Author Topic: Chattanooga for FIRE? Also, any Tiny House fans?  (Read 3462 times)

psyclotr0n

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Chattanooga for FIRE? Also, any Tiny House fans?
« on: July 31, 2015, 01:43:23 PM »
Hey there folks,

So in the vein of http://www.mrmoneymustache.com/2011/09/28/get-rich-with-moving-to-a-better-place/ I've been reading discussions of places to move post-FIRE, including a pretty good one about Colorado here: http://forum.mrmoneymustache.com/ask-a-mustachian/where-to-move-longmont-co-prescott-az-bend-or-colorado-springs-co-etc/

However, rather than perform thread necromancy I thought I'd start a new one and see if anyone has any experience with Chattanooga, TN. I've compared cities across OR, CO, NM, NC and SC in my search for nifty and inexpensive small cities with good outdoors, culture, and climate. I haven't noticed much discussion in the SE quadrant of the States. Asheville, NC looks quite happening for example though more expensive than other similar sized cities nearby. Greenville, SC seems nifty with a really cool uber-walkable almost European style downtown.

However Chattanooga, at least according to City Data, has outrageously cheap housing costs. http://www.city-data.com/city/Chattanooga-Tennessee.html

Additionally, I see a growing Tiny House movement there. I just did a forum search and was quite surprised to see no hits for either Chattanooga or Tiny Houses in general (surprising -- it seems like the ultimate in flexibility - can be urban or rural, self-sufficiency, and minimalism).

Of course, the next more extreme step would be simply doing the expat thing somewhere like Costa Rica, Mexico, or SE Asia (although I'll save that for another discussion!)

Jack

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Re: Chattanooga for FIRE? Also, any Tiny House fans?
« Reply #1 on: July 31, 2015, 02:02:18 PM »
If you want to live in the South but not in a really big city (like Atlanta, Miami or something in Texas), I think Chattanooga is a relatively decent choice. Being in the mountains and on a major river means it has good opportunities for outdoor recreation, it's got the best Internet service in the South (at least until Google Fiber finally shows up), and like you said, it's got very low cost of living. I hear the riverfront is also on the upswing, although I haven't visited to know.

If I recall, Chattanooga even has relocation incentives for software developers and IT workers (which means moving there shortly pre-FIRE might be the best plan).

AZDude

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Re: Chattanooga for FIRE? Also, any Tiny House fans?
« Reply #2 on: July 31, 2015, 02:10:14 PM »
Been there once, like 10 years ago for a day... so take this for what its worth, but it was a very nice place. Loved the weather and the southern accents. Loved the geography. Warm, green, and wet in the summer. Have not been there in the winter time. The city itself is just big enough to be able to find a job and not get bored, but its not a megacity like Atlanta, which is a horrid place to vist(and I assume to live).

I dont know anything about the housing market, job market, crime rate, etc...

Axecleaver

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Re: Chattanooga for FIRE? Also, any Tiny House fans?
« Reply #3 on: July 31, 2015, 02:13:57 PM »
Following the thread for the Tiny House reference. I have seen tiny houses mentioned in the journal area at least once or twice, and I've mentioned it on a few threads recently. I'm considering buying some undeveloped property for a tiny house development project sometime over the next few years, with shared infrastructure like a well, solar power, washer/dryer, sewer/septic, etc.

Jack

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Re: Chattanooga for FIRE? Also, any Tiny House fans?
« Reply #4 on: July 31, 2015, 02:17:32 PM »
Atlanta, which is a horrid place to vist(and I assume to live).

Clearly, you know fucking nothing about Atlanta.

pigpen

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Re: Chattanooga for FIRE? Also, any Tiny House fans?
« Reply #5 on: July 31, 2015, 03:00:22 PM »
I grew up in Chattanooga and live a couple of hours up the road in Nashville now. When I was a kid in the 70's, Chattanooga was a pretty awful place. Very polluted, lots of racial conflict. Now, thanks to some good planning and private/public partnerships over the years, it's a really nice town. There's a lot going on in the downtown area, lots of outdoor stuff to do if you're into that, and as you mention, the cost of living is quite low. Not knowing what sorts of places you like, it's hard to say for sure whether you'd want to settle there, but it'd definitely be worth a visit to get a feel for it.

My 18-year-old self would be shocked to hear it, but having lived/traveled over a decent chunk of the world and seen a lot, Chattanooga measures up pretty o.k.

If you end up getting more serious about it and have any specific questions, shoot me a message and I'll be happy to tell you what I know.

psyclotr0n

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Re: Chattanooga for FIRE? Also, any Tiny House fans?
« Reply #6 on: July 31, 2015, 05:04:31 PM »
Cool. Yeah I'm kinda established in the SF Bay Area, and certainly have been comparing things in the greater region such as Sonoma County or small cities in the Sierra foothills East/NE of Sacramento, and even in adjoining states, like Reno, NV. I did a stint in Portland, OR a few years ago but feel like the climate in Colorado would be more up my alley. I have family in Western Mass that are thinking of retiring to Asheville, NC, and I realized that's another whole part of the country I'm yet to explore!

And in fairness to AZDude, I'm just presuming he's just not a fan of big cities in general. I'm pretty burned out on all of them myself and would rather live in a city with <100k people, especially if I'm not looking for employment.

wtjbatman

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Re: Chattanooga for FIRE? Also, any Tiny House fans?
« Reply #7 on: July 31, 2015, 05:18:06 PM »
I grew up in Chattanooga and live a couple of hours up the road in Nashville now.

