Thinking About Making the Move to Tennessee? Read This Guide First.
Table of Contents
- Let’s Start With Location — Where Are The Best Places To Live?
- Work And Employment — What Is That Like?
- The Tennessee Real Estate Market
- Can I Afford It — What’s The Cost Of Living?
- Is Tennessee A Good Place To Retire?
- What About The People And Culture In Tennessee?
- Some Of The Coolest Things To Do In Tennessee
- Pros And Cons Of Moving To Tennessee
- Fun Facts And Strange Laws
Majestic mountains, rolling hillsides, southern charm, and MUSIC are just a few of the things that Tennessee tends to bring to mind. Tennessee is known for its boundless appreciation of country music, bluegrass, and rock and roll, home to the origins of many of our favorite genres and artists.
Yet, despite it being touted as “the Music Capital of the world”, that’s not the only thing that Tennessee has to offer. If you happen to be contemplating a move to Tennessee, this guide will help you explore all that Tennessee has to offer and everything that you will need to know before packing up your belongings and buying a home here.
Will Tennessee be the right move for you? Let’s find out!
Let’s Start With Location — Where Are The Best Places To Live?
Tennessee is the 16th most populated state in the country, and for good reason. Each city in Tennessee has its own special spark of appeal, community vibe and amenities. Which option is best is hard to say, and likely different for each individual person. We suggest making a list of your needs and wants. For example, is a high-quality educational system important? Or is having a vibrant local nightlife more appealing?
Consider asking others online in your social circle who may live or have made the move to the area. Ask them about what they like best/least, and what they wish they would have known prior to making the move. This simple task can help you uncover aspects you may not have initially thought about.
Despite the different areas of appeal, there is one thing that will always remain the same — the sweet vibe of Southern hospitality!
With that in mind, and in no particular order, let’s take a look at the best places to live in the state of Tennessee!Want a free online moving quote? See our recommendations (January 24, 2020)
Nashville — The Place To Start New
Nashville is known for its high quality of life, amenities, attractions, culture, and comparatively low cost of living when looking at other major cities in other states; which is great for those who are looking for a fresh start!
Nashville is proud of their home-style Southern cooking (specifically their famous spicy fried chicken) as well as their breweries and craft beer! And if you happen to love music, then don’t even hesitate to check out Nashville’s amazing free live music festivals and famous outdoor concerts!
Aside from the endless amounts of year-round events, Nashville also happens to be a friendly city for those who are looking to launch and grow their business or career. But even if you’re not an entrepreneur, Nashville’s rapidly growing job market will make your move to the Music City that much easier when it comes to kickstarting your life with a new job!
- The place to start a new life
- Entrepreneur friendly and rapidly growing job market
- Great for hiking, biking, climbing, and walking through scenic trails and parks
- Live concerts, music, festivals, and a friendly community altogether
Come visit Music City USA!
“Nashville is the Capital of TN and a progressive young city and hasn’t stopped growing in the last 20 years. If you like southern cooking, music and having a great time this is a place to come. When we moved, we wanted fun culture, diverse city, warm climate and great cost of living. This city has it all. We live in Williamson County just south of Nashville to get the best public education and that neighborhood feel we desired.
The music scene and downtown entertainment distract bringing in millions of visitors every year. Most of them want to listen to music and enjoy a cold beer.
I’m a financial advisor that loves meeting new people from all over the US. We ask everyone where they are from because you have about a 80% chance it’s not Nashville!”
Todd Meucci, Managing Director – Goodson Wealth Management
Knoxville — A Popular ‘After-College’ Destination
Not sure where to go after graduating from college? Well, look no further than Knoxville, TN! Known as the “happiest city to work in,” Knoxville has affordable housing and transportation and a low cost of living, two of the primary reasons it recently landed on the list of the “top 10 cities for economic growth and college grads”!
