So we did a thing.
My daughter and I moved to Chattanooga, Tennessee for the summer, and MAN was it a rollercoaster! I never thought I’d actually do something like pack my things and move to a completely different state, but the idea of it being temporary was very appealing to me. I didn’t know if I could do it. I’ve always wanted to, but I didn’t know if I could ACTUALLY pull it off.
I am lucky enough to have summers off being a teacher, and also being a single mother, we had nothing holding us back! The opportunity presented itself on a shiny golden platter and it was impossible to say no!
Here’s how it went down:
I searched online for a summer camp job that I could not only work at, but my daughter could attend as well. I applied to a few different ones in the area. I had a few facetime interviews until I got hired with Chattanooga’s Downtown YMCA. They offered me the assistant coordinator position and an employee discount for my daughter to attend. Score!
The only way I could make it happen is if I found a short term lease furnished apartment that was in my budget. The amount I made each month from the summer camp would cover my rent. I made $9.75 an hour and worked 30 hours a week (give or take) which paid for my rent which was $1200/month (I know, pricey). I searched high and low for something cheaper, but all other furnished apartments had a 3 month lease minimum. So at The Reserve at Lakeshore, we rented a studio apartment on the lake. It had a huge pool, it was clean, people were friendly, staff was accommodating, and I wouldn’t have wanted to stay anywhere else. We loved it there!
Before we left I decided to cancel my cable and internet. I forwarded my mail to my new address with a start and end date. I gave my dad a spare key to look after the house. My awesome sister and step mother babysat the guinea pig. I had my car serviced with new tires and fresh oil. I turned all lights and AC off so I wouldn’t have much of an electricity bill (it ended up being about $35 a month). Since the apartment was furnished with the basics, we just packed clothes, toiletries, electronics, games, books, art supplies, DVDs, and a few other odds and ends, and we headed for the hills! When we got there, I decided not to purchase the month to month internet option because it was way overpriced. So yes, we went ALL summer with no cable or internet! Good old fashioned DVDs are all we had.
Adventures to Last a Lifetime
With me also getting paid my monthly teacher salary, I was still able to pay my normal bills (car, insurance, mortgage, etc.) with the leftover being our adventure fund! We obviously had to budget because let’s be honest, teacher’s aren’t rich! Most of the things we did were free like hiking, going to the park, running, festivals, swimming at the pool (which we did A LOT). The majority of our days were spent at the YMCA Summer Camp anyways! We made a summer bucket list as soon as we got there. We researched all the great hiking trails, good food joints, and any other fun excitement we just HAD to do! Here is what our list consisted of, and yes, we checked every single one off!
Fun activities in Chattanooga:
- Chattanooga Lookouts Baseball Game
- Creative Discovery Museum
- Rock City
- Highpoint Rock Climbing (my daughter’s personal favorite)
- Chickamauga Dam
- Tennessee Riverpark (for all the runners of the world)
- Riverbend Fest
- Hike Point Park to Sunset Rock
- 4th of July Celebration at West Village
- Bowling at Southside Social
- Ice cream and the Walnut Street Bridge
- Movies in the Park (Moana)
- Chester Frost Park (my personal favorite)
- Chattanooga Farmer’s Market
- Nashville, TN- Adventure Science Center, Parthenon, Downtown, Opryland Hotel
- Gatlinburg, TN- Great Smokey National Park, Clingman’s Dome
- Atlanta, GA- Ice cream Fest, Skyline Park, Antico pizza
Great food and coffee joints:
- Rembrandt’s Coffee
- Stonecup Coffee
- Velo Coffee
- Flying Squirrel
- The Feed Co. Table and Tavern
- Frothy Monkey
- Clumpie’s Ice Cream
- Ben and Jerry’s Ice Cream
Although, it wasn’t always a smooth ride. Navigating the area and acclimating to the laid back Tennessee culture was a bit of a challenge at times, and of course, we missed our loved ones back home. FaceTime was our savior! I am eternally grateful for being able to embark on this two month adventure with my sweet girl. Seeing the constant smile on her face is something that will always be ingrained in my memory. The amount of love and laughter that was shared between us strengthened our bond and overflowed our hearts.
It was truly a summer to remember.