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Old 01-18-2017, 03:12 PM
 
Location: Coudersport, PA
20 posts, read 32,092 times
Reputation: 23

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I see a lot of "where should I live" type threads, so I'll start my own. This is my first post on the board as well, so I'll try to tell something about myself so as not to ask for help without first offering something.

I'm still "youngish" in my early 50s, but may be able to retire in the fairly near future (let's say one to three years, but still open to discussion). I'm actually doing my best to purchase our "family farm" in southern Pennsylvania and to offer my uncle and aunt who own it life rights. They seem hesitant to sell the farm because of their one daughter. She and I have had discussion about the farm and I believe that she'd prefer that I not approach her folks, but rather to deal with her after her parents have passed. The problem with that from my perspective is that I'm simply the type of person who likes to know where I'm at with things. I love my aunt and uncle and hope that they live for a very long time (they're both in the their 80s now), but at the same time, I'd really prefer to purchase now and offer them life rights, at which point I'd probably be content to stay where I'm at now in northern Pennsylvania until I could have the farm, regardless of how long it takes. All of that said, if I do retire and there's no resolution regarding the family farm, I may look into retiring to east Tennessee, because I'll want to start living immediately and don't want to wish my life away in the hope that the family farm will become a reality at some point in the future.

What's wrong with where I live now? Practically nothing, although I'd point to 3 things that I'd change if I could. First of all, the winters. It never used to bother me, but as I get older, I simply dislike winter more and more. We get lake effect snow (typically 50-100 inches per year, but sometimes more) and very cold temperatures, often below zero and rarely above freezing in the wintertime (although the last two years have been mild). Secondly, the absence of a lake or large river very nearby. I'm within 2-4 hours of some of the best freshwater fishing in the world, but sadly, none of that is very close to me. The closest medium to large lake is over an hour away and most of my favorites are between 2 and 4 hours away. As you can guess, I simply love to fish and would likely fish more in retirement. Lastly, we don't really have a ton of culture or fine dining in this area. Now, to be clear, I tend to keep to myself and enjoy my privacy, so I wouldn't want to live in an urban or suburban environment, but my wife and I both enjoy going to the movies, going out to eat, shopping in nice shops, etc., so living within 30-40 minutes of some medium to large town or small city wouldn't hurt my feelings, as long as I was near water and had some privacy.

I've been to the north-central part of Tennessee (Gainsboro area) for a short visit, and also spent most of a week in east Tennessee last year, including visits to Gatlinburg, Dandridge, Kingsport, Bristol and a few other towns. Between the two areas, I have to admit to having preferred the eastern part of the state for whatever reason. I like the idea of being near Cherokee or Douglas Lakes, but wouldn't rule out Boone Lake, Wautauga or any of the others. Assuming we sell our present farm and make the move full-time, rather than as a seasonal place, we can easily afford 300K and probably a bit more if we were certain we were doing the right thing and got a good deal. If we got the family farm or stayed in our present farm, we might still consider a smaller 2 bedroom cottage or something as a seasonal residence.

Ideally I suppose I'd like to be on the waterfront AND have acreage, but I find that the two tend to be almost mutually exclusive and that both seem to increase the value of a property quite a bit. I don't think nice homes in that part of Tennessee are any more expensive than where I'm at now, maybe a bit less expensive, but it does seem that larger acreage (say 30-150 acres) is quite a bit more than land in my area for the most part. Given that I'm getting older and not as willing to maintain a large property, not owning 100+ acres certainly won't be a deal breaker. I also recognize that there are lots of marinas and boat launches on most of the lakes, so as long as I was nearby, being actually on the waterfront probably isn't as necessary (though still a big advantage).

Based on what I've explained so far, does anyone have any real feeling for areas that I simply MUST look into? I should probably also add that I do like the Smokies and the Cherokee national forest, I enjoy hiking, photography and nature in addition to fishing, so access to stuff like that would be helpful. I don't hunt nearly as much as I used to, but I still own bird dogs and would likely still take my flintlock rifle and fowler (shotgun) out at times. My wife enjoys fishing, but her heart wouldn't break if she never fished again and she's never hunted. In general, she's pretty easy to get along with and probably doesn't have as specific a list as I do. I think as long as we had a really nice house and the kids could visit, she'd be happy, though she also likes her privacy, but also likes shopping, eating out, museums and shops, etc.. Both of us really detest roadside garbage/litter and obviously we'd prefer to stay clear of areas that had high crime or high drug use. Any general or specific thoughts?

I want to thank all of you who may respond in advance; I really like the look of the forums here and it seems that people are quite friendly (which has been my experience on several trips to and through Tennessee in the past).

Last edited by BRAGOSTA; 01-18-2017 at 03:24 PM..
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Old 01-18-2017, 03:42 PM
 
Location: Tennessee
29,203 posts, read 22,018,699 times
Reputation: 36158
Boone Lake in the Tri-Cities is at a low level and will remain so for the foreseeable future due to issues with its dam. Property there is probably inexpensive now, but you'll be looking at a better part of a decade before the lake is normal. It is usable - looks like a bad drought, but it is not scenic at all.

