHL are also available. The Great Smoky Mountains Railroad, while primarily a tourist-based operation, has the ability to ship for commercial customers.

Taxes – North Carolina has an income tax on both personal and business income. It does not levy a property tax. Sales tax is collected at the rate of 6.75% on all goods with some exceptions. Swain County levies an ad-valorem tax on 100% assessment at the rate of $0.3600 per $100 property value. The Town of Bryson City has an ad-valorem tax within its corporate limits, using the county assessment. The current rate for Bryson City is $0.3100 per $100. County tax office: 828-488-9273, Town tax office: 828-488-3335.


Frontier provides telephone service. The number for new residents is 800-921-8101 and new businesses — 800--921-8102. For customers with disabilities - Voice & TTY: Mon-Fri, 8 am - 6pm. — 877-462-6606. For more information about local service

Voter Registration

In be eligible to vote in Swain County, you must be a citizen of the US, at least 18 years of age and a legal resident of Swain County. You must be registered at least 21 working days prior to any election to be able to vote in that election. Registered voters always vote in the precinct where they live. The Board of Elections is located on Old US 19. 828-488-6177. 

*North Carolina Department of Commerce. PDF
** Cities & Towns, US Census

Would you like to learn more about Bryson City, Swain County and North Carolina? The following web sites and guides may be of interest to you.

Swain County Government

Swain County History / Genealogy

North Carolina Department of Tourism

Swain County Relocation Guide (pdf)

Swain County Economic Development Profile (pdf)