Sitting in our high-rise apartment in New York City, we waited anxiously for those little lines to build. One by one, the lines blinked at us for what seemed like an eternity. My stomach churned as that fourth line flashed. The word Pregnant finally appeared. We both died laughing and smiled for the next nine months. The excitement of finally becoming parents bubbled over into every aspect of our lives. As many people would cringe at the idea of adding a baby to a 500 square foot apartment, I was thrilled to make my walk-in closet a baby nest and bought all of the tiniest baby gear possible. We knew it wasn’t sustainable, but we were going to make it happen, at least for a while.
Fast-forward to the present day, and our tiny NYC apartment is bursting at the seams. The day has finally arrived for us to say, “This isn’t working.” While we have loved city life, the time has come for us to move forward.
This lovely place most of you have been calling home for quite some time is about to be the landing spot for the NYC Gultoms.
Over the next couple of months, I will be bringing to you a series of posts on our transition to Chattanooga. So for those moms sitting in Idaho, Florida, or Rhode Island looking for a change, let me entice you to Chattanooga, TN. For those local moms, let me provide you a good laugh at my possible cluelessness.
I love to travel, so bear with me while I take you on our journey with a travel metaphor. In preparation for all trips, we start by planning where we are going and booking those travel details. For us, the sky was the limit. We could have moved anywhere. My husband is from Indonesia, and he has spent 12 years in Philadelphia. I have been in NYC for almost nine years. My family is in Middle and East Tennessee. We love cities. We love culture. We wanted to buy a home. We wanted to build a deep, authentic community. We needed a place our kid(s) would love. So we set out on our search, narrowing it down to the Southeast pretty quickly to be closer to family. We looked at Cincinnati, Atlanta, and Nashville, just to name a few.
So how did Chattanooga win the war? Let me share with you 5 reasons:
- Chattanooga has an urban vibe while being surrounded by the great outdoors. We are city people, did I mention that? In my online research of Chattanooga, I saw over and over again people raving about the natural surroundings and great outdoor activities. Honestly, not a huge draw for us (although we plan on taking full advantage), so when we visited Chattanooga, we were shocked to find such an urban vibe. Diners, ethnic shops/restaurants, coffee shops, a walkable downtown, culture, and diversity — we saw it all first hand over a few visits.
- Affordability. While I know real estate prices, and well, the price of everything lately has gone up, we found Chattanooga to be a great place to buy a home. In comparison to other cities in the region, home prices are 10-40% cheaper. Health care, child care, and utility costs are lower. And I hear it has the best wifi in the nation!
- Location, location, location. All good trips are based on it. Chattanooga is ideally situated in the region. Within two hours, you can be in Nashville, Knoxville, Atlanta, and Birmingham. Tack on just a few more hours, and you can take mountain vacations in NC or beach vacations along the coast.
- Who can talk about Tennessee without mentioning the southern charm? I often say Indonesians are the southerners of Asia. So my husband loves coming to Tennessee and waving at people as they pass, saying hello to strangers, eating fried chicken at church functions. We found this same southern charm in our many quick trips to Chattanooga, and we can’t wait to dive right in, waving at our neighbors as we check our mail.
- Lastly, what kind of mom blog would this be if I didn’t mention what’s in it for the kids. We have a nine-month-old and hope to grow into a family of four soon. We wanted a place our children could enjoy growing up. A place they could play in the backyard, make friends at a park, take adventures at the aquarium or zoo, and find diverse friends at school. We think we have found this in Chattanooga.
Stay tuned, as we move next month. I will have lots of tips on buying a home from another state, moving cross country with a baby in tow, setting up life in Chattanooga, making friends, and will even be able to talk about some of the baggage we faced (literally and emotionally)!