Whether you enjoy sophisticated city life or the slower pace of the suburbs and rural areas, you can’t go wrong if you move to Knoxville, Tennessee. Nestled in the western foothills of the Smoky Mountains, Knoxville is a growing university town with an active social scene. The Tennessee River winds past historic Old City, the part of town with a quirky alternative vibe and Knoxville’s unique Urban Wilderness offers untamed nature right in the heart of the city. With many historic neighborhoods, an impressively affordable housing market, and a low cost of living in a cultured city, it’s easy to see why many people are settling in Knoxville.
When you’re ready to relax with a glass of sweet iced tea, one of the local restaurants is sure to have a rocking chair open for you on their front porch, but when you’re feeling more adventurous, let the wonders of The Great Smoky Mountains National Park lure you to some exciting outdoor adventure. For those who enjoy sports, local teams include a minor league baseball team, professional hockey, and the University of Tennessee Vols football team. There’s no doubt about it – Knoxville offers a great quality of life. Out of 125 US cities, Knoxville was ranked #46 “Best Places to Live in the USA by U.S. News & World Report.
No matter where you’re moving from, hiring insured, vetted movers can help make your transition an easy one. Read on to learn more about how Great Guys Moving can help you find the best Knoxville moving companies to meet your needs.
Living in Knoxville, TN: What to Know Before Moving to Knoxville
Whenever you decide to move somewhere, it’s important to know what to expect in your new town. As Tennessee’s third-largest city, Knoxville currently has a population of almost 188,000 residents. It’s known to be a sweet spot of eastern Tennessee – a cultured city that deftly combines all the benefits of music, art, history, and cuisine. Nestled within the Appalachian region, Knox is less than an hour’s drive from the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.
Pros and Cons of Living in Knoxville
Like every potential moving destination, Knoxville has both good and bad things to ponder as you consider your relocation. Here are some of the pros:
- High-ranking by U.S. News: Knoxville, TN was ranked #46 on the U.S. News & World “125 Best Places to Live in the USA” list.
- Diversity: There isn’t only a good mix of young and old in Knoxville, but recent years have seen an increase in different cultures coming to reside within the city.
- Strong community: Events like the International Biscuit Festival and the Knoxville Brewer’s Jam bring people of all different backgrounds together to have a good time.
- Delicious food: In Knoxville, you can experience the mouth-watering cuisine of the South, including fried chicken, macaroni and cheese, and collard greens.
Here are some of Knoxville’s cons:
- Partisan atmosphere: If you consider yourself to be more liberal, you might feel like you don’t fit in with Knoxville’s conservative residents who make up the majority of the city’s population.
- Language barrier: Anyone who’s just a little experienced with the South knows that Southerners tend to speak a language all their own. Expect a learning curve when you’re trying to understand the peculiar slang and phrases that people use in Knoxville.
- Crazy about sports: Some people aren’t that into sports. This statement, however, doesn’t describe most of the residents of Knoxville. If you’re not that interested in sports, you may have a hard time fitting in.
- Beware the pollen: Knoxville is known for being an allergy hotspot because of pollen-laden air. If your allergies can’t handle it, you might want to rethink moving there.
- Property Tax: The average property tax rate in Knoxville is 0.715%, considerably less than the national average of 1.211%.
- Sales Tax: While Tennessee boasts low property taxes, the state has some of the highest sales tax rates in the country. However, even with a sales tax rate of 9.25%, Knoxville’s sales tax rate is lower than more than half of other cities in the state.
- State Income Tax: Tennessee doesn’t levy a state income tax, but it does tax dividend and interest income. This tax, known as the Hall Tax, is set for repeal in January 2021, so stay tuned.
With home appreciation currently up 8.4% in Knoxville, now’s a good time to consider buying a home. More than half of Knoxville residents are home-owners, while approximately 47% are renters. As of June 2019, the median home value was $173,900, which is slightly higher than Tennessee’s median home price of $160,900. Home values increased by 7% in 2018, and they’re forecasted to increase another 3.9% in 2020. The median price of currently listed homes is $249,900, and according to Zillow, the market is hot.
