Considering moving to Nashville? There’s a few things to consider. I’ve been living in Nashville since 2013 and wanted to offer my two cents for anyone considering a similar move.
Known as Music City, Nashville is a vibrant city with a youthful vibe. As with most American cities, the demographics have shifted over the past 5-10 years and the city has seen an influx of new residents.
Per usual, lifelong residents love to gripe about the good old days while the newcomers applaud the breadth of restaurants and exciting music venues. As with anything, there’s more than one side to the story.
As mentioned, I’ve lived here for almost 10 years now but I’m not originally from Nashville. I’d like to share my personal list of the pros and cons of living in Nashville based on firsthand experience. But mind you, not everyone feels the same way — and that’s alright (heck, that’s what the comments are for).
So without further ado, let’s get to it!
First, the pros of moving to Nashville
There’s a mishmash of folks living in Nashville
There’s an ongoing joke that everyone you meet in San Francisco works in tech, and 80% of the people you meet in NYC work in finance. Step foot into a busy coffee shop in either of those cities and there’s a high chance you’ll hear folks talking shop about tech or finance. Thankfully, Nashville offers more variety.
Since moving to Nashville in 2013, I’ve befriended folks from all sorts of professions. I’m friends with nurses, teachers, musicians and driven office-centered professionals. It easy to befriend a variety of folks when moving to Nashville because the artsy vibe of the city attracts folks with varying interests.
Nashville locals are incredibly friendly
Chalk it up to southern hospitality, if you must, 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, which makes the endeavor that much easier.
In fact, Nashville is ranked as one of the most friendly cities in the country.
I’ve lost count of the number of times someone struck up a conversation at a bar or invited me to tag along to a music venue because they had a spare ticket. If you’ve ever lived in a large city, you probably know how important friendliness is!
The greenway is pretty bad ass
Having access to the city’s greenway is one of my favorite things about living in Nashville. A mere 15-minute drive from the city, the greenway offers a chance for peaceful respite in the beautiful outdoors.
Indeed, I was surprised after moving to Nashville by the greenery of the city. The nature is striking in the leafy spring and summer months (don’t even get me started on fall!). There’s so much to do outside, which makes the weekends very enjoyable.
Great food culture
Nashville is considered one of the best food cities in America. You’ll find the usual suspects of typical southern-inspired favorites like fried chicken and drool-inducing BBQ, but the recent influx of newcomers is adding breadth and variety to the food scene.
As a local, I love having a plethora of restaurants to choose from! Some of my favorite spots include Taqueria Andrea, Korea House, Bare Bones Butcher and Henrietta Red.
Moving to Nashville for a job? Good news
Nashville has one of the strongest job markets in the country right now. The city offers jobs in a variety of fields, from tourism and music to healthcare, tech and education.
If helpful, here’s a round of the largest employers in Nashville:
- Vanderbilt University Medical Center
- Nissan North America
- HCA Healthcare, Inc.
- Vanderbilt University
Taxes are low
Tennessee is one of nine states without an income tax. Remember that feeling of getting your first official paycheck and frantically double-checking the math because “surely, $25 per hour doesn’t equal that!”
Oh, the joy of taxes. Thankfully your paycheck will go a little further after moving to Nashville. Depending of where you’re moving from, this can be an annual savings between 3-10%, which is nothing to scoff at.
The (live) music scene
As you already know, if there’s one thing Nashville is known for it’s music. Hell, they don’t call it Music City for nothing. The city is home to an exciting music culture full of rich history, and has the lively venues to prove it.
A lot of folks make the assumption that Nashville’s music scene is limited exclusively to country, but that’s not the case. The city is home to talented musicians that span the gamut — you just need to know where to look. I’m not a huge live performance person, but whenever I get the itch for a show I ask coworkers for their recommendations.
Cons of Living in Nashville
Nashville is not a walkable city (seriously, where are the sidewalks?)
One of the first things I noticed after moving to Nashville was the lack of sidewalks or sidewalks that randomly end abruptly. It made no sense to me and I was hardly surprised to later learn that Nashville ranks as one of the least walkable cities in the country.
This is turn makes me feel unsafe getting from Point A to Point B on foot, which is a shame. To that end, if you’re moving to Nashville with the hopes of keeping up an active lifestyle, look for a place close to the greenway.
Public transit leaves much to be desired so you’ll need a car to get around
Car dependency is not unique in America, I know, but it’d still be nice to get around without hopping into a car for every need. Work, groceries, entertainment, gym — anything, really, will require a car.
There’s no reason to sugarcoat it, Nashville is designed with the car in mind. As such, public transportation is abysmal because it’s clear that locals are car-dependent. It’s a vicious cycle because it’s challenging to change the fabric of the city so everything is designed with the car in mind and lifestyles adjust accordingly.
The housing market
I know, I know — unaffordable housing is common across the country and isn’t unique to Nashville — but the issue is acute regardless, so it warrants mention. The average cost of a home in Nashville clocks in at $455,300, which is a 30% increase from last year alone.
Not only are homes not affordable, but a ton of home owners have turned to Airbnb — which further 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 the hopes of buying a home you might be in for a surprise.
Traffic & dangerous driving habits
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.
Admittedly, this has be stumped. But of the three cities I’ve lived in before moving to Nashville, nowhere have I seen worse driving habits. Heck, according to this article, I’m not the only one that thinks so!
The city feels segregated
I can tell this statement will garner strong opinions and potentially upset folks. But this is an honest account on living in Nashville and I’d like to share my personal experience — the city is definitely segmented by class and race.
But don’t just take my word for it, this handy map is incredibly telling.
Moving to Nashville with kids? Think twice about the public schools
Here’s a hard truth about living in Nashville: our public schools are nothing to write home about. 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, I find it inadequate but I’m not the only one (far from it).
Most of my coworkers sent their kids to private schools, which is something we eventually ended up budgeting for as well. Hell, there are far too many Nashville schools ranking 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. Sadly a proper public education while living in Nashville seems to be an exception, more than a rule.
Hanging out pretty much revolves around drinks
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, it may prove difficult to get your friends to dust off their hiking boots.
The reason? Most locals don’t seem to enjoy hiking and camping if it gets in the way of attending shows and drinking at bars. It sounds strange because of the natural beauty within reach, but that’s been my experience so far. As such, I’ve resorted to reaching out via Facebook groups and the like to find folks to hike with.
Consider your allergies before moving to Nashville
One of the biggest things most folks overlook when moving to Nashville is allergy season. While some folks love to “stop and smell the flowers” most locals know to run for the hills. Spanning from spring through fall, expect to hear stuffy noses and see red eyes on the daily.
The spring trees are notorious for producing pollen that irritates allergy prone folks every year like clockwork. But if you think spring is bad, wait for the fall when hay fever (ragweed) strikes.
Indeed, Tennessee is considered the 14th worst state in the country for allergy sufferers. To that end, if you’re adversely by from allergies than you may want to think twice before moving to Nashville.
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
- 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