Article Overview: Living in Nashville, Tennessee | Moving to Nashville
Are you thinking about moving to Nashville? I think I can help.
I’ve been living in Nashville since 2013 and wanted to offer my two cents about daily life in Music City. My hope is that this list makes your decision a little easier.
Nashville has a vibrant culture with a youthful vibe. The city is teeming with an exciting influx of new residents that bring with them a different perspective and unparalleled enthusiasm.
But, as with anything, there’s two sides to every story. For every bright-eyed and bushy-tailed newcomer there’s an equally endearing life-long local ready to keep enthusiasms in check. How? By pointing to raising house prices and the alarming surge of avocado toast on menus across town.
And you know the drill: By law, lifelong locals must gripe about the “good old days” when the snow-laden walk to school was a mere 12 miles (albeit uphill both ways). By the same law, newcomers are ordered to wear the rose tinted glasses and focus on the city’s vibrancy with fresh (dare I say, inspired) eyes.
But look at me go. Before I get too ahead of myself, let’s jump into this comprehensive list of the pros and cons of living in Nashville, Tennessee.
While reading, keep in mind that this is a personal list. I understand that not everyone feels the same way about living in Nashville, and that’s alright (heck, that’s what the comments are for). This list is based exclusively on my unique firsthand experience, so I’m open to different perspectives.
Editor’s Note: As long time readers of this website know: the fun lives in the comments. Don’t forget to take a look below to see what other locals are saying. We update this post regularly based on feedback received. Cheers!
Pros & Cons of Living in Nashville
Note: If you’re planning on visiting Nashville before finalizing your decision, here’s my favorite hotel in town (the location can’t be beat). I recommend it to my own family and friends!
First, the Pros of Moving to Nashville
#1. Nashville is a (Very) Friendly City
Chalk it up to southern hospitality, but the people living in Nashville are some of the friendliest I’ve come across. I’m not going to imply that making friends is easy in adulthood, but folks in Nashville seem genuinely kind in a way unique to the south.
In fact, Nashville is ranked as one of the most friendly cities in the country.
What’s more, the diversity of people you’ll find while living in Nashville spans the gamut. Before moving to Nashville from NYC, my coworkers and I had a running joke that everyone you meet in New York works in finance. Thankfully that’s not the case here.
You’re bound to meet people with careers (and interests) very different from your own. There’s no denying that many younger newcomers move to Nashville in an attempt to break into the music scene. But if I’m being honest, there’s an alluring charm to that too.
Speaking from personal experience, I’ve found that Nashville attracts people with varying interests. It’s easy to strike up a conversations with someone because there’s nothing like a band’s tour t-shirt to break the ice. That’s not to say you’ll be fast friends, but people tend to be open to conversation and aren’t overly reserved.
#2. Staying Active is Fairly Easy
One of the things that surprised me most about moving to Nashville is how easy it is to stay active. Now, I wouldn’t call Nashville a walkable city (more on that soon), but if you’re looking for ways to incorporate physically activity into your daily life, it’s not very hard.
This is largely thanks to the the city’s expansive greenways which span nearly 100-miles. The system encourages outdoor recreation and physical activity with paths that range from scenic 10 minute walks to 10 miles.
Leading past riverscapes, creeks, playgrounds, dog parks and primitive trails, the paved (and relatively flat) trails offer a chance for peaceful respite in the beautiful outdoors.
As such, there’s no denying that having access to the city’s greenway system is one of the best things about living in Nashville. I can easily escape the city’s concrete in exchange for foliage whenever the need strikes (and I don’t even need to get in my car to do it).
Getting a grasp of the greenway system can be challenging for those moving to Nashville. If helpful, my favorite loop is a toss up between the Richland Creek Greenway (forested) and the Shelby Bottoms Greenway (great views of the water).
If you want to explore for yourself (more power to you!) here’s a roundup of the many, many trails you can choose from. It won’t be hard to see why having access to the awesome greenway system is one of the biggest perks of living in Nashville.
#3. Nashville’s Food Scene is Top Notch
Nashville is considered one of the best food cities in America. As expected, you’ll find a list of the usual suspects: typical southern-inspired favorites like fried chicken and drool-inducing BBQ.
But that’s not where the fun stops, because the recent influx of newcomers is adding breadth and variety to the city’s thriving food scene. From beloved hole-in-the-wall gems to award-winning high-end restaurants with long wait lists (and eye-watering prices).
Indeed, the explosion of Nashville’s food scene in the past ten years is nothing short of miraculous. I’ve seen the Melting Pot go from a rite of passage to foreclosure. Seen Ruth Chris Steakhouse go from saving marriages via date nights to being the catalyst for mandatory couples therapy (should’ve gone to Bourbon Steak by Michael Mina).
