Pickin’ in East Tennessee

People around here buy and sell anything from lamps to antique mason jars…

Rural East Tennesseans are no strangers to the “gettin’ it done” mentality. Only a few short generations ago, it took hours—even days, for those living way up in the hills—of arduous travel just to get to the nearest town of any size. So, if you needed farm implements, kitchen staples or even clothes, you made very certain you loaded up on all you could in that semi-annual trip to town.

As a result of living so remotely, people in East Tennessee made do with what they had. They learned to make just about everything with what was available: barrels, boats, furniture, homes, clothes, preserves … you name it, it could pretty much be conjured with some hard work and creativity. And, people didn’t throw away anything that had some kind of use left in it!

These days, of course, just about anything a body could need is a short drive into town or a decisive click of the computer mouse away. But that creative philosophy of life never quite left folks in this part of the world. One of the best results of this is a thriving flea market economy. People around here buy and sell anything from lamps to antique mason jars, and if you’re willing to spend the time hunting, you can find what you need. (Or what you didn’t even know you needed!) And, of course, the hunt is most of the fun!

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Some flea markets, like the Porter Flea in Nashville, are an annual event, worth the pilgrimage if you want to combine a vacation with a pickin’ trip. Others are closer to our neck of the woods, like the Centre Brick Indoor Flea Market in New Tazewell or the Green Acres Flea Market in Louisville (near the airport, just outside of Knoxville.)

If yard sales get your creative gears cranking, there are plenty of events in Tennessee for you. Every weekend in the summer, sometimes starting as early as Thursday morning, you can find yard sales. If it’s a big event you’re looking for, Tennessee has annual yard sale events that stretch for miles along our highways! A little bit west of here, in Fentress County, there is the annual 127 Corridor yard sale. This one’s coming up: August 3-6, 2017. It actually stretches from Addison, Michigan, to Chattanooga, Tennessee! Next spring, plan for the U.S. 11 Antique Alley and Yard Sale, which runs from Meridian, Missouri to Bristol, Virginia.

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Need a little inspiration for what to do with your newfound trash-to-treasure? Check out this article from Good Housekeeping. You can turn out-of-date end tables into a Lego brick paradise, colanders into planters, and jars and cans into anything from candle holders to terrariums. If something has “good bones,” you can find a fantastic use for it! And, really, nothing makes a house into a home more than the hand-made touch.

So, get pickin’! And, if you see a property you like while you’re out searching for antiques and up-cycle projects, visit DarleneReeves-Kline.com. We’ll be happy to help you find your East Tennessee home!

Millenials and Home-Buying

For many millenials, the American Dream has lost some of its luster.

The American Dream used to be all about owning your own house, where your family can be safe and sound with a white picket fence out front. But, for many millenials, the American Dream has lost some of its luster.

Millenials today (this group has a mushy definition: anyone born between 1977 and 2000, according to some) face a lot of challenges in the house-buying arena.

Bidding Wars

In some markets, competing with other, established homeowners for desirable homes is a losing battle: previous homeowners with good credit usually have more equity from a previous home and more money saved for a down payment, as well as an established financial history. On top of this, houses are getting very expensive around the nation! (Click here for an article about how this affects millenials.) In some areas of the country, such as urban California, houses are valued so high it’s almost impossible to win the bidding war. Sellers often make tens of thousands more dollars than the listing price!

Financial Burden

A major roadblock for millenials trying to buy a home is difficulty in getting home loans, which is in part due to another difficulty: high student loan debt. (We published an article here about financial assistance with buying a first home.) Many millenials feel they just can’t afford a house payment in addition to their other debts, or can’t afford to save for the down payment.

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Relief in Sight!

In East Tennessee, mortgage prices are often the same, or lower, than rent. Housing prices around here are so comfortable, it makes sense (if you’re planning to stay in the area for more than three years ) to invest in owning a home. And, especially in rural areas, it’s easy to get down payment assistance from government loan programs. Plus, when you make mortgage payments on time for more than three years, it’s just like putting money in an equity bank. When you’re ready to move, you can sell your home and roll over the equity into a down payment on a new house. (Or use the money for whatever you need it for.)

Don’t Forget the Dog!

Of course, buying a home is about more than just financial considerations. A home is an emotional and time commitment, too! What kind of lifestyle are you looking for? Millenials often have a different answer from Boomers, when it comes to lifestyle. For example, this article says that millenials are more influenced by their dog than any other reason when it comes to buying a home. Sure, extra space for the family is nice, as well as the idea of investing in real estate and being more fiscally responsible, but having a more stable place for the family pooch wins out over what we consider the more traditional reasons for buying a home.

