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Old 03-14-2007, 09:14 AM
Location: Northern CA but can't wait to get out!
203 posts, read 756,082 times
Reputation: 87


Hello everyone. We were originally looking to move to the JC area, but because my hubby travels for work we decided to look closer to Nashville. I really like the looks of the Cookeville area and had a few questions.

I enjoy walking and would like to be within walking distance to either a grocery store or maybe a mom & pop convenience store. Do many people just go out for walks around the neighborhood? I don't mind driving to the larger stores like Wal-Mart (a bit disappointed that there's no Target in Cookeville), but what are my options if I forget to get milk at the grocery store? Is it a matter of having to get back in the car and drive another 30 minutes round trip or would I be able to send the kids out on their bikes to get it for me?

Speaking of Wal-Mart, what is the local Wal-Mart like? I've had bad experiences here with ours. It is very crowded and cluttered, dirty and very few people speak English (no offense to anyone). I tend to avoid the Wal-Mart and go to Target instead. It's much cleaner and neater.

We have kids that will be in 6th and 9th grades and would like to be close enough to good schools that I wouldn't necessarily have to drive them every day. Are the roads safe enough that kids can walk or bike to school?

Are there areas in Putnam county that are off the beaten path but with the conveniences nearby?

One more question - what are the roads like in Putnam County? Our county maintained roads are pretty bad. Pot holes everywhere and it takes months to get them filled. Then next time it rains and a truck drives over them the fill breaks up and we're back to square one.

I've heard some negative things about the Cookeville area - that it's "dumpy." The pictures that I've seen don't reflect that, but what are the opinions of some of you who live nearby or travel through the area?

Thanks for your help!
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Old 03-14-2007, 11:09 AM
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Those are all good questions, and I'll do my best to answer them.

First of all, I don't know of anywhere that's "off the beaten path" but yet close enough to walk to schools and grocery stores. If you want to live off the beaten path, you'll most likely have to drive to run errands. That's pretty much true anywhere, not just in Putnam County.

There are some neighborhoods in Cookeville where your kids can walk to school or ride their bikes, but that's mainly at the elementary school level. With over 2,200 students, Cookeville High School is on a mammoth campus (largest in the state) and gets a lot of traffic; I don't know that anyone walks or rides bikes to high school. The middle school for 5th-6th grades is in a very pedestrian-friendly part of town, but the middle school for 7th-8th grades isn't.

The Algood area might be a good alternative. It's a bedroom community of Cookeville, its school is K-8 and is wildly popular. Algood has only about 3,200 residents, so it's small enough so that you can walk around town.

There are two Wal-Mart SuperCenters in Cookeville (well, one in Cookeville and one in Algood), and both are clean. I'm not a fan of Wal-Mart at all, but I don't mind going to Wal-Mart when I'm in Cookeville. There's also KMart, Kohl's, and Sam's Club. Rumors abound that Target is coming to town, but so far they're only rumors.

The developer of a large shopping center in Mount Juliet has purchased the Cookeville Mall and has announced plans to tear down the mall in favor of a strip center, more affectionately referred to these days as a "lifestyle center." He said that stores that are in Mount Juliet but not in Cookeville want to expand to Cookeville, and the only stores in Mount Juliet that aren't already in Cookeville are Target and Best Buy. So here's hoping.

I'm not sure what you meant by hearing that Cookeville is "dumpy." I've never seen anyone in this forum say that, and in fact it's generally considered one of the nicer towns around this part of the country, which is one of the reasons it's growing so fast. If it were a dump, people wouldn't want to live there. Where did you hear that it's dumpy?

The roads in Putnam County are good, but of course out in the sticks there are quite a few gravel roads or oil & chip roads. Tennessee generally does a good job of maintaining its state roads, and Putnam County's roads are also very well maintained.

I'm sure others in this forum who live there and have moved there recently can add to the volumes I just wrote (sorry for writing so much). But no matter what people in here say, you really need to go take a visit and see for yourself what a lovely place it is and why it's growing so quickly.
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Old 03-14-2007, 11:31 AM
Location: Somewhere in TN
710 posts, read 1,930,971 times
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Hmmm. OK, with 6th and 9th graders, to be close to a school your best bet would be to live near Cookeville High School because your 9th grader will go for three years and your 6th grader will be there soon enough too. In that immediate vicinity, there are some decent neighborhoods. There are also some not-that-great ones. The roads are all generally good, no complaints here. In terms of being able to walk to get a gallon of milk and also to the high school, it would technically be feasible but it would limit your options to the area right near the Dollar General store, as that is the only store really close to the high school. Well, actually that's not true. There is also an IGA, which used to be a "Great Star" or something like that. One of my children's friends when we first moved to Cookeville said he and his family referred to that store as "Gross, but Close." Hehehe (it's not that bad, really, and I think the changeover to being an IGA has cleaned it up some). There are some cute neighborhoods near both of those things (CHS and the corner stores/IGA) but there are also some that you would probably find "dumpy." I seem to remember seeing a small trailer park right near the high school, for example. But remember, while there are those neighborhoods, there are also lots of cute/older established and even a few brand-new ones.

