Unicoi County. A Zoom Town for Finding A New Place to Live or Build A Business

They are calling it the great pandemic migration. Remote workers, retirees, and those in search of affordable housing are moving. Unicoi County and Erwin are quickly becoming a Zoom Town for some of that migration.

A quick check of median asking prices and square footage costs for finished living space for homes in different part of the nation tells the story.

Infographic for Zoom Article

Realtor Charlie Oliver, of EXP Realty, selling homes in an eight-county region in Western North Carolina and eight counties in Northeast Tennessee says that he has witnessed a dramatic increase in the number of clients interested in moving to Unicoi County.

“The pandemic brought to light many important changes in thinking about moving to Unicoi County,” Oliver explains. “Higher property taxes, North Carolina’s state income tax, high home prices and an area whose population is swelling with an influx of residents from northern and western states are some of the factors that I hear from my clients. We are serving a lot of clients in the Carolina region now moving to Unicoi County.”

Oliver moved his family from Buncombe County, NC to Unicoi County recently. “I am paying about a third less in property taxes here and was able to find a great home for less money.”

Zillow.com, an online home listing service recently published an analysis of home searches found that for-sale suburban homes attract more than three times as much of Zillow’s traffic as urban listings. Search traffic for finding a new home was up 42 percent in June over the same time last year. Searches for new construction homes was up 82 percent.

“I have clients who drive to work in Asheville and come home to Unicoi County each day.”

Charlie Oliver
EXP Realty

Overall, Tennessee’s quality of life and lower cost of living should be of interest to almost every corner of America and states in between. The state has no income tax, no tax on pension income, ranks second in the nation in low local and state taxes. Tennessee ranks fifth lowest among states for overall cost of living, on average between 10–15 percent less than the national average.

For former Atlanta Falcons Head Coach Mike Smith, who built and lives in his new mountain home in Unicoi County, the move from Atlanta was an easy decision. “Even when I drive up from my other north Atlanta home, I can get to Unicoi County more quickly than sometimes driving to south Atlanta—and it is a much more beautiful drive. More people need to discover what I’ve found in a perfect mountain home in Unicoi County,” Smith concludes.

Another factor in migration from large metropolitan areas is the emergence of a remote workforce. The pandemic saw many companies allowing their employees to work from home to reduce the possibilities of transmission of the virus. A recent survey of consumers by Datassential found that 25 percent of Americans were still working remotely in November.

For Unicoi County, one gigabyte fiber internet connectivity by Erwin Utilities is a unique selling point for a remote workforce and those looking to build a business in the county. Square One, a co-working space for remote workers in the county even offer office space for business startups in search of a welcoming environment.

“There is tremendous potential for businesses who have been severely impacted by COVID or who have a focus on outdoor tourism here in Unicoi County, says Tyler Engle, Executive Director of the Unicoi County Joint Economic Development Board. “There is an existing outdoor tourism base here and a renovated downtown for restaurants and merchants to start a business here.”

“Unicoi County offers a different pace to life that many in the Asheville area are looking for,” says Oliver. “My clients are looking for a safe and tranquil existence yet have the ability to easily access to the restaurants and shopping that Asheville can provide. From Unicoi County, you are about 30 minutes from Asheville. I have clients who drive to work in Asheville and come home to Unicoi County each day.”

“I see the demand for homes, apartments, mountain land for a future home and patio homes for retirees growing for the foreseeable future in Unicoi County,” Oliver concludes. “I also see opportunities for home remodelers who can modernize some of the beautiful homes here for the next generation of families. Unicoi County is rapidly becoming a Zoom Town.”


Want to learn more about living or retiring to Unicoi County? Explore more at realwildunicoicounty.com/live



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