Cherokee and Douglas Lakes are beautiful and large, but depending on where you are on these lakes, may be pretty isolated from town. The same goes for Watauga and Norris. South Holston is closer to Bristol.
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Old 01-18-2017, 04:36 PM
 
Location: Coudersport, PA
20 posts, read 32,092 times
Reputation: 23
Quote:
Originally Posted by Serious Conversation View Post
Boone Lake in the Tri-Cities is at a low level and will remain so for the foreseeable future due to issues with its dam. Property there is probably inexpensive now, but you'll be looking at a better part of a decade before the lake is normal. It is usable - looks like a bad drought, but it is not scenic at all.

Cherokee and Douglas Lakes are beautiful and large, but depending on where you are on these lakes, may be pretty isolated from town. The same goes for Watauga and Norris. South Holston is closer to Bristol.
Thanks for the info. I was aware that Boone is down and apparently has some issues, but really didn't know what the timeline for repairs would be. I figured that it might be a real buyer's market and if the lake is repaired and back to full pool in 3-5 years, I could easily live with that. By the way, "isolated from town" doesn't really bother me, though I might change my tune in a decade or two. At this point in time, I'd prefer to be within 30 minutes of a large town or small city, but I'd actually prefer to be isolated and private.
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Old 01-18-2017, 06:55 PM
 
Location: Cookeville/Crossville
307 posts, read 335,127 times
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I would use Cookeville/Crossville as your starting point and look property within 30 minutes of either. The area is beautiful and great for hunting/fishing.
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Old 01-19-2017, 07:48 AM
 
Location: Tennessee
29,203 posts, read 22,018,699 times
Reputation: 36158
Quote:
Originally Posted by BRAGOSTA View Post
Thanks for the info. I was aware that Boone is down and apparently has some issues, but really didn't know what the timeline for repairs would be. I figured that it might be a real buyer's market and if the lake is repaired and back to full pool in 3-5 years, I could easily live with that. By the way, "isolated from town" doesn't really bother me, though I might change my tune in a decade or two. At this point in time, I'd prefer to be within 30 minutes of a large town or small city, but I'd actually prefer to be isolated and private.
Boone Lake is the most convenient lake to most of the Tri-Cities, but it's also the least scenic and has been the most heavily trafficked. There isn't a lot of privacy on Boone - it's developed, so if you're boating, someone can see you from their back yard usually. If you live on it, there is going to be more noise due to the boating traffic, etc.

In far eastern TN, I think Watauga and South Holston are the prettiest and best options for fishing. Watauga is probably 30-45 minutes to Johnson City. South Holston is closer than that to Bristol. I boated on South Holston at Laurel Marina for probably five years. It's a wonderful lake with much less development. The catch is that it's going to be hard to find property on South Holston - much of it is restricted.

There was a thread on the Knoxville forums a couple months ago by a couple looking to move to east TN from southern CA, with many of the same wants you have. You should read that thread.

Granger / Hawkins County Info needed?

I'm not going to rehash all that, but in short, the farther out from the cities you go in east Tennessee, the more difficult things become. You'll likely have just one grocery store, maybe a Walmart, and virtually anything else is a drive of an hour or so back to the Tri-Cities or Knoxville, depending on where you are. The rural areas tend to have more problems with drugs and crime.

I have an aunt with a farm on Cherokee a little past Bean Station. It is a good half hour to Rogersville, and it doesn't have much, and Rogersville is about half an hour itself from Kingsport. Need to go to the doctor? Be prepared to drive an hour or more? Lowe's/Home Depot? It's probably back to a larger city. Cell service, broadband internet, and cable may not even be available depending on the location. It is a beautiful area, but it can be extremely inconvenient at times.

I would take a trip down this spring or summer. You could honestly check out every decent sized lake to down around Knoxville in several days.
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Old 01-19-2017, 08:10 AM
 
Location: Coudersport, PA
20 posts, read 32,092 times
Reputation: 23
Quote:
Originally Posted by Serious Conversation View Post
Boone Lake is the most convenient lake to most of the Tri-Cities, but it's also the least scenic and has been the most heavily trafficked. There isn't a lot of privacy on Boone - it's developed, so if you're boating, someone can see you from their back yard usually. If you live on it, there is going to be more noise due to the boating traffic, etc.

In far eastern TN, I think Watauga and South Holston are the prettiest and best options for fishing. Watauga is probably 30-45 minutes to Johnson City. South Holston is closer than that to Bristol. I boated on South Holston at Laurel Marina for probably five years. It's a wonderful lake with much less development. The catch is that it's going to be hard to find property on South Holston - much of it is restricted.

There was a thread on the Knoxville forums a couple months ago by a couple looking to move to east TN from southern CA, with many of the same wants you have. You should read that thread.

Granger / Hawkins County Info needed?

I'm not going to rehash all that, but in short, the farther out from the cities you go in east Tennessee, the more difficult things become. You'll likely have just one grocery store, maybe a Walmart, and virtually anything else is a drive of an hour or so back to the Tri-Cities or Knoxville, depending on where you are. The rural areas tend to have more problems with drugs and crime.

