Knoxville is charming, but not much more than that
Let me start by saying that Knoxville is a very charming place, and if you are looking for a new place to live that is quiet, has a growing number of "hip" things such as breweries, restaurants etc, and is affordable, then it is certainly not a bad place to call home. I have been here for about two years, and have at times really enjoyed it.
The problem is that it very often feels lifeless. I know many might disagree with this, stating that Gay street, Market square, and Old City are full of things going on. Yes there are events and parades, but the city just doesn't have a pulse. I have been fortunate to live in some bigger cities (MPLS, Seattle), and after a while I have found myself missing what bigger cities offer - art, culture, exploration, transit.
I think Knoxville will be a great city 20 years from now, but right now bike infrastructure is a joke when compares to other cities, the airport is a hassle with few direct flights, etc. I love taking photos and exploring a city, but after one photoshoot day around the city, you're done. Unlike some other cities with endless curiosity and places to explore with your camera. One nice thing about Knoxville is its location. I have been able to explore Nashville, Atlanta, Asheville, Cincinnati, Savannah, and Charleston. So that being said, Knoxville is a great base to explore the South, but after having done all that, I am ready for a new place to call home.
All in all I have tried my best to write a fair review for Knoxville. If you take it on its own terms, it is a charming, growing place to be. But it is not for everyone, and if you are looking for a place with a pulse, energy, design-focused, pedestrian-focused, etc then this is not a place for you.
On the other hand, if you are looking for a low-key, charming, friendly, maker (arts and crafts / furniture), affordable, everyone knows everyone kind of town, then I'd recommend considering Knoxville for your next home!
Feel free to reach out with any specific questions and I'd be happy to help.
Matt | Knoxville, TN