Chattanooga Times Free Press

‘Sweet spot’

Chattanooga among top destinations nationwide for relocations in 2024


Chattanooga is among the top destinations for movers in 2024, according to a recent study.

More than twice as many people are planning a move to the area than are planning to leave, according to the study from moveBuddha, an online company that assists people with moving. The site’s data is based on search data within moveBuddha’s moving cost calculator.

That puts Chattanooga at sixth in the nation and No. 1 in Tennessee for ratios of inbound to outbound movers.

Many of those in the top 10 are within the Southeast.

Dan Reuter, executive director of the Chattanooga-Hamilton County Regional Planning Agency, said in a phone interview migration has been trending to the South for the past few decades.

“The South has been the focus,” Reuter said. “People have been migrating to the South from the Northeast and from the West Coast for almost 50 years, and a lot of it has to do with cheaper housing, lower taxes, warmer weather, all those things.”

Emily Mack, president and CEO of the River City Co., said Chattanooga is attractive to many coming from bigger cities.

“Chattanooga has a lot of big city amenities and attractions without some big city challenges that some people might perceive,” Mack said. “Chattanooga is a very approachable city.”

Compared to other cities, the growth of Chattanooga is milder, attracting residents who may want a calmer city, Mack said.

“That’s actually really healthy,” Mack said. “That’s actually a really good sweet spot.”


Eric Myers, executive director of the Chattanooga Design Studio, said in a phone interview city leaders have long focused on improving the quality of life in Chattanooga.

“For really the past four decades or longer, the city and city leaders have been focusing on quality of life, particularly quality of life in our downtown and neighborhoods,” Myers said.

This especially manifests when it comes to the relative affordability of the area, he said.

“Before the pandemic and then during the pandemic, that certainly was proven true,” Myers said. “The affordability and the quality of life combined made us a very attractive market for people that want to move here from Austin (Texas) and other larger communities.”

Reuter said the area’s relatively low taxes also attract people.

“Being in a state with no income tax,” Reuter said, “being in a county that tends to favor low property taxes, that’s a big deal.”

Mack said the city’s downtown also plays a role in leading people to move here.

“The types of amenities and attractions that we have,” Mack said, “we have a really vibrant and healthy downtown. We have a variety of arts and culture and entertainment.”

Charles Wood, president and CEO of the Chattanooga Area Chamber of Commerce, said entrepreneurs are also drawn to the affordability and quality of life of the area.

“A lot of folks that are relocating here are seeking a career or want to build a company,” Wood said. “They want to be in a community that they can afford to own a house.”

The affordability of Chattanooga, however, may be beginning to change.

In 2022, Hamilton County saw the largest annual rent increase in

the past decade, the Chattanooga Times Free Press reported.

“The affordability challenges that we’ve not faced,” Myers said, “we’re going to begin to face in the coming years.”


Myers, citing urbanist Gil Penalosa — who recently visited

Chattanooga — said the area’s natural scenery draws people to the city.

“He talked about how God put Chattanooga in this unbelievable setting with the mountains and the river,” Myers said, “high quality parks and streets that connect people. While it’s not all perfect — we have some work to do — we certainly are a standout.”

Reuter said the abundance of outdoor activities in the area is a big draw for people.

“When you think about who’s moving — it’s people that have just retired or it’s young people that are moving to jobs or moving for a lifestyle change,” Reuter said. “It’s folks that are attracted to the sort of mix of things to do here in terms of outdoor activities.”

Wood said the combination of various industries and outdoor activities are an asset in terms of people moving to Chattanooga.

“You’ve got the same kind of great access to the outdoors, if you think about mountain biking and paddle boarding and sailing and all those things,” Wood said. “But you’ve got major companies that are here — Blue Cross, Volkswagen, McKee Foods. There’s a lot more opportunity here than you would find certainly in a lot of places.”


Located roughly halfway between Nashville and Atlanta, Reuter said Chattanooga’s proximity to other major metro areas is one of the primary drivers of the city’s growth.

“We’re 90 minutes south of Nashville, 90 minutes north of the suburbs of Atlanta,” Reuter said. “We definitely have this halo effect of a strong economy.”

Wood said the proximity to those cities, for activities such as NFL games and concerts, is key to attracting new residents to the area.

“If you want to be in a mid-sized city and not a major metro, but you want access to major metros, this is a great place,” Wood said.