And if you happen to have a strong love for the water, then you will love the fact that the Tennessee River starts right in Knoxville, giving you endless exciting watersports and outdoor activities to choose from — whether you rent a canoe, take a paddle boat ride along the river, hop on a jet ski, or fight the waves on a kayak, Knoxville gives you everything you can think of when it comes to those warm water activities!
But you don’t have to be into water sports to enjoy this vibrant city. The Downtown Renaissance area has amazing new shops, restaurants, bars, and good old southern entertainment! Knoxville is the city where you are just as happy working as you are having fun!
- The place to live after college — top 10 cities for college grads
- Affordable housing, transportation, low cost of living
- Great place for outdoor sports enthusiasts
- Awesome nightlife opportunities and entertainment
Johnson City — The Place To Start A Family
If you’re looking for a location that is great for raising a family, then Johnson City is the spot for you! The housing may be on the expensive side, but the affordable rent options is what makes Johnson City perfect for those broke after college years. Surround yourself with other young, family-oriented professionals who are working their way into the world right after college. This city is filled with parks, waterfalls, mountains, rivers, and lots of unique history and art! So settle down in the secured town of Johnson City where the cost of rent won’t throw you into debt!
- Great for young professionals who are looking to start or raise a family
- Expensive housing, but extremely affordable rent options
- A unique culture and outdoor leisurely activities
- Comfortably work your way into a single-family home
Chattanooga —The Place To Grow Your Business
Chattanooga is known as the “gig city” of Tennessee, and its entrepreneur-friendly nature is what attracts many individuals to this interesting area of startups and business! With its fast-growing tourism sector, technology, and metro areas, Chattanooga is an energetic yet peaceful city that will boost your business inspiration and motivate you to follow that path to business success!
Aside from its passionate and eclectic vibe, Chattanooga is filled with an entertaining nightlife of camping, cave exploration, upscale shops and boutiques, and of course, their coffee and cafés! After all, what better way to kickstart the hustle and grind of entrepreneurism then with a world-famous cup of Chattanooga coffee!
- Entrepreneur friendly location for startups, young professionals, and the freelance community
- Annual festivals, parades, fairs, and music venues
- Technology inspired, smoke-free parks with access to free internet
- Great place to turn your ideas into a business
Tennessee is fantastic!
“Many people asked why I moved to Tennessee and it came down to this, Chattanooga is the perfect fit for my lifestyle now. The city is insanely supportive of entrepreneurs and small business, there is a lot of local culture and activities, and it’s very family friendly. The lack of state income taxes and affordable real estate was a nice bonus too. I have now been for over 2 years, purchased my first house on Signal Mountain and created an ever-expanding group of fellow business owners and professionals I call both colleagues and friends.”
Channing Muller, Principal – DCM Communications
Memphis, Tennessee — The Bonus Location!
There are songs about it, articles glorifying it, and people constantly talking about it…welcome to Memphis, TN — the “home within your home”!
Memphis is a unique paradise location, starting with its impressively low cost of living. In fact, whether you’re thinking about renting or buying, the cost of living in Memphis is 18% lower than the national average as a whole! And if you happen to be raising a family, it’s good to note that the schooling system exceeds the national standard of education, all the way through college! The city also recognizes the importance of athletics in education, so if you happen to be an aspiring athlete, these schools won’t let you down!
As you may or may not know, Memphis is the birthplace of rock and roll music, and is also known for its amazing inspirational festivities — from BBQs to fine dining, to music festivals and a wild outdoor nightlife, Memphis is the city of education and athletics as well as the hotspot for non-stop excitement, culture, and old fashioned American history!
If you’re a beer lover, then you will be thrilled to find out that Memphis happens to be known for its locally brewed craft beers, which is exactly the beverage you need when you’re being pulled into a crowd of upbeat country dancing! The exotic animals are as free to roam around as the actual tourists and residents, which gives Memphis that extra touch of comfort!
