Winding Down Our Chattanooga Life

We moved to Chattanooga from Salt Lake City 8.5 years ago to get within driving distance of our family. We had a toddler at the time and knew more kiddos were in the plan, so we wanted to get closer to grandparents during that period of life when our children would be tiny and constantly changing. My parents had driven through Chattanooga, TN on their way from Illinois to Florida and said it seemed “nice”. We had visited a friend there for a climbing trip a couple years prior and it seemed like an decent town. We figured it would be worth it to at least check it out.

You could say we kind of moved here on a whim.We came here for a weekend, liked what we saw and then wound up putting an offer on a house and moving across country 2 months later. Our life in Chattanooga has changed dramatically since that move. We started out living in a suburb about 30 minutes from the city center. We had just our first daughter, Emily, at the time and both of us were working from home. We were pretty isolated, with a small group of friends and practically no involvement in the Chattanooga community. We were here to be closer to family while we popped out babies and didn’t plan on staying more than 4 or 5 years.

But eventually we really fell in love with this city. After living here for a couple years, I took a job with a nonprofit, we moved to the downtown area and then we were blown away by what Chattanooga had to offer a young family. Free concerts and family events throughout the year, museums of all kinds, free transportation on the electric shuttle, a beautiful art district, a growing tech community, amazing outdoor activities, and lot of open-minded creative people. Chattanooga has been called the “Can Do Community”, and over the last few years I’ve been lucky enough to be one of the “Can Do” people working together to bring about change in education and workforce development. I’ve met colleagues that have shaped me as a professional and friends who have forever changed me as a person.

The decision to leave this town and the many friends, colleagues and aquaintances we’ve made here has been one of the hardest decisions of our life. I think I’m in a bit of denial, to be honest. The flurry of activity involved in transitioning my work and community activities has occupied my attention enough that I don’t seem to be really acknowledging the fact we will be physically leaving this town exactly one month from today.

I keep telling myself that the miracle of social media will keep us connected to the lives of the people we’ve come to know and love here. I’m sure it will hit me in the face next week when I stop working and begin the full-time job of selling most of our stuff, packing the rest and planning our next phase of our life. That’s when the reality of all this will catch up with me.

I will realize that we are actually leaving our friends. I am actually walking away from a rewarding and fun career. Our kids will actually be homeschooled (God, help me). All of this is ACTUALLY happening.

But until then…I will continue to just enjoy our awesome life in Chattanooga as much as possible. 30 days and counting….


About the Author

Tracey Carisch

Mom, wife, friend and change agent traveling the world with my family to learn our place in it. After spending a career in organizational change management and community initiative implementation, I put my career on hold for our family's trip around the world. In April of 2014 we sold almost everything we own, put the rest in a storage container, and departed on this journey. While my husband continued his software development work to financially support our trip, I planned and documented our adventure, homeschooled our three daughters, and found volunteer work opportunities for us to do in the communities we visit. Now that we've returned to the U.S., I'm completing book about our family's adventure and our lessons learned.

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