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Objectively speaking, I have to disagree that the Erwin schools are very good. I would not say that (no disrespect meant).
I will say that, when you say you are country people, you need to really step back and see how country you really are. If you are considering somewhere like Mountain City, and you live "outside" Orlando, you are going to be in complete culture shock. Another heads up, nepotism and cronyism are well and alive in the job search in this region, especially within the police. It is not like Florida, where many of the people are not natives. Natives have first priority even if you have better qualifications (and I say this as a native East Tennessean).
I really think outside Johnson City is your best bet - look at Jonesborough.
My husband & I moved up here from east of Orlando, almost 3 months ago. I'd never go back! This area is great, and the people are wonderful! I'm originally a northern-Indiana Hoosier, and am enjoying the cooler climate than Florida. I work in Johnson City & my husband works in Piney Flats. Neither of us are city people, so we live chose to live in the country between Bristol & JC. There are some beautiful back country areas, but be prepared for driving some very twisty, roller-coaster roads! However, you'll see some of the most beautiful scenery along those back twisty roads, and it's worth it! And, being close to the mountains we do a lot of walking and trail-hiking, and have found some very nice smaller parks and lakes that we frequent a lot. Right now a lot of lakes have been drained down for the winter, but there are some beautiful lakes like Wautaga, Boone Lake, and Holston Lake. We've been told there's good fishing when they're stocked in the spring.
Johnson City is much more diversified, whereas Elizabethton is more conservative. Jonesborough is the oldest city in TN, and has a hometown feel. Bristol has a great down-town area that seems to come alive at night, and some great older houses, and they're going to be starting to build a new Bass Pro Shop in the spring. I haven't been to Kingsport much, have only done a bit of shopping. Erwin/Unicoi is small, but the people I've met have been very nice. You'll find a warm welcome wherever you choose!
You may want to check out the different counties, more than just focasing on the cities. Some counties are doing better financially than others. I'm not sure if Sullivan County has funds to do any more hiring for police officers, so you may have a better chance in Carter or Washington.
You're going to love whereever you end up in the Tri-Cities area!
So I live in Mount Carmel which is about a 30 minute drive from JC. But I have lived here my whole life. Northeast TN is an amazing place to live and crime truly is close to nonexistent. As far as a western clothing store there are not many in the area. There is one in JC called Wiseman's but they can be a little pricey. But that is the only one that I know of (other than TSC) and I am a western girl so I should know. I truly think your family would like the area. JC is the largest city other than Bristol. Boones Creek is beautiful, you should also check out Jonesborough. The kids would like that they have a fair there each year that is a big sensation. The school systems are good depending on which county you are in. I was in Hawkins county and they are truly not the best schools. It is on what we call the "bible belt" so you will see churches EVERYWHERE. But religion is not pushed on you. East Tennessee State University is located in JC and is a great school. There are so many opportunities in the area and I think you would not regret moving here.
What size town would be ideal? As I said before JC isn't huge but it is not a small town either.
Johnson City is much more diversified, whereas Elizabethton is more conservative. Jonesborough is the oldest city in TN, and has a hometown feel. Bristol has a great down-town area that seems to come alive at night, and some great older houses, and they're going to be starting to build a new Bass Pro Shop in the spring. I haven't been to Kingsport much, have only done a bit of shopping. Kingsport is known for very little I live right beside of it, the only thing attractive in Kingsport to me is a job at Eastman and even that smells. A lot of Kingsport has a very chemical smell due to the paper plant and Eastman ChemicalErwin/Unicoi is small, but the people I've met have been very nice. You'll find a warm welcome wherever you choose!
You may want to check out the different counties, more than just focasing on the cities. Some counties are doing better financially than others. I'm not sure if Sullivan County has funds to do any more hiring for police officers, so you may have a better chance in Carter or Washington. My brother is an EMT and they are always looking for police officers but CountryGirl is correct you would have a much better chance of getting hired on in Washington County (JC) versus Sullivan (Kingsport) if you want to go CRAZY rural there is always HAWKINS COUNTY
You're going to love whereever you end up in the Tri-Cities area!
I grew up in Bristol, TN/VA and highly recommend living there. The crime rate is indeed very low and the schools are good. There are also plenty of parks and good restaurants as well.
I prefer Bristol over Johnson City, Kingsport or any of the aformentioned areas because it's close to everything and its downtown is superior. You kind of get a taste of the entire area living in Bristol.
You will miss the variety of entertainment available in Orlando. That is one area where E/TN struggles.
My family and I moved to Johnson City from Orlando as well. We settled in the Gray area just between Johnson City and Kingsport. Here are the pros and cons of a major move to this area:
the people-everyone is super friendly and genuinely good. If you ever break down on the side of the road, you will want it to be here.
the view-obviously the mountains are quite possibly the most beautiful sight to behold at any time of year
the culture-I am from a big southern family, so it wasn't much of culture shock for me but I know that Orlando is completely different from Tennessee. also, everyone does things as their own pace here. it really does feel like time stands still.
the school system-there are private schools available, and there is a pretty big homeschool community if you are into that. the public schools get the entire community involved. everyone goes to the local football game to cheer on the home team. it is a wonderful way to spend your friday evenings.
the culture-it is very good ol' boy, native oriented. finding a job was extremely difficult for my family. we eventually had to move to Louisville because finding work that paid enough was taking too long.
if you are not into snow, then moving to the mountains might not be the best decision ever. I do not know about the weather in the past year or so, but every winter for the few years I lived there were pretty harsh. the local high school had over 13 snow days.
My advice: take a trip up there in the winter to see how your family will adjust, and MAKE SURE YOU HAVE A JOB LINED UP BEFORE YOU MOVE.
Also, don't worry about not having activities to do. If you like historic districts, festivals, open spaces, and being within 2 hours of major tourist attractions, then you will be just fine!
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