Memphis, TN is a location that welcomes all to its borders. And with a little something for everyone, Memphis might be the new “home” you’ve been looking for.Need cheap moving supplies? Fast free delivery (January 24, 2020)
Work And Employment — What Is That Like?
Tennessee is a business-friendly and entrepreneur welcoming state. Unlike some other states in the country, Tennessee makes it easy for family-owned stores and entrepreneurs to set up shop and thrive within its borders.
Furthermore, the state of Tennessee is heavily influenced by music festivals and art, with the tourism industry lifting up the local economy and presenting a myriad of job opportunities when it comes to launching your career.
Let’s take a closer look at the industries and careers that keep the Tennessee economy flowing!
*In no particular order
- Film production
Top Careers By Income
Top careers by income are similar to the rest of the nation, dominated by healthcare, technology, management, and manufacturing.
- Leading Healthcare Careers Include: physicians, psychiatrists, dentists and surgeons
- Leading Business Careers Include: Chief executives, management, accounting, finance, and more
- Leading Technology Careers Include: Computer networking, computer engineer, data science, cybersecurity, and more.
Although the aforementioned rank among the highest in terms of income, the state boasts a diverse range of employment and career opportunities that will satisfy both your wallet and your passions.
From white-collar to blue-collar, startups to Fortune 500s, you’ll have a myriad of options to choose from that don’t require a doctorate degree!
So, you can clearly see why Tennessee’s “make it here, take it anywhere” motto makes sense!Want a free online moving quote? See our recommendations (January 24, 2020)
Tennessee is home to 79 airports — one of which happens to be the 2nd busiest cargo airport in the world! It also has the 3rd largest rail center as well as the country’s 5th largest inland port!
Tennessee is also rated #1 in the southeast for best infrastructure, #1 in the nation for transportation employment, and TVA Power gives Tennessee the award for the country’s largest public power providers! TVA Power landing in the number one spot for electricity makes sense when it comes to powering businesses, homes, and establishments for a very cheap price!
Like we said before, “make it here, take it anywhere,” and their affordable public power provider services help to prove that you can do just that!
Minimum Wage And State Taxes
The downside to working in Tennessee is that their minimum wage is at the lowest that the nation will allow for basic hourly jobs —TN has been caught in a ten-year loop of providing a mere $7.25/hr starting minimum wage.
But don’t worry…The good news is that, despite the state’s basic wage minimum, individual businesses and companies tend to choose (voluntarily) to offer starting salaries higher than the mandated minimum. So while Tennessee politicians focus on other important aspects of the TN economy, the smaller businesses and companies have your back when it comes to personal income!
That’s what we call employee appreciation!
Wage Overtime Requirement
Another thing to note is that, while the minimum wage is extremely low, Tennessee has an overtime minimum wage requirement, which most states fail to even offer! This means that, if you work overtime, you are guaranteed an overtime payment of at least 1.5x your current hourly wage! So even if your income is $7.25/hr, you are guaranteed at least $10.88/hr if you work over 40 hours a week — and that’s just the minimum!
State Income Tax
But, that’s not all! Tennessee also happens to be one of the nine states that does not have a state income tax! That’s right — you get to keep every penny that you earn!
Especially if you’re working for those minimum wage rates, a lack of income tax is great news! But it gets even better, because Tennessee’s lack of income tax applies to any overtime you earn as well — so you get to keep your overtime wages too!
Of course, there has to be a catch to the fact that companies usually override TN state minimum wage and lack of income tax. And that catch is the sales tax; for TNs sales tax is at 9%, which is higher than the national sales tax average.
In the end, when it comes to minimum wages and state taxes, it’s a very hot and cold subject. But, as long as you budget your money accordingly, which is necessary, no matter where you live, then these numbers shouldn’t be much of a threat — there are a lot of silver linings that can be found as it relates to the state’s low minimum wages. Tennessee always seems to be taking matters into their own hands to help out their residents in any way they can!