Wifey and I just moved to Springfield Missouri from Minnesota, and now we're looking at different cities in the south for a possible future move. Nashville has come up for consideration (along with Durham NC). Job prospects for my field look really nice in Nashville, with a lot of growth and good pay (for the south). Do you think Nashville would be a good city to buy a house and raise a family in? We're conservative and like southern style and flavor, but aren't fans of hicks or actual bigots. I feel like Nashville would be perfect in that regard.

pigpen

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Re: Chattanooga for FIRE? Also, any Tiny House fans?
« Reply #8 on: August 01, 2015, 07:59:29 AM »
I would say that Nashville is liberal by Tennessee standards but probably conservative compared to many other larger cities in the country. You'll probably find the occasional hick or bigot, but I don't think that's the norm for people here, at least in my experience. As you may know, Nashville is projected to grow quite a bit over the next ten years, and there are already a lot of people here who have moved here from other areas, so you'll find people from a good variety of backgrounds.

Housing has done pretty well here, even through the financial crisis. I don't think Nashville took nearly as much of a hit as a lot of areas did. As far as current costs, the areas that I find most desirable here, and the most expensive, are the ones that are closer to the downtown area, which is where I work. Like many cities, a lot of the urban core and early streetcar suburbs have been revitalized and are popular with a lot of people. The areas farther away from town are cheaper, but then you have to deal with traffic. While it's not as bad at this point as Atlanta, it's spreading out more and more. I don't know what "expensive" is for you, but I would think you could get a modest but decent house in an area that I like (realizing, of course, that you may have different preferences) for maybe $275,000-$500,000. There are still bargains in these areas, of course, if you don't mind a fixer-upper or a place in what my real estate agent likes to call a "transitional" neighborhood. And if you don't mind more of a commute, you could get something bigger and nicer for less.

As far as public schools go, I don't have kids, so I really don't know much about that side of things.

Other than that, there's a lot to do -- good restaurants, pro football and hockey teams, a few universities, fairly close to some good outdoor rec opportunities -- and the people are pretty friendly in general. Oh, and no income tax, which a lot of people like, although sales tax is higher than a lot of places in order to compensate.

You could definitely do worse.


wtjbatman

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Re: Chattanooga for FIRE? Also, any Tiny House fans?
« Reply #9 on: August 06, 2015, 12:50:37 PM »
pigpen, thanks for the info! Not sure why I didn't realize you replied to my post almost a week ago, lol. Everything you said sounds about in line with what I expected/was hoping. My wife is growing more interested in the Nashville region. Career wise things aren't panning out as well as we had hoped here in Springfield (for either of us), but Nashville has more opportunities in our fields. Good stuff, thanks again.

psyclotr0n

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Re: Chattanooga for FIRE? Also, any Tiny House fans?
« Reply #10 on: August 07, 2015, 12:06:45 AM »
Following the thread for the Tiny House reference. I have seen tiny houses mentioned in the journal area at least once or twice, and I've mentioned it on a few threads recently. I'm considering buying some undeveloped property for a tiny house development project sometime over the next few years, with shared infrastructure like a well, solar power, washer/dryer, sewer/septic, etc.

Good stuff. Are you buying the land with others?

roguelemon

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Re: Chattanooga for FIRE? Also, any Tiny House fans?
« Reply #11 on: August 17, 2015, 01:42:04 PM »
Hey psyclotr0n!

One of the founders of http://www.tinyhousechatt.com/ here! I grew up in Chattanooga, went to college in Western Mass, then came back down South.

My thoughts on Chatt:
1) The city is amazing for outdoor opportunities. Just check out https://rootsrated.com/chattanooga-tn for an idea of some adventures. RootsRated and Rock/Creek both started in Chattanooga and the outdoor community is incredibly active. I'm a yogi myself, and there is an extremely active low-cost yoga community here. See: http://www.meetup.com/Chattanooga-Community-Yoga/. Additionally, there's also super low-cost gyms like Workout Anytime ($16/mo) and the $1 gym run by the City of Chattanooga that costs only a $1/use.

2) The job market is NOT great. Across the board, wages are significantly lower here than in other cities. Though, in the tech field, there are exceptions to that. If you're a creative/freelancer, expect misunderstanding and undervaluing of your product. Again, this isn't the case in every single scenario, but be aware of a struggling job market.

3) Housing IS incredibly affordable, especially if you're willing to renovate. Up and coming zipcodes of town include 37404, 37403, and 37408 (though much of this zip has been capitalized on already). I'm a utility cyclist and the city is moderately bikeable (we're not Copenhagen by any means, but we have a VERY active commuting cyclist community that is VERY vocal; also this place is hilly!).

4) Culture is gaining all the time. We have a lot of varied music come through here with Track29 and the Memorial Auditorium. We also have places like the Center for Mindful Living, Crabtree Farms, the Main St. Farmer's Market, and Mercy Junction Justice & Peace Center. We have ongoing discussions around race. See https://www.facebook.com/objectiveperspectiveseries?fref=ts and https://www.facebook.com/ChattanoogansConnected?fref=ts. It's not all free bubble-ubb and rainbow stew, but things are happening.

Conclusion: If I were 5-7 years older and looking to stay put for at least 10 years, particularly to raise a family, I wouldn't hesitate at all in buying a house in Chattanooga. It has great resources for frugals, a hugely philanthropic population, unbelievable outdoor opportunities, and is doing some great work toward openly addressing racism in the city.

And check out Tiny House-Chatt's website about the legality of tiny homes in/around Chattanooga if you're interested. In brief: THOWs have to be in one of the rural counties bordering Chattanooga. In Chattanooga, tiny homes have to be built on foundation and tied into traditional utilities, but the minimum square footage requirement is only 142 sq. ft.

Hope that helps!