I have an aunt with a farm on Cherokee a little past Bean Station. It is a good half hour to Rogersville, and it doesn't have much, and Rogersville is about half an hour itself from Kingsport. Need to go to the doctor? Be prepared to drive an hour or more? Lowe's/Home Depot? It's probably back to a larger city. Cell service, broadband internet, and cable may not even be available depending on the location. It is a beautiful area, but it can be extremely inconvenient at times.

I would take a trip down this spring or summer. You could honestly check out every decent sized lake to down around Knoxville in several days.
Thanks so much, that's some very valuable information and much appreciated. Regarding Bean Station and Rogersville, aren't they fairly close to Morristown? Is Morristown not such a nice place compared to some of the other large towns or small cities? As I said, the info is much appreciated. What you describe regarding the rural areas in east Tennessee is much like the area that I live in now, only one small grocery store in most of the towns and a fair drive to get to a bigger one with more options. I've learned to live with it, but my goal now is to find my ideal place for retirement and I don't really want to have to settle.
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Old 01-19-2017, 08:15 AM
 
Location: Coudersport, PA
20 posts, read 32,092 times
Reputation: 23
Quote:
Originally Posted by llsmith42 View Post
I would use Cookeville/Crossville as your starting point and look property within 30 minutes of either. The area is beautiful and great for hunting/fishing.
I've actually been in Cookeville before and found it to be clean and vibrant. I also found people in that area to be extraordinarily hospitable, BUT I did find two problems with the general area that somewhat bothered me (or bothered me a lot). One is that I have a friend in the area who's a police officer and he suggests that the abuse of prescribed drugs is really out of hand, which contributes to other problems as well. OK, so I can live with the idea that this may be a societal or national problem and that I may have a hard time completely avoiding that stuff anywhere. The other issue is absolutely a local one. I spent several days only 20 minutes or so out of Cookeville (I won't suggest where because I don't want to insult anyone or blame most of the great people who live there) and found the littering and garbage dumping to be absolutely vile. I simply don't think I could ever live in an area like that, at least not unless I absolutely had to for work, family or other reasons. In this case I'll be comfortably retired and don't need to live anywhere in particular.

I do intend to look into the Crossville area because I've heard nothing but good things about it. Thanks for the info and the suggestion, it's much appreciated.
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Old 01-19-2017, 08:31 AM
 
Location: Coudersport, PA
20 posts, read 32,092 times
Reputation: 23
Wow, I just read the thread from the folks in southern California and it was quite educational (and even entertaining). It does remind me of one small anecdote. I have a brother who briefly moved to the Tazewell area. He didn't even find the time to purchase a home because frankly, he really, really missed where he had come from, missed his friends, etc. (I don't believe that I'd be like that if/when I move to Tennessee). He absolutely loved the area and made fast friends with some folks in the area, but just couldn't make a go of it and headed back up north. Believe me when I tell you that he and I are both rednecks at heart, we live in rural areas, own our own land, hunt and fish and are basically normal blue-collar guys. Anyway, one day he was taking a walk in an area that he was considering purchasing a house in and someone stopped along the road to ask what he was doing there. He mentioned that he was just taking a hike and the person suggested that it probably wasn't a great idea for outsiders to be walking around alone in the area. I think my brother's reaction was somewhere between shock and amusement (he's lived in very poor and very rural parts of Appalachia and he's not some rich city slicker type that would tend to bother the locals).

Again, it was a very interesting thread, thanks for linking it.
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Old 01-19-2017, 08:53 AM
 
Location: Tennessee
29,203 posts, read 22,018,699 times
Reputation: 36158
Morristown is smaller than any of the Tri-Cities with a population of about 30,000. It has some basic big box shopping, but has also had a problem with illegal immigration. Morristown is too far from the Tri-Cities or Knoxville to be convenient to either. Unemployment is high there if you think you want or may need to work. I wouldn't recommend it.

The garbage dumping is a rural thing. I'm a native of TN, but lived in Indiana the past three years and you'd see the trash dumping there as well out in the country. There are lots of people in the rural areas who will leave trash out, porches will be cluttered with junk, junk cars will be in the yards, things like that.

Drugs are a major problem here - it can't be understated. There is a lot of property crime from people either on drugs and looking for drugs, or looking for money/something to steal/sell to buy drugs with. The more rural you get, the worse it usually gets.

In general, I would stick to counties which have an interstate running through them. I would also check Watts Bar Lake a little west of Knoxville, going toward Crossville. That part of TN gets more transplants and is a bit friendlier to transplants than some of the remote counties in far east TN.
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Old 01-19-2017, 09:39 AM
 
Location: Coudersport, PA
20 posts, read 32,092 times
Reputation: 23
Thanks again, great info. I've done some internet research on real estate on and near Watts Bar, but haven't had feet on the ground there yet.

Regarding the litter, I'm not referring to people who have appliance or junk cars on their own properties. While unsightly, I suppose that's their right. I was referring to people who dump out of town or throw bags, litter and garbage out the window, apparently daily just as a matter of course. I live in a rural area, and while you'll always see ignorant people who toss litter occasionally, it was the worst I've ever seen when I visited there a year or three ago.
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