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Last updated: January 26, 2022 • Traveling Around the World

Knoxville: the First Capital of Tennessee

When you think of Tennessee, there are a few things that are first to spring to mind. The country music capital of the world, Nashville, might be a strong contender. Or, you might think of moonshiners and bootleggers, figures that gained fame and romantic appeal during the prohibition period. 

Whatever you thought of, there’s one place that might not have come to mind: the city of Knoxville Tennessee. While there are quite a few things one might mention to this charming city’s credit, such as its long list of things to see and do, it’s often overshadowed by Tennessee’s more populous and well known cities, Memphis and Nashville. We’re here to change that! 

This article is all about Knoxville. We’re going to go over some interesting facts and history regarding the city of Knoxville, as well as some practical information to help you if you decide to make it your home. There’s a lot to go over, so we won’t waste your time; let’s go ahead and get right into it! 

History of Knoxville

district house

Knoxville was one of the first and largest cities incorporated in the state of Tennessee and remains one of the most historically significant. The site of the first capital of Tennessee, Knoxville was the site of the first general assembly of the state legislature and continued in this capacity until the legislature moved to Nashville in 1812. 

In the years prior to the civil war, Knoxville was an important trade junction due to the presence of a rail line passing through it. The city quickly developed a booming textile industry and saw the beginnings of an influx of immigrants that would continue for decades to come. Although the textile industry gradually fell into decline, the new residents thrived and helped create a rich, unique local culture. 

While the permanent capital of the state remained an issue of contention for decades before finally coming to rest with the declaration of the city of Nashville as the state capital, Knoxville remained one of the most important cities in the state. During the civil war, the city was the home of much pro-Union sympathy and the site of several pivotal uses of military force during the conflict. 

After the civil war, Knoxville gradually declined as an economic center due to a variety of factors. As a result of a concerted effort by the local government, Knoxville became known instead as a haven for intellectualism and the arts. The high point of this effort was undoubtedly the 1982 World Fair, which drew 11 million visitors and remains one of the most successful World Fairs in history. 

Today, Knoxville remains the home of the flagship campus of the University of Tennessee and an important landmark in America’s intellectual landscape. Although not the industrial giant it once was, Knoxville has regained much of its former glory and is a shining example of a progressive, forward facing American metropolis. 

Knoxville today

knoxville skyline

Although not as large as Nashville or Memphis, the city of Knoxville TN has a respectably large population of just under 187,000 residents. While the large textile manufacturing industry that the city once laid claim too has declined significantly, there is still a thriving job market in a diverse and varied list of professions.

As mentioned before, Knoxville is the home of the University of Tennessee, the state’s most well-known university. This, while not a huge economic boon, gives the city a great deal of prestige as well as ensuring that its residents have convenient and dependable access to opportunities for higher education. 

In addition to Knoxville’s thriving academic community, the city also has a very active cultural and arts scene that has come to prominence in recent years. The leadership of the city has for decades been proactively artists with grants, scholarships, and other government subsidies that allow them to more fully follow their passion, creating a friendly environment for arts and culture. 

Moving to Knoxville, Tennessee

young couple in a new apartment

Let’s say you’re thinking of moving to Knoxville TN. You’ve made a good choice! There are a ton of reasons why Knoxville might just be the perfect place for you, from its excellent job market to its exceptionally affordable housing. The city isn’t perfect by any means, but we think Knoxville is a great place to live all the same. Let’s get into it! 

The housing market in Knoxville TN

panoramic view of a beautiful house

Let’s start with one of Knoxville’s most attractive attributes: its housing market! Knoxville is home to one of the most accessible markets in the state, with great investment value on top of that as well. If you’re in the market for a home but you’re limited by budget, then you’ll want to keep on reading! 

Let’s start with the median home price in Knoxville, which is currently just slightly higher than $210,000. This places homes in Knoxville far lower than most other cities of comparable population and establishes it as a great place for lower budget home buyers. But that’s not all; if you’re an investor, keep reading! 

Furthermore, Knoxville has a great deal of investment potential. Although the median home value is fairly low, the city has exceptionally high appreciation rates, meaning that a home bought this year may sell for as much as 7% more the following year. This appreciation rate can mostly be attributed to the town’s growing population, which seems to be trending upward and should be for the foreseeable future. 

For renters, things are also fairly favorable, with an average rent price of just over $1,000 a month, with apartments in some neighborhoods going for as low as $750 a month. While these aren’t the lowest rates you’ll find in any city across the country, they’re still far more attractive than the astronomical rent prices in cities like New York or Chicago. 

If you’re interested in purchasing a home in Knoxville, you’ll want to contact the local real estate agents in Knoxville TN. These skilled, experienced real estate professionals know exactly what they’re doing, and they’re the best people you could have helping you if you’re in the market for a home. 

Job market in Knoxville

business people waiting for interview job

If you’re in need of work after moving to Knoxville, then we’ve got good news for you: the job market here is booming! There is a wide variety of jobs available, and the local economy doesn’t depend exclusively on any one industry for its success. If you’re in the market for work, you’ve made a good choice! 

Blue collar jobs in Knoxville are fairly easy to find, with much of the city’s workforce consisting of unskilled or only nominally experienced tradesmen and women. The service, construction and hospitality industries are always looking for able bodied workers, and if you’re willing to work hard and grow as a person, you have a great chance of making a lucrative career out of the job you find. 

If you have prior experience or professional vocation such as medicine, law, engineering, etc., you should have little trouble finding employment. Skilled professionals are always in demand in this area, and hospitals, legal firms, construction companies and many other enterprises are always hiring. 

Average pay rates in Knoxville are not exceptional, but the city does have a substantially lower cost of living than some of the larger cities in the state, making it easier to scrape by on a lower wage. Additionally, the close proximity of the University of Tennessee makes the prospect of gaining higher education and new opportunities more attainable. 

Crime rates in Knoxville

crime violence handcuffs

While there is a lot that can be said to Knoxville’s credit, all of it comes with one glaring caveat: crime rates. Knoxville has historically had great difficulty dealing with crime, at one point having some of the highest crime rates in the country. Although things are improving, high crime rates are something that cannot be solved overnight. 

So how unsafe is Knoxville? Let’s start by looking at violent crime rates, followed by property crime rates. The violent crime rate in Knoxville is nearly twice that in most of the country, at over 8 incidents per 1,000 residents per year. This can largely be attributed to systemic issues like poverty, inadequate education infrastructure, and overwrought community outreach institutions. 

Moving on to property crime, things aren’t much better. With property crime coming in at an average rate of 48 incidents per 1,000 residents per year, property crime is again more than twice as common in Knoxville as in other places around the country. While measures can be taken to reduce your risk of becoming the victim of a property crime, this is certainly something to take into account when deciding whether or not you make Knoxville your home. 

On a more positive note, it’s important to point out that things are changing. Not quickly or in an exceptional way, but things are changing. The city has poured millions of dollars into its efforts to reduce crime and eliminate its causes, but at the moment, that’s all they can do. If you’re willing to stick it out and wait for better times, Knoxville might indeed be the place for you. 


The city of Knoxville is a bit of a mixed bag. While it’s a beautiful city with a great deal of culture and heritage, it also has worrying downsides. We can’t in good conscience say it’s perfect, but it’s not a bad city either, by any stretch of the imagination. Ultimately, the decision to move is yours, and you’re the only one who can make it. However you decide, we wish you luck! 

Did you enjoy this article? Want to ask a question, or provide us with some feedback? Leave a comment in the comments section below! Our readers are our top priority, and we do our best to respond to each and every comment we receive. We do hope our article helped you in your decision!


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