The Peaceful Side of the Smokies offers East Tennessee residents low taxes, great affordability, a pristine natural playground, and access to big-city amenities.
Often, the quality of life associated with a place can be determined by the ease of living there – the comfort, simplicity, usefulness and accessibility citizens enjoy, and the quotient of ease in Blount County is high.
This fast-growing community on the doorstep of the Great Smoky Mountains in East Tennessee has consistently ranked high as a great place to live, work, learn and play.
More than 135,000 residents call Blount County home, a number that has grown more than 8% since 2010, as newcomers discover easy access to big-city amenities that are close to some of the nation’s most remarkable natural lands and assets.
Easy to Find in East Tennessee
Blount County, which lies in the foothills of the Great Smoky Mountains, is minutes away from I-40 and I-75, two of the four major arteries that cross Tennessee. Plus, U.S. Highways 129, 321 and 411 and several Tennessee highways crisscross the county, providing excellent access for residents to travel between home, work, shopping, faith centers, entertainment and outdoor recreation.
Though commuters have proximity to major metro areas, they typically escape big-city traffic woes. The mean commute time is just 24 minutes. McGhee Tyson Airport serves as the major commercial airport in the region, an important asset to those who travel for work or leisure.
Within Blount County, the 15-mile Maryville-Alcoa Greenway connects the two largest parks of the respective cities.
“There are plans underway to connect to South Knoxville and other areas of the community,” says Jackie Mills of real estate firm Realty Executives Associates in the county seat of Maryville. “The goal is to allow people to bike to work rather than drive their car.”
Easy on the Budget
A major factor in the desirability of Blount County and its population growth is its relative affordability. The overall cost of living is 15.7% lower than the national average. There is no state income tax in Tennessee, and Mills notes that other taxes are lower than in certain places in the country.
“I’ve never felt burdened by the taxes here,” says Joy Carver, owner of Dandy Lions Gifts in historic downtown Maryville. “I’ve always felt that I receive excellent city services such as fire and police protection and garbage pickup. They also do a fantastic job with landscaping and aesthetic maintenance.”
The median home value in Blount County is $192,900, making buyers’ dream homes easier to obtain. More than 75% of residents in the county own their home.
In-Town? Suburban? Rural? Yep!
Blount County offers a variety of housing options to suit any lifestyle. Home seekers can choose between in-town living, dense suburban neighborhoods, outlying communities or mass acreage.
Single-family homes, multifamily units and farms are all available. As in many regions across the country, real estate in Blount County has entered into a seller’s market.
The county’s job opportunities, including those in advanced manufacturing, health care and hospitality sectors, and an influx in new business and excellent public and private schools have led to steady population growth.
“Many people don’t want to live in big cities anymore,” Mills says. “They are looking for a simpler lifestyle and to getting outside. We’re close to a free-admission national park with miles of hiking trails, mountains and waterfalls.”
Building continues to be strong across the county – mostly three-bed, two-bath, single-family homes in the $200,000 to $400,000 range. There has also been a huge push for new apartment homes.
Tourism Gifts the Community
With $337 million in spending and $17 million in local tax receipts (2020 stats), tourism is a huge economic driver for Blount County, where the City of Townsend houses one of three gateways to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. The park alone attracted 12.5 million visitors in 2019.
“Tourism brings people in to see that Blount County has all the amenities, but not the overcrowding” says Kim Mitchell, tourism director. “They come and buy, and small businesses benefit. Tourists are temporary taxpayers whose dollars help to fund our greenways, parks and, in general, benefit our communities in ways we need and enjoy.”