Note: Not all areas in these counties are considered rural.
Source: Multiple Listing Service
RURAL DEVELOPMENT LOANS
For eligibility information for the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Rural Development home ownership loans, visit www.rurdev.usda.gov or call 423-756-2239.
Rural living isn't just about being away from the city.
With developments about 30 minutes from Chattanooga in just about any direction, living in a rural area can be a draw for outdoor enthusiasts who enjoy activities such as hang gliding, canoeing and rafting.
"I have friends who live in Dunlap (Tenn.) because they like to hike," said Teresa Groves, executive officer of the Home Builders Association of Southern Tennessee.
Mountains, lakes and rivers can be a selling point for properties located on the outskirts, with many homeowners looking for properties that have extra appeal, according to Linda Green, loan officer for AgCredit's Chattanooga office.
"For the most part, they're looking for more land," she said. "But there is some impression that people are attracted to views. ... There's a lot of interest in property that has water."
In addition to larger land plots, living away from the city can bring a sense of peacefulness and a greater sense of safety, something that couples with children often think about, Green said.
"Those people who are really moving out into the rural areas, they want to bring their children up where they can play safely outside," she said. "We see a lot of families."
Groves said homes in rural areas such as Dayton, Dunlap and other places within outlying counties such as Sequatchie, Bledsoe, Rhea, McMinn, Marion and Polk fall into the $140,000 to $400,000 range.
However, home prices also can be much cheaper in these areas, depending on how far from a city they are located and whether they're within a subdivision, real estate experts said.
David Collett, director of the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Chattanooga area Rural Development Office, helps people obtain low-interest financing for homes in rural areas. He said areas such as Athens, South Pittsburg, Jasper and Kimball typically draw the most requests for such loans.
In 2010, the average home sale price in McMinn and Marion counties - where those cities are located - was $82,916 and $108,280, respectively.
In recent years, people who have moved to Tennessee from out of state have sought rural areas, according to Dan Griess, managing broker for Crye-Leike Real Estate Services in Ooltewah.
"We'll also sometimes see folks from the city who are at retirement age and they want to begin a new chapter in terms of looking for a place to spread out," he said. "There's always a desire for people to get more land."