Not to be confused with Jersey Shore…
When young people move to town, usually the first thing they look for is the cool area, as in, the one that has all the boutiques and bars, probably a couple of good art galleries and, of course, no shortage of coffee shops in which to percolate on the world’s most pressing issues such as what Lady Gaga’s natural hair color might be. Nearly 10,000 of the city’s college students go to University of Tennessee Chattanooga, located near downtown, and the basic rule of thumb is, “you can find the cool areas where the young punks are.” So you’ll be at NorthShore, clearly. The NorthShore district is on the north shore of the Tennessee River (such a clever name) near downtown and the university. It provides all of the aforementioned items and much of the city’s nightlife. Accommodations here typically fall under two categories: large homes for wealthy, urban-loving families or cheaper, hipper rooms for college students. A five- bedroom historical home is about $3000, mid-range, two bedroom townhouses and apartments are $700-$900 and room shares are typically $300-$500.
I want a loft, but with a mountain beside it.
Downtown living options are increasing now in Chattanooga, with about 11,000 people choosing to bunk down near work and play. Typical of many downtowns, Chattanooga’s living arrangements consist of older homes on the edges with both new and renovated lofts and condos in the heart of the business district. Living here can happen for a reasonable price too, since many residents come to Chattanooga looking for the quiet, secluded areas. If you want to be in the thick of nightlife and the growing arts community, an upscale one bed apartment in a historic building or loft will range from $750 - $950 with prices rising for riverfront properties.
Mansions most likely to be hiding moon shining enterprises
Chattanooga’s bastion for the mega-wealthy is Lookout Mountain. Not to be confused with Space Mountain, which is a roller coaster at Disneyland, Lookout Mountain is a mountain from which you can look out onto the city of Chattanooga (I’m telling you, the names we come up with here slay me). Much of the property here has been held in families for generations, but you can rent a four-bedroom “cottage” for a mere $2000 a month. Perhaps a rustic three-bedroom “cabin” is more your style for $1000? These may or may not provide access to the community’s private country club, golf course or three tennis courts, but can you really be one to complain? It’s THAT kind of place.
Urban Renewal is just lingo for “this place used to suck”.
Between Lookout Mountain and downtown Chattanooga is the Southside District–a formerly scary neighborhood undergoing a major overhaul in an effort to clean up the area and make it trendy. South Broad is the flagship community and is working hard to bring in more commerce and residential options, but if you ask anyone, it is definitely still a work in progress. Living here is for those who are ahead of the curve, hoping to snag a chic address before the price goes up. Old factories have already been refurbished into swank lofts and a historic hotel made into apartments, so these are both good signs. Places here can be cheap, but like any up-and-coming area, you have to be diligent when it comes to safety. Saint Elmo is a popular neighborhood with beautiful vintage architecture, and a restored (the ‘restored’ part is key) three-bedroom house will rent for around $1000, while a new deluxe loft in the factory area will ring in at around $2000.
Can you HAVE 2.5 children? Is that even possible?
The suburbs here are the easiest thing to find as they’re, well, everywhere. Chattanooga is certainly no urban megalopolis, so quiet tree-lined streets on which your children can harass the neighbor’s cat, Mittens, are omnipresent. Popular choices include Signal Point, East Brainerd, Ooltewah, East Ridge, and Red Bank. All of these areas boast good schools, beautiful new houses and townhouses and an incredibly reasonable 10 minute commute to downtown. Most smaller homes here go for between $1000 and $1500 a month, a two-bedroom apartment in affluent Signal Point can be had for as little as $600, an economy one bedroom apartment in Red Bank for $350-450 or a real, actual, mansion in Ooltewah for $3000. If you’re dreaming of a suburban country life, trust me when I say you won’t have any trouble finding it here.
Truck with obnoxious bumper sticker mandatory
Chattanooga is fortunate to lie at the crossroads of three interstate highways and due to the number of inter-state commuters in this region; they can become very congested during rush hours. Chattanooga traffic itself is not too much of a mess and the city bus service (CARTA) maintains 16 fairly comprehensive fixed routes and a free electric shuttle service in the most highly-touristic areas. Cars remain a necessity for most people, however.
Real estate in Chattanooga is prime for renting and you’ll find that a number of houses, often exceptionally nice houses, are available. It’s only happening, though, because the bottom dropped out of the housing market and builders and homeowners got left with merchandise they couldn’t move. Sad for them, spectacular for you! It’s a good time to take advantage of distraught sellers–but maybe bring them a tissue while you’re at it. Of course new apartments and townhouses are available like any other city, but you can stumble onto some real Southern gems in the historical areas that have serious character appeal, so keep an eye out. Maybe it’s still pretty country, but things are really growing in Chatt and honestly, if you don’t like it when you get here, sit back and whittle a horse or two. It’ll have changed by the time you look up.
Now get out there and find yourself a place worth writing home about! Happy hunting!
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