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11 Best Places to Live in Eastern Tennessee

Are you looking for the perfect place to call home? If so, eastern Tennessee may just be the right spot for you!

The area is known for its gorgeous scenery, friendly people, and plentiful amenities.

Check out our list of the best places to live in eastern Tennessee and see for yourself what this beautiful region has to offer.

1. Chattanooga

Aerial View of Chattanooga Tennessee Skyline

Chattanooga is the fourth-largest city in Tennessee, with a population of over 180,000 people.

The city is located in southeastern Tennessee along the Tennessee River.

Chattanooga is home to a variety of attractions, including the Tennessee Aquarium, the Chattanooga Zoo, Ruby Falls, and Lookout Mountain.

The city also has a thriving arts scene and is home to the Chattanooga Symphony & Opera and the Hunter Museum of American Art.

Chattanooga has a flourishing economy and is known for its outdoor activities, including hiking, rock climbing, and kayaking.

Great Real Estate Market – Over 16% appreciation in home prices in 1 year (August 2021 vs August 2022)
Awesome Weather – You’ll get to experience all four seasons in Chattanooga, including snow!
Great Internet – If you’re working remotely, super-fast fiber optic internet is available in most locations.
Car-Dependent – Public transportation is somewhat lacking, unless you are downtown.
Allergies – Because of the different seasons, you may be more subject to allergies.
Crime Rate – Chattanooga ranks #3 for highest crime rate in the state, based on FBI data.

2. Knoxville

A historic landmark building at University of Tennessee, Knoxville, Tennessee

Knoxville is the state’s third largest city, with a population of over 190,000 people. The city is situated along the Tennessee River.

Knoxville hosts various attractions, including the Knoxville Zoo, the Knoxville Museum of Art, and the University of Tennessee.

The city also has a vibrant music scene and is home to a number of live music venues, including the Bijou Theatre, the Knoxville Civic Auditorium, and its annual Knoxville Jazz Festival.

Great Schools – Knoxville is home to many high-scoring public schools.
Low Cost of Living – The cost of living in this beautiful city is 18% lower than the national average.
Bugs – Knoxville has a large insect population, so you’ll definitely want to find a great pest control company.
Crime Rate – The crime rate in Knoxville is one of the highest in the country and ranks #4 on the list of cities with highest crime rates in Tennessee.

3. Gatlinburg

Aerial view of skyline of downtown Gatlinburg, Tennessee USA in great smoky mountains

Gatlinburg is a popular tourist destination due to its proximity to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

The city has a population of 3,500 people and is known for its arts and crafts scene.

The town sits along the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and is home to a number of popular tourist attractions, including Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies, Ober Gatlinburg Ski Resort, and Gatlinburg Space Needle.

Gatlinburg also hosts the annual Gatlinburg Craftsmen’s Fair, which features over 200 craft vendors from all over the country.

Crime Rate – Relatively low crime rate and no homicides reported in the FBI dataset.
Outdoor Haven – There are many outdoor adventures to choose from, both in the city and in the national park.
Touristy” Location – A lot of people visit Gatlinburg because of the awesome things to see and do.
Traffic – Due to the amount of tourists, traffic is quite common. The main road through the town has only one lane each way and people often drive slow looking at the scenery.

4. Johnson City

Johnson City has a population of just over 70,000 people. The city has a strong economy and is home to East Tennessee State University.

Johnson City is also known for its live music scene and its annual Blue Plum Festival, which celebrates Appalachian culture.

Crime Rate – Relatively low crime rate
Lots of History – Johnson City was the birthplace of Davey Crockett and hosted notable historical figures like Daniel Boon.
Weather – Johnson City has an average of 134 days of rain a year, and humidity during the summer is consistently above 50%.
High Sales Tax – While Tennessee is known for having no income tax and low property tax, the 9.5% sales tax in Johnson City is high.

