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Living a College Town Lifestyle in Johnson City, Tennessee

The 14,000 students of East Tennessee State University call Johnson City their part-time home. The town and area is located in extreme northeastern Tennessee.  The area is becoming popular because of its low cost of living and its friendly, welcoming people.  Johnson City is near Kingsboro and Jonesborough, and only about 60 miles north of Asheville.  There is plenty of great recreation in the area and nearby mountains.

Where to Retire in Johnson City and Home Prices

There are active adult communities in Johnson City (see link top left). 
The median home value was $236,159 in mid-2022, according to Zillow, and a 21.3% increase over the past year.

What Is Special about Johnson City

Low cost of living and welcoming people - Tennessee is one of the states that is working hard to attract retirees. East Tennessee State University is in town with over 13,000 students. Al Capone was said to have had bootleg liquor operations in Johnson City.

What Is Not Special about Johnson City

Tennessee is a conservative state so it might take liberal folks from the northeast a little adusting.  People in town tend to be more liberal than those living nearby.

Climate and Physical Environment

Johnson City is in the extreme northeastern corner of Tennessee, just below West Virginia and to the west of North Carolina. It is near the Blue Ridge Mountains.

Restaurants & Cultural Scene

Bluegrass music is big in Johnson City. The Blue Plum Festival is a major annual arts and musical festival. East Tennessee State adds to the local culture.


The crime rate is  slightly above the national average.

Medical Facilities

Johnson City serves as a regional medical center for northeast Tennessee and southwest Virginia, along with parts of western North Carolina and Kentucky. Although there are two major hospital systems in the Tri-Cities, only one – Mountain States Health Alliance – has a presence in Johnson City.

The Johnson City Medical Center, designated a Level 1 Trauma Center by the State of Tennessee, is MSHA's flagship institution. Also affiliated with the center are the Niswonger Children's Hospital, a domestic affiliate of St. Jude Children's Research Hospital and Woodridge Hospital, a mental health and chemical dependency facility.

Franklin Woods Community Hospital is a LEED-certified facility located in North Johnson City. The "green" hospital (opened July 12, 2010) encloses approximately 240,000 square feet (22,000 m2) on a 25-acre (100,000 m2) lot adjacent to The Wellness Center inside MedTech Park. The hospital has 80 licensed beds and a 22-room Emergency Department. Of the licensed beds, 20 are dedicated to Women’s and Children’s Services.

The James H. & Cecile C. Quillen Rehabilitation Hospital, also located in North Johnson City, serves patients who have suffered debilitating trauma, including stroke and brain-spine injuries.

Additionally, the James H. Quillen VA Medical Center, located in the Mountain Home community in Johnson City's southside, serves veterans in the four-state region. The center is closely involved with the ETSU College of Medicine.


There is a regional TN airport about 10 miles away, the Asheville Airport is 63 miles.  Interstate 26 connects Johnson City and Asheville through the Blue Ridge Mountains.

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