You will find ALL kinds of areas in Cookeville. I think that even the less attractive ones are a far cry from bad areas in other small cities, though, especially in the city limits themselves.
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Old 03-14-2007, 12:08 PM
Location: Northern CA but can't wait to get out!
203 posts, read 756,082 times
Reputation: 87
Thanks for the info. I'm curious...does Cookeville High School serve the Algood area as well? How far is it from CHS to Algood?

As far as being "dumpy," I have a good friend with another good friend who lives in Cookeville and doesn't speak very highly of it apparently. I'm not sure I believe it, though, because I've heard nothing but good things and seen some beautiful pictures. You are very right, JMT, about visiting and that is our plan come October.

So, while stores may not be within walking distance, do people still go out and walk in most good neighborhoods just to get out and enjoy the sunshine and fresh air? Right now our street is so busy that it can be a bit challenging to walk in the neighborhood. I would love to be able to go out for a walk in the evening after dinner.....sigh...

What areas should we avoid in Putnam County if we want a safe, quiet area where there are other kids for ours to hang out with nearby? Maybe near a park or something? We're looking at spending about $200k +/- and would really like some land. Could we find something where we could maybe keep horses for that?

Another question - my hubby travels occasionally for work, needing to be near an airport. He currently has to drive about 70 miles to the airport, which can sometimes take an hour and a half, so as long as the drive time isn't much more than that he's okay. What is the general travel time to the Nashville airport to get a flight out in the 7-10 a.m. time frame?

Okay, so I keep coming up with these little curiosities that nudge my brain. If we were to sell our car here (2006 Hyundai Tuscon), what could we purchase a similar car (new) for in the Cookeville area?

Again, I appreciate all the great info. I am sooooooooo excited about getting out of CA that my family can't stand to be around me sometimes. Sorry for being so long winded...
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Old 03-14-2007, 02:11 PM
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Putnam County has an open school system; your kids can go to any school in the county as long as you provide the transportation. So while Algood students generally go to Cookeville HS, they don't have to. If a large high school with 2,200+ students isn't for your kids, brand-new Upperman HS just west of Cookeville has about 600 students, and Monterey HS in the eastern part of the county has about 300 students and was a National Blue Ribbon school in 2006 (whatever that means). But CHS does have the reputation for better academics; it's one of only 6 schools in the state with the rigorous International Baccalaureate Program.

Algood is an incredibly beautiful area, but you might be hard pressed to find acreage for $200,000. It's become somewhat of a ritzy area; new homes around there generally go for a minimum of $200k (usually more), and that's not including acreage. Just east of Algood is an area called Buck Mountain, you might be able to find some land there even though it, too, is becoming popular.

However, west of Cookeville is a little cheaper. In fact, since your husband will need to make trips to the Nashville airport, you might want to find something closer to I-40 anyway. Speaking of the airport, there's rarely any traffic on I-40 between Cookeville and Nashville until you get to Mount Juliet during rush hour. Fortunately the airport is only a few miles from Mount Juliet. But once you get on I-40 in Cookeville, the Nashville airport is almost exactly an hour away, and it's an easy hour--beautiful scenery.

As wordy said, there are some dumpy neighborhoods around the high school--they're not in the city limits and, therefore, have no zoning ordinances to follow. They're generally mobile homes that really are dumpy. There's no other word to describe them. Oddly enough, just go a few blocks east of those dumpy mobile homes and you're overlooking one of the golf courses and the $200k condos that surround it.

If you want land and a decent house for $200k, you're probably going to have to give up living within walking or biking distance from a school in Putnam County. In fact, I'm not sure where in Tennessee you could find acreage for that price and still be within walking distance of good schools and grocery stores. (Note: I said GOOD schools.)

I wouldn't look at Monterey but only because it's a tad farther away from the Nashville airport, and if your friend of a friend thinks Cookeville is dumpy, then I can't imagine what s/he would say about Monterey (even though I think Monterey is charming).

Western Putnam County has become popular for those who telecommute to jobs in Nashville; I also know a couple of flight attendants who live in western Putnam County and are based out of Nashville. The only problem with western Putnam County is you'd have to hop in the car to run all your errands.