5. Kingsport

Wide view of Glen Bruce Park in downtown, Kingsport TN USA

Kingsport has a population of 55,000 people.

The city has a strong economy and is home to Eastman Chemical Company, the largest employer in the region.

Kingsport is also known for its outdoor activities, including hiking, biking, and golfing. Each year the Kingsport Office of Cultural Arts presents a Sculpture Walk exhibition, which exhibits local artists’ talent.

Musically Inclined – All public school children have the option of learning a musical instrument.
Region – Kingsport is part of the Tri-Cities region and is just 20 minutes away from its neighbors, Bristol and Johnson City.
Big Business – Residents report that Eastman Chemical Company has a lot of influence over the schools and the newspaper.
Crime – Kingsport ranks 11th in the country for total crime, based on the 2020 FBI Crime Report.

6. Bristol

Bristol Tennessee Welcome Sign, landmark in the twin cities positioned over state street in Bristol TN USA

Bristol is located in northeastern Tennessee and is home to 27,000 people.

The city has a strong economy and is home to Bristol Motor Speedway, one of the most popular NASCAR tracks in the country.

Bristol also hosts the annual Bristol Rhythm & Roots Reunion music festival, which features over 100 musical acts from all over the world.

If you’re looking for natural beauty, Bristol’s caves do not disappoint. Visit the magnificent Bristol Caverns, complete with an underground river.

Country Music – Did you know that Congress declared Bristol the birthplace of country music in 1998?
Tax Choices – Bristol is on the border with Virginia. Living in Tennessee means no income tax, but a short drive across to Virginia means a much lower sales tax.
Small City – The smallest of the tri-cities, Bristol may not have all the amenities you are looking for.
Limited Job Opportunities – Job opportunities are limited in the Bristol area, and you may need to commute across the border into Virginia or a neighboring city for better employment opportunities.

7. Elizabethton

Elizabethton is located in northeastern Tennessee and has a population of just over 14,000 people.

The city has a strong economy and is home to Sycamore Shoals State Historic Park, which features a reconstruction of Fort Watauga, one of the first European settlements in Tennessee.

Each year, Elizabethton is home to the Covered Bridge Festival, which hosts many live entertainment options and children’s activities.

Every Saturday in October, the local car club offers a “Cruise In” event where car enthusiasts showcase their vehicles on Main Street.

For nature lovers, Elizabethton is a great place for hiking and nature walks. It’s home to Blue Hole Falls and only a 15-minute drive from the Appalachian Trail trailhead.

Small Town Charm – Elizabethton gives off those small town vibes you may be looking for.
Good Schools – The schools in Elizabethton get positive reviews from students and parents.
High Sales Tax – Elizabethton sales tax is 9.75%, the maximum allowed in Tennessee.
Limited Home Options – This small town doesn’t have very many homes for sale, and if you’re looking a property larger than 2 acres, you won’t find many options.

8. Pigeon Forge

A colorful display from the island show fountain in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee

Pigeon Forge is a small town in southeastern Tennessee with a population of around 6,000 people.

The town is nestled along the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and is home to a number of popular tourist attractions, including the Dollywood theme park, WonderWorks science museum, and Titanic: The Experience museum.

Pigeon Forge also hosts a number of annual events, including Winterfest and the Smoky Mountain Tunes & Tales festival.

Many Activities – Because it’s a tourist attraction, there are plenty of options for fun and adventure in Pigeon Forge. Locals can even get discounted season passes.
Lower Rent – While Pigeon Forge does have a high cost of living compared to other areas of Tennessee, rent in Pigeon Forge is lower than the state average.
Tourist Town – Pigeon Forge is arguably one of the most popular places to visit in Tennessee. Because of this, it attracts a lot of out-of-town visitors.
High Crime Rate – The crime rate in Pigeon Forge is higher than the national average.

9. Sevierville

Aerial View of Sevierville, Tennessee on a Hazy Fall Sunrise

Sevierville is a small town located in southeastern Tennessee with a population of around 18,000 people.

