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The Cost of Living Diaries: Knoxville, TN

How much does it cost to live in Knoxville? We asked a local to give us ALL the details.

By Lindsey Hyde on May 17, 2022

Knoxville TN
Knoxville / iStock/Sean Pavone

Welcome to The Cost of Living Diaries. How much does it cost to live in Knoxville, TN? What’s an average mortgage, a cocktail, or a week’s worth of childcare? Keep reading because we asked a Knoxville local to tell us all about the cost of living in this thriving city!

Allison Comer, executive director of the children’s museum called Muse Knoxville, is a Memphis native who moved to Knoxville after college in 2011. She later moved to Denver for four years with her husband, where they got married and started a family, and then moved back in 2018. 

What brought you and your family back to Knoxville? 
We were both public school teachers in Denver, and we just realized that we did not like how big it was, the traffic, the cost of living, the childcare expenses, housing — it was all just too much for us, and we moved right back. 

brewers|jack daniel's|Crafty Bastard
Photo by Jeff Adkins

What was your experience like buying a home when you moved back?
We bought a house, and it’s kind of wild because we had purchased a home in Denver, but we waited so late because the cost of living was just skyrocketing there. We weren’t able to get the house that we loved for what we could afford as teachers. We were so lucky that we purchased our house (here) for right at $200,000. It was so affordable. It’s the space that we wanted in Denver and couldn’t have because it just doesn’t exist out there. 

How does child care in Knoxville compare to that in Denver?
Child care in Knoxville is so much more affordable than it is in Denver. It’s definitely different than in 2018 when we moved here (because of COVID-19), but by and large, it’s still much more affordable here than it was there, for sure. Right now, we have our 4-year-old in a Knox County Schools pre-K program, which is so affordable. It’s so high quality. We went from paying about $800 a month for full-time, Monday-through-Friday daycare, and then moving him to Knox County’s pre-K program, so now, we pay a little bit for that and then we pay for after-school care…but even that is just so much more affordable. 

Knoxville, TN
Knoxville / Courtesy of Wyoming_Jackrabbit under a CC 2.0 license.

What do you love about living in Knoxville?
I love the community here. I love the size of it. One thing I really appreciated in Knoxville – and I don’t feel like I appreciated it until I left it fully — was the outdoors, just how scenic it is here. You’re close to the mountains. You’re right on the river. There are lakes everywhere. And there are community events like every single weekend here (many of which are free), and we really tune into those as a family. 

What is your favorite restaurant in Knoxville, and how much is an average meal for your family there?
South Coast Pizza. It’s just south of the river, which is really just a booming area right now. And I would say dinner, beer — our little family of four. We have two toddlers that eat like grown men — we get everything, from the wings to the salad, cheese bread, pizza, everything. I would say we spend about $50 or $60, including a nice tip. 

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