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Traveling to TN


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Planning to take a road trip at the end of August to check out East TN and the eastern half of Middle TN. Coming from Florida looking to get started with the Erwin area in Unicoi County. Head up to touristy Cade's Cove. Perhaps drive to Mountain City area and then to the Tri-Cities area with a focus on Johnson City area. From there check out Sweetwater on the way to Crossville, Spencer, Sparta and on to Cookeville, I have thought about making a drive through the Deer Lodge area or even all the way up to Oneida, but haven't factored those into the tentative itinerary. I'm not even sure if I have laid out the proper route given the places I have listed redface.gif. Hoping to work in excursions to Cumberland Caverns, Muddy Pond, some waterfalls and caves. I purposely have not made lodging reservations so as to have flexibility on this trip; get up in the morning and decide where to go for that day. I want this to be a fact finding mission with a view to relocation while also including some fun during the trip.

A little background: About 5 years ago I decided that I want to retire to Tennessee when I finish my career in Florida.  It was around that time I joined this forum to start learning about the gun laws and 2A atmosphere in TN. Having made a half dozen or so week long trips over the past few years to various areas of Tennessee, I gravitated to the Cumberland Plateau area preferring Spencer, Sparta, and Cookeville to what I saw in the Tri-Cities area. I have not been back to Tennessee since December 2019. I know so much has changed up there since then. The great migration of people fleeing high taxed liberal states in favor of TN and the meteoric rise in real estate prices has certainly changed the landscape, figuratively and literally. Perhaps those changes will cause me to reconsider an area I have previously ruled out.

Employment will not be a concern. Schools nor opportunities for children also will not be a concern. With great health at the moment, proximity to medical facilities also is not a driving factor. Likewise, proximity to an airport is not a large concern. Rather I am looking for convenient seclusion. By that I mean having plenty of elbow room without being able to wave to the neighbors from my back door or driveway. I want the convenience though of paved roads (pretty much rules out places like Wilder,) decent internet, a Dollar Store within 15 minutes for milk and a Walmart Super Center or similar within an hour. With that in mind I welcome suggestions regarding other places I should check out as well as the route I take.

A big "THANK YOU" to peejman, jfluckey, OLDNEWBIE, Dirtshooter and others who have communicated directly and have made informative posts that have given me great direction.  This is a great forum.  I hope to continue to learn from the member posts and to make contributions.
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Checkout the meat between Chattanooga, Knox, and Crossville. Dayton, Pikeville come to mind.

Likewise the strip between I-40/I-81 and the mountain range (Greeneville, etc.) from Johnson City to Sevierville has a lot of 'that'.

I'm happy on the West side of Knox, checkout Route 58 southbound.

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My wife and I were in Mountain City last Saturday for a craft show and really enjoyed it.  And I am quite familiar with all the other places you mentioned.  

My take on the Mountain City area is that peole there friendly, but they seemed to have a larged influx of people from other states moving in, but all communities in the Tennessee Valley and the Appalachian Mountains are experiencing this. I can't really speak to the Cumberland plateau area, but I have no doubt that it's experiencing the same thing.

While in Mountain City, I talked to one couple that just retired and moved up here from Texas.  They bought their house via the internet and didn't see it until they actually moved in. But they love it and he has already cut a couple of ricks of firewood for the coming winter.  I also met another Texan and another couple from California that had moved up there, as well as a couple that had moved back from Wilkes County, NC, to take care of her ailing father.  All had moved this year.  I suspect that prices there are being driven up, by new people that are moving into the area.

I think the same thing is going on in the Johnson City, Irwin Area and the Sweetwater area.  The Knoxville, restate market is RED HOT right now.  I mean SURFACE OF THE SUN HOT!  Houses here are sold within a day or two of going on the market, regardless of the price. Went to an estate sale yesterday.  The house was well over 3,000 sq ft and north of $600K and they inked the deal four days after going on the market.  I have a friend that has lost out on 6 houses in the last three weeks, because people are paying way over asking price. Apartments are extremely hard to get here too.  As are new manufactured homes. 

I guess the gist of this is that regardless of where you go, it's not going to be cheap.  Make sure you squeeze every last dime out of your home in Florida.  You might very well need it here. Even for a Barbie Doll Playhouse!!!

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33 minutes ago, Moped said:

I guess the gist of this is that regardless of where you go, it's not going to be cheap. 

That is in many, many places right now. I won’t be making a move for at least another year. Maybe two years. No telling what real estate will be at that time in the way of price or availability, but more time visiting Tennessee is not a bad thing for me even if I’m not looking to buy just yet.  Getting the lay of the land to see how things are changing and to dial in the places I’m interested in will be beneficial as the landscape changes. 
 

Had I purchased pre-pandemic I would’ve definitely chosen Cookeville, Crossville, or one of the other areas on or around the Cumberland Plateau.  Already though I am told big changes have taken place that may push me to look at other areas. This trip will have me driving through areas of the State I had previously ruled out as I keep an open mind and give everything another look.

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There was a 3000 Sq. ft. house being built about 1/2 mile up the road from us in Gordonsville and had 5 acres of land with it. It was started building pre-pandemic and it stall construction for almost  a year. Since the construction began back post-pandemic the price of the house has gone up 3 times and it is about 85% complete. The builder says it will probably go up at least once more before it sells. The builder blames the increases in the price of lumber. I wonder why he didn't have all the lumber ordered when he began building?