The town is situated along the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and is home to a number of popular tourist attractions, including Sevier Distilling Company, Smokies Waterpark Resort and Family Adventure Center, and Five Oaks Farm Kitchen restaurant.

Sevierville also hosts a number of annual events including Bloomin’ Barbeque & Bluegrass festival and Smoky Mountain Speedway races.

Beautiful Scenery – There is a lot to see and do in Sevierville, and the city actively works to improve the historic downtown area.
Good Schools – Schools in Sevierville and surrounding cities have generally good reviews.
Tourists – Sevier County is home to both Sevierville and Pigeon Forge. That means you’ll have increased tourist traffic.
High Taxes – Sevierville is another city that has the highest sales tax rate permitted in Tennessee (9.75%).

10. Townsend

Aerial view city of Townsend in Tennessee next to the smoky mountains

Townsend is a small town in southeastern Tennessee with a population of around 500 people.

The town is located beside the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and is known as “The Peaceful Side of the Smokies.”

Townsend is home to a number of popular tourist attractions, including Cades Cove Riding Stables, Great Smoky Mountains Heritage Center, and Little Arrow Outdoor Resort campground.

Townsend also hosts an annual event called “Old Timers Day,” which celebrates the history and culture of the area.

Quiet – Townsend is secluded and quiet, making it the ultimate small town for those seeking some rest and relaxation.
Wildlife – Wildlife sightings are frequent here.
Vehicle-Dependent – Because Townsend is so secluded, you will need a vehicle to get to any major shopping centers.
Low Housing Inventory – Because Townsend is such a small town, it can be hard to find a traditional home for sale within the city limits.

11. Norris

Norris Lake Tennessee Blue Sky Green Water

Norris is a cozy little town nestled in the foothills of the Great Smoky Mountains.

The town is named after George W. Norris, who served five terms in the US House of Representatives from 1903 to 1913.

Today, Norris is home to just over 1,600 residents. The town has several quaint restaurants and is home to a museum dedicated to Appalachian history, as well as a nature center and several hiking trails.

Nearby towns of Clinton and Andersonville provide more options for dining and shopping.

Transplants to Norris will find plenty to do, from exploring the great outdoors to simply sitting back and enjoying the peace and quiet of this friendly mountain community.

Low Crime – Norris is one of the cities with the lowest crime rates in Tennessee.
Norris Lake – Norris has its own lake, which is great for people who love boating and fishing
Low Home Inventory – It can be hard to find a home for sale in Norris. If you are looking to move soon, you may need to expand your search area to neighboring cities.
Limited Job Opportunities – Due to its small size, there aren’t a lot of jobs available.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the weather like in eastern Tennessee?

If you’re planning a trip to eastern Tennessee, you’ll want to pack accordingly. The weather in this region can be quite varied, depending on the time of year.

In the summer months, the temperatures can reach up to 90°F, with high humidity levels making it feel even hotter.

In the winter months, eastern Tennessee can be chilly, with temperatures dipping as low as 20°F.

If you’re planning a winter visit, make sure to pack your coats and gloves.

Does eastern Tennessee get tornados?

According to National Weather Service reports, eastern Tennessee sees fewer tornados than any other part of the state. In fact, as of June 2022, eastern Tennessee had not yet had any tornados.

What is it like living in East Tennessee?

Eastern Tennessee offers living experiences to suit almost anyone. If you’re looking for city life, you can choose to settle down in one of its metro areas.

You can also live along the waterfront at numerous lakes and rivers, or choose a remote forest cabin and enjoy the sights and sounds of nature.

Is eastern Tennessee a nice place to live?

Eastern Tennessee is the perfect place for you if you want to live somewhere with gorgeous mountains, peaceful lakes, and nature-filled forests.

In addition, Tennessee is known for its low property taxes and no income tax.