So you’re looking to buy a house in Knoxville, home of the Volunteers. Congratulations! As you know, purchasing a home requires more than just setting a realistic budget and comparing floor plans. You’ve probably already done your research about Tennessee’s third-largest city, but have you spent much time thinking about neighborhoods?
Every neighborhood has its own quirks, and they don’t always reveal themselves on a home tour or in the course of an online research. That’s why we’ve put together this handy checklist of things to look for (and avoid) as you examine possible settings for your new home.
1. School Districts
If you have kids, your new neighborhood’s school districts are probably already on your mind. With sites like niche k12 offering test scores, reviews, and other data for schools nationwide, it’s easier than ever to do some research online. But it’s still a good idea to drop in on a school board meeting, tour some campuses, or stop by an open house with your little scholar.
The website for Knox County Schools offers detailed information about each of its 88 primary, elementary, junior high, and high schools.
And even if you don’t currently have kids, that doesn’t mean you should ignore your new neighborhood’s school districts. You never know what the future will bring. And if you decide to sell, school districts can have a big effect on resale.
2. Property Taxes
When you buy a house, a mortgage payment isn’t the only new bill you’ll have on your plate. You’ll also be on the hook for property taxes. To find your potential home’s value — as well as the value of the land it sits on — contact the Knox County Property Assessor. All you have to do is enter your address to get a full suite of details about your home: its valuation, the date it was built, and when major repairs have been completed. For tax rates, the Knox County Trustee offers a similar service and will provide recent tax payments for your potential home.
3. Green Spaces
Everybody likes a big yard. But don’t overlook the benefits of a local park. Shared green spaces are more than just great spots to throw the baseball around or have an afternoon picnic: They’re an integral part of a neighborhood’s makeup, places where everyone can meet and build relationships. So when you’re touring houses, keep an eye out for shared spaces. Do the basketball courts have nets? Does the playground look safe? How’s the duck pond? For a complete list of parks, visit the website for the Knoxville Parks and Recreation website.
4. Crime Rate
Everyone wants to live in a safe neighborhood. But sadly, not all neighborhoods are great for evening walks or unlocked screen doors. You can examine the crime rate for any Knoxville neighborhood using the Knoxville PD’s crime map, which displays incidents almost as soon as a police report is filed.
5. Eye Test
When you tour a house, walk to the front door and look outside at the other houses in the vicinity. How do they look? Are the yards well-maintained? Are the streets clean? Do you see people enjoying life outdoors? Is it noisy? Are cars speeding down the street?
In short, would you want to look out onto this neighborhood every morning? If you can’t answer yes, your new neighborhood might not be the best fit for you. But if everything looks welcoming, you might well be on your way to meeting your new neighbors.