Move to Kingsport graphic

KINGSPORT — Since the pandemic sent our nation into lockdown mode earlier this year, more than 350 families have traveled 35 miles or more to the Model City.

Though many have relocated from nearby states such as Virginia, North Carolina, Kentucky and Georgia, a good number have journeyed farther, including states such as California, Florida, New York and Texas.

From March 15 through the end of September, families have moved from 37 states and Puerto Rico to live in Kingsport. It’s a statistic former Kingsport City Manager Jeff Fleming finds rather interesting.

“It just shows the diversity of folks who are moving here and for the first time I can remember, we’ve had a substantial amount of traffic from the West Coast, California specifically,” Fleming said. “Normally, it’s been the predictable surrounding states plus New York, New Jersey. Now, it’s places like Colorado, California and Texas.”


Since retiring from the city in 2019, Fleming has worked on a contractual basis with the Kingsport Chamber of Commerce overseeing the Move to Kingsport program. His official title is relocation manager, and his duties include, among other things, responding to requests for information about Kingsport and monitoring the statistics for the program.

Earlier this month, Fleming posted his latest roundup of statistics about the people who have moved to Kingsport since the beginning of the pandemic, along with some other interesting information — the median price of homes purchased by the new residents ($239,000), the median size of the homes (2,285 square feet) and the median age of the homes (1987).

The total value of these homes is estimated to be more than $40.7 million.

Of the people Fleming has talked to since moving to Kingsport, many of them did so because of financial reasons, leaving high tax states for lower tax states. Some also moved from states still on lockdown restrictions.

“The tax laws got changed a few years ago where state and local taxes are not exempted from federal taxes like it used to be. That really ramped up folks on the fence who did not want to be double taxed, so they started looking for places with more favorable state and local taxes,” Fleming said. “Some told me they’d lose their livelihood because they’ve not been able to get out in months. Many of them aren’t coming here because of jobs. It’s because they’ve chosen to find a place that matches their desired qualities and our city happens to be one that does.”


Kingsport determines where the new residents are moving from through an application for a water tap. It’s a statistic the city has been tracking for 14 years since the inception of the program. School registrations, online property databases and social media searches garner more information about the families relocating to Kingsport and the homes they’re moving into. Then, all of that information is put into visual form to show a map on just where the people are coming from.

One person relocated to Kingsport from Hawaii, Fleming said. The gentleman was watching the World’s Longest Drive competition on the Golf Channel and saw it was taking place in Kingsport.

“He called up a Realtor and did some research on Kingsport to see how much more bang for his buck he could get if he moved here. He ended up buying a house sight unseen. Never been here before. That was a very unusual circumstance,” Fleming said. “It’s just a reminder of how incredibly blessed we are to live in a place like Kingsport, where we get very high levels of services at a very affordable cost.

“We’re now being recognized by folks outside the area and they are seeking us out. It’s a validation of the community we have and the desirability of it.”