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10 Reasons to Move to Oak Ridge Right Now

But don't just take our word for it. Three Oak Ridgers share what they love about living and working in this East Tennessee gem.

By Laura Hill on July 15, 2022

Melton Hill Lake in Oak Ridge, TN
Chad Steed

For Katie Wilson, it’s the sense of community. For Edwena Crowe, family comes to mind. And Miguel Pettus puts the local school system at the top of his list.

Ask residents what they love about living in Oak Ridge, and you’ll hear about a lot of things, from places to eat to much-loved community traditions. Here are 10 things folks love about being an Oak Ridger.

1. Discover a Sense of Community Here

This is a diverse community, but one that pulls together. “There’s a strong sense of community in Oak Ridge, which I have always loved,” says Katie Wilson, who teaches sixth-grade English language arts at Jefferson Middle School, where she herself was a student. “When you come from Oak Ridge, there’s a great sense of pride.”

2. Score a Great Education

The city’s school system is consistently highly ranked, and the focus of this science-based city. (Niche ranked Oak Ridge fifth best in Tennessee in 2022). More than 75% of Oak Ridge Schools teachers have a master’s level degree. STEM is a vital part of the curriculum from preschool through 12th grade, preparing students for success in work and in life.

American Museum of Science and Energy in Oak Ridge, TN
Lynn Freeny

3. Find a Great Place to Raise Children

For Edwena Crowe, it is a winning combination of great schools, neighborhoods and outdoor options (she gives props to Oak Ridge Country Club golf) and community cohesiveness. “Oak Ridge is a wonderful place to raise children,” Crowe says. Crime here is low, housing costs are manageable – the median home value is $248,350 (May 2022, Zillow) – and the community is invested in growing and improving infrastructure and business.

4. Shop Locally (No Need to Leave Town!)

With growing retail and service choices, a trip to Knoxville is usually not necessary (unless it’s Saturday and the Vols are playing at home). “I don’t have to leave Oak Ridge unless I want to,” Wilson says.

Melton Lake Greenway in Oak Ridge, TN

5. Get Going with Great Greenways

Oak Ridge maintains 1,566 acres of forested greenbelts around the city, and miles of walking, hiking and biking opportunities on its greenways. “I feel like we’ve created a healthier community,” Wilson says. “There are connecting trails that go all over, so we have opportunities to get outside, and the weather is pretty conducive year-round.”

6. Sip and Savor Your Way Through Oak Ridge

Survey says: Aubrey’s. And Calhoun’s Pizza, burgers, meat and three, for sure. The Farmers’ Market for healthy food items. And increasingly, Oak Ridge offers date-night options right in town like 201 Cafe and Wine Bar, which often features live music and local talent.

Melton Lake Park in Oak Ridge, TN
Misty Wong

7. Partake in Plenty of Pristine Parks

Oak Ridge enjoys a phenomenal park system, with 17 community parks scattered around town, offering playing fields, miles of trails, picnic areas, quiet spaces to sit and think, and a variety of landscapes.

A.K. Bissell Park is home to the International Friendship Bell, a monument to the relationship between Japan and Oak Ridge. Melton Lake Park boasts 173 miles of shoreline, walking, running and biking trails, and is also the site of a nationally ranked rowing venue.

8. Fill Friday Nights with Football

You can’t talk about Oak Ridge without mentioning the storied Oak Ridge High School Wildcat football team and Blankenship Field, the city’s favorite gathering place for more than 70 years. “It’s where the community goes on Friday nights,” says Miguel Pettus, a member of the Wildcat’s 1991 championship team who still resides in Oak Ridge.

And Oak Ridge has produced some superstars, such as Tee Higgins, who plays wide receiver for the Cincinnati Bengals. He and his team played against the Los Angeles Rams in Super Bowl LVI. The Rams won the game, but Higgins had an excellent night with four receptions for 100 yards and two touchdowns.

Oak Ridge Children's Museum in Tennessee

9. Enjoy Outstanding History and Entertainment

There’s much to do and see here. The city offers four outstanding museums that tell the Atomic City’s story: The American Museum of Science and Energy, the new K-25 History Center, the Oak Ridge History Museum and the Children’s Museum of Oak Ridge.

Performing arts are also popular here, including the Oak Ridge Playhouse. Bissell Park Pavilion occasionally hosts groups like the Oak Ridge Symphony and Chorus, as well as the Community Band. And in the summer, ORNL Federal Credit Union presents its own summer concert series at the pavilion.

10. Look to the Future

The city is on the move, with lots to look forward to. “Oak Ridge is a great place to live now, and we have great plans to grow and build the city,” says Rachel Pettus, project manager for ORNL Federal Credit Union. “It will be even better – wait and see.”

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Array ( [0] => 151567 [1] => 151517 [2] => 151487 [3] => 151188 [4] => 150280 [5] => 150265 [6] => 146472 [7] => 122911 [8] => 122894 [9] => 122881 [10] => 119747 )

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