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Home ownership might not make sense in other places, but here in East Tennessee, low home cost (and low cost of living,) options for down payment assistance and the chance to invest in your family’s future make buying a home a great option.

Whatever your reason is for house hunting in East Tennessee, check out DarleneReeves-Kline.com to get started.

Historic Appalachia: Resort Hot Spot!

Appalachia was the vacation spot of choice for droves of travelers in the late-19th and early-20th centuries.

Travel is so easy nowadays. All we have to do to get out of town is hop in the car, gas it up and drive down the interstate. Or, we can head to the McGee-Tyson Airport in Alcoa (just outside Knoxville) and hop on a two-hour flight to Florida for palm trees and sandy beaches. It wasn’t so long ago—less than two generations—that travel was very difficult, time-consuming and expensive! In that era of days-long train travel, the upper-middle-class of America came by the car-load (train car, that is) to Appalachia.

You read right: Appalachia was the vacation spot of choice for droves of travelers in the late-19th and early-20th centuries. Many leisure travelers lived inside cities, where industry was concentrated, so to get outside the brick-and-cobble jungle was a real treat for body and soul. In fact, during our country’s Industrial Revolution, medical doctors prescribed trips to the green, coal-smokeless hills of North Carolina and Tennessee on a regular basis. (That’s how the Vanderbilts ended up in Asheville: a trip for clean air away from railway smoke.)

The little towns of Dandridge, Morristown and Bean Station all had their tourist spots. Oh, they’d never give Dollywood a run for their money, but in their heyday the rural hot springs and bed-and-breakfasts did a pretty good business. Some of these places still retain a glint of their former allure. You can go there and walk, or sit awhile and see a glimpse of what it might have been like to enjoy the finest of rural American vacations at the turn of last century.

Dandridge

This gem of a town still retains its hardy brick buildings, some over a hundred and fifty years old. Although the TVA dammed the river nearby to flood most of the richest farmland, changing the landscape surrounding the town, many historic homes and businesses remain intact.

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Bean Station

Not much remains of the Tate House Springhouse resort these days; the 500-guest hotel was demolished years ago. There is still a lovely spring, though, and the pavilion is a local favorite spot for prom and wedding photo shoots. Its close proximity to the lake makes this a sweet little spot to stop by for a picnic.

Clinton

Part of the “White Lighting Trail,” this little town just outside Knoxville has a great, historic downtown ripe for strolling and enjoying a meal. Plus, if you like antiquing, this place holds some fabulous treasures.

Morristown

The General Longstreet Museum, Crockett Tavern Museum and Rose Center for the Arts all hold turn-of-last-century allure, giving a glimpse into the life and times of those who lived, loved and made a life in Morristown pre- and post-civil war.

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Modern vacation tastes often run to bright lights and rich foods, exciting rides and never-seen-before entertainment. We could take a page from vacationers of yore, who took a prescription for cleaner, Appalachian air and headed away from the overstimulating city for the noise of cicadas and crickets, the gentle breezes and distractions of a good game of lawn croquet.

Interested in owning your own little piece of history? Go to DarleneReeves-Kline.com to find properties for sale in lovely East Tennessee.

Cost of Living: By the Numbers

Let’s break down the cost difference between a more expensive city and Morristown, Tennessee.

By now, you’ve probably heard that Tennessee has one of the most favorable cost of living vs. quality of life ratings in the whole country. We decided to break down what this means in terms of real things you’re likely to buy.

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If you’re moving from the Albany, New York metro area to Morristown, Tennessee, you’re about to be pleasantly surprised at how far your money goes. According to this cost comparison calculator, you can take about a 17% decrease in household income, and maintain the same quality of life you had up north.

That means if your household brought in $50,000.00, you could make less than $41,500.00 and still enjoy life! Conversely, that means if your income stays the same after you move, you’ll have 17% more value out of your money to save or take an extra vacation. That’s great news if you’re considering moving for work with the same salary, or if you’re one of the many retirees who have discovered that your fixed income would go much farther in our beautiful part of the country.

How do things like mortgages and groceries compare between New York and East Tennessee?

Let’s look at a few examples:

According to the cost of living calculator, the average home price in Albany is $397,060.67. The price for a comparable home in Morristown, Tennessee: $235,086.33. The difference: $161,974.33

That’s a huge difference! The great news is that Morristown has a great market of beautiful homes for someone looking to upgrade, downgrade or just get into their first home. It’s a diverse market in more than just price; lake homes, mini (or big!) farms, subdivisions … Morristown has a lot to offer.

