The cost to live in Chattanooga, TN

Rolls of American money
Want to live somewhere else? It'll cost you. (Photo: Pexels)

Regardless of how it might feel sometimes, the cost of living in NOOGA is pretty low compared to other cities around us. That’s good news. 

Earlier this month, NOOGA was listed as one of the top 20 cities for young (i.e., millennial) home buyers by Clever Real Estate. Our mention on the list was most likely due to our lower-than-average median home prices, which are 27.5% below the national average. 

We did some more research (via Sperling’s Best Places, + NerdWallet) to see how NOOGA stacks up against some of our neighboring cities in housing + other categories — and here’s what we found. 

Knoxville | 1.4 % more expensive overall 

(Screenshot: Sperling’s Best Places)


Knoxville and Chattanooga are like two peas in a pod. Our populations are nearly identical (184,465 KNOX, 176,291 in NOOGA), so it’s no surprise the cost of living is remarkably similar. A notable difference, however, is in housing: Knoxville is 11.7% more expensive. 

Not a buyer? Average rental rates in NOOGA are $994 while Knoxville’s rate is $1,025 for the same 970 square-foot space. (In NOOGA, the most expensive rentals are in the Fortwood area (avg. $1,307), closer to UTC + downtown).

Atlanta | 25.2% more expensive overall

(Screenshot: Sperling’s Best Places)


Atlanta is the closest city (geographically) to NOOGA on this list, but it’s definitely more costly 25.2% more expensive than the Scenic City, in fact. The major difference for the two cities’ overall cost of living is, again,  housing, where Hotlanta is a whopping 68.1% higher. 

Living in a big city (Atlanta has 5.9 million people) is something you’ll have to pay a premium for. Sure, you’ll make more money, but a modest home that costs $140,000 in NOOGA will sell for $236,000 in Atlanta. But, go Falcons, right? 

It also costs more to travel because, let’s face it, 5.9 million people = a lot of cars on the road. 

Birmingham | 14.2% less expensive overall

(Screenshot: Sperling’s Best Places)


Ahhh, Alabama. There’s a bit of a caveat with this one, though, so hold tight. 

The cost-of-living difference in Birmingham was astonishing for us at first glance, but we then discovered that the metrics we were looking at did not factor in some of the surrounding neighborhoods in B-Hamsuch as Mountain Brook and Vestavia Hills. For example, housing in Birmingham proper is 54.3% less than Chattanooga, but Mountain Brook (which is right outside the Ham) is 347.2% MORE than Nooga. You read that right. The median home price in Mountain Brook is $642,000

So, while it’s true that Birmingham is less expensive than NOOGA, there are pockets near the city that are astronomically more expensive. Roll Tide that money right out of your pockets.

Nashville | 19.7% more expensive overall

(Screenshot: Sperling’s Best Places)


No surprises here. Life in the state capital is moderately more expensive than Chattanooga, and yet again —  the major difference comes in the housing category, where Nashville is 78.6% more pricey. Another surprising difference is in healthcare, where Chattanooga is 18.1% more expensive. 

The key takeaway here: Chattanooga as a whole is significantly less expensive than most of the larger cities — not only in our region but across the nation as well. 

For example, Chattanooga is 127% less expensive than New York City, with the Big Apple being more pricey in every category other than healthcare. Additionally, San Francisco (a city notorious for heart-stopping high housing rates) is 230.5% more expensive than NOOGA overall but 849.1% more expensive when it comes to housing.