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Nestled in the Lush Rolling Hills of Northeastern Tennessee, Charming Norris is Based on the English Garden City Design Movement of the 1890s and Has a Pretty Central Square
Near the edges of Norris Lake in the rolling hills of northeastern Tennessee, Norris (population 1,600) was built by the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) in 1933. It soon became a company town, occupied by workers who came to build nearby Norris dam, but today it draws second home owners and retirees in search of quiet country charm.
Norris is unique in that it was originally designed to demonstrate the benefits of cooperative living. To that end, TVA leaders looked to the English garden city design movement of the 1890s and built Norris' homes at angles to one another instead of in rows, constructed roads that followed the natural contours of the terrain, used local building materials and incorporated greenbelts as a design feature. The town was entirely walkable and had some of the first all-electric homes in the country. Today, Norris is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
The cost of living is 5% below the national average, and the median home price is $365,000, reflecting a 6% decrease since last year.
Forty-eight percent of the population is age 45 or better, and 55% of locals hold at least a four year college degree. Norris has grown 14% within the last decade, and the crime rate is well below the national average. Racial diversity has not yet arrived.
Residents cherish Norris' Norman Rockwell-like quality, with its colorful doll houses and cute town square. Evening concerts, a farmers' market and festivals in the square help create a sense of community, as does the walking trail that winds its way past nearly every residence in town. Traffic problems are non-existent.
The 2,400-acre Norris Municipal Watershed has hiking paths and horseback riding trails, and Norris Lake, with its 810 miles of shoreline and recreation areas, provides plenty of opportunities for hiking, picnicking or enjoying some solitude.
Real estate developments have popped up along the water, but retirement here remains low-key with much of it spent fishing (rockfish, walleye and bass), boating, enjoying the community theater or hanging out at the library.
And while Norris feels a thousand miles away from modern life, it is really a bedroom community of nearby Oak Ridge (population 27,000) and Knoxville (population 655,000 metro), so the staples of daily life, such as shopping areas, restaurants, museums, sporting venues and the rest, are just a few minutes away.
The nearest hospital, Methodist Medical Center in Oak Ridge, is just 12 miles down the road and has more than 300 beds. It is award winning, accepts Medicare patients and is accredited by the Joint Commission.
Norris does not have senior center, but the East Tennessee Human Resource Agency operates several centers in the county. The closest one to Norris is the Clinton Senior Center, about seven miles away.
On average, the area receive 55 inches of rain and an occasional dusting of snow each year. Summer temperatures are in the 80s and 90s, and winter temperatures are in the 30s, 40s and 50s. On the comfort index, a combination of temperature and humidity, Norris is just below the national average.
Recommended as a Retirement Spot? Yes | Is Tennessee Tax-Friendly at Retirement? Somewhat
Norris' scenic location, nearby lake recreation, low crime rate, pretty central square, community spirit, sense of history and proximity to a large city with amenities make it worth a look at retirement time.
Explorer DeSoto visited this area in 1540, and in 1763 England won the land by winning the Indian Wars. Early pioneers named the new state Franklin, and in the mid-1780s, the region was allowed to send representatives to the legislature. The state joined the union in 1796 and the Confederacy during the Civil War. Many residents remained pro-Union and the state was the scene of extensive fighting.
Today the majority of Tennessee locals live in urban areas. Textiles, chemicals, electrical machinery, leather goods and furniture are the state's primary products. Tennessee also produces a lot of tobacco, but other income is derived from dairy products, livestock, nursery and greenhouse products, as well as cotton.
A few of the state's points of interest are the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, the Hermitage (home of Andrew Jackson), the American Museum at Oak Ridge (atomic energy), three national military parks, and Rock City Gardens (in Chattanooga).
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