We have exciting news to report here: Tennessee’s unemployment rate has dropped in 90 out of the 95 counties just this past year! Currently, the state sits at an unemployment rate of 3.4% (just under the national average). Best of all, many experts project that the job market will continue to steadily grow, especially in industries including hospitality, transportation, and entertainment.
In fact, in 2019, while the unemployment rate was dropping, the job market was increasing, and ended up at a yearly increase of 1.8%! This steady economic growth could possibly be a result of Tennessee’s welcoming nature towards businesses and startups, entrepreneurs, and the entire freelance community as a whole!
When it comes to work and employment, the people and employers of Tennessee have your back, even if the state’s low minimum wage and high sales tax as a whole don’t.
Free College Education?!
Before we dive into Tennessee’s overall cost of living as compared to the national average, it is important to note that TN offers something that no other state in the country offers; and that is, free community college for high school graduates!
That’s right — if you’re an aspiring college student who is dreading the possibility of educational debt, Tennessee has your back! So instead of spending money on that expensive Ivy League college, start off with a debt-free credit report, attend community college for free, and spend that money on something more beneficial…for example, a house!
The Tennessee Real Estate Market
According to Zillow, the Median home cost in TN ranges around $164,500-$185,922, with home values having gone up 5.4% over the past year. Many predict this trend to continue with a projected increase in home values of around 3.5% in the coming year, making a TN home a solid investment in your future.
Tennessee Statewide Averages
- Median Home Cost — $164,500
- Median Listing Price — $255,000
- Median List Price Per Sq Ft — $133/sq ft
- Average Rent Cost — $985/mo
- Median Home Value — $172,000
- Average Days On Market — 63
- Airbnb Occupancy Rate — 53%
Tennessee Real Estate Bests
- Best Time To Buy — December
- Best Time To Sell — June
- Best Time To List — May
- Best Places To Invest
- Mount Juliet
- Best TN Markets
- Best Cities For AirBnB
Tennessee is known for its flat rent rates, rising home value, and it also happens to have the lowest property taxes in the country. Having said that, throw in its strong healthcare system, and you just may have yourself an ideal new home location!Want a free online moving quote? See our recommendations (January 24, 2020)
Can I Afford It — What’s The Cost Of Living?
For the most part, the cost of living in Tennessee is lower than the national average as a whole. So, even if what you earn is the state’s minimum wage, Tennessee is still completely affordable when it comes to everyday life!
But let’s compare…
The Cost Of Living In Tennessee Compared To The National Average
*The National Average is at 100
- Overall — 87.6
- Grocery — 95.4
- Health — 101.9
- Housing —71.2
- Utilities — 96.7
- Transportation — 90.2
- Misc — 95
Especially when it comes to housing, Tennessee’s cost of living is drastically lower than most other states in the country! In fact, TN is considered to be one of the most affordable states in general — so if you’re looking to start a brand new life, this just may be the place to do it! Speaking of low housing costs, let’s take a look at…Need cheap moving supplies? Fast free delivery (January 24, 2020)
Is Tennessee A Good Place To Retire?
For all the retirees looking for the perfect retirement location, Tennessee is quite “retirement friendly”! No matter if you’re looking to kick back and relax with family and friends, or explore a second career, TN has everything you could ever need (and on a budget too).
The Best Places To Retire In Tennessee
Let’s explore some of TN’s more popular places to retire. In no particular order…
Sweetwater is perfect for those who have family and grandkids that love to visit! From theme parks and boat rides to underground lakes and caves, there’s a chance that your family will beg to move in! But, Sweetwater isn’t just for the kids; this city is known to be one of the most relaxing cities for retirees in TN!
There are lots of community-driven activities such as wine tastings, antique shows, and of course, annual art and music festivals! This city has a rural, peaceful vibe with urban conveniences and amenities! Sweetwater was also rated as one of the best places to retire in the US!
