published Tuesday, December 17th, 2013

Signal Mountain rated best place to live in Tennessee

BEST PLACES IN TENNESSEE

• 1. Signal Mountain

• 2. Brentwood

• 3. Barlett

• 4. Germantown

• 5. Farragut

• 6. Lakeland

• 7. Nolensville

• 8. Spring Hill

• 9. Oakland

• 10. Collierville

HOW OTHER AREA CITIES RANKED

• 31. Harrison

• 34. Soddy-Daisy

• 40. Collegedale

• 43. East Ridge

• 66. Chattanooga

Source: Movoto Real Estate

Bill Lusk said his parents brought their family from Tampa, Fla., to Signal Mountain 45 years ago "kicking and screaming."

Now, the Signal Mountain mayor said there are few places with which the town compares -- and a new study agrees.

The town of 7,700 was picked Monday as the best place to live in Tennessee, according to the national real estate firm Movoto.

Signal Mountain parlayed top 10 scores in categories such as high school graduation, median income, home value, employment and crime to garner the No. 1 rank.

Chattanooga rated 66th among 105 Tennessee cities on Movoto's list, the lowest of Tennessee's major cities. Crime hurt the Scenic City as it ranked 90th for instances of crime. Chattanooga rated 45th in home value and 58th in median income.

Overall rankings of other big cities in Tennessee included Nashville, 30; Knoxville, 50; Memphis, 60.

One area where Signal Mountain scored poorly was in rental rates. The town has some of the highest such rates in the state, with an average price of $1,250 per month, the study showed.

But, Lois Killebrew, broker-owner of Mountain City Realtors and Management Co. on Signal Mountain, said she helps people relocate to the Chattanooga area from across the country, and she's not surprised at Signal's overall score.

"I tell them Signal Mountain is a sophisticated Mayberry," she said, citing the mythical North Carolina town on The Andy Griffith Show. "It's still laid back, but it's still highly sought after."

Both Lusk and Killebrew cited the mountain's schools, including the construction of Signal Mountain Middle/High School. Citizens voted last decade to temporarily increase their taxes to help finance the school's construction.

"Parents are very involved in schools on the mountain," Killebrew said. "When you have parental involvement, you'll have good schools."

Lusk cited Signal's low crime rate, adding that the town's police department "gets a bad rap for being too good at their jobs."

The study showed the crime rate on Signal is 708 crimes per 100,000 residents. That compares to Crossville, Tenn., where the rate is 12,606 crimes per 100,000 people, the study said.

Lusk said he's flattered that Signal Mountain rates favorably with other cities which ranked high, such as Brentwood near Nashville and Germantown outside Memphis.

Travis Sawrie, a Movoto public relations associate, said the study looked at cities with more than 5,000 people in the seven categories.

"This was our first time doing Tennessee," Sawrie said. "We might revisit it next year."

Contact Mike Pare at mpare@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6318.

about Mike Pare...

Mike Pare, the deputy Business editor at the Chattanooga Times Free Press, has worked at the paper for 27 years. In addition to editing, Mike also writes Business stories and covers Volkswagen, economic development and manufacturing in Chattanooga and the surrounding area. In the past he also has covered higher education. Mike, a native of Fort Lauderdale, Fla., received a bachelor’s degree in communications from Florida Atlantic University. he worked at the Rome News-Tribune before ...

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