California to Tennessee Could Be a Move in the Right Direction

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According to Mayflower’s latest Finding Home study, Tennessee is one of the top states where people are relocating in search of their “forever home.”  Here is one of our customer’s stories. 

Ron Wollard, a Mayflower customer, recently moved to Knoxville from Santa Clarita, California. “Actually, it’s our fourth time moving here. Originally, I came to California for work and over the years I’ve had chances to move back to Tennessee, also work-related. Now I’m living here as a retiree.”  

“I had a good quality of life living in California, but things have changed a lot since I and my family moved there in 1969,” Wollard says. “Back then, the population was five or six million, but now L.A. County has 10 million people living in the same space. It’s expensive and crowded. As for buying a place in California, I couldn’t afford to today, even though I’d had homes there in the past.” 

Wollard’s sentiments echo the findings of our most recent Finding Home Study which revealed that 28% of those relocating or thinking about relocating cite financial reasons as a motivator. And a full 86% say housing prices in the U.S. are too expensive.  It’s also interesting to note the pandemic’s impact on retirees’ relocation choices: those over the age of 55 have moved into Tennessee at a much higher rate than pre-Covid: 45% in 2018 versus 59% in 2022. 

Should You Move to Knoxville? 

Knoxville was a perfect choice for Wollard, but would you consider moving there? Let’s look at a few reasons why the Marble City might be worth a closer look.  

The Knoxville metropolitan area was ranked in the top 25 best places to live in the United States by U.S. News and World Report, based on quality of life, the job market and its overall desirability. The city’s affordability, proximity to the Great Smoky Mountains, a calendar full of festivals and a friendly community spirit make it a dynamic, welcoming place. No wonder nearly 420 of our customers relocated there in the past year. 

“Knoxville isn’t a small town, but it’s not big like L.A.,” Wollard says. “There’s plenty to do in terms of recreational opportunities. There’s also a thriving economy. It’s a nice blend of pretty much anything you could think of.  And although it’s not a hub for the major airlines, there’s no problem getting anywhere from here.” 

According to BestPlaces.net, Wollard’s overall cost of living in Knoxville will probably be nearly 50% lower than it was back in L.A. County. And while a typical home in L.A. will set you back over $900,000, a comparable house in Knoxville goes for around $315,000. Electricity and natural gas prices are also approximately 10-15% below the national average. 

And there’s another impact to cost of living that many find beneficial: Tennessee has no state income tax.  

A Mix of Nature and Culture  

There are so many ways to get your nature fix in Knoxville. For one thing, the Tennessee River winds right through the heart of the city, offering opportunities for kayaking, paddle boarding, sailing or just enjoying the view. Knoxville is also home to the Ijams Nature Center, a 300-acre wildlife sanctuary with over 10 miles of hiking and biking trails, a scenic creek for paddling and a habitat for birds, turtles and small mammals. And let’s not forget that Great Smoky Mountains National Park, America’s most visited national park, is less than a 30-minute drive from downtown.  

For culture enthusiasts, Knoxville has an array of museums, from art to science to history. The Knoxville Museum of Art has American art, as well as Chinese, Egyptian and European works. Meanwhile, Knoxville’s music scene ranges from the Knoxville Symphony Orchestra to indie bands. Catch live music at the historic Tennessee and Bijou Theaters or on Market Square, or head to The Clarence Brown Theater to take in a play or musical. 

Knoxville is Ron’s “Forever Town” 

“I’ve moved a lot in my lifetime, probably 25 times as a kid,” Wollard says. After living in the L.A. area for 50 years, Knoxville’s a nice place to go back to. There’s a lot of natural beauty, the climate is good and there’s no state income tax. 

Wollard adds he doesn’t plan on moving again. “If I do, it will be to another home in Knoxville,” he says. “The home I live in suits me perfectly for where I am at this point in my life. My parents live down the street, so I’m close to them. They’re in their 80s, so being in Knoxville means I can spend more time with them.”  

Are you considering a Forever Home — or home for now – in Tennessee? Read more about what it’s like living in the state in our Tennessee guide.   

Still on the fence? Check out Finding Home, where we share some of the latest moving trends and motivations for moving to a new state.  

Ready to make your move? Get a quote from Mayflower to get the ball rolling. 

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