If you’re planning to relocate to Tennessee, you are on the right track. This state boasts energetic cities, abundant natural attractions, diversity, and a thriving economy. However, you still have one big decision to make: where in TN will you relocate? If you don’t like living in big urban centers like Memphis and Nashville, there are two great options available: Chattanooga or Knoxville. 

This guide will take a closer look at each city to discover its pros and cons so you can decide where to live. 


Chattanooga vs Knoxville

Both of these TN cities have their own pros and cons. The best way to approach your decision is to look at every element that impacts what living is like in these cities. Use this opportunity to break down your priorities and match them with what each of these cities has to offer. 


Relocating to Chattanooga

Chattanooga is a small city located close to the border with Georgia. It is known as a railroad town and played a vital role in the early history of Southern manufacturing. The city also played a major role during the Civil War.

Recently, Chattanooga has earned its reputation as a tourist hub. Many are discovering the natural wonders of Chattanooga as excellent tourist destinations including Rock City, Ruby Falls, and the Tennessee Aquarium. This city is also located next to the Tennessee River and at the foot of the Appalachian Mountain. It is no doubt a picturesque city!

pros and cons of living in Chattanooga and Knoxville


Pros of Living in Chattanooga

1. Natural Beauty

With a nickname like “Scenic City,” it’s no surprise to know that Chattanooga is a city known for its natural scenery and beauty. The city sits in a valley between two mountain ranges: The Appalachian and Cumberland. This location provides residents of Chattanooga with outstanding mountain views. 

This city is also surrounded by lakes and rivers. These bodies of water provide stunning scenery among many of the city’s parks and nature trails. At the same time, they provide various recreational opportunities such as hiking, fishing, etc.

2. Growing Economy

Chattanooga boasts a thriving economy with lots of job opportunities. Among the major industries in the city are manufacturing, retail, automotive, healthcare, and tourism. The city has also earned a reputation as a suitable destination for startups and entrepreneurs.

3. A Sense of Community

There is a strong sense of community in Chattanooga. It plays host to many community events and festivals throughout the year. This characteristic makes this city an ideal option for families.

4. Love for Culture

Individuals who love culture will find living in Chattanooga a great experience. This city has several cultural destinations and old historic sights. You can also find many family-friendly attractions such as the Tivoli Theater, the Tennessee Aquarium, and the Hunter Museum of American Art. 


Cons of Living in Chattanooga

There are several reasons for choosing to relocate to Chattanooga. However, there are also potential drawbacks that you must be aware of.

1. High Poverty Rate

Income inequality is prevalent in the city. About 20% of its residents live at or below the poverty line (the national average is 13.6%).

2. Poor School System

Chattanooga has a poor school system. Therefore, it’s something to consider for families planning on relocating there, especially if you have school-aged children. The quality of the educational system varies based on the school and district. However, the city’s overall performance in national standardized tests is lower than the national average by 3%.

3. Risks for Allergies

The abundance of trees and plants in Chattanooga makes it a less than ideal place to live for people who are prone to allergies, especially during springtime. The high allergist-to-patient ratio in the city is something to think about as it can be a serious health issue.


Relocating to Knoxville

Like Chattanooga, Knoxville is also a valley town that sits in between the Appalachian and Cumberland mountain ranges. Its proximity to the Tennessee River also gives it an abundance of natural resources and features to explore. 

Knoxville has evolved into a major tourism center in Tennessee. However, it is best known as a college town since this is home to the University of Tennessee in Knoxville. 

Pros of Living in Knoxville


Pros of Living in Knoxville

1. Access to Good Schools

The highly-rated public school system in Knoxville makes it an attractive option for families that want to relocate there. The city boasts an extensive selection of high-quality educational institutions from grade school to the higher level. The main campus of the state’s flagship college, the University of Tennessee, is located in this city.

2. Excellent Dining

If you love food, you will enjoy living in Knoxville. This city offers an extensive array of dining options – from cheap eats to gourmet dining. There are several restaurants and eateries throughout the city. It is also the venue for the annual Knoxville Brewer’s Jam and International Biscuit Festival.

3. Lots of Great Neighborhoods

Knoxville has all kinds of neighborhoods that are suitable for people from all walks of life. There are neighborhoods for retirees, families, and young professionals. You can choose a neighborhood that matches your lifestyle and needs.

4. Vibrant Arts and Music Scene

There is a thriving art and music scene in Knoxville. It is a great alternative if you cannot afford to live in Nashville or Memphis because you can have the same opportunities to enjoy country and bluegrass music. There are also several arts and music festivals held in Knoxville throughout the year. 


Cons of Living in Knoxville

1. Public Transport is Problematic

The public transport system lacks efficiency. The best way to get around Knoxville is via car. If you don’t drive, this can be a problem.

2. Conservative

Knoxville has a conservative vibe unlike other cities in Tennessee. If you have liberal views, you might have trouble fitting in.


Chattanooga vs Knoxville: The Verdict

Which city is better: Chattanooga vs Knoxville? The answer depends on your priorities. Take time to evaluate the pros and cons listed above to help you decide on the best place to call home.