The Ultimate Guide to Moving to Chattanooga

Fine sunshine, great whiskey, and a major hub for start-up tech companies—here’s how to make the most out of your move to Chattanooga.
Written by Abbey Orzech
Reviewed by Melanie Reiff
As a Chattanooga resident, you may need to battle high crime rates, personal vehicle dependency, and hot summertime temperatures, but in return, you’ll get incredible scenic views, a low cost of living, and a diversified job market. 
Chattanooga, Tennessee is one of those cities that may not make it onto your radar…until you experience it. Lush with Civil War history, natural beauty, amazing southern food, even better whiskey, and some of the fastest broadband internet in the world, it’s understandable why one would want to make the move to Chattanooga. It even has a low cost of living! Sound to good to be true? 
Let’s run through the major factors of Chattanooga living so you can decide if that life is for you, and how you can make the most out of it should you decide it is. To help you along the way,
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What you need to know about Chattanooga before you move

Chattanooga is situated on the southeast side of Tennessee, hugged snuggly by the Appalachian Mountains and Tennessee River. The natural beauty of this city is widely recognized and takes official form in its nickname—the Scenic City. But you don’t have to be an outdoorsy type to enjoy all that Chattanooga has to offer. Foodies, artists, tech moguls, and more are just as welcome. 

1. All that beauty for not a lot of booty (money) 

cost of living in Tennessee
rests solidly at 87.6 meaning the state already has a lower cost of living than the national average (100). But in Chattanooga specifically, things get even less expensive with a cost of living index of 83.3
How does that kind-of-abstract number translate into real world costs? Let’s look at housing first. The average rent for a one-bedroom apartment in the US today is $1,769 per month, but you can find similar digs in Chattanooga for just $1,220 per month. If we’re talking houses, Chattanooga is still ideal. The average home cost in the Scenic City comes to $303,868 while the US average is $344,141. 
In general, you can find your morning Starbucks at around $3.00 a cup, your lunchtime Mcdonald's meal at $7.00, and your happy hour beer at $4.00 a pint. You don’t have to worry about income tax shaving off the top of your paycheck either! Tennessee is among the nine US states that don’t collect income tax. 
Although, you may notice that they make up for the lack of income tax with an ultra-high sales tax—9.25% to be exact. 
The median salary across Tennessee residents is $55,823 annually while the minimum wage in the state is only $7.25 an hour—so Chattanooga’s low cost of living comes in handy.

2. Diverse job options and a growing start-up hub

Chattanooga has been on the up when it comes to job growth. In the last decade, job growth has increased by 8.4% and the unemployment rate has crept down to 3.2%
But just what sector is that job growth in? Well, lots of them! Major industries Chattanooga residents can get into include advanced manufacturing (from carpet making to industrial tech), food and beverage (Moon Pie makers and Wrigley), corporate and back office (see Unum and BlueCross BlueShield), and the automotive industry (namely

3. It’s not considered the safest city—property crime rates are high

The crime rates in Chattanooga are high across the board, beating the average rates in the US in both violent and property crimes. Thankfully, violent crimes happen at much less frequent intervals than property crimes, with 13.84 violent crimes being committed per 1,000 people. For property crimes, the numbers are a bit higher—65.35 crimes per 1,000 people. 
The two most common forms of property crime are larceny, or personal theft, and burglary, or theft involving a break-in. This doesn’t mean that you’ll automatically get mugged or have something stolen from you if you move to Chattanooga, but it is certainly something to keep in mind! Maybe brush up on some
anti-theft devices
and practices. 

4. Families have tons of fun in Chattanooga

Whether or not you are in the “family phase” of your life will affect whether this is a pro or con, but Chattanooga is a family-friendly city
There are tons of options for family fun throughout the Chattanooga area from outdoor recreation and relaxation to hands-on discovery. Check out the
Tennessee Aquarium
to see what makes it one of the most visited aquariums in the US. Then pop over to the 13-acre
Chattanooga Zoo
to see one of the most impressive red panda exhibits in the world. 
If museums are more your speed, try the
Tennessee Valley Railroad Museum
where you can ride aboard a vintage train to discover the Tennessee mountainside. Or get into the hands-on exploration of music, arts, and sciences at the interactive
Creative Discovery Museum
Prefer the outdoors? You’ll blend right in as a true Chattanoogan then! Experience the wonder of Tennessee’s natural world by visiting the country’s deepest and highest underground waterfall at
Ruby Falls
. You can camp, hike, and explore historic geological formations in the 5.5 miles of caverns and caves at
Raccoon Mountain Caverns and Campgrounds
And of course, what family doesn’t like a park day? There are several public parks around Chattanooga including the beautiful
Coolidge Park
on the Tennessee River waterfront. A historic carousel, interactive fountain, and incredible picnic and strolling scenery make this park an ideal spot for a day out. 