If you’re not ready to buy, the average monthly rent is $1,151. Some of the cheapest Knoxville neighborhoods are College Hills, Park City, and South Knoxville. Keep in mind, however, that the cheaper the neighborhood, the higher the possibility of increased crime.
Cost of Living
Knoxville is generally an affordable city. The cost of living index (out of 100) is 93.5, which is slightly lower than the national average by about 7%. Even though you’ll save money on budget-line items like groceries, housing, and transportation, healthcare is where you’ll spend a significant amount of your paycheck.
According to the Family Budget Calculator, a family of four needs around $6,300 a month to pay for the standard expenses like housing, food, childcare, transportation, health care, taxes, and other necessities. This estimated cost of living means that a family of four should be earning about $75,000 annually. Since the median household income in Knoxville is $33,500 a year, both parents would need to work to enjoy a moderate standard of living.
Weather & Natural Disasters
In Knoxville, you can experience all four seasons. The summers are known to be especially hot and humid, with July and August being the hottest months. Temperatures tend to be in the high 80s. Annual rainfall averages about 48 inches, with most of it falling in July, adding to the humidity.
In contrast, the winter is accompanied by harsh, freezing temperatures with about six inches of snow annually. January and February are particularly challenging, with temperatures as low as 28 degrees. However, spring and fall days are beautiful. You’ll enjoy gorgeous fall foliage colors in late September and October.
Tennessee has a long history of enduring natural disasters like tornadoes and earthquakes. Knoxville has put together a Hazard Mitigation Plan you can review before a natural disaster occurs.
Economy & Job Market
One of Knoxville’s main strengths is its stable economy. At 3.2%, Knoxville’s unemployment rate is lower than the national average of 3.9%. In 2018-2019, the job market increased by 0.9%, and bestplaces.net forecasts that over the next ten years, the Knoxville job market will increase by 37.5% compared to the US average increase of 33.5%.
The city’s top industries are retail trade, healthcare, and social assistance, accommodation and food services, and educational services. The top five major manufacturers are BWXT-Y12 LLC National defense weapons; Denso Manufacturing Tennessee; UT-Batelle LLC Oak Ridge National Laboratory, energy, and defense research and technology transfer; CMH Manufacturing – Clayton Homes; and Aluminum Co of American (ALCOA).
Some of Knoxville’s major employers include US Department of Energy – Oak Ridge Operations, the University of Tennessee, Knox County Public School System, Covenant Health, Tennova Health Care, University of Tennessee Medical Center, and the City of Knoxville.
Knoxvillejobs.com recommends five steps to follow when searching for a job in Knoxville: Evaluate your skills and personality; decide if you should continue your education; create a resume and establish social media presence; network; and apply.
Traffic and Transportation
You’ll need your car in Knoxville because the city is large and spread out. Walkscore.com rates Knoxville 31 for walkability, which means that most residents are car-dependent for their day-to-day routines. Drivers can easily access I-40 which runs east to west or I-275 which runs north to Michigan.
Apart from the usual traffic caused by rush hour and construction, Knoxville isn’t known to have nasty traffic. In fact, the city was ranked by TomTom GPS as 174th out of 174 cities for traffic congestion. The bike score is 25/100, so don’t count on being able to navigate many Knoxville streets on dedicated bike lanes. The bike infrastructure needs work.
Even though the transit score is only 28/100, Knoxville provides several convenient means of public transportation. Knoxville Area Transit (KAT) runs buses and trolleys and Tennessee Vans, a state-wide program designed especially for commuters, are both handy ways to get around without a car.
When you need to catch a flight, head down to McGhee Tyson Airport (TYS), 12 miles south of downtown. TYS offers non-stop, daily service to 22 U.S. destinations via Delta, Allegiant, American, United, and Frontier. The area’s other airport, the Knoxville Downtown Island Airport, is uniquely located less than three miles from downtown on the Tennessee River. It provides the base for private and corporate aircraft, but not for commercial flights.
