Post Overview: List of the Pros & Cons of Living in Tennessee (From a Local)
Thinking about moving to Tennessee? You’re in the right place.
I’ve been living in Tennessee for 10+ years and can’t imagine moving elsewhere.
From beautiful nature to great music and food, I find it hard to get bored around here. But, there’s a few disadvantages to moving to Tennessee, too.
So, without further ado, let’s dive into my personal list of the pros and cons of living in Tennessee. I hope you find this list helpful, don’t hesitate to reach out with questions in the comments and I’ll be happy to help you!
Local’s Tip: If you’re new to the state (welcome!) I highly suggest getting this handy resource. It helped me get a better understanding and appreciation for the state. I recommend it to all my friends!
Pros & Cons of Living in Tennessee
Longtime readers know that the fun lives in the comments! See what other locals are saying and offer your two cents in the comments below!
Perks of Moving to Tennessee
#1. Outdoor Recreation
There’s no denying that Tennessee is a beautiful state full of varied landscapes and stunning nature. From the famous Appalachian Mountains (in the east) to the Mississippi River (in the west), locals are spoiled for choice!
From hiking, climbing, camping, kayaking, canoeing or caving, Tennessee can scratch a nature enthusiasts itch most month of the year.
While each corner of the state has something interesting to offer, the star of the show is Great Smoky Mountains National Park.
As the most visited national park in the country Great Smoky Mountains National Park offers unparalleled outdoor recreation. From top-notch hiking trails and campgrounds and to breathtaking waterfalls and diverse wildlife, adventure is always at your fingertips.
#2. The Low Cost of Living in Tennessee
The affordable cost of living in Tennessee is the ultimate reason I ended up making the move a few years ago.
I was tired of working long hours to (barely) afford a downtown apartment and basic living expenses. I wanted to enjoy my daily life and (as you know) affordability is a huge factor in that.
So, after several months of research, I finally landed on The Volunteer State, which was rated the 6th most affordable state to live in.
Between reasonable home prices (20% lower than the national average), low property taxes (some of the lowest in the country) and overall lower cost of everyday essentials (groceries, utilities, transportation), the perks of living in Tennessee keep adding up.
#3. Affordable Homes & Low Property Taxes
As I just mentioned, buying a house in Tennessee is still (relatively) affordable.
Likewise, property taxes are also a consideration. As it stands, with a real estate tax rate of 0.71%, Tennessee has the 15th lowest property taxes in the country.
All this to say: owning a home in Tennessee is still considered a possibility (which can’t be said for many other states where median home prices hover around $1 million).
#4. Mild winters
As I get older, I find that winters get tougher for me. I’m not a winter person. I mean, sure, I enjoy an occasional ski trip here and there, but I’m not a fan of the long, cold gray winter days that drag on for months on end.
So, in my personal experience, one of the biggest perks of living in Tennessee are the mild winters (depending on where you choose to live in the state).
The western part of the state gets mild winters, while the eastern part (Appalachian Mountains) is no stranger to the occasional snowfall and a prolonged winter season.
If you’re into snow sports, the Great Smoky Mountains get a fair share of snow which makes it a playground for those that love skiing and snowboarding.
If helpful, here’s a roundup of average winter temperatures depending on region:
- Memphis (West Tennessee):
- December: Highs around 52°F (11°C), lows around 36°F (2°C)
- January: Highs around 48°F (9°C), lows around 32°F (0°C)
- February: Highs around 53°F (12°C), lows around 35°F (2°C)
- Nashville (Middle Tennessee):
- December: Highs around 49°F (9°C), lows around 32°F (0°C)
- January: Highs around 45°F (7°C), lows around 28°F (-2°C)
- February: Highs around 51°F (11°C), lows around 32°F (0°C)
- Knoxville (East Tennessee):
- December: Highs around 48°F (9°C), lows around 30°F (-1°C)
- January: Highs around 45°F (7°C), lows around 28°F (-2°C)
- February: Highs around 51°F (11°C), lows around 31°F (-1°C)
- Chattanooga (Southeast Tennessee):
- December: Highs around 50°F (10°C), lows around 32°F (0°C)
- January: Highs around 47°F (8°C), lows around 29°F (-2°C)
- February: Highs around 54°F (12°C), lows around 33°F (1°C)
But you know what they say, for every advantage there’s a disadvantage. And it’s true, mild winters typically mean oppressively hot and humid summers and Tennessee is no exception. (I’ll cover summer weather shortly!)
