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Lakefront Living In Tennessee

Lakefront (or waterfront) property in Tennessee is very hard to come by these days… I don’t care who you are!


Because the Army Corps of Engineers (or in some places, the Tennessee Valley Authority – TVA) owns almost all waterfront properties that exist on the major waterways throughout Tennessee.

Actually, they own what typically amounts to a very wide perimeter of land that physically connects most waterfront properties with the lakes, rivers, streams and creeks which bump up to the property.

As a result, they dictate what you can and cannot do on that piece of property that extends between your house and the water.

Lakefront Doesn’t Mean Lake Access

So even if a lakefront piece property lies in direct view of the water, and there will never be another house between you and the lake, the property line usually doesn’t go up to the water’s edge. Instead, it typically stops several feet short of the waterline. That’s the State of Tennessee’s way of protecting its lakes and the land surrounding them.

And because of this, most lakefront property in Tennessee is actually not dockable. That is, unless you are lucky enough to have been “grandfathered in” to previous codes set years ago. Most people’s chances are slim to none of ever owning a private dock that butts up to their own private piece of land here in Tennessee.

Bummer, huh?

Thankfully, most waterways have public docks and boat slips galore in order to accommodate the needs of the area’s residents. And now you know why.

If you’re familiar with lakefront living already, then this is probably nothing new to you. But until we started searching for lakefront property on which to build our log home, there were a lot of things we didn’t know about living on a lake… in Tennessee. Perhaps this information will benefit others who are just beginning their search.

Protected Waterways Near Our Property

Even though we eventually found a piece of lakefront property in Tennessee that we love… in the end, we recently decided to sell that property in order to remain here in Williamson County, and build in the country. So instead of a big lake, we have 3 large creeks surrounding our property!

Funny thing is… it’s not the Army Corps of Engineers or TVA that has a say about what we do anymore. Now, it’s the Federal Emergency Management Association (FEMA) that dictates what we can and cannot do within so many feet of one of our creeks.

Got a “blue line creek” where you live?… Here’s what you need to know.