Living Like a Local at Tellico Village

Tellico Village Boating TN

RELOCATING TO TENNESSEE

Over the summer, we had the opportunity to spend a month at Tellico Village and experience ‘living like a local’ in Eastern Tennessee. We chose the 2014 Happiest Community of the Year for obvious reasons and frankly, we like being around happy people. Tellico Village borders Tellico Lake, a 15,000 acre mountain-fed lake in the foothills of the Smokies and on fringes of Knoxville. If you’re considering relocating to Tennessee, living on Tellico Lake is by far one of the best places to live in Tennessee.

Everything one could desire is in or near the Village. Development of the lakefront community began back in the 1980’s and continues to improve to this day. We credit the proactive leadership and huge volunteer base with the community’s ongoing success. If something’s broken, it’s fixed. If something’s desired, it’s voted on and built. Budgets are closely monitored while membership fees remain low, at around $112 a month. As of May 2015, Tellico Village has 3,519 single family homes and 326 townhouses in the community. Another 54 homes were under construction during our stay. Property owners in the village couldn’t be happier. Maybe rising property values for the first time in years adds to their smiles. Homes sold in 2015 are averaging  $371,000 and the highest price paid is $1.45 million.

We spent as much time as we could right at home, ’living like a local’ at one of the area’s finest waterfront retirement communities. During the early morning hours we counted deer on the golf course, listened to the birds sing and waved hello to the morning walkers. At night, we caught fireflies, counted the stars and tasted Tennessee moonshine. 

FUN & FITNESS

There is no better time than at retirement to fill the day with outdoor activities. In the Casey family, hiking outdoors and boating rank up on the top of the list. We heard about the East Lakeshore Trail which stretches for 30 miles along Tellico Lake and decided to venture here first. The well maintained trail system was built by group of volunteers over a period of 12 years and weaves through the forest rising up to scenic outlooks. It’s peaceful and beautiful. The pet friendly trail can easily be reached by boat or by car. 

After an invigorating hike, we were thrilled to experience the sparkling warm waters of Tellico Lake. The lake is one of the cleanest lakes in Tennessee and continues to get better. It’s no wonder the lake is enjoyed by boaters, jet skiers and people floating on rafts in the secluded coves. Many of the homes at the village have private boat houses and docks behind the homes. The more playful have water slides into the lake and floating trampolines. The Villagers clearly enjoy one of the best places to live in Tennessee.

Tellico Village has three marinas on the lake. Folks have access to community docks and the community’s new innovative floating kayak launch and kayak storage. Even though the community is over 30 years old, the Villagers keep improving, building and expanding resident amenities. We worked out several times at the Tellico Village Wellness & Fitness Center. It’s huge! New walking trails were added around the outside center as well as approximately $100k invested into new strength training equipment. The center has an indoor jogging track, lap swimming pool overlooking the Smokies and extensive cardio and weight training equipment. Last year, the Village added new pickleball courts which were busy with activity. The Tellico Village Pickleball Club has more than 400 active members in the club. The village is one of the most active waterfront retirement communities we’ve seen.

The three golf courses at the village kept us quite busy. Our rental home overlooked the 18th hole of the Toqua golf course. We played the Tanasi and Kahite courses too. Each course is different, all with rolling hills, beautiful lake views and views of the Smokies. If an active lifestyle is important when relocating to Tennessee, you’ll find it and more at the village.

FOOD & DRINK

The Tellico Village Yacht Club is always hustling and bustling with activity and tasty food. We dined here many times because the food was excellent and decently priced. The club has live entertainment and dancing on the weekends, along with themed events such as Whiskey Wednesday. The two story clubhouse offers spectacular views of the lake and marina. 

Every other Wednesday during the summer months, the parking lot of the yacht club transforms into a local Farmer’s Market. We purchased fresh organic produce, fabulous flowers, homemade relish, smelly soaps and wine. We enjoyed meeting all the locals learning where they came from, how they found the village and what they’re up to now.

We had just as much fun exploring nearby one-of-a-kind farms and a smokehouse. Sweetwater Valley Farm and Benton’s Country Hams are both award winning family-owned facilities. Since then, we’ve had Benton’s Country Hams ship us more of their mouthwatering bacon and prosciutto.

Back at the 19th hole of the Toqua golf course, the cafe made a mean juicy burger and savory tuna melt. Toqua has a new open-air pavilion with a stone fireplace overlooking the golf course. It seats up to 150 people for wedding and social events. 

EXPLORING BEYOND THE VILLAGE

Knoxville was our biggest surprise. Who knew this historic city had so much to offer? Market Square is located in the hub of the city and is where you’ll find outdoor stage performances and a fabulous weekly Farmer’s Market. In fact, it’s one of the largest we’ve seen and parking in many of the garages is free. We found everything we expected plus food trucks and live entertainment.

Our first stop in the city was at the Knoxville Visitors Center for the free daily Blue Plate Special, a ‘live’ musical performance from noon to 1pm broadcasted nationally on FM radio. Artists and performers change every day. Just down the street, we caught another free monthly performance at the historic Tennessee Theatre. And  a tad bit further is another Knoxville staple, the Bijou Theatre where we attended a musical comedy by WordPlayers that ended in a standing ovation. 

We couldn’t help climbing (by elevator) the 266 high golden glass golf ball called the Sunsphere, the symbol of the 1982 World’s Fair. The park at the base of sphere is decorated by a lazy river, outdoor amphitheater and Veterans memorial. The Tennessee River runs through the heart of the city and by the super-sized University of Tennessee’s Neyland Stadium. We stumbled upon Calhoun’s on the River for more free live music. The waterfront restaurant adjacent to the stadium is great place to people and boat watch.

The Five on Gay Street drew us back there twice over the course of the month for their sassy jazz brunch featuring a five piece soul band, self serve Bloody Mary station and authentic southern food. Stock & Barrel in Market Square is another Casey honorable mention and is where one can taste almost a 100 bourbons and whiskeys. Bourbon lovers, be sure to bring your wallet because you’ll have the chance to taste the very best.

On the opposite side of Tellico Village are two of Tennessee's best state parks: 

  • Cummins Falls State Park - home to a Top 10 Waterfall in America
  • Cumberland Caverns State Park - home to the monthly Bluegrass concerts 300 feet underground

Pictures say a 1,000 words. See for yourself:  Living Like a Local Image Gallery

All in all, the month went by fast. We we're not able to do all the things we wanted to but we went home happier because of all the wonderful experiences. We couldn’t get over how many things are free or cost very little in Tennessee, important attributes in waterfront retirement communities. We observed first hand that folks considering relocating to Tennessee can easily live on a fixed income.

Tellico Village exudes southern hospitality and is one of the best places to live in Tennessee. You'll find endless smiles, scenic beauty and affordable living in all budgets. But don’t just listen to me, see for yourself. Contact Tellico Village directly to check on Discovery Package availability so you can experience ‘living like a local’ at the village. 

Call Tellico Village at 888.287.0676.

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