Carmen Cavanaugh was living what must be a dream for many Realtors.
She was residing in oddly named Blue Mountain Beach, Florida, elevation 64 feet, a coastal village along Scenic Highway 30A. Her work there involved helping buyers and sellers of vacations homes maximize the return on their investments. Even better, she did most of her work off-market.
“The properties were $800,000 and up, and I was working both sides with no competition,” Cavanaugh reminisces. “It was beautiful.”
There was just one problem: Cavanaugh was homesick. She had moved to Blue Mountain Beach after leaving her high-pressure job as a processing engineer at a flooring company in Dalton, Georgia.
“No one is from Blue Mountain Beach; it’s all transplants,” Cavanaugh explains. “Everyone who lives there once said, ‘Screw it; I choose to be happy.’”
Instead, Northwest Georgia and the Chattanooga area were home, and she missed her friends and family and the stomping grounds of her youth. So, about a year ago, she came home.
Real estate had found Cavanaugh in Florida, but she brought it back with her to Chattanooga. No longer able to work with oceanside property, she took a role as a residential Realtor at Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices J Douglas Properties.
In an effort to focus more on Northwest Georgia while also serving Southeast Tennessee, Cavanaugh has moved her business to Coldwell Banker Kinard Realty in Ringgold, Georgia.
“Too much of my personal sphere is in Georgia for me to focus solely on Tennessee,” she clarifies. “I love helping my friends and family.”
Cavanaugh has developed a brisk business representing buyers and sellers in Georgia and Tennessee, but she misses working with investors, so she’s considering expanding into commercial real estate.
Now that Cavanaugh is back and settled into her East Brainerd home – where her rescue dog, a mix of border collie, cattle dog and greyhound, named Rain, keeps her company – she’s beginning to explore life beyond work. This includes volunteering with Ronald McDonald House as soon as she’s able.
Eager to help prepare and serve meals for the families that stay there while their children are hospitalized, Cavanaugh completed orientation early this year.
“I enjoyed volunteering there while I was in middle school at GPS,” she says. “That experience stayed with me all these years, and since cooking is my hobby, I thought it would be a fun volunteer job.”
Ronald McDonald House put those plans on hold when the coronavirus reached Chattanooga, so Cavanaugh is still on pause, waiting for the call to serve.
In the meantime, she’ll apply her passion for cooking to the meals she prepares for herself and for friends and family. “I read cookbooks cover to cover like they’re novels, but never actually make the recipes,” she says. “I use them to inspire me.”
Cavanaugh might not be living the Blue Mountain Beach anymore, but she is living the hometown dream again, and she couldn’t be happier. Just don’t ask her if she’s ever going to return to engineering.
“I’ve been self-employed too long,” she laughs. “It would be too hard to have a boss again when I’m used to not having one.”