Moving To Knoxville Tennessee? (The Truth About Living Here)

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Knoxville Tennessee Overview

People looking for a low-cost, progressive, and friendly Southern big city with beautiful, natural surroundings should consider moving to Knoxville, Tennessee. Located between two mountain ranges, Knoxville is a nature lover’s paradise.

It has more than 50 miles of Urban Wilderness to appeal to every type of outdoor adventurer. The University of Tennessee also provides many educational, cultural, and sporting events for the city.

Location

Knoxville sits on 104 square miles in beautiful northeast Tennessee. The French Broad and Holston Rivers meet to form the Tennessee River in Knoxville. Knoxville is located 936 feet above sea level in the valley between the Cumberland Mountains and the Great Smoky Mountains. There are plenty of natural places to explore in the area.

Beautiful sunset view of the Smoky Mountains

Knoxville is centrally located 3 to 4 hours away from several major Southern cities. It is less than 3 hours east of Nashville, a little over 3 hours north of Atlanta, less than 4 hours south of Louisville, and less than 4 hours west of Charlotte.

Climate

Being located between two mountain ranges gives Knoxville a moderate climate. Most months have 7-8 days of rain. Knoxville has an average temperature of 58°. According to the NOAA, the highest temperatures are in July, with an average high temperature of 87°. The lowest temperatures are in January, with an average high of 45°. The record high was 105° in 2012, and the record low was -24° in 1985.

Population

The US Census Bureau estimates Knoxville’s population to have been 187,603 as of 2019. Knoxville is the 134th largest city in the US and the 3rd-largest city in Tennessee.

Knoxville Advantages

While many newcomers choose the suburbs, living in Knoxville, Tennessee, has many advantages. Knoxville residents enjoy affordable housing, short commutes, convenient food and activities for all ages, below-average health care costs, and a pleasant climate.

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What Are The Neighborhoods In Knoxville?

Compass directions divide Knoxville neighborhoods to show their relationship to downtown. Each section of the city has a unique flavor. As of 2010, the US Census Bureau reports 1,815.6 people per square mile living in Knoxville neighborhoods.

Downtown

With the growth of downtown in recent years, downtown now has more amenities to make it more livable. The area is highly walkable to visit work, shopping, and restaurants. Home demand in this area has recently significantly increased. Neighborhoods include:

  • Fourth and Gill – historic; Craftsman and Queen Anne homes; pedestrian-oriented; cottage-style gardens; home to professionals, artists, families, and students
  • The Old City – condos and loft apartments among high rises and buildings; home to transplants, young professionals, and retirees

Knoxville, Tennessee, USA downtown at World's Fair Park.

North Knoxville (NoKno)

North Knoxville residents enjoy strolling down sidewalks in the shade of mature trees. Many of North Knoxville’s neighborhoods are within an easy walk, bike, or car ride downtown, depending on the location. Areas vary in family type, income level, and home price. Neighborhoods include:

  • Adair Gardens – started as a streetcar neighborhood, Tudor- and Colonial-style cottages, convenient for shopping and restaurants.
  • Fairmont-Emoriland – sidewalks; mature trees; Colonial, Mediterranean, Craftsman, and Tudor Revival homes; between Fountain City and downtown; diversity of income levels and ethnicities
  • Fourth and Gill – historic neighborhood with Craftsman, Queen Anne, and Victorian homes; mature trees; sidewalks; easy access to downtown and North Central businesses
  • North Hills – flagship neighborhood, tree-lined streets, beautiful gardens, and a housing mix that includes many Tudor Revival and Spanish Colonial Revival homes, young professionals and families
  • Oakwood-Lincoln Park – started as a streetcar neighborhood, sidewalks, convenient bike or drive downtown, Craftsman and Queen Anne Cottages, Tudor Revival homes.
  • Old Fountain City – is one of the oldest Knoxville neighborhoods; Victorian and Bungalow home styles; Fountain City Lake, greenway, and art center are focal points; has a downtown feel around Hotel Avenue.
  • Old North – historic neighborhood; Victorian, American Foursquare, and Queen Anne homes; sidewalks; mature trees; within walking distance of downtown and North Central shopping and restaurants
  • Gibbs Maloney Estates – storybook neighborhood; sidewalks; mature trees; unique Craftsman homes; located on Dogwood trails
  • Highland Neighbors – tree-lined street, Craftsman homes; large lots; located off North Broadway
  • Kesterwood – quiet, mature trees, architectural mix, many historic homes on Tazewell Pike, easy walk to Jacksboro Pike, convenient to Fountain City