New to the area? Here’s a roundup of my favorite affordable restaurants in Nashville: Taqueria Andrea, Korea House, and Bare Bones Butcher. For date nights, I prefer Henrietta Red, The Optimist and 5th & Taylor.
#4. Moving to Nashville For a Job? You’re in Good Hands
A 2022 study by MoneyGeek found that Nashville has the 6th strongest job market in the country. The study evaluated mid-sized cities and analyzed five key metrics: wage and job growth, unemployment rate, labor force size and a city’s housing affordability.
In the past two years, Tennessee has seen a surge in job opportunities across a handful of sectors. Chief among them are tourism, technology, healthcare and sales. It’s projected that the fast-growing jobs will center around the service industry (childcare, health care, fitness instructors, etc.).
Healthcare and IT professions are seeing higher rates of apprenticeship numbers. Likewise, health-technology firms are cropping up in Nashville, offering high salaries with commissions.
To that end, if you’re moving to Nashville with the hopes of growing your career, you’ll find job opportunities plentiful. That’s not to say that landing a gig will be easy (steep competition), but it’s worth pointing out that the city is ripe with opportunity.
Nashville, Tennessee is home to a diverse economy with a number of thriving industries. Some of the top industries in Nashville include healthcare, music, technology, hospitality, & manufacturing.
#5. Low Taxes are a Huge Perk of Living in Nashville
You know what they say, all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy. Well Jack, put those dad jokes on the back burner for a second and give the water cooler some air, will you?
Those moving to Nashville will quickly learn that their earnings go a lot further while living in Music City because Tennessee is one of nine states without a state income tax.
And while we can’t help Jack with his unfortunate personality (really, no one can) or lack of weekend plans, we can at least afford to buy the man a beer.
Nashville does have a sales tax of 9.25%, which is higher than the national average of around 7%. However, the state doesn’t have a separate tax on food, prescription drugs, or most other items, which can help to offset the higher sales tax rate.
Likewise, property taxes in Nashville are relatively low compared to other parts of the country, with a combined city and county tax rate of around 2.25%. However, property values in Nashville have been rising in recent years, which can lead to higher property tax bills, worth knowing for those that plan on moving to Nashville to buy a home.
Hell, anyone moving to Nashville from an expensive city like San Francisco, Seattle or New York will be happy to learn they don’t have to continue saving on unnecessary expenses (like solid food). That’s because you can afford to live and eat while living in Nashville.
Oh, the joy of taxes. Thankfully your paycheck will go a little further after moving to Nashville thanks to the lack of state income tax. Depending of where you’re moving from, this can be an annual savings between 3-10%, which is nothing to scoff at.
At the end of the day, Nashville is generally considered to be a tax-friendly city, especially for individuals who are looking to minimize their income tax burden. The perks of living in Nashville keep adding up!
#6. The Live Music Scene is Hard to Beat
Finally, no list outlining the perks of living in Nashville would be complete without mention of the epic live music scene. They don’t call it Music City for nothing, folks. You can’t throw a stick without hitting a musician belting a Taylor Swift tune (for better or worse).
Nashville’s music culture needs to introduction, the industry’s storied past is stuff for legends. Thankfully, those living in Nashville (or merely visiting!) can take advantage of this perk.
The hardest things is finding a venue that appeals to your tastes. I’ve found that one misconception people seem to make before moving to Nashville is that the music scene is limited exclusively to country. But that’s not the case.
The city is home to talented musicians of all genres– you just need to know where to look. I’m not a country fan personally (I mean, if you tell me a story about how country music saved your second marriage, I’ll nod at the lovely story. But that’s the extent of my patience for dogs, and trucks and high school sweethearts).
But what are you, my therapist? Let’s get back to Nashville’s music scene. It’s diverse and expands beyond country. Alternative rock and indie are easy to come by and this handy events calendar may prove helpful.
If all else fails, just ask a coworker (or even your barista/bar tender) for venue recommendations. You never know what you’ll find!
Cons of Living in Nashville
#1. Making Friends is Challenging
I consider myself a pretty friendly person and haven’t had a hard making friends before moving to Nashville. However, since the move, regardless of my extended effort, I find it hard to make friends here.
The struggle is real and not for lack of effort. Between joining meetups through various Facebook groups, attending events, participating in fitness groups, etc. it feels like making friends while living in Nashville requires a massive effort and a miracle.
I’m not sharing this for a pity party but rather to shine light on something folks fail to mention (making friends in Nashville is tough). I’m very grateful for the handful of close friends I made through work (took years!), but for the effort I’ve put in, I definitely thought I’d have more close friendships by now.
One helpful suggestion I’ve come across is meeting people through volunteering. I guess they don’t call Tennessee the Volunteer State for nothing, it’s worth a try.