What to Do
Knoxville’s unique position located within the Great Appalachian Valley provides exciting opportunities to enjoy the city’s sophisticated and hip culture plus the gorgeous outdoors. From live performances to hiking, there’s never a shortage of activities in and around the Knoxville area. Whether you’re moving to Knoxville from the city or the country, you’ll discover a plethora of new and exciting things to enjoy.
If you’re looking for a little snack with your culture, visit the Knoxville Museum of Art to witness the unique creations of Tennessean locals. Afterward, enjoy tantalizing chocolate from The Chocolate Factory. Finally, finish your day with a tour of the luscious Knoxville Botanical Gardens or enjoy a meal on a riverboat as you cruise down the Tennessee River.
Want a break from city life to enjoy nature? The Great Smoky Mountains National Park is practically in Knoxville’s backyard and considered to be the most-visited national park in the US. Other impressive parks in Knoxville include the World’s Fair Park and Knoxville Zoological Park.
If you’re a sports enthusiast, then you’re in luck. Knoxville is known for its love of a good game. The Knoxville Ice Bears, a professional hockey team, and the Tennessee Smokies, a professional baseball league, are two of the hottest sports teams in Knoxville.
Schools and Universities
Knox County School District is the sole school district in Knoxville. It currently enrolls over 60,300 students in 50 elementary schools, 16 middle schools, and 15 high schools. According to greatschools.org, two of the best Knoxville schools are the L & N Stem Academy and Farragut High School, both of which have a higher graduation rate than the state’s already-high average rate of 89%.
If you or a family member are considering furthering your education, you can choose from 21 colleges and universities in the Knoxville area. Not only is Knoxville home to the University of Tennessee, the largest college in the state, but it also offers a variety of other colleges close by such as South College, Fountainhead College of Technology, and Johnson University.
Bestplaces.net rates Knoxville 44.9/100 for violent crime as compared to the national average of 22.7. The property crime rate is 81.5/100, significantly higher than the national average of 35.4. Compared to many of the cities surrounding Knoxville, such as Norris, Louisville, and Maryville, Knoxville has a significantly higher crime rate.
One of the stresses of moving can be making sure that your home has all the necessary utilities to function properly so that you can comfortably start your new life. Here’s a list of Knoxville’s primary utility providers:
- Gas, electric, and water services: Most utility services, including gas, electric, and water, are primarily provided by Knoxville Utilities Board (KUB), which currently serves over 461,000 customers in and around the Knoxville area. To start a service, visit its website.
- Trash pick-up/recycling service: Waste Connections of Tennessee Inc. is the leading waste management company in Knoxville, and they provide trash pick-up as well as recycling programs and household hazardous waste removal. To find out more, you can call 865-522-8161 or visit the website.
- Internet/Cable service: There are many internet and cable providers to choose from in Knoxville, but Xfinity (Comcast), Spectrum, AT&T, and Mediacom are four of the top providers in the area.
Best Neighborhoods in Knoxville, TN
You have many factors to consider when trying to choose your new neighborhood. Location, population, housing cost, and schools are just a few things to consider. We’ve compiled a list of Knoxville’s eight best neighborhoods to help you get started.
Oakwood is a smaller, more affordable neighborhood, just eight minutes north of downtown, and a great place to consider if you’re a first time home buyer. Streetadvisor.com rates Oakwood as the #1 ‘best neighborhood in Knoxville’. Oakwood borders N Broadway on the east, the Old North Knoxville neighborhood on the south, I-275 and Sharp’s Ridge on the west, and the Arlington neighborhood on the north.
Lovely mature trees, eclectic housing styles, and friendly neighbors define Oakwood. If you’re looking for something to do, there are plenty of parks where you can go for a stroll and then stop in at K Brew on N Broadway to swing in a hammock while sipping your espresso.
- Population: 2,910
- Home Price: $172,000
- Rent Price: $800 to $900 a month
- Schools: Christenberry Elementary School (rating: below average), Fulton High School (rating: below average), Whittle Springs Middle School (rating: average)
- Colleges: Lincoln Park Technology Trade Center, Pellissippi State Community College, University of Tennessee College of Architecture
Known as the “Creative Corridor” of Knoxville, historic Old City sits at the northeast corner of downtown. Victorian-style buildings and converted factories line this neighborhood’s streets. In the 1920s, it was a rough and corrupt area of town, known as “The Bowery.” In the 1980s, redevelopment and revitalization of this neighborhood began – today, Old City is an edgy, hip, trendy neighborhood. Here you can choose from an array of home styles, from modern high rise condos to charming restored Victorians, Craftsman bungalows with wide porches, converted factory lofts, and character-filled one-story farmhouse type homes.
