What to Know About Moving to Nashville

Examine the details that can help you decide if you should move to Nashville, and what to expect when you get there.

U.S. News & World Report

What to Know About Moving to Nashville

Stock photograph of people and colorful neon signs in a row at the landmark Broadway pub district in downtown Nashville, Tennessee, USA, illuminated at twilight blue hour

If you decide to move to Nashville, expect to find a welcoming place and lots of music.(Getty Images)

You may be considering a move to Nashville for a variety of reasons, whether it's to pursue a career in music, relocate for work or simply enjoy what the city has to offer.

Nashville’s flourishing job market, reasonable cost of living and rapid population growth mean you have quite a few details to consider. Here’s what you should know about deciding to move to Music City, how to relocate and what you can expect once you become a resident.

Should You Move to Nashville?

If you're moving to Nashville, you'll have plenty of company. Between 2013 and 2017, the Nashville metro area’s population increased by 6.88% due to net migration alone, equating to more than 120,000 new residents, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. The city ties with Asheville, North Carolina, as the 16th-fastest-growing metro area out of the 125 most populous in the country.

What makes Nashville such a popular destination? Jobs in health care abound with multiple hospitals and health systems in the area, including Vanderbilt University Medical Center and the Hospital Corporation of America. In addition, Nashville aims to be a welcoming place for small businesses and startups, offering resources for entrepreneurs as they navigate the process of starting a business, including a crowdlending program.

The median annual salary, at $47,110, is below the national median of $50,620. But the city's lower cost of living compared to other major cities means a paycheck goes a bit further in covering living expenses. Nashville area residents spend 22.62% of the local median annual household income on rent or mortgage payments, utilities and property taxes.

How to Move to Nashville

If you’ve made your decision to move to Nashville, now it’s time to set your plan in motion. The best thing you can do to prepare to live in Nashville is to get to know the city and suburbs, and speak with a local friend, relative or real estate agent to find the right place for you.

If possible, take a weekend or a few days to visit Nashville. Sissy Allen, a Realtor and relocation director for Fridrich & Clark Realty LLC in Nashville, says she stresses to clients that touring neighborhoods and trying out a potential commute can help you make a decision you're less likely to regret. "When you're online looking at homes, you may not have a good grasp of how far something might be," she says.

You’ll want to look at your income, savings and expected cost of living to determine whether you’ll be better off buying a home or renting. The median home price in the Nashville metro area is $248,883, according to real estate information company Zillow, and the median monthly rent is $951. However, expect those costs to be higher within Nashville city limits.

Here’s what you need to know about moving to Nashville:

  • The cost of living is rising.
  • The housing market is competitive.
  • You need a car.
  • Your commute may be long.
  • You can find the right neighborhood.
  • It’s a welcoming place.
  • Music is big.

The Cost of Living Is Rising

The area's median home price may be $248,883, but don’t expect a Nashville address at that price. “For a family that needs to be in a price range of $250,000 to $350,000 and they have children in schools, that is almost impossible in the Nashville proper area,” Allen says.

But there are plenty of suburbs just outside Nashville that offer lower home prices in neighborhoods with plenty of charm. Allen notes that Mount Juliet, Franklin, Hendersonville and Murfreesboro are popular options for families looking to buy a home for a lower price but still be close to quality schools. As more people move to the area, expect property values to rise in the suburbs as well as the downtown area, making buying a home for the first time more difficult.

The Housing Market Is Competitive

With so many people moving to the Nashville area, expect plenty of competition from other buyers that can lead to fast sales and the occasional bidding war.

Parker Wishik moved from the District of Columbia to Nashville with his wife for her job in May 2018. In addition to hunting for a place to live in a new city, they were looking to make their first home purchase. “There was some sense of urgency on our end, but we didn’t have any trouble in putting in an offer,” Wishik says.

Spring and early summer are the hottest times of year for the Nashville housing market, Allen says, which is also typical in most parts of the U.S. But even at the end of the year, if any moderately priced homes in desirable neighborhoods go on the market, “snap your fingers and they’re gone,” Allen says.

You Need a Car

Adding to your cost of living in Nashville is the fact that you need a car to get around. Especially if you’re relocating from a city with a metro system, expect to lose the consistency of that public transportation option.

Buses run throughout Nashville's metro area, and the Music City Star train runs from downtown to a handful of suburbs east of the city. Still, just 1% of the metro area population uses public transportation, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

Your Commute May Be Long

As the Nashville area grows, the roads get more congested. “Especially with families moving farther and farther out (of the city), they should expect (a commute) of 30 to 45 minutes each way,” Allen says.

While Wishik's job in public affairs allows him to work from home, his wife works in Midtown, which is about 5 miles from where they live in East Nashville. On a good day, her commute can be about 25 minutes. When traffic is heavy, it can climb to 40 minutes or more.

You Can Find the Right Neighborhood

For anyone moving to Nashville, Wishik stresses exploring the city to find a neighborhood that appeals to you. “Learn the neighborhoods first. Each neighborhood has its own issues, its own benefits, its own culture,” Wishik says. “Once you get here, don’t keep yourself sequestered to your neighborhood.”

Even if your heart is set on a neighborhood with restaurants that's outside your price range, you’ll likely find more than one option to meet your needs. For example, “the food scene in Nashville is now all over, not just in specific areas,” Allen says.

It’s a Welcoming Place

Fifteen years or more ago, Allen says she encountered people’s concerns about moving to Nashville for the first time – particularly that it wouldn’t feel diverse or as welcoming to people from different races or backgrounds. Allen says she feels confident telling people that Nashville is a welcoming place to live, and many are already aware of the friendly reputation.

“Very seldom you (now) hear anyone express fear of moving here,” Allen says.

Music Is Big

The stereotype that country music is a big part of the city holds up, but only in that music of all kinds is prevalent – it is called Music City, after all.

“Music is everywhere here – it’s a big part of the fabric of this community, but it’s not all just country music,” Wishik says. “Yes, you have the honky-tonks on Broadway, and people, when they come here, of course want to go there.” You'll also find venues that host performances from hip-hop, rock and pop musicians throughout the city.

Live music is a popular part of the nightlife in Nashville. If you’re not a country fan, there are plenty of options to find your preferred genre, whatever that may be.

Wealth of Knowledge Podcast

Wealth of Knowledge is a weekly podcast featuring tips and expert insight on all things money: personal finance, careers, investing, real estate and more.

Wealth of Knowledge logo