Chattanooga? Am I pronouncing that right? Isn’t Chattanooga that town with a bunch of trains? It’s in the Southeast, right? The population growth for this little mountain city has been explosive over the last 5 years. There’s a reason it was named Outside Magazine’s “Best Town Ever” 2 years in a row. In fact, it’s the only town to have ever won this contest more than once. That’s huge coming from the magazine that sponsored John Krakauer’s famous Mt Everest trek. We thought it was important to dig into the facts. What exactly is it that’s drawing people to Chattanooga? What is so great about this city?
1. Put your New Swimsuit to Use
For most cities in the south, summer is the “off-season”. It’s too hot and muggy to do anything but sit in a cool, dark, indoor place. We catch up on movies and complete knitting projects. This is such a shame because it also happens to be our longest season. April- October is devastating to the faint of heart. Not in Chattanooga! You can catch the locals diving off rocks into icy waters at Suck Creek. Showering themselves in the cool spray of hundreds of waterfalls. Practicing morning yoga while balanced on top of a paddleboard. Or perched on a kayak exploring the Tennessee River Gorge, also known as “the Grand Canyon of the South”. Swimming on the beaches of the Tennessee river’s many islands. McClellan Island doubles as a bird sanctuary, and you can see blue herons flock there at sunrise. The tumultuous waters of the Ocoee are a short 40 minute drive from downtown. If you’re brave enough, you can experience the waters that hosted the 1996 White Water Rafting Olympic event. The best part? Most of these summer oases are FREE. It is not necessary to pay membership to a community pool in this city. Fill up on vitamin D the way nature intended.
2. Sunny Winters
Mild winters are the peanut butter to our summertime jelly. Sure, a white Christmas sounds charming. But then January comes around… and you can’t help but daydream about greener pastures when scraping ice off your car at 6 am.
That’s the good news about Chattanooga. Winter is our most mild season. Winter is the time to hike, bike, jog, or simply enjoy a dog walk. You’ll feel light on your feet wearing only a light jacket. New scenic overlooks appear when the leaves fall from our lush, tropical deciduous forests.
3. Green Urbanism
Yes, we know there are cities with taller mountains. There are no glaciers or altitude-sickness invoking heights near Chattanooga. But the Applachian mountains offer a different kind of charm. The oldest mountains in the world, these mountains contain a mystical prehistoric history. 70 miles from Chattanooga is Bone Cave, where the bones of a prehistoric giant ground sloth live. Although these mountains are the oldest in the world, secrets are still uncovered. The Southeastern Cave Conservancy is always mapping out uncharted passageways.
City planners have integrated the city with nature to enhance active lifestyles. The more I travel the more I realize how rare it is to have trails and mountains so accessible. Most “mountain cities” you need to drive at least 45 minutes to get to the nearest trailhead. In Chattanooga, you can enjoy brunch downtown and in 15 minutes feel worlds away on a scenic trail.
Many of Chattanooga’s schools are recognizing this as well. A new trend of outdoor schools is popping up in Chattanooga. With this concept, exploratory play and nature immersion is encouraged. Hands-on learning becomes normalized within the natural elements of the mountains.
4. Affordable Mountain Cabins? Yes, please!
Cost of living is a huge factor when considering a move. How much of your annual income is going towards housing? If you move to the coolest city ever… will you even be able to enjoy it? Or will you be drowning in bills? How easy will it be to get ahead in life? Will you be able to plan for your future? These are all important questions. All these questions should be factored into where you’ll be building your life, career, and family. This is where Chattanooga shines. Average house prices are $30,000 less than the rest of the country.
5. Weekend Getaways
Everyone needs a weekend getaway now and then. There is no shortage of exciting destinations within a few hours drive of Chattanooga. In 2 hours you can be wandering in and out of different live music venues on Nashville’s famous Broadway. In an hour and a half, you can be dodging black bears and sampling local moonshine in Smoky Mountains National Park. In 2 hours you can be watching a Braves game or checking out the High Museum in Atlanta. In 4 hours you can be exploring the mountains and breweries of Asheville. Being so close to so many other cities isn’t just great for weekend road trips. It also gives you the opportunity to compare flight costs between multiple cities. Take the Groome shuttle directly to the Nashville or Atlanta airport, whichever has the best ticket price!
6. Mouth-Watering Local Restaurants
The culture that invented biscuits and gravy has the best restaurants. Southern-fusion is so much more than frying everything in sight. Take Kenny’s Sandwiches for example. The restaurateurs behind a local “white tablecloth” restaurant opened up an affordable breakfast and lunch spot in town. They incorporated the creativity from their fine dining menu into Kenny’s. A few all-star menu items include a Duck Confit Biscuit and Pork Belly English Muffins. Kenny’s and many other downtown hotspots source local meats and vegetables. Farms like Springer Mountain and Crabtree stock the cities restaurants while the weekly Sunday Market provides fresh fruits, vegetables, meats, and flowers for the community. Hello, fresh peaches!
7. The fastest Internet in the US
Chattanooga was the first city in the country to host a fiber-optics internet system. It still has the fastest wifi in the country. Digital nomads are flocking to the Scenic City where they can get their work done as fast as possible. Google Team Sharing and Drive Uploading operate at maximum speed. EPB Fiber Optics has an expansive fiber map that expands 600-square miles around Hamilton county and its neighboring counties. This means you have the option of buying land, living rurally and still enjoying high-speed internet.
Are you a marathon runner? Road Biker? Mountain Biker? Triathlete? Rock Climber? Flat Water Paddler? White Water Rafter? Hiker? Backpacker? Spelunker? Just enjoy a short, easy walk with your dog? It doesn’t quite matter what your activity of choice is. The good news is that Chattanooga has ENDLESS opportunities for everything. Do you already have your niche and want to dive deep into it? Do you want to try new things? Want to enjoy different activities seasonally? Sounds great! Kayak and chase waterfalls during the summer, rock climb, hike, and explore caves in the winter. Enjoy a sunrise view of Lookout Mountain from your porch every morning.
9. Local Meetups
Chattanooga’s active culture makes it easy to meet new people. Meetups, intentional communities, and support groups for newcomers are plentiful. Chattanooga is full of neighbors who love their city and want to share it with other people. Here are a few you can check out:
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We love it here. We know you will too.