Maybe I shouldn’t have committed to this post so quickly. What do I know about setting up life in Chattanooga? I mean, I’ve lived here for like three seconds, it’s the holidays, and everyone has Covid. Do I feel settled? No. Have I got a long way to go? Maybe. Do I feel landed? I guess maybe yes!
In this, the third post of our series on moving to Chattanooga (click here to read Part 1 and here to read Part 2), I’d like to address the landing. Probably my favorite part of a flight are the 20-30 minutes the plane is actively landing. There is something so magical about watching the place you are visiting getting closer and closer to you. If it’s a vacation, you imagine all the beautiful places you will see. If it’s a work trip, you plan all the logistics you need, and if it’s coming home, you might feel a little relieved to get back into the swing of normal. Those wheels touch the ground, you stand in the aisle while people in front of you exit, you walk to baggage claim, grab your stuff, and go. The arrival you have been awaiting is over.
Our arrival here was a lot like this. I felt like we hoovered at 30,000 feet for what seemed like an eternity. After making plans for almost a year and then actively moving for over four months, my excitement was boiling over when we finally got moved in. As the movers finally unloaded the last boxes, we sighed in relief and got busy unpacking. One of the advantages of moving during the holidays to a place you have no friends is you have lots of time to unpack. Thankfully, with family’s help, we got most things done in the first couple of weeks and steadily finished setting up the house while getting out and exploring Chattanooga.
While our settling in is an ongoing process, I have three small pieces of advice for landing in a new place:
- Find your people. Meet the neighbors, find a church, a tennis partner, etc. I do actually have one friend here, and she has already introduced me to a few of her friends. I am currently reconnecting with some college friends who live nearby. We have visited a couple of churches and even gave our phone number to a manager at Costco we connected with. We know the best way to succeed in any city is to find our people and start life together. This has been made harder by the holidays and Covid (thank you, Omicron), but we are making efforts even in these first couple of months to build community.
- Go places. Maybe not the best motto following 2020-2021, but let’s make it the motto for 2022. By the end of winter, we should all have our antibodies built up (I think). We want to take in every bit of Chattanooga until we know it. We’ve taken advantage of resources like Chattanooga Moms, and the 50 Chattanooga Instagram accounts I now follow and have tried restaurants, done some sightseeing, saw Christmas lights, and driven around exploring. Besides finding your people, it’s the best way to make the city your own. Pick your favorite restaurant to take out of town guests, build a relationship with your coffee barista, and get annual memberships to places you will go back.
- Serve others. One of my favorite ways to connect with others and learn the culture of a place is to serve others. My husband’s job gives him paid time off to serve the community he lives in, so recently, he volunteered a morning at the Chattanooga Food Bank. While this one is a little harder with little kids, it’s an excellent way for the whole family to connect with the city. There are volunteer opportunities galore, so find one that fits your family’s interest and go for it.