South Knoxville (SoKno)

South Knoxville includes the scenic area south of the river. Many neighborhoods have close access to hiking and biking in Knoxville’s Urban Wilderness and current or future trail-system access. Four bridges connect SoKno to downtown. It also contains the Candoro Arts and Heritage Center. Neighborhoods include:

  • Colonial Village – charming and modest-sized homes, scenic wooded area, large lots great for families, close to downtown and the Urban Wilderness
  • Island Home Park – flagship neighborhood, home to many young professionals and professors, Craftsman-style houses, houses from various decades, sidewalks, tree-lined wide central boulevard, greenway to Ijams Nature Center, riverside park, home to a small airport and Tennessee School for the Deaf
  • Lake Forest – brick and stone cottages and Cape Cod homes, great views, scenic wooded area, easy access to hiking and biking in the Urban Wilderness
  • Lakemoor Hills – hilly; next to the river; beautiful views; higher-end homes; large lots; close to UT Medical Center, UT, and downtown
  • Lindbergh Forest – Tudor Revival, Cape Cod, and post-war ranch homes; close to downtown and the Urban Wilderness
  • Old Sevier – closest neighborhood to downtown, city views, cottages, includes South Waterfront.
  • South Haven – ranch-style homes, two large parks, near Urban Wilderness

East Knoxville

East Knoxville neighborhoods are east of First Creek and the James White Parkway. East Knoxville was once the city’s wealthiest area before the fortunes moved west. This area contains Chilhowee Park and Zoo Knoxville. Neighborhoods include:

  • Holston Hills – one of the state’s best country clubs and golf courses, large lots, rolling hills, winding streets, a mix of modest homes and mini-estates, short drive downtown, boating community on the Holston River
  • Parkridge – George-Barber-designed homes, near downtown, sidewalks, home to Cansler YMCA and Caswell Park

West Knoxville

West Knoxville includes the areas west of the University of Tennessee. It also contains West Town Mall, shopping, and restaurants. Neighborhoods are within easy walking distance to downtown and the university, often with a connecting greenway. Neighborhoods include:

  • Forest Heights – premiere neighborhood in the desirable Bearden area of Kingston Pike; Tudor Revival, Georgian, and Cape Cod homes; within walking distance of shopping and restaurants; a variety of ethnic businesses and groceries; downtown and university corridor through Third Creek Greenway
  • Fort Sanders – diverse mix of turn-of-the-century homes; multifamily complexes; churches; offices; hospital; sidewalks; easy walk to downtown, university, and World’s Fair Park
  • Mechanicsville – one of Knoxville’s oldest neighborhoods, variety of grand homes, sidewalks, easy walk to downtown and university
  • Sequoyah Hills – a prestigious riverside neighborhood in the desirable Bearden area; expensive ranch, Tudor Revival, and contemporary homes; Georgian Revival mansions; includes small commercial area; large parks; library.
  • West Hills – ranch-style homes, large shopping area, short drive to downtown, large park, YMCA
  • Westwood – 1920s-1950s homes, tree canopy, access to shopping and restaurant, greenway to downtown and university

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How is the Job Market In Knoxville?

Thinking about moving to Knoxville? Currently, Knoxville has a very stable economy. With only 3% unemployment, Knoxville is a great place to find a job. According to the US Census Bureau, the average per capita income in Knoxville in 2019 was $33,229. The median household income between 2015 and 2019 in Knoxville was $57,470. While this might seem low, the cost of living in Knoxville is also low.

Industries

Industries in Knoxville are highly diversified. According to Forbes, Knoxville’s most significant industries are energy, financial services, and telecommunications.

Top Companies To Work For

The companies that employ the most people in Knoxville are related to government, health, and school. However, there are companies of all types to consider. Some of the top choices include:

Of course, there are also plenty of major employers in the city too:

If you’re trying to find a specific niche or interesting company, you might want to check out these businesses:

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How is the Knoxville Real Estate Market?

Before moving to Knoxville, it’s important to find out more about the real estate market.

The housing market in Knoxville is somewhat competitive. So, if you see something you like, you should tour it and make an offer quickly.