And jeez, if you’ve successfully made new friends while living in Nashville then don’t keep us in the dark! Spill the beans and share your advice. What worked for you? If nothing else you’ll make the rest of us jealous and that will feel really good (for you).
#2. Nashville is Not a Walkable City
One of the first things I noticed after moving to Nashville was the lack of sidewalks. Or worse, sidewalks that randomly end abruptly (what the heck?). There’s no logic to it, so I was barely surprised to later learn that Nashville ranks as one of the least walkable cities in the country.
So what does this mean for the average hoe that lives in Nashville?
Well, for starters, sometimes I feel unsafe getting from Point A to Point B on foot. Instead of lacing up my walking shoes, I find myself grabbing the keys to the car. Don’t get me wrong – the greenway is a great way to get around, but sometimes you need to get somewhere in the suburbs and find yourself connecting sidewalks like a master puzzle piece.
The lack of walkability impacts my daily life because it forces me to think twice when deciding between walking and driving. In this regard, Nashville definitely has room to grow.
#3. You’ll Need a Car While Living in Nashville
To my earlier point, I feel confident making an argument for needing a car while living in Nashville. Can you get by without a car? Sure, but you’ll be limited on things to do.
There’s no reason to sugarcoat it, Nashville is designed with the car in mind. Unless you live in the downtown core, you won’t find public transportation useful. Also, say goodbye to weekend trips.
Work, groceries, entertainment, gym — anything, really, will require a car after moving to Nashville.
As such, public transportation is abysmal because it’s clear that locals are car-dependent. Lifestyles adjust accordingly.
#4. The Housing Market is Nuts
I know, I know, unaffordable housing is not unique to Nashville, but the issue is acute regardless and warrants mention. The average cost of a home in Nashville clocks in at a steep $485,000, which is a 30% increase from last year alone.
To put it in perspective, the average salary in Nashville is $68,000. Now, I’m not a math wiz (ask my mom), but those numbers don’t add up. The housing cost to salary ratio is way off, which means those moving to Nashville with the hopes of buying a home should do their due diligence.
It’s no secret that Nashville is growing, and we all know that growing pains are inevitable. But it still stings to realize that locals are being priced out in alarming numbers and life-long residents can scarcely afford their homes. It’s also sad to see newcomers come to the realization that housing prices are out of reach.
Not only are homes not affordable, but a ton of home owners have turned to Airbnb for extra income. Hard to blame folks for the effort, but it only agitates the housing issues. This seems like an uphill battle and I don’t have the slightest clue what the solution is, but if you’re moving to Nashville with a family in tow, again, do your research.
#5. What’s With the Bad Drivers?
While Nashville won’t rank anywhere near the top of cities with the worst traffic (looking at you NYC), the traffic is definitely bad enough to cause a headache. But speaking from personal experience, it’s not the traffic I mind so much as the aggressive driving habits.
I’ve seriously lost count of the near-miss accidents I’ve encountered. People cut me off like they’re meeting quotas, blinkers seem optional (spoiler alert: they’re not), and the way some folks squeeze into the space between me and the following car is dangerous (impressive, but dangerous).
And damn, the crappy design of our interstate system! Having to use the interstate daily is akin to hearing a familiar story with a rotating ending – you never know how it’s going to end. Will I make it home unscathed? Can’t wait to find out!
Between the terrible interstates and equally terrible drivers, dangerous driving conditions while living in Nashville are par for the course. Turns out I’m not the only one that thinks so.
#6. The City Feels Segregated
A few years ago I found myself in an impassioned debate with a close coworker. The topic of the hour was segregation, and I couldn’t shake the feeling that Nashville has some growing to do.
When I first moved to Nashville, I spent weekend exploring different parts of town to get a better feel for the city. During those long drives it because obvious to me that the city is segmented by class and race. You can’t unsee it.
I can regale you with the whole debate, but I like you too much to put you through it. Instead, I’d like to share this informative resource that I found very compelling.
#7. Moving to Nashville With Kids? Let’s Talk Public Education
Here’s a hard truth about living in Nashville: our public schools are some of the worst in the country. You won’t find scholarly pursuits a strength in the Music City, which makes moving to Nashville with a family difficult.
My wife and I moved here with two elementary kids in tow and felt ill prepared for the challenges of the school system. Quite frankly, it’s one of the most frustrating things about living in Nashville.
Most of my coworkers send their kids to private schools, which is something we eventually ended up budgeting for out of sheer frustration. Too many Nashville schools rank as the worst in the state for my comfort.
All this to say, do proper research before moving to Nashville with kids because based on my own experience, the schools are a complicated nightmare. A proper public education is an exception, not the rule.