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  • 3 weeks later...

We moved from NC to TN 4 years ago 1/2 hr north of Nashville. TN weather is great, housing is going up price wise crazy. All said we've been in many states but TN by far has been the best. Biggest plus for your move as long you stay away from the cities will be cost of living.

Good luck with your plans, hope all works out for you. 

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Sounds like you have a pretty fix on areas where some decent pricing does occasionally pop-up. Chattanooga area is also beyond stupid.  I too hope the next 1 to 2 brings some much needed correction

Have a good trip, hope it lets you better refine your wants.

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  • 2 weeks later...

When you are around touristy cades cove I recommend you check out some local areas in and around Sevier County which may fit your list of wants. Look at Townsend, the Dupont area in Seymour, New Market, and Dandridge (2nd oldest town in TN) - These have small town, rural feel with plenty of space while still being close to everything. Further up above Sevier County you can find Rogersville which is also a really nice town. The plateau around Cookeville is beautiful but much more prone to tornados than East TN. Being from Florida, that may not bother you though. 

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Personally, *I* wouldn't get within 50 miles of Cades Cove. Traffic & tourists make that area a must-avoid for locals, IMO. 

What *I* would do is slide a little further south & ease around the Chattanooga area. Take a train ride on the TVA Rail run, maybe go white water rafting on the Ocoee River or tube down the Hiwassee River if you prefer calmer adventure? 

Much better entertainment options as well as less traffic in SE TN, IMO. Regardless, drive safely!

My .o2

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1 hour ago, bobsguns said:

Personally, *I* wouldn't get within 50 miles of Cades Cove. Traffic & tourists make that area a must-avoid for locals, IMO. 

What *I* would do is slide a little further south & ease around the Chattanooga area. Take a train ride on the TVA Rail run, maybe go white water rafting on the Ocoee River or tube down the Hiwassee River if you prefer calmer adventure? 

Much better entertainment options as well as less traffic in SE TN, IMO. Regardless, drive safely!

My .o2

I second all of that.

We just did the Ocoee, great time, would recommend the Ocoee rafting company, ask for "Crouton".

Spent another weekend in/around Helen, GA., more touristy, for sure. Gatlinburg-lite in Helen.

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20 hours ago, billyblazes said:

Thank you for the suggestions.  Touristy stuff is at the bottom of our list.  The trip is mostly for recon to see how things have changed since last there in 2019 and to dial in areas for a move.  I'm sure we'll work in some fun though.

Hey, my brother & sis-in-law live in Vero, over close to the mall. Love that area! The best part of FL, IMO. 

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On 8/22/2021 at 10:29 AM, bobsguns said:

Personally, *I* wouldn't get within 50 miles of Cades Cove. Traffic & tourists make that area a must-avoid for locals, IMO. 

What *I* would do is slide a little further south & ease around the Chattanooga area. Take a train ride on the TVA Rail run, maybe go white water rafting on the Ocoee River or tube down the Hiwassee River if you prefer calmer adventure? 

Much better entertainment options as well as less traffic in SE TN, IMO. Regardless, drive safely!

My .o2

Are you a local? Your profile says Benton which is nearly 2hrs away from Sevier County and Cades Cove. 

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3 hours ago, Reagan Thatcher said:

Are you a local? Your profile says Benton which is nearly 2hrs away from Sevier County and Cades Cove. 

I live in Benton, yes. But I've been going to Gatlinburg & that area all my life, virtually every summer. I still ride my bike through that area but don't go anywhere near Pigeon Forge or Gatlinburg anymore. 

The Smokies are the #1 visited national park. They don't achieve that status w/o a boatload of traffic. 

Hey, you want to go, knock yourself out. Have a good time. But don't say you weren't warned about the traffic mess there.   🤨

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11 hours ago, bobsguns said:

I live in Benton, yes. But I've been going to Gatlinburg & that area all my life, virtually every summer. I still ride my bike through that area but don't go anywhere near Pigeon Forge or Gatlinburg anymore. 

The Smokies are the #1 visited national park. They don't achieve that status w/o a boatload of traffic. 

Hey, you want to go, knock yourself out. Have a good time. But don't say you weren't warned about the traffic mess there.   🤨

I’m a local to Sevier County, born and raised. We are all very proud to have such a beautiful national park in our back yard and, specifically, Cades Cove is a wonderful place. I was just confused why you said locals avoid it when so many of us picnic, hike, and bike there through the year. But it does get busy at times; luckily they have an entire day blocked off each week which prohibits vehicles in the cove so people can enjoy peace and serenity much easier there now. 

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7 hours ago, Reagan Thatcher said:

I was just confused why you said locals avoid it when so many of us picnic, hike, and bike there through the year.  

By "locals" I mean Tennesseans in general. By no means did I mean to imply it wasn't worth a visit or was a bad place to visit, aside from the traffic. I could've been a bit more precise in my wording, I guess?

I've been stuck in Dollywood traffic, that's no fun either. The reason I moved out of Nashville was in part because of traffic. The LAST ting I want to do on vacation is sit in traffic for long periods of time. Otherwise I'd vacation in Atlanta.  😉

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