Even the downtown area of this small, industrial city of 169,000 is somehow woodsy and green. As charmingly country as this city is, however, its sophisticated offerings grow daily. Home prices are also fabulously low and the economy is trending upward–all of which translates into a rental bargain for you, and other would-be whittling enthusiasts.
Like many cities with natural attractions, prices in Chattanooga are mostly determined by proximity to the aforementioned mountains, lakes and rivers (the gentle fawns are too variable to price). The Tennessee River runs through downtown, making quasi-urban, riverfront living popular, and the Appalachian Mountains provide the sought-after views in the rest of the city. Living solidly in the country is also incredibly easy and, even with an acreage and cabin in the woods, you’re seldom more than 20 minutes from downtown. Let’s just say if you’re looking for a concrete jungle, this is seriously not it. The bottom line here is that the “view” is definitely a prized amenity when real estate shopping, so realize that you’ll pay more for it.
The NorthShore district is on the north shore of the Tennessee River (such a clever name) near downtown. It provides boutiques, bars, coffee shops, art gallerias and much of the city’s nightlife. 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.
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. 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.
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). 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?
Southside Between Lookout Mountain and downtown Chattanooga is the Southside District– this neighborhood is undergoing a major overhaul. South Broad is the flagship community and is working hard to bring in more commerce and residential options. 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. 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.
Suburbia The suburbs here are the easiest thing to find as they’re, well, everywhere. Chattanooga is certainly no urban megalopolis, so tree-lined streets are omnipresent. Popular choices include Signal Point, East Brainerd, Ooltewah, East Ridge, and Red Bank. All of these areas boast 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 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.
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.
Now get out there and find yourself a place worth writing home about! Happy hunting!