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May 21, 2023 | Tom Ballard

Knoxville tops in Tennessee for “Best Places to Live”

The community ranks #21 nationally in the ratings from U.S. News & World Report.

Those who live in Knoxville knew it, and now a much broader audience knows it.

What is “it”? Well, according to the latest “Best Places to Live” rankings from U.S. News & World Report, Knoxville is the highest-rated city in Tennessee and #21 nationally. It is also #10 in the country in terms of cost of living, ranked #16 in the fastest-growing communities, and #43 as far as best places to retire.

Chattanooga was the next highest-rated city at #48 followed by Nashville (#61) and Memphis (#144).

The listing came after the longtime publication, perhaps best known for collegiate rankings, analyzed 150 metro areas in the United States to find the best places to live based on the quality of life and the job market in each metro area, as well as the value of living there and people’s desire to live there. The specific methodology can be found here.

The top-ranked city was Green Bay, WI followed by Huntsville, AL, and Raleigh-Durham (RDU), NC. The Tar Heel State placed five cities in the top 50 with only Charlotte, in addition to RDU, rated higher than Knoxville. Frequently cited peer cities like Asheville (#29) and Greenville, SC (#31) trailed Knoxville.

How did U.S. News & World Report characterize Knoxville?

Sitting on the banks of the Tennessee River, Knoxville is home to the University of Tennessee. But this city is more than just a college town. It’s a multicultural community that embraces an array of pastimes. Downtown Knoxville is full of interesting shops like the independent Union Ave Books and the old-time Mast General Store, as well as the popular Market Square. Cumberland Gap National Historical Park and the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, both within a 90-minute drive of the city, are beautiful places to go for a hike, as is Ijams Nature Center, which is closer to downtown.

Sports enthusiasts enjoy cheering on the minor league baseball Tennessee Smokies, the Knoxville Ice Bears minor league professional hockey team and the SEC-affiliated University of Tennessee Volunteers sports teams. Knoxville also has a flat-track roller derby league, the Hard Knox Roller Derby. But shopping, sports and natural beauty aren’t the only reasons to move here. Affordability is another major incentive. The cost of buying a home in Knoxville is less than it is in many other major metro areas around the country.

One of the most beneficial things about Knoxville is that the area offers the amenities of life in a bigger town, but residents are never too far away from peace and quiet, be it a farm or the rolling foothills of the Great Smoky Mountains,” “The community comes together for a variety of festivals throughout the year, including Knoxville Brewfest, Big Ears Festival, the East Tennessee History Fair and the Dogwood Arts Festival. Cultural opportunities abound in the city, including watching a Knoxville Symphony Orchestra performance or exploring the Art Market Gallery. The Tennessee Theatre hosts concerts, stand-up comedy and screening of classic movies. Knoxville comes alive in the fall for Volunteers football at Neyland Stadium on the University of Tennessee campus. Other things to do include Zoo Knoxville, visiting the Sunsphere and its observation deck at World’s Fair Park, taking a trip through the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame and taking boat cruises on the Tennessee River.


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