#8. The Drinking Culture is Real
Okay, this might sound nit-picky, but bear with me. Remember how I mentioned access to green spaces (like the greenway) is one of the biggest perks of living in Nashville? Well, unless you like solitude, you may find it difficult to get your friends outside because everyone seems to prefer the bar.
Nashville is a party city through and through. Most locals don’t seem to enjoy outdoor recreation as much as they enjoy parking themselves at a nearby music venue or bar. It’s a little thing, but it’s enough to bug me not that I’m reaching my 11th year of living in Nashville.
Hey, maybe this is the reason making friends is so hard in the city? Who knows.
#9. Allergy Prone? Know This Before Moving to Nashville
If you’re moving to Nashville with antihistamines in tow, know this: Tennessee is considered the 14th worst state in the country for allergy sufferers.
While some folks love to “stop and smell the roses” most locals know to run for the hills. Thankfully, allergy season keeps regular office hours from February to November. The city’s climate (and abundant trees) create the perfect conditions for allergy sufferers. Expect to hear stuffy noses and see red eyes on the daily.
The main culprits in spring are the prolific pollen-producing trees, while fall’s shining star is hay fever. Pick your favorite, living in Nashville comes with options.
Retiring in Nashville FAQ
Is Nashville a good place to live?
Nashville is a vibrant and dynamic city with a lot to offer. The strong job economy, thriving music (and art) scene, diversity of people and top notch food scene make living in Nashville an enjoyable experience.
However, like all cities, moving to Nashville comes with pros and cons. The cost of living, particularly the housing market is out of hand and Nashville skews heavily towards a party city (which some people love, some can’t stand).
Additionally, the city is prone to natural disasters (tornadoes and floods), and the poor public transportation offers all but guarantee that you’ll need a car while living in Nashville.
Is Nashville a good place to retire?
Retiring in Nashville is up for debate. The city’s warm climate, affordable cost of living and ample opportunities to stay active are attractive to retirees.
Likewise, the state’s lack of income tax makes retiring in Nashville on a fixed income a possibility. The city also has a strong healthcare system and a growing economy, which can be attractive to retirees.
Is marijuana legal in Nashville?
No, marijuana is not currently legal for recreational use in Nashville, Tennessee. The possession, use, and sale of marijuana are illegal under state law in Tennessee.
However, Tennessee does have a limited medical marijuana program. In 2021, the state legislature passed the Tennessee Medical Cannabis Act, which allows certain patients with qualifying medical conditions to use medical marijuana with a doctor’s recommendation.
After living in Nashville for longer than a decade, here’s a roundup of the best neighborhoods in Nashville: 12 South, Germantown, East Nashville, Sylvan Park and Hillsboro Village.
Interesting Facts About Living in Nashville
Music City: Nashville is known as the “Music City” because it is a center for the music industry, particularly country music. Home to the Grand Ole Opry, the Country Music Hall of Fame, and many recording studios and record labels, the list of live music options is never-ending.
Named for: The city was founded in 1779 and named after Francis Nash, a Revolutionary War hero.
Capital: Nashville is the capital of Tennessee and the state’s second-largest city.
Universities: Nashville is home to several major universities, including Vanderbilt University, Belmont University, and Tennessee State University.
Cumberland River: Nashville is located on the Cumberland River and is known for its beautiful parks and green spaces, including Shelby Bottoms Greenway and Radnor Lake State Park.
Hockey: The Nashville Predators, a professional ice hockey team, play at Bridgestone Arena in downtown Nashville.
Parthenon: The city has a rich history and is home to many historic landmarks, including the Parthenon, a full-scale replica of the ancient Greek temple.
List of the Pros & Cons of Living in Nashville, Tennessee (Post Summary)
In sum, here’s a roundup of the pros and cons of moving to Nashville, Tennessee. I hope this post helped answer some of your questions, reach out if you need clarification with anything!
- There’s a mishmash of folks living in Nashville
- Great food culture
- Nashville locals are incredibly friendly
- The greenway is pretty bad ass
- Strong job market
- Taxes are low
- The (live) music scene
- It’s hard to make friends
- Nashville is not a walkable city
- Public transit leaves much to be desired
- The housing market
- Traffic & dangerous driving habits
- The city feels segregated
- Poor public schools
- Hanging out pretty much revolves around drinks
- Consider your allergies before moving to Nashville
Compare the Pros & Cons of Living in Nashville
|The locals are kind||Nashville is not a walkable city|
|Great food culture||Public transit leaves much to be desired|
|Nashville locals are incredibly friendly||The housing market is expensive|
|The greenway is pretty bad ass||Traffic & dangerous driving habits|
|Strong job market||The city feels segregated|
|Taxes are low||Poor public schools|
|The (live) music scene||Hanging out pretty much revolves around drinks|
|Consider your allergies before moving to Nashville, as pollen levels can be high in the spring and fall.|