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Rising rent in Knoxville pushes people to move to other cities

With rent on the rise in Knoxville, some people have to look for a more affordable place to live.

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — The cost of keeping a roof over your head in Knoxville is rising. Monthly rent averages about $1,500 per month.

But what does that mean for people that have lived in the area their entire lives? It could mean they would have to move elsewhere in East Tennessee. 

Anita Hines calls Knoxville Home but not for long, with the rising prices of apartments and houses in the area. 

"I was born here; I don't want to leave. This is my home, but I can't afford to stay," Hines said. 

Hines believes Knoxville has always been affordable but things have changed within the last few years. The mother of three kids said for a while, things were great, and housing was not as expensive as it is now. 

"We got lucky at first... we thought at $860 for a tiny two-bedroom, one-bath house."

But now her rising rent is forcing her to look for other options, along with her needing reading repairs to her home. 

“We're moving because my landlord won't fix anything... and we've got mold;  holes in the floor.” 

She wants to stay within her budget for renting a new place but hasn't had much luck.

“And now I can't even get a one-bedroom for $1,200. It's higher than that," Hines said. 

Rent.com shows the average cost for a one-bedroom apartment is more than $1,300 per month. A two-bedroom averages around $1,500 per month. That's up 20% from last year. 

The rising rent and housing shortage trend has been going on for a while. 

"We've been seeing growth in our market, from our economy to our housing market, you know, for the better part of a decade now,” said Hancen Sale at the Knox Area Association of Realtors.

Sale said with more people moving to Knoxville, combined with a shortage of rentals, it does not look like things will change anytime soon. 

“That's kind of the question of the next decade how can we continue to be affordable? And it's one question that I don't think we've answered yet,” he said. 

Data from the Knox Area Association of Realtors shows available housing in Knox County declined 76% from pre-pandemic levels. 

For Hines, time is running out. 

"There's nowhere to live. We've got five days to be out. Nowhere to go."

Hines said that her only option is to look outside the city of Knoxville. 

"I've even gone to the point to start looking toward Crossville. So it's fight or flight... and I don't have any fighting because I don't have the money to stay,” she said. 

To further stress the housing situation, experts say the monthly record of new listings will fall by the end of 2022. 

The Knox Area Association of Realtors said there are under 500 listings available right now, so homeowners are also having a tough time in this market. 

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