Some homes get multiple offers. According to Redfin, Knoxville homes tend to go off the market within 46 days and sell 1% below the list price. However, the most sought-after homes go for 2% above list price and tend to go off the market in 32 days.

As of January 2021, Zillow reports that Knoxville’s typical home value is $218,101. Values have gone up 10% in the last year. The typical house in the $200,000 to $225,000 price range is a 1700-square-foot, 2-story house with 3-bedrooms, 2-baths, and a 2-car garage. These include both established homes and new constructions.

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How Much Does it Cost to Live in Knoxville?

According to Numbeo, the cost of living index for Knoxville is 66.9. Knoxville has the 24th lowest cost of living index for large cities in the USA.

Figuring in rent costs, Knoxville has the 25th lowest cost of living index. The January 2021 without-rent monthly cost of living in Knoxville is $3072 for a family of four or $864 for a single person.

Knoxville has the 20th lowest rent costs for large cities in the USA. Apartments outside the city center cost $829.17 for a 1-bedroom or $1300 for a 3-bedroom. Apartments inside the city center cost $1087.50 for a 1-bedroom or $1968.75 for a 3-bedroom.

Food and Groceries

Knoxville falls in the middle range for grocery costs in large cities in the USA. Typical grocery prices include:

  • Milk – $3.15 per gallon
  • Bread – $2.40 per loaf
  • Rice – $1.60 per pound
  • Eggs – $1.98 per dozen
  • Cheese – $4.93 per pound
  • Chicken fillets – $3.75 per pound
  • Beef round – $5.58 per pound
  • Potatoes – $1.12 per pound

picture of Family with shopping cart in supermarket store

Restaurant prices in Knoxville are the 11th cheapest in large USA cities. You could expect to pay $13 for the typical restaurant meal for one in Knoxville. Two people could have three courses in a mid-range restaurant for $47.50. A combo meal at McDonald’s costs $8.

Utilities

Utility rates in Knoxville are lower than the US average. 62% of homes use electricity, and 35% use natural gas for heating their homes. Electric, heating/cooling, water, and trash for a 915-square-foot apartment costs only $134.41 a month. Internet with unlimited data and cable costs $62.82.

Transportation

Moving to Knoxville means that it’s best to have a car to get around. Even though there are sidewalks and greenways in some neighborhoods, most residents cannot depend on going where they need to go entirely on foot. A university student could use their bicycle to get around campus but not through the rest of the city.

Knoxville has a walk score of 31. Some neighborhoods are more walkable than others are. However, most residents aren’t able to walk to a park, grocery store, or restaurant. There are also not many bike lanes.

Knoxville currently has 112.5 miles of paved greenways and other trails for walking and bicycling in every city quadrant. Most are only a quarter of a mile, but some are several miles long. If you’re interested in public transportation, you’ve got quite a few options:

  • Buses – Knoxville Area Transit has 23 bus routes with over 1100 bus stops throughout the city. More than 80,000 Knoxvillians live within a quarter of a mile of a bus stop. Fares are $1 for one ride, $2 for 1 day, $15 for 20 rides, or $30 for 30 days. Half-price fares are available for seniors, students, and others who qualify. Children under age four ride free.
  • LIFT – Those who cannot use regular buses can reserve door-to-door LIFT service for $3.
  • Free Trollies – Free trollies run between Knoxville Station, The Civic Coliseum, and waterfront pathway; The Old City and Gay Street; and the University of Tennessee and downtown.
  • Taxies and Rideshares – taxis cost $2 per mile, UberX costs $0.70 per mile, and UberXL costs $1.25 per mile.

Healthcare and Medical

According to the US News and World Report, the top three hospitals in Knoxville are:

  1. The University of Tennessee Medical Center – #3 in Tennessee; ranks high in 6 procedures and conditions; special centers and institutes for orthopedics, brain and spine, cancer, women and infants, heart and lung, rehabilitation, and wound care
  2. Parkwest Medical Center – #7 in Tennessee, ranks high in 4 procedures and conditions, therapy center
  3. Fort Sanders Regional Medical Center – #10 in Tennessee; ranks high in 3 procedures and conditions; special centers for cardiac rehab, therapy, and cancer survival

Other hospitals and medical centers in Knoxville include:

Knoxville also has many conveniently located Urgent Care centers in every quadrant of the city for non-emergency urgent and after-hours medical care.

