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Cost of Living in Nashville, TN 2020

By: Davina Ward
November 12, 2020

Nashville, Tennessee, is known as a music mecca, especially for fans of honky-tonk country music. Not only has the city been the birthplace of many country music legends, but it's also got a lively culture of its own.

This might sound like a dream for many prospective renters looking for a new city to call home. However, you should consider a few things before packing your bags and booking the next flight to Nashville.

The cost of living in Nashville is generally more affordable than that of similar metropolitan areas. However, just because it's considered more affordable doesn't mean that all prospective renters will be able to afford to live there.

To determine whether Nashville's cost of living fits into your budget, you'll need to have an in-depth understanding of what those costs look like in Nashville. Here's everything you need to know about the cost of living in Nashville, Tennessee, and how you can get the most bang for your buck in Songwriter's City.

Nashville Housing Costs

Now might be a good time to dive into Nashville's rental market, especially if you’re looking for a low-cost luxury apartment. Rent prices are experiencing a downturn. They’ll likely take some time to rebound. In short, making your move now could save you hundreds, if not thousands, on your rent.

This is saying a lot, as Nashville is already among some of the more affordable cities in the US, similar to Dallas and Denver. Compared to the median rent prices in other large cities, like San Francisco, a renter can save over $1,000 a month.

Nashville boasts a low median rent cost. A one-bedroom apartment will set you back $1,055. The average rent cost for a two-bedroom apartment is $1,217. Typically, the cost of a Nashville studio apartment will be less expensive.

Nashville Transportation Costs

Transportation in Nashville can be a bit of a challenge. That’s especially the case if you're considering an apartment that lies outside of Downtown Nashville. The streets are overtaken by the huge number of residents that own a personal vehicle.

So, wherever it is that you plan on going, don't expect to get there quickly. The traffic-ridden streets will certainly slow you down.

Public transportation in Nashville is handled by the Nashville Metropolitan Transit Authority (NMTA). They offer busing services to residents and private paratransit services for passengers with disabilities. A one-way ticket costs $2 for an adult passenger.

Nashville has no other public transit service beyond its bus lines. A referendum to add a railway and expand busing services was voted on in 2018. However, residents quickly shot it down.

This is partially due to the lack of effective traffic decongestion that the plan would have provided, especially because it would’ve lacked service to the sprawling suburbs on the city's outskirts. Additionally, it would have significantly increased taxes for residents.

Since there are no railway plans for the future, and bus service is limited, it might be ideal to own a vehicle, bike, or choose walking as your preferred mode of transportation from your Nashville apartment.

Nashville Food Costs

Nashville is known as a foodie paradise with Southern cuisine mixing with ethnic influences in the Music City. The average single Nashville resident spends just $291.13 a month on groceries and dining out.

If you intend to enjoy a meal in the city, expect to pay around $15 for a single person at an inexpensive restaurant, according to data collected by Numbeo. If you're a person who eats out for lunch during the weekdays, that can mean your lunch budget alone will swell to $300 a month.

In short, your personal preferences and level of frugality will determine just how large (or small) your food budget is in Nashville.

Unfortunately, food prices are going up all over the country. If you want to get the most out of your food budget, clipping coupons, shopping at a co-op, and buying pantry items in bulk can often help you save big.

Nashville Healthcare Costs

Overall, the average annual health insurance premium for employer-based single coverage has increased by 3%. It now sits at $6,896 for a single coverage policy.

On average, employees pay 18% of the premium cost for a single policy. This translates to $103 a month for employer-based coverage. Policies that extended coverage to families were higher, with employees paying $294 a month for their insurance premium.

That said, healthcare costs will vary widely depending on your personal circumstances. It's essential to research all your health insurance options before making a final decision. This’ll allow you to choose the most cost-effective and beneficial policy.

Nashville local government put together an awesome resource covering free and low-cost healthcare options for residents to consider. You'll find a similar list of free and low-cost healthcare options put together by the Housing and Urban Development Department.

It might be helpful to keep an eye on politics when shopping the health insurance market. Currently, the Supreme Court is deciding a case that could completely overhaul the current system. Depending on the ruling, you could expect to see a major change in costs.

Nashville Utility Costs

Utility costs can vary greatly from apartment to apartment.

Beyond accounting for the various things that influence the cost of utilities, there's no real guarantee that you'll pay the number you come up with on your budget. In short, it's a budget category that you should overestimate until you get your first bills after a full month of use.

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That said, Numbeo offers some average costs that you can use as the foundation of your budget.