5. There is some public transportation, but you’ll still need a car

Unless you’re in downtown Chattanooga or you’re moving within the fixed routes of the Chattanooga Area Regional Transportation Authority (CARTA) buses, you’re going to need a car
The CARTA routes can be a good option for getting around specific areas but they’re not comprehensive enough to get you anywhere you need to go. There is also a lack of pedestrian-safe sidewalks throughout the city unless you’re in the city center, so walking isn’t necessarily recommended. 
If you’re moving in from a city or town that had ample public transportation or walkability, this may work as a point against Chatt. If, however, you’re used to driving everywhere and you already own a car, it’s barely something to consider. 

6. You’ll get more sun than the rest of the country 

Chattanooga stays pretty sunny all year long. It averages 207 days of sunshine per year, beating the national average by two days! The summer sun can get hot, daily temperatures reaching into the high 80s and 90s. Winters lean on the mild side and Chattanoogans only see about two to four inches of snow a year

7. Move over NYC and San Francisco, Chattanooga could be the next major tech hub

Are you an entrepreneur or an aspiring tech mogul? Is NYC or San Francisco a bit out of your budget’s reach? Head to Chattanooga! The growing tech, nightlife, and art scenes are blooming and bolstered by an incredibly fast broadband connection—ten gigabytes per second! 
With a diverse, tech-savvy, educated population, there is a great opportunity for job growth and creation in Chattanooga. 

Does Chattanooga live up to its stereotypes?

If you’ve read through this list and you’re positively buzzing with excitement, it may be a good idea to answer Chattanooga’s call. If you’re working through some negative reactions, though, you may need to start considering some new locations. 
When you make the move to Chattanooga, you can expect a few things to be true. This city’s residents love the great outdoors. And who wouldn’t with all of that beautiful world to explore in the Appalachian foothills? There are miles and miles of hiking and biking trails, plenty of boating, fishing, swimming, tubing, and kayaking opportunities, and big cave walker and disc golfer scenes. 
They even take the outdoors to the extreme with hang gliding and white water rafting and cliff scaling. If your ideal crowd isn’t made up of outdoorsy daredevils, you may have trouble making plans with new friends. 
Key Takeaway Chattanooga is great for outdoor recreation, entrepreneurs, and a low cost of living, but bear in mind the high crime rates and need for a car. 

Finding a place to live in Chattanooga

You’ve made the big decision to pack up and head out to your new Chattanooga soil—but you’ll need to find a place to live first. Happily, the housing market in Chattanooga isn’t as cutthroat as you may find in other places. 
The cost of housing in Chattanooga is cheaper than the national average across all types of housing. The median Chatt home price averages around $303,868. That’s still a decent chunk of change, but when you compare it to the US average of $344,141 or somewhere like San Francisco with an average listing price of $1.4 million, it doesn’t seem all that bad. 
You’ll also enjoy cheaper rent prices ranging from a one-bedroom at $701 to a four-bedroom at $1,361. Of course, the exact amount you’ll be sending to the landlord every month depends on the area of the city you live. It’ll be beneficial to research Chattanooga’s neighborhoods to find one that works for your lifestyle and budget. 
Not sure where to start? Jot down these neighborhood names for your future searches: 
  • Best neighborhoods if you’ve got kids: Northshore, West Village, St. Elmo
  • Best neighborhoods for foodies: Riverview, City Center/Downtown
  • Most affordable neighborhoods: Red Bank, Hixson
  • Walkable neighborhoods: Southside 
If it’s possible, taking a day or weekend trip to the Chattanooga neighborhood that catches your eye will help you decide if it can truly provide for your lifestyle. It will also be a great way to scope out the best eating spots and happy hours!  
Pro Tip Each of the 11 Chattanooga neighborhoods has a distinctive vibe, so do some research and pick the one best suited to you! 

Moving to Chattanooga checklist 

Found a neighborhood that checks all your boxes? Congratulations, you’re on your way! But before you high-tail it to your new home, follow these before and after moving checklists to make the transition as smooth as possible. 

Before you go

Before you move, make sure to: 
  • Select a moving company that is going to make your moving process easier, or rent a U-Haul if you’re planning on doing the heavy lifting.
  • Gently pack up all of your things…and maybe ask a friend or two for their help. 
  • Let your landlord, utility provider, insurance company, and employer know that you’re moving to a new location. 
  • Moving in from far away? Book your plane ticket and
    ship your car
    or prepare for a
    cross-country road trip

After you get there

Once you make it to your new digs, tie up any loose ends and
get settled in your new house
  • Register your car with the state of Tennessee and
    update your car insurance policy
  • Look into
    renters’ insurance
    options for added protection for yourself and your belongings. 
  • Be sure your mailing address, healthcare info, and voting registration are up to date. 
  • Enjoy life in your new neighborhood! Go for some on-the-town exploration, ask for dinner spot recommendations, stroll through the farmer’s market, and make some friends! 

How to save on car, renters, and home insurance in Chattanooga

A move to any new place can be a bit scary, but you’ll be able to find greater peace of mind knowing your belongings are protected. Since Chattanooga is a car-centric place, we know you’ll need some
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renters insurance
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There will be different answers to this depending on who is asking. The move to Chattanooga may be worth it if you love outdoor recreation, good eats, and lots of sun. It may not be worth it if you prefer highly walkable places, fun indoors, and lots of snow.
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