Downtown Knoxville, Tenn. (population 182,000)
Regina Santore, Realtor at Coldwell Banker Wallace and Wallace Realtors in Knoxville, said the area is attracting retirees from all over the country, including some who’ve just read about it. Others had visited before to go to a college football game (Knoxville is home to the the University of Tennessee). But people have come from places such as New York City, Ohio and Maryland.
Lots of festivals, including the Big Ears Music Festival, which Rolling Stone magazine called the most ambitious and avant-garde festival to emerge in the last decade. Then there’s the Knoxville Symphony Orchestra, the Knoxville Opera, art galleries, food and wine and shopping.
She compares the feel of downtown Knoxville’s urban landscape to South Philadelphia. “Downtown Knoxville is actually pretty small, but it is extremely walkable,” she says. “It’s very friendly.” And there are things like an English pub and a new Scottish pub. “In the last five years it has become a very obvious destination place for casual dining,” she says.
Oh, and there’s the largest fireworks display in the Southeast on Labor Day. And easy access to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.
Santore says retirees are moving into condominiums in converted warehouses. Prices average $300,000 for a two-bedroom, two-bath condo.
Jane Lester, soon to be 88, and her husband, now deceased, moved to downtown Knoxville 11 years ago from Maine to be closer to her son. The big attraction now is that the downtown is so safe and she loves to walk. “One of the big attractions is I am able to walk to restaurants, and walk to library (where she volunteers) and walk to church,” she says.