Residents can expect to pay $221.84 per person for health care insurance plans in Tennessee. Prices vary based on health. Private insurance is available for those not enrolled in group health plans. Low-income healthcare and health insurance options include Medicare, TennCare, and Maternal and Child Health.

Taxes

Tennessee residents have one of the lowest tax burdens in the nation. The state of Tennessee does not collect personal income tax on wages or salaries. However, there is a 6% hall tax on interest and dividends.

Knoxville’s combined state and county sales tax rate is 9.25%.

Property taxes help the city fund programs and services such as emergency responders, parks, and public transportation. Property and homeowners pay the city of Knoxville and the county a combined $4.5738 per $100 assessed property value.

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Is Knoxville a Good Place to Retire?

People who decide to retire in Knoxville are in good company. According to estimates from the US Census Bureau, 55% of Knoxville residents are over 55, and 52% are over 65. The city has a large number of social programs, exercise programs, and resources for seniors.

The CAC Office on Aging provides programs and services for older Knoxvillians. These include:

  • Programs to help people stay in their homes as long as possible
  • Health and nutrition services
  • Consumer and home safety services
  • In-home service
  • Educational, recreational, and volunteer opportunities
  • Information for older people and their family members
  • A newsletter of news and events
  • A resource directory

Knoxville also has a variety of senior housing options with support services as well as assisted-rent housing. Assisted-rent housing does not include support services. The CAC Office on Aging provides a list of senior housing options.

Retirement communities in Knoxville include various levels of independence and service:

  • Independent living – for seniors still able to care for themselves
  • Residential homes for the aged (RHA) – for residents who need slightly more non-medical supervision or assistance with daily activities such as bathing, grooming, and dressing
  • Assisted care living facilities (ACLF) – needs more non-medical care than in an RHA but less than a nursing home.
  • Continuing care retirement communities (CCRC) – seniors can start in independent living units and move to onsite RHA or ACLF units if they need higher care levels later.
  • Nursing homes – for residents who need medical and non-medical care

Some of the services available in these facilities (either included or for an extra fee) may consist of:

  • Meals
  • Laundry
  • Housekeeping
  • Medication assistance
  • Group activities
  • Security measures
  • Emergency response systems
  • Assistance with community service access

happy retired couple in Knoxville Tennessee on an autumn day

Knoxville does have a variety of programs and agencies with both free and paid activities for seniors. Some churches have senior fitness classes and activities available to the public. Many senior housing facilities have events, classes, trips, activities, and suppers open to non-residents. Other social activity options include:

 Knoxville County does provide a free service called the Affordable Medicine Options for Seniors (AMOS) to help older residents lower their medical costs. They help residents apply for various programs such as Medicare Part D and TennCare. Trained volunteers provide research assistance and assistance with completing forms. They also can help find patient assistance programs.

The CAC Office on Aging maintains a list of clinics that offer care for seniors. They include a list of doctors who accept Medicare. They also have a list of doctors and nurses that provide in-home visits.

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What Are The People And Culture Like?

Knoxvillians is a progressive, friendly, and open Southern city. According to the US Census Bureau, Knoxville’s average person is a white, over-65 high school graduate. 45.9% own their own home and live with 1.19 other people. However, there are also plenty of college-educated residents, college students, young professionals, and families living in the city.

While most of Tennessee is strongly politically conservative, Knoxville is slightly more liberal than the US average. However, including the suburbs, Knox county is somewhat more conservative than the US average.

picture of Elderly Father and mature son are saluting with the beer in front of the grill in their house backyard on a beautiful day.

Most of the 65.2% religious residents of Knoxville are Protestant Christians. 31.5% are Baptist, 9.6% are Methodist, 5.4% are Catholic, 3.8 are Presbyterian, and 13.1% are other Christian denominations. Small numbers of residents also follow Judaism, eastern faiths, and Islam.

Age Distribution

  • Under 18 – 24.4%
  • 18 to 64 – 23.5%
  • 65 and older – 52.1%

Races

  • White alone – 76.1%
  • Black or African American alone – 17%
  • Asian alone – 1.8%
  • Hispanic or Latinx – 5.3%
  • Mixed race – 3.1%
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What Are The Popular Things To Do In Knoxville?

Knoxville’s location between two mountain ranges means it is an oasis for outdoor adventures and wildlife viewing. The city also has excellent shopping opportunities, places to experience the arts, and university sports venues. Southern food features predominantly in restaurant offerings.