As “a southern gem hiding in the shadow of Nashville,” Franklin was also rated as one of the best places for retirees in the US! In Franklin, you will find endless trails of scenic landscapes, theaters, and unique shopping boutiques and restaurants in this historically upscale yet quaint, homey town of Franklin!
If you’re more of an entertainment seeker, then Germantown is the perfect location for you! It almost seems like Germantown is a never-ending string of year-round excitement and activities! Why not catch one of Germantown’s world-famous horse show competitions? Or, if you’re more into art, check out one of the many craft fairs that happen here!
Germantown is perfect for outdoor picnics in the park, or a day trip to Memphis to experience the excitement of those Tennessee music festivals! If you want to be close enough to experience the action yet still be able to relax in peace, then live at ease in the safety of this retiree-oriented city!
Pigeon Forge has a robust and active retirement community center, making it the perfect destination for retired social butterflies wanting to meet new friends, make meaningful connections and interact with others.
Not only is Pigeon Forge the home of Dolly Parton, but it is also known for its elaborate car shows, exceptional golfing, festive music events, upscale dining, and beautiful mountainous landscapes! This city is also perfect for those who want to get involved with the community — there are many volunteer opportunities to start off the glorious life of leisurely retirement!Want a free online moving quote? See our recommendations (January 24, 2020)
What About The People And Culture In Tennessee?
If there’s one talent that Tennessee has, it’s the talent to bring people together with its energetic and Southern welcoming vibe! It’s almost as if the entire state is comprised of one big, close-knit family!
In fact, that’s pretty much how Tennessee got its nickname of being “The Volunteer State” of the country! During the War of 1812, Tennessee was granted with this nickname as a result of the number of soldiers that volunteered to risk their lives to fight in battle and protect its citizens. And since then, not much has changed! Tennessee is still very protective of its people and culture, and chances are, that’s how they will remain!
Leave the big city behind!
“I moved my family from Atlanta, Georgia to Chattanooga, TN because of the low cost of living, no state income tax in Tennessee, and amazing array of outdoor activities from mountain biking to watersports right at my doorstep. My 6 year old walks out our door to school without supervision every day. If that is not enough, Forbes says that Chattanooga is the most promising job market for 2020. We really don’t miss the big city at all.”
Allen Yates, Attorney – Yates & Wheland
Today, people flock from all over the world to check out all of its history and culture which starts with — you guessed it — the music scene!
You can thank Tennessee for giving you musical legends such as Johnny Cash, Elvis Presley, Dolly Parton, Tina Turner, and even Justin Timberlake! The music scene is where the culture of Tennessee begins, and it only gets better from there!
The natural southern hospitality and energy will guide you to its many parks, mountains, rivers, and waterfalls around the state by welcoming you to its conversational environment of festivals, entertainment, great southern homestyle cooking, and overall family-friendly fun!
Whether you’re a college graduate looking to start a new life or an excited retiree, Tennessee welcomes you to kick back, relax, and let that southern vibe suck you in!Need cheap moving supplies? Fast free delivery (January 24, 2020)
Some Of The Coolest Things To Do In Tennessee
It may come as a surprise that the music scene isn’t the only thing that Tennessee has for you to do or explore. Check out some of the other non-music related destinations that lure people to the state…
Synchronized Fireflies Of The Great Smoky Mountains
If you’re into nature, then this 2-week time period of dancing fireflies will blow your mind! Nobody quite knows why, but every year in June, fireflies come to the Great Smoky Mountains and light up the night sky with their synchronized flying shows!
Anything that has the word forbidden in its name will always peek some sort of curiosity! And in this case, curiosity calls for a night of exploring these hidden TN caves, complete with spooky underground sounds and natural occurring lights!
Yet another mysterious underground location — Ruby Falls is, quite literally, a naturally occurring, must-see underground waterfall complete with mysterious multicolored lights!
The Crystal Shrine Grotto
If you’re a fan of art and culture, check out these depression-era engraved caves, complete with historical art, quartz, and spontaneous statues of Jesus!