#5. The Food Scene is Great
One of the biggest perks of living in Tennessee is having access to great cuisine. Heck, Nashville is considered one of the best food cities in America.
The state’s pride and joy is traditional southern-inspired cuisine like fried chicken and drool-inducing BBQ.
But the recent influx of newcomers is adding some fun variety to the state’s thriving food scene, there’s been more of a shift to farm-to-table dinning over the past few years.
Tennessee’s food scene is a reflection of its rich culinary heritage, creativity, and the unique influence of varying cultures. You’ll find incredible restaurants in the large cities (Nashville, Memphis, and Chattanooga), but will also come across beloved local gems in small towns.
From beloved hole-in-the-wall gems to innovative high-end restaurants worth of a celebration, you won’t go hungry while living in Tennessee.
#6. There’s No State Income Tax in Tennessee
Earnings go a lot further while living in Tennessee because there’s no state income tax. (There’s 9 states in the country that don’t have a state income tax and Tennessee is one of them!).
So, what does this mean for you? Well, for starters, you can get up to 10% more per paycheck (depending on where you’re moving from). If you’re moving to Tennessee from New York, Oregon or California, you can expect to keep nearly 10% more of your paycheck (if your salary remains the same).
Not having to pay state income tax while living in Tennessee is a perk that can’t be overstated. It’s a huge relief to get to keep more of your paycheck for little things that make everyday life more enjoyable (going to concerts with friends, eating out, etc.).
#7. The Live Music Scene is Top Notch
Tennessee’s most famous city, Nashville, is dubbed Music City but not without reason. You can’t throw a stick without hitting a musician belting a Taylor Swift tune (for better or worse).
Nashville’s music culture needs no introduction, the industry’s storied past is stuff for legends. Thankfully, those living in Tennessee (or merely visiting!) can take advantage of this perk.
But Nashville isn’t the only city that deserves a shout out, Memphis is the birthplace of rock and roll and the blues!
Living in a state that can lay claim as being the birthplace of various genres of music (country, blues, rock and roll) means you have your fair share of concerts to choose from.
Since moving to Tennessee, I have found that most date nights revolve around music venues, which is quite unique!
Cons of Living in Tennessee
#1. The Crime Rate is High
It’s important to me that this list of the pros and cons of moving to Tennessee is as honest as possible. So, let’s rip that band-aide right off.
Tennessee has some of the highest crime rates (per capita) in the nation.
In fact, a recent study found that Tennessee is the 3rd most dangerous state in the country, based on violent crimes and murders.
Furthering the claim, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found that Tennessee has the 7th highest homicide rate in the nation.
Sensational headlines aside, there’s no denying that certain areas of the state are best avoided.
Honestly, I was alarmed by the high crime rates before moving to Tennessee and decided to reach out to a coworker for advice.
She said, “the majority of violent crime is committed by violent people against other violent people.” By and large, Everyday Joes are immune from violent crime, everyday life in Tennessee isn’t “a risky affair. “risky” by any stretch of the imagination.
#2. Low Wages & High Poverty Rate
Tennessee has some of the lowest wages in the country.
Furthermore, the state doesn’t have an official minimum wage law which means employers must pay the current federal minimum wage of $7.25 per hour.
Nobody can afford to support themselves off $7.25 per hour. Heck, according to MIT the “actual living wage” for a single adult in Davidson County (second most populous county in the state) is a whopping $18.35.
Even with the relatively low cost of living in Tennessee, most folks have to live paycheck-to-paycheck to survive. With such low wages, is it any surprise why Tennessee has the 12th highest poverty rate in the nation?
You know the drill: Don’t move to Tennessee without having a well-paying job lined up beforehand. Living in Tennessee is nothing short of a dream for those that can work remotely and get paid higher wages.
#3. Low Life Expectancy
Want to know a sad stat? Tennessee’s life expectancy is the 5th lowest in the country (76 years old).
But, after moving to Tennessee, it wasn’t hard to see why. Lifestyles seem to be pretty sedentary lifestyle and poor diets are quite common (Tennessee has the 4th highest obesity rates in the nation).
Likewise, access to healthcare varies across the state. Some rural areas are grossly under-served, which results in a lack of access to essential medical services.
Efforts are being made to address the low life expectancy in Tennessee, but it’s a very complex issue. There’s so many complicated factors at play, so addressing the core issues requires a comprehensive approach.
From proper healthcare to education, social services and engagement, it’s a long road to radical change. I’m hopeful for a better future, but in the present, the low life expectancy is worth consideration.
