The sun is setting behind the Nashville Tennessee skyline

Thanks in part to its growth due to net migration, desirability and affordability, Nashville ranks No. 15 on the U.S. News ranking of Best Places to Live in the U.S. (Getty Images)

While you may know the region or state in the U.S. you're set on calling home next, you likely still have decisions to make when it comes to which city or metro area will be the right fit. If Tennessee is your place, you have no shortage of cities, suburbs and small towns to choose from in this long, thin, southern state that spans two time zones.

You may have called Tennessee home since birth or simply like the idea of being able to choose from the mountainous, hilly or flat landscapes that make up the state. Either way, your experience can vary widely based on where in the state you put down roots.

Of the 125 most populous metro areas in the U.S., Tennessee is home to four. We've compiled the details from the Best Places to Live in the U.S. ranking – based on information about the local job market, cost of living, access to health care and desirability, among other factors – to help you determine which major Tennessee metro area is the right fit for you.

[Read: 12 Packing Tips for Moving to Your New Home.]

4. Memphis

Best Places to Live 2019 Rank: 118
Metro Population: 1,344,058
Median Home Value: $151,900
Median Annual Salary: $43,950


Memphis downtown skyline w/ trees and Wolf Rover and boats and harbor in the foreground.

(Getty Images)


The second-most populous metro area in Tennessee, Memphis ranks No. 118 out of the 125 metro areas on the overall Best Places to Live list. Memphis-area residents spend less than 24.27% of the median annual household income on housing costs, including rent and mortgage payments, utility costs and property taxes. However, property and violent crime rates in the area are above the national average, and a low average college readiness score among high school students – based on data from the U.S. News' Best High Schools ranking – contribute to Memphis ranking second to last in the Quality of Life rating after San Juan, Puerto Rico. Additionally, the Memphis area's population is slowly shrinking, with the population declining by 1.97% based on net migration between 2013 and 2017, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

[Read: Your Guide to the Housing Market.]

3. Chattanooga

Best Places to Live 2019 Rank: 55
Metro Population: 548,359
Median Home Value: $164,550
Median Annual Salary: $42,870


Sunrise, Tennessee Aquarium, Road Bridge, Chattanooga, Tennessee, America

(Getty Images)


Just north of the state's border with Georgia, Chattanooga is the smallest of the four Tennessee metro areas on the Best Places to Live list and ranks No. 55 overall. Population growth is a significant factor for Chattanooga ranking ahead of Memphis, with Chattanooga growing by a modest 2.77% due to net migration between 2013 and 2017. While the median annual salary, at $42,870, is below the national average of $50,620, area residents benefit from a particularly low cost of living, spending just 21.92% of the median annual household income on housing expenses.

2. Knoxville

Best Places to Live 2019 Rank: 46
Metro Population: 862,490
Median Home Value: $172,333
Median Annual Salary: $43,840


Knoxville

(Getty Images)


Knoxville ranks No. 46 out of the 125 most populous metro areas in the U.S., with a cost of living that's slightly higher than in Chattanooga. Knoxville residents spend 22.07% of the median annual household income on housing costs. Knoxville also benefits from a more active job market: Its unemployment rate is just 3.3%. Knoxville residents also benefit from an average morning commute of just 23.6 minutes.

[See: The Best Apps for House Hunting]

1. Nashville

Best Places to Live 2019 Rank: 15
Metro Population: 1,830,410
Median Home Value: $248,883
Median Annual Salary: $47,110


Nashville is the capital of the U.S. state of Tennessee. Nashville is known as the country-music capital of the world. The city is also known for its culture and commerce and great bar scene

(Getty Images)


The most populous metro area in Tennessee is also the most widely visited, particularly because it’s considered the capital of country music. Nashville ranks No. 15 on the overall Best Places to Live list, thanks to its growth due to net migration, desirability and affordability. Between 2013 and 2017, the Nashville area grew by 6.88% due to net migration alone. Additionally, Nashville residents spend just 22.62% of the median household income on housing costs. The area also ranks 11th for desirability out of the 125 places on the list, based on a SurveyMonkey survey of 2,000 U.S. residents.

Visit the Best Places to Live in Tennessee rankings page.

Updated on Aug. 28, 2019: This story was published at an earlier date and has been updated with new information.

Tags: real estate, housing, housing market, home prices, renting, Tennessee, Nashville


Devon Thorsby is the Real Estate editor at U.S. News & World Report, where she writes consumer-focused articles about the homebuying and selling process, home improvement, tenant rights and the state of the housing market.

She has appeared in media interviews across the U.S. including National Public Radio, WTOP (Washington, D.C.) and KOH (Reno, Nevada) and various print publications, as well as having served on panels discussing real estate development, city planning policy and homebuilding.

Previously, she served as a researcher of commercial real estate transactions and information, and is currently a member of the National Association of Real Estate Editors. Thorsby studied Political Science at the University of Michigan, where she also served as a news reporter and editor for the student newspaper The Michigan Daily. Follow her on Twitter or write to her at dthorsby@usnews.com.

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