What's it like to live in Chattanooga, TN?


Maura Friedman

Profile written by local expert:

Maura Friedman

In many ways, Chattanooga is the comeback kid of Tennessee. Once called "the dirtiest city in America" by Walter Cronkite, Chattanooga now boasts a revitalized Main Street, premier outdoor recreation and a hearty startup scene.

Chattanooga's first turnaround was its riverfront – a $120 million project completed in 2005 that paved the way for popular events like the Ironman Triathlon and the RiverRocks festival. A technology evolution came next in 2010 when Chattanooga's electric power board premiered the fastest Internet service in the country. Now homegrown startups like Bellhops and tech transplants like Carbon Five find themselves at home in Chattanooga.

While Chattanooga continues to move toward offering urban amenities like expanded downtown living and the newfound Chattanooga Film Festival, the area's small-town spirit fostered by farmers markets, tight-knit networks and owner-operated small businesses – is alive and well. Chattanoogans are proud of where they live. Plenty of business names start with "Chatta," end in "Nooga" or reference the "Scenic City," Chattanooga's nickname.

Rankings

U.S. News analyzed 125 metro areas in the United States to find the best places to live based on quality of life and the job market in each metro area, as well as the value of living there and people's desire to live there.

Chattanooga, Tennessee is ranked:

#72 in Best Places to Live

#59 in Best Places to Retire

6.4

Overall

Scorecard

Best Places to Live

  • Desirability
    6.5
  • Value
    7.2
  • Job Market
    6.1
  • Quality of Life
    5.9
  • Net Migration
    6.6

Read how we rank places

Chattanooga, TN Quick Stats

  • 544,522

    Metro Population

  • $41,940

    Average Annual Salary

  • 71.6° / 50.1°

    Avg High/Low Temps

  • 39.8

    Median Age

  • $154,650

    Median Home Price

  • 52.5 inches

    AVG Annual Rainfall

  • 4.0%

    Unemployment Rate

  • $747

    Median Monthly Rent

  • 23.3 minutes

    Avg Commute Time

What's the cost of living in Chattanooga, TN?

The cost of living in Chattanooga is below the national average, but that keeps pace with its average salary, which is also lower than the national average. A good portion of residents' paychecks is dedicated to housing. Chattanooga has some of the fastest-rising rents in the country. Generally, a better bet in Chattanooga is to buy a home. 

Value Index

Index Score: 7.2 /10

How we calculate this.


Chattanooga offers a better value than similarly sized metro areas when you compare housing costs to median household income.

Housing Costs this Year


Chattanooga
$154,650

USA
$222,408

Housing Costs Over Time

Data sourced from Zillow median home sale price data series. Additional data provided by the Austin Board of Realtors, Houston Association of Realtors, Intermountain MLS, Omaha Area Board of Realtors, San Antonio Board of Realtors, and the Salt Lake Board of Realtors.

Buying or selling a home? Find top real estate agents in Chattanooga, TN.

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What's the weather like in Chattanooga, TN?

Chattanoogans experience all four seasons. The area's moderate climate makes for mild winters and steamy summers. The metro area's location between Missionary Ridge and the Lookout and Signal Mountains allows Chattanoogans to enjoy a breathtaking view of changing leaves every fall.

Seasonal Temperature (Avgs)

42.5°F


Winter

60.4°F


Spring

78.6°F


Summer

61.7°F


Fall

Seasonal Rainfall (Avgs)

4.9 in


Winter

5.0 in


Spring

4.9 in


Summer

5.0 in


Fall

Monthly High and Low Temperatures (°F)

Data sourced from the National Climatic Data Center.

What's the best way to get around Chattanooga, TN?

Most Chattanoogans rely on their cars because it's the most convenient and expedient way to get around. Still, there are some public transportation options, including the Chattanooga Area Regional Transportation Authority (CARTA) buses and downtown shuttle, though these offer limited routes and restrictive service hours.

Cycling is also an option, thanks to the metro area's bike-share program and its expansion of protected bike lanes.

The small Chattanooga Metropolitan Airport is just 15 minutes from downtown and features nonstop service to destinations like Atlanta, Orlando and Washington, D.C. However, larger airports in Atlanta and Knoxville, Tennessee, are each just a two-hour drive away. Amtrak doesn't service Chattanooga, but ground transportation is provided by several charter bus companies, including Greyhound.

Commuting in Chattanooga, TN

Means of Transportation
Driving
92%
Above national average

Bicycling
0%
Equal to national average

Walking
2%
Equal to national average

Public Transit
1%
Below national average
Average Commute Time

23.3 minutes

2.8 minutes less than national average

Average Commute Times by Zip Code

Data sourced from the U.S. Census Bureau's American Community Survey.

Who lives in Chattanooga, TN?

Chattanooga is one of the fastest-growing metro areas in Tennessee. Its population is fairly young and more than half of residents live in family households. Chattanooga's Northshore and surrounding suburbs are especially popular for families, as are the more affluent Lookout Mountain and Signal Mountain communities. 

Chattanooga sits along the South's Bible Belt, and about 54 percent of Chattanoogans say they affiliate with a religion, with evangelical Protestantism being the most popular.

Age Distribution

Marital Status Breakdown


About the same number of single people in Chattanooga as national average

Data sourced from the U.S. Census Bureau's American Community Survey.

What is there to do in Chattanooga, TN?

Nicknamed the Scenic City, Chattanooga is known for its beautiful natural surroundings. Outdoorsy residents find no shortage of world-class climbing, hiking loops, kayak routes and mountain biking trails. The 10-mile Chattanooga Riverwalk, which winds along the Tennessee River through downtown, is a mild excursion. Chattanooga's Coolidge and Renaissance parks a combined 36 acres of public land, walkways and sculptural art also sit along the Tennessee River.

Meanwhile, Chattanooga's love for all things local means there are plenty of small boutiques, specialty coffee shops, galleries and restaurants to frequent. Frazier Avenue and Warehouse Row are other prime shopping spots. Other downtown destinations include Chattanooga's landmark aquarium, the Hunter Museum of American Art, the historic Tivoli Theatre and the iconic Walnut Street walking bridge.

Find out more about what there is to see and do in Chattanooga, TN