Written by: Matt Meltzer
For a thousand different reasons, you're considering a move this year, and well you should: It's a big ol' country we have here, and opportunity favors those in motion. But before you start daydreaming of swimming holes, remember: Austin is full. So is Portland, alas. Nashville is getting there. As sick as you might be of your city's high rents, $9 beers, and miserable dating pool, migrating to the same overhyped town as everyone else won't improve your situation. Suddenly you're just another latecomer stuck in traffic, watching the rents go up, the lines get longer, and a pint climb to $8. You're right back where you started, kid.
But as you know, plenty of amazing places are still lurking under the radar. All around the country, cities big and small offer those same amenities -- a creative, laid-back vibe, a food and craft beer scene, a not-yet-ruined cool factor -- at reasonable prices. They might not be the best vacation spots in America, and they might not be top-five name-brand towns. But in terms of overall quality of life and cost of living, these underappreciated cities are all dark-horse candidates to help you author your best move ever.
A Southern haven for the active, outdoorsy, and entrepreneurial
City population: 171,863
Cost of living index: 92 (8% lower than US average)
Though we can't quite hurl superlatives at it like "Best Town Ever" (as it was named by Outside magazine, twice), Chattanooga is still an outstanding place to call home. This is especially true for entrepreneurs and startup whiz kids, as the city has roughly half the startup costs of Silicon Valley and is home to the INCubator, America's third-largest business incubator. The small-business community here is one of the country's best-supported, with companies like Lamp Post Group, The Company Lab, and GIGTANK all offering help and funding to the entrepreneurial-minded. And thanks to recent infrastructure investments in 10-gigabit systems, Chattanooga, of all places, boasts the fastest internet in the Western Hemisphere.
But enough about business. Work-life balance is what makes this city truly special, and with the opening of the Chattanooga Choo Choo complex the city has a bona fide entertainment district, complete with a rare-guitar museum. It's also a stone's throw from mountain biking, hiking, and whitewater rafting on the Ocoee River. All this, and the median home price here is a downright reasonable $172,000, so even if you are a perpetually cash-strapped small-business owner, you won't starve while your business gets off the ground.
Published on: February 21, 2017