Shopping

  • Market Square – one of the most popular places in Knoxville to eat, drink, shop, work, play, and live
  • Trader Joe’s – Yes! They have a Trader Joe’s in Kingston Pike.
  • Mast General Store – landmark downtown retail and gift store since 1898
  • McKay’s Used Books & CDs – 2 floors of used books, movies, video games, and music
  • West Town Mall – West Town Mall features stores like Apple, Sephora, Altar’d State, H&M, and Lululemon,
  • Turkey Creek – walkable and drivable retail center with stores, restaurants, and a movie theatre
  • Nostalgia – voted the best vintage/antique store in Knoxville for over ten years.

Outdoor Adventures and Wildlife

  • Knoxville’s Urban Wilderness – more than 50 miles of hiking and bike trails, climbing areas, nature areas for kids, boat launches for fishing and kayaking, and swimming areas
  • Ijams Nature Center – 315-acre wildlife sanctuary with a zipline, trails, fishing, paddling, swimming, non-motorized boating, climbing, cycling, and hiking
  • Zoo Knoxville – animals, train, zipline canopy adventures, night safaris, splash pad, train
  • Outdoor activities – The city has a never-ending list of places to enjoy bicycling, birding, disc golf, fishing, hiking, paddling, rock climbing, running/walking, skateboarding, and wildflowers,
  • Water sports – three rivers, nine lakes, and hundreds of miles of mountain streams

The Arts

Sports

  • Neyland Stadium – home of the University of Tennesse’s Tennessee Volunteers football team
  • Thompson-Boling Arena – home to the University of Tennessee’s basketball and volleyball teams

Other Attractions

  • Sunsphere Tower – a 26-story tower built for the 1982 World’s Fair with an observation deck for downtown views
  • World’s Fair Park – including the Tennessee Amphitheater, Volunteer Landing waterfront space, Performance Lawn, and splash pads

Breweries

Bars and Pubs

Restaurants

Pros And Cons Of Living In Knoxville

No city is perfect, but Knoxville’s pros outweigh its cons.

Pros

  • Outdoor activities – one of the best cities for nature lovers and outdoor adventurers
  • College – home to the University of Tennessee and the first two years of community college are free.
  • No state income tax – no tax on earned wages
  • Friendly – Southern openness and friendliness
  • Lots of things to do – as downtown grows, so do the things to do
  • Low cost of living – 4% below the national average
  • Traffic – average work commutes are 20.5 minutes, driving across the city takes only 30 minutes even in heavy traffic.
  • Schools – every quadrant of the city has schools rated 8+

Cons

  • Spring allergiesranked as the 10th worst US city for seasonal allergies.
  • Need a car – not enough sidewalks or timely public transportation
  • International food – not a lot of authentic restaurants from other cultures
  • High crime rate – safer than only 4% of US cities
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Fun Facts About Knoxville Tennessee

  • Cherokee Indians lived in the Knoxville area when the first white settlers arrived.
  • White people first settled in Knoxville in 1791. The city was established in 1792 and incorporated in 1815.
  • The first electric streetcar ran from Gay Street to Chilhowee Park on May 1, 1890. Several neighborhoods grew up as streetcar neighborhoods.
  • Knoxville is the “Marble City” because it was a significant center for marble distribution in the early 1900s.
  • Knoxville is the headquarters for the Tennessee Valley Authority that President Roosevelt created in 1933 to provide “electricity for all.”
  • Knoxville is the Cradle of Country Music because the country genre can trace its roots to Knoxville.
  • Mountain Dew had its start in Knoxville in 1940.
  • Knoxville became the smallest city ever to host the World’s Fair in 1982.
  • The first time the world ever saw a touchscreen was at the 1982 World’s Fair in Knoxville.
  • Knoxvillians call Labor Day “Boomsday” because they have a fireworks celebration on the river every Labor Day.
  • Knoxville is an international port. You can take a boat to the Gulf of Mexico or Great Lakes from Knoxville.
  • Famous Knoxvillians include film director Quentin Tarantino, actor Johnny Knoxville, zookeeper Jack Hanna, and Pulitzer-prize winning author James Agee.
  • Places Rated Almanac Millennium Edition lists Knoxville as the 13th best city to live in North America.

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Further Reading: Looking For More Moving To Tennessee Resources? Check These Articles Out!

 

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