Old City covers less than one square mile of land, but it still has enough life and vivacity to pack a punch. Whether you want to shop or eat, there are plenty of options, and they’re only a brief walk down Central and Jackson Avenues. In Old City, you can visit an artisan bakery, then walk to your favorite coffee shop, and finish your day musing over regional and local art at the Emporium House. At night, the streets come alive with crowds of people. Many residents find themselves frequenting Patrick Sullivan’s Saloon, a renovated 19th-century restaurant, or one of the other local bars.
- Population: 2,890
- Home Price: $445,000
- Rent Price: $700 to $800 a month
- Schools: South Knox Elementary School (rating: average), L & N Stem Academy (rating: above average), South Doyle Middle School (rating: below average)
- Colleges: Strayer University, Lincoln Memorial University, and University of Tennessee
Located in the center of Knoxville, Downtown is the lively, thriving hub of the city. If you love crowds and lots of entertainment, then this is the place for you. Downtown borders the Tennessee River on the south, 11th St on the west, W Vine Ave on the north, and James White Pkwy on the east. Property values have increased 10.5% over the past year, and they’re likely to rise by 6.2% in 2020. Although the median home value is $323,000, according to Zillow, realtor.com reports a median listing price of $613,800. With little inventory and prices quickly rising, Downtown is a challenging market for most folks.
Downtown residents have a fantastic variety of things to do right at their doorsteps. Market Square Farmers Market, First Friday Art Walks, Shakespeare on the Square, breweries, hip coffee houses, terrific restaurants, boutique shopping – there’s something for everybody.
- Population: 3,220
- Home Price: $323,000
- Rent Price: $700 to $800 a month
- Schools: L & N Stem Academy (rating: above average), South Knox Elementary School (rating: average), Green Magnet Math and Science Academy (rating: below average)
- Colleges: UT Psychological Clinic, Strayer University, Center for Literary Studies
South Knoxville is one of the larger neighborhoods in Knoxville and is also cheaper by comparison to other neighborhoods like Old City or Fort Sanders. It has a quieter vibe and features more private homes with spacious backyards. The neighborhood’s character is due to the winding Tennessee River, which provides some separation between South Knoxville and much of the rest of the city. However, downtown is still only a six-minute drive away, with all its restaurants, museums, shops, and other special amenities.
If you live in this neighborhood and want to visit the Great Smoky Mountains, then all you have to do is hop onto Chapman Highway, which runs right through the center of South Knoxville, and in less than an hour, you’ll be enjoying all that nature has to offer.
- Population: 28,680
- Home Price: $150,000
- Rent Price: $500 to $600 a month
- Schools: South Knox Elementary School (rating: average), Sequoyah Elementary School (rating: above average), South Doyle Middle School (rating: below average)
- Colleges: University of Tennessee, Strayer University
Parkridge is ten minutes northeast of downtown near the Edgewood and Five Points neighborhoods. Bound by Hwy 40 at the north, N Cherry St on the east, I-11, aka E Magnolia Ave on the south, and N Beltrand St on the west, Parkridge is a charming historic neighborhood of mature trees and lovely homes. Walk down Washington Avenue or North Chester Street, and your breath will be taken away by some of the oldest and most intricate architecture in all of Knoxville. George Franklin Barber, one of the most renowned architects of the 19th century, designed several of the neighborhood’s historic homes.
The neighborhood appeals to young professionals; 72% of residents are single, and 45% are homeowners. Although some homes are from the 19th century, many newer homes are available in styles that range from two-story colonials set on sweeping lawns well back from the street to modest one-story wood-sided cottages.
