Chattanooga TN is widely considered one of the best places to live in the U.S, and for good reason. The low cost of living, great schools, vibrant community, and stunning natural surroundings are all part of the magnetic appeal of the Scenic City.
Sitting proudly at the base of Lookout Mountain on the banks of the Tennessee River in Hamilton County, Chattanooga’s 423,000 strong population enjoys a varied urban landscape and diverse social culture, all with the backdrop of mountains and affordable real estate.
If a move to Chattanooga is on the card for you or your family, here is a rundown of everything you need to know.
Before we get into the nitty-gritty, let’s talk about some of the reasons Chattanooga is even on the map. Good schools and an affordable house is not what grabs the imagination, but there is plenty about this Tennessee treasure that does.
A City of Creativity
Artworks are woven into the very fabric of the Chattanooga way of life. As you explore the area you find more and more hidden gems tucked away. The street-art is an integral part of the area, as are the various renowned museums.
The Hunter Museum is a particular standout and a local highlight. Tourists and residents alike can spend hours browsing through 100 years of American architecture and artworks.
History Brought to Life
Chattanooga has a rich history. A Civil War battleground and leading figure in the history of the railroad means there is no lack of stories to be told. You can still ride that old railway up into the mountains and dive further into history in one of the local museums.
Explore the Outdoors
Outdoor activities and fun are a given for the Chattanooga population, with a heavy focus making the most of having access to such natural beauty so near to home. The Tennessee river snakes through the very heart of Chattanooga, through the national park and various suburban zones.
The whole family can find something to do in the fresh air, be it hiking, biking, or some adventurous fun.
Festivals and Events
Music festivals are a staple part of the Chattanooga diet, with several happening annually. The music scene is inclusive and diverse, offering something for everyone.
Other events include film, whisky, and wine festivals. Another highlight is the weekly Chattanooga Market minutes from downtown. Chattanooga’s Market is one of the best in the country, bringing the top fresh produce from the region.
Coffee shops and restaurants are more than amenities for the Chattanooga population: they are a central part of the local way of living. Chattanooga’s coffee culture is part of what makes it one of the best places to become part of a community, not just a town.
Cost of Living
Buying a house in Chattanooga TN is affordable, which is a big part of the appeal for many. The median home price is less than the national average by roughly $100,000. The real estate market is booming and a good opportunity to get on the housing ladder.
Renting a house in Tennessee is below the national median, ranking as the 22nd cheapest state for median home rental costs. Chattanooga is in the top 25 cheapest cities in Tennessee, so overall it is looking good.
- Housing expenses come in around 2% higher than the national average.
- Local transportation costs are 9% below the median average.
- The average local spend on groceries is roughly 7% lower than most.
What To Know Before Moving to Chattanooga, TN
Weather in Chattanooga TN
Seasons and Temperatures
Like most of Tennessee, Chattanooga enjoys long hot summers and short manageable winters. Temperatures rarely reach extremes, with the hottest months (July/August) peaking at around 90 degrees Fahrenheit (32 Celcius), and the coldest month (January) when overnight temperatures can dip just below 32 F but not much lower.
Summers can be very humid at times and a bit muggy, but year-round partial cloud cover helps keep things more comfortable. Winter is likely to see snow, with white Christmases as a common occurrence, but there is also a fair bit of rain.
The overall Tornado risk for Chattanooga is lower than the average for Tennessee but higher than the national average for the U.S. Generally speaking, any occurrences of hurricane winds or tornados amount to little more than bad storms, although the 2020 Tornado was worse than what the area normally sees.
How To Get Around
The Chattanooga public bus network is efficient and well laid out. There are 19 routes, all with low fairs and free rides for kids under five years old.
Carta operates a free shuttle every 15 minutes throughout the week. It is partially aimed at tourists, as it stops at a lot of the biggest attractions, but those who live in Chattanooga can get just as much value from this handy transportation service.
Bicycle Transit System
Chattanooga’s Bicycle Transit System is one of the best parts of living in Chattanooga. Again, it is predominantly in place for the convenience of visitors but is a great addition for residents. Most of the 42 transit stations are spread throughout Downtown Chattanooga, with some in North Shore as well.
You sign up for a pass (there are great deals available for people who live in Chattanooga), which you can then use to access bikes parked and locked around the city streets. You can ride for up to 60 minutes at a time then drop off the bike at whatever station suits you best.
Locals use this type of public transportation for commuting, exercising, running errands, and much more, all while keeping their carbon footprint to a minimum.
Chattanooga’s reputation as one of the best places to live in the U.S is further backed up by its ranking amongst the most bike-friendly cities in America.