What about daily living? Here’s how groceries compare:

Lettuce in Albany: $1.83 In Morristown: $1.43 Difference: $0.40

Canola Oil in Albany: $3.76 In Morristown: $2.95 Difference: $0.80

Dozen Eggs in Albany: $2.65 In Morristown: $2.26 Difference: $0.39

Coffee in Albany: $4.40 In Morristown: $4.20 Difference: $0.20

If that’s all you needed to buy this trip to the store, you’ve saved $1.79.

This is just a sampling, but you can definitely see how even a few dollars per grocery trip can add up to hundreds by the end of the year! That’s money that can go toward a trip to Dollywood, or back into your investment account to earn even more money. (And, don’t worry, if you need a good banker: we have plenty of those, too.)

There’s a lot more to love about our area than just lower cost of living. Remember that part we mentioned about good quality of life? We have all four seasons here in East Tennessee, with gorgeous spring flowers, stunning autumn leaves, lush, green summers and just enough winter weather to leave us all refreshed and ready for warmth again.

Let’s do a quick winter weather comparison between Albany and Morristown.

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The average high temperature for January and February in Albany is 31 degrees and 35 degrees Fahrenheit, respectively. For Morristown: 46 and 51 degrees are the average high for January and February. The numbers prove it: our winters are much milder down here!

Between mild weather and lower costs, we’ve got what it takes to live life a little easier around here.

If you’re interested in finding out more about homes for sale in East Tennessee, visit DarleneReeves-Kline.com.

Fixer Uppers!

We put together a few tips to consider when you’re looking for a fixer upper!

With the explosion of popularity of the HGTV show “Fixer Upper,” thousands more homebuyers are on the hunt for the gem hidden behind a facade of neglect or just bad design choices from years gone by (ahem: baby food-green shag carpet, anyone?)

Not every house is worth fixing up, though! For every one house that hides gleaming wood floors underneath threadbare carpets, you could view three that have severe water damage or a foundation so bad you’ll want to hightail it out of the house for fear the whole thing will crash down on your head!

How can you get a ride on the fixer upper train? We’ve pulled together a few tips to help you get started. Read on to find out more!

Foundations

We decided to start at the bottom because, arguably, it’s the most important part of the house. If your house has a bad foundation, you’ve got the real estate equivalent of a game of Russian Roulette. It could be easily fixed with the addition of metal columns to shore up the concrete blocks. OR, you could discover it will take upwards of $50,000 to completely jack up the house, remove the unstable foundation and replace it with a working one. The problem is, you might not know what you have on your hands until you start (literally) digging in.

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The solution? Train your eyes to check out cracks and settling in the foundation. Is the roof line less than true? It could be a bad roof, or it could be the result of a foundation sinking on one side, bringing the rest of the house with it. Obvious, big cracks in the mortar of the foundation? Red flag. And always, always, get a professional’s opinion on the state of the house.

Tip: It might be a good idea to view the house after a strong storm. If water is coming into the basement, you’ll be able to see it in action.

Roof

We mentioned the top of the house already. A sturdy roof is very important in maintaining your home. It keeps out the weather and unwanted critters, but a good roof also keeps the house insulated: warmer in the winter and cooler in the summer. Get up there and look at it! Are the shingles bald? Crumbly? Are there dips in the roof?

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Even if the shingles need replacing, you can sometimes get away with just putting a fresh layer on top of the old ones. If you need a whole new roof, it will set you back thousands. That might not be a deal breaker, especially if you can put in the labor yourself.

Bones

Does the house “speak to you?” Can you see a vision of your future in it? Maybe if you knock down a wall there, add a window in over here … if the layout of the house is absolutely terrible, you might be able to open it all up. Or, you might realize you’d basically have to rebuild the entire structure to get it how you want it.

Feeling inspired to look for your next diamond in the rough? Visit DarleneReeves-Kline.com and let’s get started!

Day in the Life of a Tennessee Retiree

We interviewed a real retiree to find out what her life is like in East Tennessee.

We’ve written a lot about how great our corner of Tennessee is for retiree living. You already know about the low taxes, amazing scenery, fun festivals, parks and lakes to check out. We’ve even told you about how much more house you can get for your money compared to other states!

But what does a real retiree’s day look like in these parts? We interviewed one to find out.

J. lives in Morristown. She recently downsized from a two hundred acre farm to six acres just off the beaten path. She spent her professional life as a public schoolteacher. J. was gracious enough to give us a sample schedule of one of her recent days. Read on to find out more!