#4. Terrible Infrastructure
Alright, I know that everyone loves to gripe about their state’s traffic and infrastructure, but Tennessee’s road infrastructure qualifies for Dante’s inferno.
Seriously, it’s one of the biggest disadvantages of living in Tennessee.
The state has been going through “unprecedented growth” for the better half of a decade and infrastructure is not keeping up with the influx of people moving to Tennessee.
In terms of improvements, it seems like ideas get tossed around but nothing changes. Cities continue to sprawl, but the planning seems to be car-centric without a focus on improving current infrastructure.
#5. Summer Heat & Humidity
Like most southern states, the summer heat and humidity will make you think twice about moving to Tennessee. Thankfully, it only lasts 9 months (I kid, i kid)
Jokes aside, living in Tennessee is a bit tough during the spring and summer months. Expect to sweat daily from May through October anytime you step outside.
Summer high temperatures average around 90°F in western and central Tennessee and 85°F in eastern Tennessee. The average humidity rate across the state is 69.4%.
The humidity is especially bad for home owners because it causes mold, especially in basements.
When I first moved to Tennessee I had a huge problem with bugs and later learned that my damp basement was the culprit.
#6. Allergies Suck
Even after 10 years of living in Tennessee, I still can’t get used to the pollen that pops up every spring. Every April, like clockwork, I wheeze my way through the month.
Seems like I’m not the only one, Tennessee ranks as the 4th worst state for allergy sufferers.
If you’re prone to allergies, arm yourself with medications before moving to Tennessee (I take allergy medicine daily).
The mold spores from decomposing leaves in the fall get me the most, but many folks seem to suffer the worst in spring.
#7. Moving to Tennessee? Brace for Bugs
If you can’t stand the sight of bugs then you’ll want to think twice about moving to Tennessee.
Tennessee has the worst cockroach problem in the country.
I recently spoke with my exterminator (who comes out 1-2 times per year) and he mentioned that bugs are part of daily life in Tennessee.
The list of culprits spans the gamut from the infamous brown recluse spider to cockroaches and stink bugs. You’ll want to budget for an annual exterminator about once a year while living in Tennessee.
They’ll spray the boarder of your house to hopefully keep the crawlers at bay. In any case, the bugs are a huge adjustment.
Retiring in Tennessee FAQs
Honestly speaking, it depends on the area. The low cost of living in Tennessee is a huge draw for those considering retiring in Tennessee. Likewise, affordable homes and low property taxes make it easier to settle down long term.
But with high violent crime rates and low life expectancy, the pros and cons of moving to Tennessee for retirement should be strongly considered. As with any life decision, you’re bound to love one thing while agreeing to tolerate another. This article should serve as a good starting point.
Yes, Tennessee is a tax friendly state. Between the overall low cost of living, lack of state income tax and some of the lowest property taxes in the country, moving to Tennessee won’t prove burdensome in the tax department.
Kind of, but not really. Marijuana containing greater than 0.3% THC is illegal in Tennessee. But, the cultivation of hemp as Cannabis sativa (containing less than 0.3% THC) has been legalized. So, what does this mean? Tennessee pretty much allows CBD only.
Is Tennessee a good place to live?
As with most things in life, that depends on you. I’ve been living in Tennessee for 10 years and don’t have plans to move anytime soon. But I’ve had friends that barely lasted two years after moving to Tennessee.
Weigh the pros and cons of daily life in Tennessee against your personal interests to determine if this is the right state for you.
And remember, I’m only an email away! Leave your questions or comments below and I’ll make sure to offer my two cents.
Comparison of the Pros & Cons of Living in Tennessee
|The scenic beauty of the state||Sky-high crime rate|
|The low cost of living in Tennessee||The summer heat and humidity|
|Mild winters||Embarrassingly low wages|
|Affordable homes + low property taxes||Life expectancy is low|
|The food scene is great||Terrible infrastructure|
|There’s no state income taxes for folks living in Tennessee||Allergies|
|The live music scene||Moving to Tennessee? Brace for bugs|
Pros & Cons of Living in Tennessee (Roundup)
In sum, here’s a quick roundup of the honest pros and cons of living in Tennessee.
- The scenic beauty of the state
- The low cost of living in Tennessee
- Mild winters
- Affordable homes + low property taxes
- The food scene is great
- There’s no state income taxes for folks living in Tennessee
- The live music scene
- Festivals galore
- Sky-high crime rate
- The summer heat and humidity
- Embarrassingly low wages
- Life expectancy is low
- Terrible infrastructure
- Moving to Tennessee? Brace for bugs
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