On top of the excellent public bike system in and around the Downtown neighborhood, there are some beautiful biking trails through the Enterprise South Nature Park, alongside the Tennessee River, and around the mountain area.
Navigating the urban landscape is also easy on two wheels. Many people living in Chattanooga are ditching driving and swapping it out almost entirely for cycling. Not only is this a good way to reduce your cost of living, but it also helps keep the city clean and green.
Chattanooga is a pedestrian’s dream. It’s not called the Scenic City for no reason, and what better way to take in the beautiful surroundings than a stroll around town. Getting around the city center is sometimes easier on foot than any other way, particularly in busy Downtown or in the narrow streets of Southside.
Combined with the Bicycle Transit System, you could easily get around most of Chattanooga without a single motor. There are great walkways with lots of road safety in place to accommodate the increasing number of wheel-free Chattanoogans.
If you are interested in Chattanooga for the reduced cost of living then consider your car a luxurious extra. Plenty of people who live and work in the city rarely use their car, and many choose simply not to have one.
A car is useful if you live and work in a different area or if you like to get out of the city. Traffic in the central areas of each region is slow, so avoid taking your car if it is not necessary.
UTC and Chattanooga State Community College are two of the best schools for further education and play central roles in the city’s atmosphere.
If you are thinking of moving to the city with your kids, you have plenty of public and private school options. No matter what region you go to there are suitable options, but St Elmo boasts some of the best elementary schools.
The city’s art schools are excellent. Both the High School Center for Creative Arts and the Chattanooga School of Arts and Sciences have superior programs to promote artistic expression and cultivate future American art icons.
Jobs and Business Opportunities
Health and social care is a booming market in Chattanooga with many opportunities for available jobs. Manufacturing and retail also employ a lot of people, particularly students.
The city is also extremely business-friendly, with all the ingredients for a successful start-up launch. Chattanooga is one of the leading cities for remote working Nicknamed “gig city” for its excellent internet connections; online businesses love the Chattanooga connectivity.
Low commercial and living rent rates, excellent resources, and vibrant communities that breed creativity have young professionals flocking to the city.
Average Crime Rates
Crime in the Chattanooga area as a whole is higher than the national average but is in decline. It is rated as the third most dangerous city in Tennessee after Memphis and Nashville. Downtown Chattanooga rates are above the rest. Property crime is the highest, with theft being the main issue.
Chattanooga Regions and Neighbourhoods
There are so many neighborhoods in Chattanooga, each with its own vibe and personality. The city can be divided into five regions:
University is the youngest area demographic, as you would expect. It is centered around the various schools, including UTC, and is predominantly a student area. If you are moving to Chattanooga to study, the chances are this part of town is where you should be looking.
There are other areas popular amongst the younger crowd, but affordable student accommodation and excellent internet connections make it a prime choice.
Some of the least expensive suburbs are in this region, so it’s a good choice or area for someone looking for low rent costs. The Tennessee River winds through this part of Chattanooga and is one of the biggest pulls of the area.
Chattanooga’s local population can testify that the Downtown area is the city’s heart and soul. The evenings in Downtown come alive, drawing in crowds from across all of Chattanooga.
It does, however, have the highest average crime rates in the city.
The Elmo Historic District is a beautiful part of the city. and a good area for young families or couples of any age. The museums around the region are fascinating, not to mention the incredible scenery! Nestled at the foot of Lookout Mountain, St Elmo is the launchpad for a host of outdoor adventures.
Living in St Elmo is a dream for families, with great schools and plenty of opportunities to spend quality time together. It is easily one of the best places to live in the state of Tennessee.
The high-end part of town, North Shore, is a trendy neighborhood and a great place to live. Although the cost of living in this area is higher than the rest of the city, Chattanooga North Shore is worth every penny. Residents enjoy quirky independent jewelry and clothing shops, an exciting culinary scene, and pretty nature is woven through.
Anyone who likes to get out and walk around is sure to love the North Shore area. Retirees moving to Chattanooga tend to favor this region for its atmosphere and great real estate opportunities.
Something is always going on in South Side Chattanooga. Bustling atmospheres, busy restaurants and bars, a unique shopping area, and art as an integral part of the streets make South Side an ideal area for anyone who loves to be in the heart of it all.
Trendy couples of every age fit right into the South Side vibe. The varied urban landscape has affordable housing areas and some more expensive suburbs.
Chattanooga Summed Up
Chattanooga, TN, is one of the best places to live- not just in Tennessee- but all of the U.S. The excellent real estate opportunities and low median home prices, vibrant, diverse, and inclusive communities, beautiful surroundings, and overall low cost of living all contribute to that title.
Living in Chattanooga is appealing to anyone, and if a move is on the cards, you sure have a lot to get excited about!