A Day in the Retirement Life of J.

7 a.m.: Wake up, get my morning cup of coffee and enjoy it on my back deck. The sunrise is absolutely amazing, full of orange and pink this morning! I hear birds chirping and the neighbor’s cows come over to moo hello from over the fence. It’s such a great morning, I decide to get another cup of coffee and enjoy it with the newspaper.

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8 a.m.: Time to go to the gym. It’s only about a ten minute drive to my favorite one in Morristown. I go at least three times a week. Sometimes more, if I have time. I prefer spin and yoga classes.

9:30 a.m.: After exercise and grabbing a few groceries in town, the weather is still nice enough to work out in my garden. I recently completed my Master Gardener class through the University of Tennessee extension service. I’m trying to get my shade garden up to snuff. My roses look great this year!

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11 a.m.: After an early lunch on the front porch, I might take a few minutes to read a book on my Kindle or take a nap. I prefer the front porch for this time of day; it’s shadier and cooler. It catches a great breeze, too.

1:30 p.m.: I’m getting ready to head over to Rogersville for a painting class at the gallery. I started painting after retirement, and the art community in the area is fantastic: supportive, creative and fun! I prefer impressionist paintings, myself. I have a particularly challenging barn picture I’m working on, and my teacher is great about showing me what it needs to really get it finished.

3:30 p.m.: After my art class, I stop in to a couple thrift stores on my way back home. I like to keep stocked up on play clothes for my grandkids, when they come over. Sometimes I help them paint some pictures, or dig around in the garden. They usually get dirty somehow at Grandma’s house!

4:30 p.m.: My husband reminded me of a free music concert going on at the park in Morristown. We’re off to enjoy the show and grab a bite of supper after!

 

Thanks for letting us get a peek into your day, J!

 

As always, check out DarleneReeves-Kline.com for more info about how you can enjoy retirement in East Tennessee.

Two of the Coolest Bugs in East Tennessee

Plants, animals and bugs (and people!) of many varieties thrive in East Tennessee.

East Tennessee is a vibrant, lush place to live. Plants, animals and bugs (and people!) of many varieties thrive here. If you’re drawn to the outdoors, like many Tennessee residents are, you’ve probably noticed a few interesting species. On this week’s blog we’re featuring two species of bugs you’re sure to encounter soon, if you haven’t seen them already!

Fireflies

Fireflies, or lightning bugs, are not an unusual sight for anyone living in the southeast part of the United States. But, for those moving in from western states like Montana or Colorado, fireflies seem truly magical! We have lots of these glowy creatures. We have a great climate for them, as well as plenty of places for them to live, since they like the damp, rotting wood that’s found on the floors of our forests.

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This is a great firefly habitat!

Here are a few fun facts about fireflies: it’s usually the males who fly around, signaling to find mates. The females are what we think of as “glow worms,” and they are usually very different from males. They don’t have wings, and instead look like grubs on the ground (similar to larvae, actually.) They glow their own kinds of signals to the males. In the Great Smoky Mountains, there is a special place where fireflies synchronize. It’s a pretty amazing sight! The woods go from very dark to completely lit up in pops of light. You have to buy tickets to reserve a spot to see these amazing creatures.

But, you can still enjoy your own lovely backyard firefly show during the summer months. They might not synchronize, but it’s still a magical sight.

Cicadas

These creatures are fascinating, because they have either 13- or 17-year life cycles. They have a distinct, rise-and-fall whine that tunes up at night during the spring months, lasting far into the summer. Usually, 17-year cicadas live in northern states and 13-year cicadas live in southern states. Because of Tennessee’s location, we get both 13 and 17-year cicadas.

The cicada life cycle is fascinating. The female lays eggs in slits in trees, which then hatch in six or seven weeks. The nymphs make their way into the soil to live and eat tree sap from roots for 13 or 17 years, before coming back up to the surface and morphing into adults. If you look for them, you can see the nymph skins left behind on tree trunks and sides of buildings. (Kids are great at spotting these!) Adults are colorful, with black-veined wings and bright red eyes. They don’t bite.

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Listen for cicadas tuning up after sunset!

You might be worried about cicadas harming your saplings, and you’d be right. Cicada nymphs under the soil don’t noticeably hurt trees, but adult females laying her eggs in trees can cause damage during this process. Check out this website for more information about how to protect your trees from cicada damage.

If you’re interested in finding about more about living in East Tennessee, please check out DarleneReeves-Kline.com.