Post Overview: Pros & Cons of Living in Tennessee Based on Firsthand Experience
Thinking about moving to Tennessee? I think I can help.
I’ve been living in Tennessee for 10+ years and can’t imagine living elsewhere. I moved to Tennessee from Atlanta and adjusting to the culture has been pretty easy, this city checks all the boxes.
From beautiful nature to great music and food, I find it hard to get bored around here. But, there’s a few cons about 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 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
Table of Contents: Living in Tennessee
Table of Contents: Living in Tennessee
- Pros & Cons of Living in Tennessee
- Pros of Moving to Tennessee
- Cons of Living in Tennessee
- Retiring in Tennessee FAQs
- Comparison of the Pros & Cons of Living in Tennessee
- Pros & Cons of Living in Tennessee (Roundup)
- Map of Living in Tennessee
Pros 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, there’s a great range of outdoor recreation.
If you enjoy hiking, climbing, camping, kayaking, canoeing or caving, you’ll be spoiled for choice while living in Tennessee.
When it comes to outdoor recreation, undoubtedly the star of the show is Great Smoky Mountains National Park.
Great Smoky Mountains National Park: As the most visited national park in the United States, Great Smoky Mountains National Park offers unparalleled outdoor adventures. From top-notch hiking trails, camping and breathtaking waterfalls to diverse wildlife, adventure is at your fingertips.
Hiking and Backpacking: Tennessee boasts numerous hiking and backpacking trails that cater to all skill levels. From the Appalachian Trail to the scenic trails in state parks like Radnor Lake and Fall Creek Falls, you can find a hike that suits your skill level and preference.
#2. The low cost of living in Tennessee
The affordable cost of living in Tennessee is the ultimate reason I ended up moving to Tennessee 10 years ago. I was tired of working endlessly to barely afford a two bedroom apartment downtown. I decided to make some big life changes and spent months doing research.
Living in Tennessee had several appeals but chief among them was the low cost of living. In fact, Tennessee is the 6th cheapest state to live in.
This is largely thanks to affordable home prices, which are 20% lower than the national average. Speaking of home prices, let’s cover the next perk of living in Tennessee.
#3. Affordable homes & low property taxes
Anyone planning on moving to Tennessee to buy a home will be pleasantly surprised. With median home price clocking in at $291K, according to RocketMortgage, Tennessee is the most affordable state to buy a home.
Affordable home prices isn’t the only reason people are showing an interest in moving to Tennessee. In addition to reasonable home values, the state’s property taxes are the 15th lowest in the country.
#4. Mild winters
If you’re anything like me and don’t really love freezing temperatures or snow then add our lovely mild winters to the pros of living in Tennessee. Sure there are places where you can get your share of ice and snow up in the Great Smoky Mountains here but most of the state sees more manageable conditions.
Even in January (our coldest month) the highs are still routinely in the low 50°F and high 40°F with lows rarely dipping below freezing.
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.
Our pride and joy is typical southern-inspired food like fried chicken and drool-inducing BBQ. But the recent influx of newcomers is adding breadth and variety to the state’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).
All this to say, you won’t go hungry after moving to Tennessee. Not even close.
#6. No state income taxes while living in Tennessee
Those moving to Tennessee will quickly learn their earnings go a lot further while living in Tennessee because it’s one of nine states without a state income tax.
But, there is a sales tax. Thankfully the state’s sales tax isn’t too high either. The state’s sales tax is 7% but various cities can add additional taxes that range between 1-2.75%. I’ve heard it’s not uncommon for residents that live close to the border of Virginia (sales tax 4%) to make big purchases like appliances there.
But at the end of the day, 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 use a bit more of your paycheck for fun stuff like eating out and concerts.
#7. The live music scene
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’ll be spoiled for choice after moving to Tennessee.
Cons of Living in Tennessee
#1. Sky-high crime rate
It’s important to me that this list of the pros and cons of living in Tennessee is as honest as possible. As such, I want to start with something that is very important to know before moving to Tennessee.
Tennessee has some of the highest crime rates (per capita) in the nation.
In fact, a recent USA Today study found that Tennessee is the 3rd most dangerous state in the country, based on violent crimes and murders. Sensational headlines aside, there’s no denying that certain areas of the state are ripe with crime.
Likewise, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found that Tennessee has the 7th highest homicide rate in the nation.
Needless to say, I was alarmed to learn about the high crime rates before moving to Tennessee and decided to reach out to a coworker that made the move before me. She offered an interesting point of view by sharing her opinion.
She said the majority of violent crime is committed by violent people against other violent people. Most everyday Joes are immune from violent crime unless they run in those circles. But, by and large, everyday life in Tennessee isn’t a risky affair.
#2. Embarrassingly low wages + high poverty
Tennessee has some of the lowest wages in the country. And I’m not just talking about minimum wage. Across the board, the
Speaking of minimum wage, the state doesn’t have a minimum wage law which means employers must pay the current federal minimum wage of $7.25 per hour. Even with the relatively low cost of living in Tennessee, I doubt that I’m the first to tell you the minimum wage is too low.
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.
To offer some perspective, MIT found that $6.53 is considered the poverty wage and with minimum wage offering less than $1 more, most people living in Tennessee struggle to afford it. Hell, 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. Heck, living in Tennessee is nothing short of a dream for those that can work remotely and get paid higher wages.
#3. Life expectancy is low
Yet another thing that surprised me about living in Tennessee is learning that, at 76 years, the life expectancy is the 5th lowest in the country. Ugh, that stat absolutely gutted me.
But after moving to Tennessee it wasn’t hard to see why. People seem to live a pretty sedentary life around here, and we have the 4th highest obesity rates in the nation, to boot.
There’s really no reason to sugarcoat these stats if you’re considering moving to Tennessee. You can live an active lifestyle, but it will require extra effort. Driving is preferred to walking and most of the state’s infrastructure was built to accommodate cars.
#4. Terrible infrastructure
Speaking of cars, let’s talk about roads and infrastructure, because that’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 various different ideas get tossed around but nothing changes. The cities continue to sprawl and we’re still planning with cars in mind, but we’re not doing a good job up-keeping (or improving) what we currently have.
#5. The summer heat and humidity
There’s a running joke among my coworkers that the humidity and heat can be pretty oppressive but it’s not worth worrying about because it only lasts 9 months of the year. Ha.
Jokes aside, living in Tennessee is a bit tough during the spring and summer months. You’ll be sweating 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 Virginia I had a huge problem with bugs (I’ll cover that shortly) and later learned it was because my basement was damp, so it was attracting critters. Take note.
Even after 10 years of living in Tennessee, I still can’t get used to the various pollen that pop up every spring. Every April, like clockwork, I wheeze my way through the day. Seems like I’m not the only one though because Tennessee ranks as the 4th worst state for allergy sufferers.
If you’re prone to allergies, expect some serious reactions when moving to Tennessee. I take allergy medicine daily with my morning coffee at this point.
If helpful, my most common symptoms are typically dry and itchy nose, post nasal drip and sneezing. 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 and critters then you’ll want to think twice about moving to Tennessee. As mentioned earlier, when I first moved to Tennessee I had a huge problem with bugs because my damp basement was attracting them.
Turns out Tennessee has the worst cockroach problem in the country! Go figure.
I got to talking to the exterminator (who comes once a year now) and he mentioned that bugs are part of daily life in Tennessee. I moved from Atlanta, so I’m no stranger to pests, but Tennessee’s massive bug population has been an adjustment.
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 critters at bay.
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
Map of Living in Tennessee
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