Visit the nearby Mabry-Hazen House to learn more about the history of Knoxville or drive a few minutes down the road to the Knoxville Botanical Garden and Arboretum. Though it’s not known to have highly rated schools, Parkridge is close to Pellissippi State Community College, which has received many positive reviews.
- Population: 4,130
- Home Price: $182,000
- Rent Price: $500 to $600 a month
- Schools: Austin East High School (rating: below average), Vine Middle School (rating: below average), Sarah Moore Greene Elementary School (rating: below average)
- Colleges: Pellissippi State Community College, Brewing and Distilling Center, University of Tennessee College of Architecture
Located just above Western Heights, Beaumont is bound by Tennessee Ave on the northwest, Western Ave on the west, Keith and Virginia Avenues on the southeast, and Hwy 275 on the east. Beaumont is one of Knoxville’s prettier neighborhoods. Many homes are modest one-story clapboard cottage styles with a lot of charm and character, but you can find some Victorians which date back a century or more. Beaumont is a neighborhood that appeals to families and older couples who own their homes. If you’re looking for a beautiful location with friendly neighbors, Beaumont is a good choice.
Although Beaumont is mainly residential, you’re only a seven-minute drive from downtown for plenty of restaurants, coffee places, bakeries, and shops to enjoy. Visit the nearby Market Square for the Haunted Knoxville Ghost Tours or spend a day at the World’s Fair Park.
- Population: 820
- Home Price: $110,000
- Rent Price: $500 to $600
- Schools: Fulton High School (rating: below average), Beaumont Elementary School (rating: below average), Northwest Middle School (rating: below average)
- Colleges: Knoxville College, Lincoln Memorial University
The sight of an important Civil War battle, Fort Sanders, is known to residents simply as “The Fort.” Located five minutes west of downtown, The Fort bounds Second Creek on the east, Third Creek on the west, Route 70 on the south, and I-40 on the north.
Like Old City, this historic neighborhood is popular with University of Tennessee college students. The university is just three minutes south of Fort Sanders, and many old homes have been converted into apartments to serve the university population. However, The Fort isn’t as pretentious a neighborhood as Old City. Instead of artisan bakeries and award-winning coffee houses, you’ll find dive bars, offices, hospitals, and churches in this diverse neighborhood. Fort Sanders is the perfect neighborhood for convenience and affordability.
If you’re looking for something to do in the area, the Laurel Theater, a church from the 19th-century, has been transformed into a concert hall. Cumberland Avenue is home to several restaurants and shops. A lovely park, named after the Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist, James Agee, is worth visiting.
- Population: 6,470
- Home Price: $182,000
- Rent Price: $1,100 to $1,200 a month
- Schools: West High School (rating: average), Sequoyah Elementary School (rating: above average), Bearden Middle School (rating: average)
- Colleges: Medical College of Georgia, University of Tennessee
Fourth and Gill
Located between Old North Knoxville and Old City, Fourth and Gill is another beautifully-preserved historic Knoxville neighborhood that covers about 72 acres. Bound by Glenwood Ave on the north, Broadway on the west, E Fourth Ave on the south, and Hall of Fame Dr on the east, Fourth and Gill residents are proud of their 282 homes and buildings that are on the National Register of Historic Places.
Fourth and Gill received its name when the Neighborhood Center was established where Fourth Avenue and Gill Avenue intersect. As a historic neighborhood, homes are built and renovated under strict guidelines from the Historic Zoning Commission. Even though homes vary in style, most are character-filled, charming historic structures on beautiful properties. Large deciduous trees surround many homes, and The Golden Shovel Awards encourage neighbors to create lovely gardens.
Fourth and Gill is just six minutes north of downtown, and there are several parks in the area where you can stroll and enjoy nature. The neighborhood is very community-driven, and its Neighborhood Organization works hard to make improvements while maintaining the community’s historic charm.
- Population: 1,450
- Home Price: $270,000
- Rent Price: $700 to $800 a month
- Schools: Beaumont Elementary School (rating: below average), Vine Middle School (rating: below average), Fulton High School (rating: below average)
- Colleges: Knoxville College, Pellissippi State Community College, University of Tennessee College of Architecture
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