Cost of living in Johnson City still below national average

Brandon Paykamian • Mar 11, 2019 at 9:26 AM

In other, more urban areas of the country, rapid growth has meant a rise in the cost of living, particularly in the housing market. A good example of this is Asheville, North Carolina’s median house price, which nearly doubled to around $240,000 over the past 15 years.

Here in Johnson City, it's a different story when it comes to housing and overall cost of living, according to Ken Rea, deputy director of the First Tennessee Development District.

Since Johnson City has not been experiencing rapid population growth, Rea said the cost of living in Johnson City has been able to stay relatively the same over the past few years. Since 2010, the city’s population has risen from around 63,600 to 66,400. 

“I think we’ve seen a little bit of growth in the Johnson City area, but (Northeast Tennessee’s) population growth has been relatively flat, with the exception of Washington County,” he said. “If your population is experiencing moderate growth or just staying the same, there’s less new people coming into the market to buy a new home.”

The average rent for a one-bedroom apartment in Johnson City currently sits at around $610. According to statistics from www.smartasset.com, the average rent for a one-bedroom apartment in Tennessee is almost $860.

The median home cost in Tennessee is around $156,000, compared to the national average of about $275,000. In Johnson City, that number is $145,000.

This is good news for people looking to find cheaper homes, but not for many in real estate looking to rake in serious dough. While Johnson City has witnessed significant economic growth in recent years, the low cost of living in Johnson City is also partly because the area has not experienced the type of economic growth compared to more urbanized areas.

“What we’re seeing nationally is (that) urban areas have been growing at a very good rate, but rural areas, it’s a mixed bag. For the most part, there’s been little and no growth in very rural areas, and we’re kind of in-between,” Rea said. “Once you get outside, you’re in more of a rural setting.” 

According to www.bestplaces.net, Johnson City sits 11.3 points below the national average for cost of living at 88.7. This number reflects the cost of groceries, health, housing, utilities and miscellaneous expenses. 

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