Cheap place to live with epic riding in Tennessee or North Carolina?-
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  1. #1
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    Nov 2018

    Cheap place to live with epic riding in Tennessee or North Carolina?

    Hi all! My wife and I work online full time, and recently came back to my home state of Alabama after living on the west coast for a few years. We are considering moving to Tennessee or North Carolina.

    We would like a nice town with a low cost of living, with epic riding nearby. I have heard that Chattanooga is a great town, but I don't know anything about riding there. Meanwhile, Gatlinburg is fairly close to Windrock, which I would love to have in my backyard.

    Finally, we have also considered Asheville NC, with Pisgah right down the road, but it is starting to get out of "cheap place to live" territory. Any thoughts, suggestions, or advice will be appreciated!

    (Also posting in Carolinas)

  2. #2
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    Feb 2008
    Saluda NC if you like the small town feel. I got a buddy that works from home there. Im no tech guy, but I heard the town brought in "super fast internets" to draw the work from home crowd.

    30 mins from Pisgah & Dupont
    45 mins from greenville stuff
    & Polk county is planning some local MTB trails/pump tracks, etc

  3. #3
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    Aug 2004
    I'm an east TN transplant, originally from Mobile, AL. I live in the East TN (Maryville, TN area) these days. I backpack, hike, and fish the GSMNP and appreciate all it has to offer, but I do my best to stay away from Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge and can't imagine living in that immediate area, so not much in the way of advice I can offer there.

    I ride in the Knoxville/Chattanooga and surrounding areas regularly, though I frequent Knoxville more due to proximity. Both have great trail systems and diversity in the riding and in most years have great year around riding if you're willing to travel around a little during wet periods. 2018 and the start of this year have been very wet though and have had created some access issues, but I wouldn't say that's the norm. Both continue to grow and evolve and have a good riding scene with a bright futures.

    As for the cities...Chattanooga has a great outdoor vibe and the city itself is more centralized, kind of squished in there between the TN River and surrounding ridges/mountains. I like that feel. The restaurants and breweries are solid and I find it to be bike friendly getting around the downtown core area. Also a lot of great rock climbing in the area. It's changed a lot for the good in the last 20 years or so.

    Knoxville has a great outdoor vibe as well, but I would describe it more of a college town with UT being mixed into the downtown area, so it has more of that influence (football games, ebb and flow of student traffic between the semesters). Knoxville feels more spread out, even the downtown area where you have the strip, market square area, and the old city and surrounding areas that continue to develop. Knoxville has a lot of lakes and rivers in the area, so there is a definitely a lot of water sport and lifestyle added in the mix. I think Chattanooga has this as well, it just seems more defined in Knoxville and there are several big boat companies in the area driving it. Knoxville also has some great rock climbing in the area and growing.

    Asheville. The vibe, the riding, the slightly different weather patterns during winter and summer, and the downtown area just have a little something different, making it a place I really like. It is definitely on the expensive side though as you say. But the riding in Pisgah, Dupont, and Nantahala is pretty amazing and worth the recognition it gets. The microbreweries and restaurants are pretty stellar and worthy of the recognition as well. I'm really fond of the Brevard area also.

    I'm not sure how to define epic these days, but if we're talking long rides and great trails, they all have their merits, but in my opinion, Asheville wins out in that category. I'd say it's a toss-up between Knoxville and Chattanooga in that category.

    When moving from Mobile, my wife and I looked at these three cities and would've moved to any one of them. I'd being lying if I didn't say I was hoping for Asheville. Ultimately job opportunities drove that decision for us, but good on ya' for not having that complicating factor. I don't think there is a wrong choice, just different choices. You can also travel between the three easily. Tremendous riding options when you factor that in.

    One thing of note is that TN doesn't have state income taxes, though you may be subject to taxation on dividends/investments. Not sure how your set-up with your jobs/business or if that even matters.

    Good luck!

  4. #4
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    Reputation: jeremy3220's Avatar
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    Jul 2017
    Quote Originally Posted by Lgmoto356 View Post
    We would like a nice town with a low cost of living, with epic riding nearby. I have heard that Chattanooga is a great town, but I don't know anything about riding there.
    Personally, I wouldn't say Chattanooga has epic riding but I guess that depends on your definition of epic. There's a lot of flow trails (the tame kind, not jump lines) and even what I've rode of Raccoon Mtn. (Livewire) wasn't that gnarly. Next time I visit I'll probably take my hardtail. That said it was fun.

    Knoxville has a good mix, from the extreme Windrock, to jump lines at Baker's and Sharp's, natural terrain at places like Norris, to tame flow trails at Loyston. Personally, I'd rather live in/near Knoxville than Chattanooga.

  5. #5
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    Oct 2014
    Much smaller than Chattanooga but Brevard has the most "epic" trails close by and is about 45 minutes from Asheville. Hendersonville would also be a possibility.

  6. #6
    Reputation: Cotharyus's Avatar
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    Jun 2012
    I would be more likely to look at nc- but maybe somewhere between k-town and brevard so you have access to a lot of stuff, and different climates and precipitation zones. Also, donít rule out someplace like staunton va. Some of the riding up that way is stunning.

  7. #7
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    Reputation: OldManBiker's Avatar
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    Nov 2016
    Chattanooga is about to explode. New Volkswagon electric car plant coming in 2022. 1,000 jobs expected.
    OMB :thumbsup:
    2019 Yeti SB130 Turq XX1
    2017 Santa Cruz HighTower C
    2016 Specialized Fuse Comp
    2016 Specialized Rockhopper

  8. #8
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    Jan 2014
    Chattanooga resident here! Let me know if you come to town, I can show you around.. While some may not consider all that Chattanooga has as "epic" singletrack, its the fact that we simply have tons of it, along with easy access to MILES AND MILES within just a couple hours... In Chattanooga alone there is over 100 miles of singletrack within 30 minutes of downtown. Within an hour(ish) is more singletrack and all the gravel you could ever imagine....

    Plus we are within 2-3 hours of epic places like Coldwater Mountain, all the ATL stuff, Knoxville, Tsali, etc. So much good riding around here, fairly cheap cost of living (although housing prices seem through the roof at the moment).. I LOVE my city..

  9. #9
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    Aug 2018
    Johnson City is on the up. Lower cost of living than Chattanooga, Knoxville and Asheville. Its just over a hour to Asheville, 1.5 to Knoxville, 45 minutes to Wilson Creek, 1 hour to Damascus Va and Iron Mountain and we have a good mix of trails locally on city properties and in Cherokee national forest. Johnson City has invested a ton of money in creating a new bike park downtown and they are set to invest a bunch more in the next few years. JC has already stated that they want to become a major mtb destination. We are also close to the skiing in winter and there is plenty of great rivers and lakes for paddling. Plenty of breweries also. If you hike at all there is plenty of access to the Appalachian Trail as well.

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