What's it like to live in Memphis, TN?


Profile written by local expert:

Jacqueline Jones

Set in the Mississippi Delta, Memphis is a metro area where the energy of urban living melds with the slow rhythms of the rural South. Marked by historic districts, Mississippi River views and memorials to cultural legends like Elvis Presley and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., every corner of Memphis permeates with the culture of the Deep South.

Although it's one of the largest metro areas in Tennessee, the region's small-town atmosphere fosters a close-knit community that makes it an attractive place for families to settle. Its rich music scene is a magnet for artists looking to give their career momentum, and as a center of global transit and a crossroads of distribution, the area offers a wealth of job opportunities. 

Nonprofits and faith-based organizations also shape the region. Residents take responsibility for the well-being of their neighborhoods, providing a stronger sense of community and a great way for newcomers to build social connections.

See all the best places to live in Tennessee.

Rankings

U.S. News analyzed 150 metro areas in the United States to find the best places to live based on quality of life and the job market in each metro area, as well as the value of living there and people's desire to live there.

Memphis, Tennessee is ranked:

#139 in Best Places to Live

#134 in Best Places to Retire

#3 in Most Dangerous Places

#4 in Best Places to Live in Tennessee

5.6

Overall

Scorecard

Best Places to Live

  • Desirability
    6.6
  • Value
    6.3
  • Job Market
    5.9
  • Quality of Life
    4.5
  • Net Migration
    5.2

Read how we rank places

Memphis, TN Quick Stats

  • 1,345,991

    Metro Population

  • $44,610

    Average Annual Salary

  • 72.4° / 53.6°

    Avg High/Low Temps

  • 36.1

    Median Age

  • $157,458

    Median Home Price

  • 53.7 inches

    AVG Annual Rainfall

  • 4.2%

    Unemployment Rate

  • $907

    Median Monthly Rent

  • 24.1 minutes

    Avg Commute Time

What is there to do in Memphis, TN?

Venues celebrating history, the arts and music abound in the Memphis metro area, which is known as the birthplace of rock 'n' roll and home of the blues. Music is a mainstay of local entertainment, from listening to a band on iconic Beale Street to seeing a show at the historic Orpheum Theatre Memphis or enjoying a concert on the lawn at the Levitt Shell amphitheater.

But music is not the region's only claim to fame. The area also is home to the National Civil Rights Museum, the Memphis Zoo and an NBA team, the Memphis Grizzlies. 

This area is also known for its Memphis-style barbecue, and it hosts the World Championship Barbecue Cooking Contest each year as part of the Memphis in May International Festival.

Find out more about what there is to see and do in Memphis, TN.

What's the cost of living in Memphis, TN?

Memphis has one of the lowest costs of living for a large metro area. Rent prices and mortgage expenses are considerably lower than the national average. Expenses for food and services are also significantly lower than in other major regions, especially in the more rural areas that spread out beyond the metro region.

Looking for financial advice? Find a local financial advisor in Memphis, Tennessee.

Value Index

Index Score: 6.3 /10

How we calculate this.


Memphis offers a lower value than similarly sized metro areas when you compare housing costs to median household income.

Housing Costs 2019


Memphis
$157,458

USA
$232,933

Housing Costs Over Time

Data sourced from Zillow median home sale price data series. Additional data provided by the Austin Board of Realtors, Houston Association of Realtors, Intermountain MLS, Omaha Area Board of Realtors, San Antonio Board of Realtors, and the Salt Lake Board of Realtors.

Buying or selling a home? Find top real estate agents in Memphis, TN.

What's the weather like in Memphis, TN?

With mild winters and sunny days, Memphis residents regularly enjoy outdoor activities like running and biking. Still, the subtropical climate brings high levels of humidity that make summers sweltering. Springtime, though lovely with its magnolia and forsythia blooms, also brings its share of heavy thunderstorms and threat of tornadoes.

Seasonal Temperature (Avgs)

43.4°F


Winter

62.9°F


Spring

81.4°F


Summer

64.2°F


Fall

Seasonal Rainfall (Avgs)

5.7 in


Winter

5.5 in


Spring

4.6 in


Summer

5.5 in


Fall

Monthly High and Low Temperatures (°F)

Data sourced from the National Climatic Data Center.

What's the best way to get around Memphis, TN?

The Memphis Area Transit Authority, or MATA, bus system and taxi services are the primary options for public transportation in the region, but most commuters rely on their cars. It's fairly easy to get around town, thanks in part to the Interstate 240 beltway that circles the city center. Usual rush-hour traffic and the bustle of weekend crowds can make the roads congested at times. 

The metro area welcomes commercial travelers daily at the Memphis International Airport, which also serves as the headquarters of the FedEx Express cargo hub. Other options for cross-country travel are by Amtrak train or Greyhound bus. 

Commuting in Memphis, TN

Means of Transportation
Driving
94%
Above national average

Bicycling
0%
Equal to national average

Walking
1%
Equal to national average

Public Transit
1%
Below national average
Average Commute Time

24.1 minutes

2.5 minutes less than national average

Average Commute Times by Zip Code

Data sourced from the U.S. Census Bureau's American Community Survey.

Who lives in Memphis, TN?

Affordable living costs make it easy for families and retirees to call the Memphis region home. And the metro area's colleges and universities bring in a younger demographic.

The religious community has a strong presence in and around the greater metro area and there are more than 2,000 established churches. 

Age Distribution

Marital Status Breakdown


More single people in Memphis than
national average

Data sourced from the U.S. Census Bureau's American Community Survey.