Turn the dial up on your sense of humor, because Silky O’Sullivan’s is a place where you can see the drunken, tower climbing goats of Tennessee! Yes, you read that correctly — the goats are drunk.
Salt And Pepper Shaker Museum
This may seem boring by name, but once you take a look at this collection of rare, historic salt and pepper shakers, you’ll be inspired to start your own collection of vintage antiques!
Although we specified that this is a list of non-musical related destinations, you wouldn’t be complete without checking out the Memphis recording studio that launched your favorite musical artists’ careers! Take a tour of the studio that gave Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, and Jerry Lee Lewis their claim to fame!
And just because Tennessee is the Music City of the world, check out this list of TN music festivals that are known worldwide!
- Beale Street Music Festival — Memphis
- Riverbend Music Festival — Chattanooga
- CMA Music Festival — Nashville
- Bonnaroo Music & Arts Festival — Manchester
- Music City Jazz Festival — Nashville
- Fire On The Water Music Festival — Gallatin
- Muddy Roots Festival — Cookeville
- Big Ears Music Festival — Knoxville
Pros And Cons Of Moving To Tennessee
Now that we’ve gone over everything you need to know about Tennessee, let’s take a look at the general pros and cons of moving to this southern state!
- There is no state income tax!
- TN offers free community college for high school graduates!
- It is the 2nd most affordable state in the country!
- Never-ending music and festivals filled with tons of culture and art!
- Extremely low property taxes!
- High energy Southern vibe!
- Great for entrepreneurs, freelancers, and young professionals!
- Tennessee is known to experience tornadoes during the tornado season, but the good news is that the state is built to withstand the potential damages
- Be prepared for the heat, because the summers can get exceedingly hot
- High crime rates in certain areas, but they are avoidable as they are generally confined to specific locations
- Low minimum wage, but the minimum wage is often overridden by individual businesses
- There’s a lot of traffic in Tennessee — so watch out!
Fun Facts And Strange Laws
Just for fun, let’s explore some fun facts about Tennessee, and also some strange laws that you won’t believe are real!
- Tennessee is the home to over 3800 caves, so you’ll never run out of exploration ideas
- Great news for whiskey lovers — Jack Daniels Whiskey was originated in TN
- Speaking of whiskey, Mountain Dew was also originated from TN as a soda to specifically mix with whiskey
- The very first mini-golf course was invented in TN, just in case you’re short on time
- Along with being the city of music, TN is also the turtle capital of the world
- If you’re a fan of Snicker bars, you can thank Nashville for creating the gooey combo that makes Snickers what it is today
- Tennessee is also responsible for cotton candy, which was originally called fairy floss
- There are cities in TN that have extremely awkward speed limits — a 19 mph speed limit is a difficult number to keep up with while driving
- It is illegal to sell hollow logs — so don’t waste your time carving out tree stumps
- It’s against the law to drive while you’re asleep — just in case you happen to be a sleepwalker
- The only time that it is legal to shoot a whale is from the inside of your car window — there are no whales in Tennessee, though
- If you’re starving and can’t wait for dinner, just pick up some roadkill and throw it on the grill — because it’s legal to do that
- It is illegal to catch a fish with a lasso — not to mention impossible
- It is against the law for a frog to croak after 11 pm — not sure the frogs really care about that, though
Ready To Pack Up Yet?
Now that you know everything there is to know about moving to the state of Tennessee, what do you think? Will Tennessee be the only ten you see? That was a terrible joke… but it’s still a great place to live!
Further Reading: Looking For More Tennessee Resources? Check These Articles Out!
About the Author: Kris Lippi is the owner of ISoldMyHouse.com and the broker of Get LISTED Realty. He actively writes about real estate related topics such as buying and selling homes, how-to guides for around the house and home product recommendations. He has been featured in Inman, Readers Digest, American Express, Fit Small Business, Policy Genius, Lending Tree, GoDaddy, Manta as well as other major websites. Read more about us here.