SW of Cookeville, along Burgess Falls Road, has some less expensive land. It's not in the Cookeville city limits, so there are no zoning ordinances. There are also no schools around there; your kids would go to schools in Baxter or Cookeville (again, your choice). If you want a few acres for your horses, you're free to do so outside of the city, with no restrictions. There are some lovely subdivisions in that area as well as lots of farms. It's also close to Center Hill Lake in case you're interested in boating.

And that friend of a friend who doesn't think highly of Cookeville, why is that? Is that person just a grouchy person in general? It certainly doesn't hurt to hear the negatives with the positives, but only if there are specific reasons for the negatives.
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Old 03-14-2007, 05:16 PM
Location: Somewhere in TN
710 posts, read 1,930,971 times
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Default Hmmmm

I would say maybe Buffalo Valley? That is in West Putnam County, right on the edge of the next county, and the land is cheaper there. But it is muuuuuccch more rural. You will have to drive to Cookeville for anything other than corner-store stuff (and I don't know where any of the corner stores are in relation to BV). You could probably get a house on some acreage for $200K, though, without too much of a problem and then you'd be on the west side of Putnam County and closer to the airport for your husband.

We were out at the airport just the other night and it's a good solid hour, maybe a bit more. The airport is right off the interstate, so your husband won't be wrestling with too much bad airport traffic. The other plus is that the airport is on the Cookeville side of Nashville, so you won't have too much Nashville traffic to deal with either (I've never seen any at the airport exit on I-40 but I avoid that area during rush hours, so that information has limited value).

If you are looking for more of a community with places to walk, you might find it tough to find a place to keep horses right in Cookeville, and that's where most of the good walking areas are. There are also places out north and west of the city limits that might work for you, though, and that would be a shorter drive to the city than BV would be. It would be a longer hike to the interstate, though. For acreage, Algood might be good for you. It's quieter than Cookeville but I like it just fine. I think we looked at a house out there that had 5 acres and horses for around $225K a few years ago--and it was a big house, more than 4000 sf. Prices have climbed since then.

Lots and lots of people walk at the track at Tech, and individual subdivisions will be good for that as well. That's where I prefer to walk. It's just beautiful in my subdivision; we really lucked out. Beautiful and quiet and not that expensive. We have almost two acres but we couldn't keep horses. I don't even know whether there are ordinances about that, actually. There are not an awful lot of busy roads that are not commercial, so if you live on acreage or in a subdivision, there will be lots of opportunities for you to walk right where you live.

And yes, you can live anywhere in Putnam county and drive your children to any school of your choosing within the county, but the Putnam County Commission seems to be making rumbling sounds about zoning and with the new school board, that might be a possibility sooner rather than later, which is something to think about if you tie your horses to Cookeville High. It's not at all overcrowded, by the way. And they do have the IB program (one of only 5 schools in the state but other schools are looking at it as the program grows in popularity), but there are an awful lot of people there who want to see it disappear. They spread misinformation and rumors (one being that it costs a million dollars a year to administer--it doesn't, this year it was $36K). I have told my children not to count on IB being there for them but to proceed as if it would be. There are certain courses that need to be taken in middle school (Spanish, essentially) in order to stay on track for an IB diploma.
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Old 03-14-2007, 05:53 PM
13,258 posts, read 38,934,071 times
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I looked it up, and you can have horses in the city of Cookeville but only if you have a minimum of 5 acres, and even then you're allowed one animal for every 1.5 acres.

But outside the city you can do whatever you want with your property. So if you find some acreage outside the city, even if it's just 2 acres, you can have horses.

The Nashville airport is at exit 216, and the first Cookeville exit is 286, so that's exactly 70 miles from exit to exit. Since the speed limit is 70 most of the way, in theory you should get to the airport right at an hour. If you live just west of Cookeville that'll put you a few miles closer.

The issue of school zoning in Putnam County comes up every few years as growth patterns in the county move from one area to another. But in the 30 years since I've been in and out of Putnam County, they've never actually imposed zoning, and I seriously doubt that they ever will. Before they ever inflict zoning on the good residents of Putnam County they'll probably kick out students from surrounding counties whose parents use work addresses or relatives' addresses in Putnam County so that their kids can go to Putnam County schools. That discussion comes up every few years, too, but in the end the school board pretty much leaves things the way they are.

I hope they keep the IB program at CHS, too. CHS was already a good school, but the IB program is definitely a big feather in their cap.
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Old 03-14-2007, 06:47 PM
Location: Northern CA but can't wait to get out!
203 posts, read 756,082 times
Reputation: 87
You guys are AWESOME! Thanks so much for sharing your information. I am incredibly excited about coming out to visit. I just wish I didn't have to wait until October. I'll do some more research on the smaller areas around Cookeville and see what I come up with. Thanks again.
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