Johnson City, TN

Niche Ranks Johnson City as Tops in Tri-Cities

John M. Dabbs
Johnson City, TennesseeJohnson City/Facebook

Niche ( continues to rank Johnson City, Tennessee as the best city in Tri-Cities metropolitain area on many fronts. Johnson City grabs the top spot for places to live, raise a family, being the most diverse place to live, and having the best public schools.

Growing pains

Johnson City is the most populous of the tri-cities, with a population of more than 66,500. The suburban residents are split 50-50 between those who rent and homeowners. Niche gives Johnson City a grade A on public schools, and an A- on being good for families, outdoor activities, commuting, and it's nightlife. We also see some Bs, with a B+ for diversity, and B for housing, cost of living and weather. The job situation is a B- for JC. We unfortunately get a C for crime rate and safety. Room for improvement here.

Johnson City sign and Founders Park at King StreetJohnson City/Facebook

We don't often think about it, but Johnson City is really a suburb of Knoxville. It's also one of the best places to live in Johnson City. Living in Johnson City offers the feel of a dense suburban area. We have a lot of parks and recreational areas in town.

There are many young professionals who live in Johnson City. Being a college town it is home to East Tennessee State University, with medical and pharmacy schools under the ETSU umbrella. There are also other college and universities just outside of Johnson City.

Most of the residents appear conservative, but with the college-town vibe and growth of the town, there are more liberal elements visible in the community. Most of communities around the university are LGBTQ friendly.

Johnson City is a medical town, not just a college town. Many of the good paying jobs are in the medical field. There are many medical practices, specialties, and affilliated clinics in the Johnson City area. The regions largest health system, Ballad Health, also has their headquartes and flagship hospital (Johnson City Medical Center) in the city.

The renewed growth in the downtown area has begun to revitalize areas adjacent to downtown, including the Walnut Street area, between ETSU campus and downtown.

We see much progress in the area with the General Mills property being restored and renovated by Summers-Taylor Construction. The dramatic changes to the property have given a new feel the whole area.

Event space
Founders Park across from the millJohnson City/Facebook

The nearby Founders Park adjacent to the mill property has become a great venue space for parks and other outdoor events in the city. The Blue Plumb and other festivals, which have cancelled this year and last year due to COVID-19, are to make excellent use of the space along with other events when the city and all events are fully back in swing.

State-wide comparisons

We often wonder how we compare to other parts of the state. According to Niche:

  • #6 of 101 in Suburbs with the best public schools in Tennessee
  • #8 of 203 in places with best public schools in Tennessee
  • #14 of 101 in best Suburbs to live in Tennessee
  • #16 of 101 in best suburbs for young professionals to live in Tennessee

Crime and Safety

Crime and safety of residents and visitors appear to be a concern for many. According to a poll, Niche finds just over half of residents feel pretty safe (53%), saying they are aware of the crime but are not personally impacted. Less than half of the population (47%) believe the police to be visible and responsive to crime.

Assaults appear to be the biggest number divergent from National crime statistics. Johnson City records indicate 325.9 assaults per 100,000 people. The national average 282.7 per 100,000 - an increase of more than 15%.

The local transient population associated with the Veterans Administration, and homeless population may contribute to those numbers. We are also dealing with intersections of two interstates and two railway systems that converge in the area.

Recent calls for defunding of the police have not reached the agenda of Johnson City civic and community leaders. Local demonstrations have been relatively peaceful with LGBTQ and BLM groups. Such demonstrations have caught the attention of the civic leaders who are working with community groups to learn of thier issues.

Elected officials continue to work with constituents and community leaders in an effort to reform city practices and policing in an effort to help everyone involved.

Johnson City isn't perfect, but it's a pretty good place to live and work.

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An outdoor enthusiast with a passion for travel and adventure. John is a professional consultant and photojournalist.

Johnson City, TN

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