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Long-Term Stay: Chattanooga or Knoxville?

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Hey all, new to the forums here :) Going to be doing a fair amount of traveling for the next several years and you folks seem a good lot to know ;)

The fiance and I have decided to pack up and explore the country (and then the rest of the globe!), spending roughly six months in each location depending on how the wind blows.

Our first stop is Tennessee, and we couldn't be more excited, neither of us having spent much/any time in TN before. We've narrowed down our search to between Chattanooga and Knoxville- having heard that although Nashville is a really cool place to visit, it might not be great longer term... and we can visit Nashville from either other city.

We plan on arriving in Tennessee the beginning of May and staying through the summer, heading to Stop Number 2 in September/October.

A bit about us/what we're looking for:
- We're young-ish? (I'm in my early 20's, he in his late), from New England, and pretty liberal, I'm a vegetarian (he eats anything), but that being said the whole point of our travels is to explore new places and the people who come with them... though we don't want to subject ourselves to too extreme of a culture shock- anything TN is gonna be shock enough I'd imagine ;)
- We enjoy a fair amount of nightlife, both for enjoying and for working. Non-chain, local-grown, mom & pop places are our preference- we want to explore the places we're visiting, not the national franchises ;)
- We like the outside- hiking, camping, etc. We have a big goofy pup who enjoys these things too. If there's seasonal work in that area (ziplining, rafting, etc) that's a big draw as well.
- I'm a fairly serious horseback rider so if anyone has any input on that arena (pun FULLY intended) that would also be greatly appreciated!
- We're planning on doing a bunch of day and overnight trips as well, really explore as much as we can.

Sorry this has been so long! I guess I probably could have just said "Best combo of tourist town and resident life- Chatt or Knox?", but I'm a talker ;)

Thanks all!
Mickie

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