Basic utilities for a 915 sq. ft. apartment unit will cost you just under $169 a month. This includes electricity, water, garbage collection, heating, and cooling. Keep in mind, this number only fits in this specific circumstance.

In some cases, your landlord may include your utility costs in the rent itself. In this case, you'll have a single bill to worry about on a monthly basis.

However, this setup can also mean that you'll see an inflated rent price. So, if you're looking for an affordable Nashville apartment, tread carefully.

Fitness and Entertainment Costs

You've moved to a great new city, so why not enjoy everything it has to offer? Regardless of your personal entertainment preferences, there's something to do for everyone in Nashville. Here's what you need to know about common entertainment costs.

Concerts

According to SeatGeek, the average cost of a concert ticket in Nashville is $135. Whether you decide to pay less for the nosebleed seats or more for the front row is up to you.

There are a plethora of venues in the Music City famed for the country music tunes and legends that have emerged from the city. Ryman Auditorium is one of the largest and oldest venues that many artists fight to book. For larger shows, expect to jam at Nissan Stadium.

Fitness

Truthfully, the cost of fitness is pretty much free if you don't mind sharing the monkey, er, pull-up bars with children at the park.

However, if you're looking for something that’ll help you avoid playground arguments, you can sign up for a membership at one of Nashville's many fitness centers and gyms.

The average cost of a gym membership for a single adult is around $45 a month, or $540 a year. Keep in mind, many gyms have implemented application and first-time membership fees that may cause your costs to rise.

If you don't mind the investment, many gyms are also offering completely virtual memberships that’ll enable you to follow along to various fitness classes from your home.

Outdoor Recreation

This type of recreation is always free, minus the cost of equipment. Luckily, Nashville is loaded with tons of outdoor recreation options that you can enjoy throughout the year.

Percy Warner Park, which is just two massive parks separated by a street, is one of Nashville's most popular parks. The parks span 3,100 acres. They make up the second-largest park in the state.

You'll find trails for running, walking, and biking. There are two full golf courses, a dog park, and sports fields. Not to mention, access to several hiking trails.

Though this is only one park, there are tons more in the city. So, you can enjoy a full day of fun without paying a cent.

Other Expenses to Consider in Nashville

Though we've run through the most common costs to consider when moving to Nashville, there are a few more that merit mention.

  • Phone, Internet, Cable: These are costs that you'll carry with you even after a move. While many are pulling the plug on cable and opting for streaming platforms like Netflix instead, your phone and internet are necessities in this day and age.
  • Vehicle Ownership: As stated earlier, Nashville doesn't have a robust public transportation system. So, you'll likely be responsible for the costs of owning a personal vehicle, including gas, maintenance, and insurance.
  • Childcare Costs: Childcare can often be one of the biggest expenses for families with young children. In Nashville, this cost sits at around $1,122 a month for a single child with full-day care.
  • Increased Development: This is not a cost per se, but it's something that you should keep an eye on. Nashville is enjoying mass expansion. While the pandemic has certainly slowed that down, it's likely to start back up again. This typically correlates to higher living costs for every resident.

Generally, your expenses are tied to your lifestyle more than anything else. While the costs of these budget categories may change, it's unlikely that you'll add a new one simply due to a move.

So, perform an audit of your current expenses to gain an accurate idea of what you should include in your budget for a new city. That way, you'll have a solid foundation to build on if you do pick up new expenses after the move.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics puts the average Nashville resident's annual wage at $49,890 or $23.98 an hour. However, that's not necessarily the wage you should aim for when moving to this city.

As housing costs often make up the largest portion of an individual’s expenses, it's ideal to base your budget on this metric to ensure that you have enough to cover your housing cost.

The best rule to follow is that rent should only be 30% of your monthly income. The median cost of rent for a one-bedroom apartment in Nashville is $1,055. This translates to a recommended monthly income of at least $3,517 or around $42,300 a year.

Final Thoughts

Making a move to any city can be challenging. However, the biggest challenge is determining whether you can afford to move to the city of your dreams.

That's why it's essential to create an accurate budget that accounts for all expenses. Not only will this put you in a better financial position, but it enables you to plan ahead to meet your financial goals well before making the move.

Once you've got the budget in place, the next big task is finding the right apartment. Luckily, Apartment List is here to help! Just get started with our quiz to find your dream Nashville apartment.

AUTHOR
Davina Ward is a contributing author at Apartment List and freelance writer specializing in real estate and digital marketing. She received her B. Read More
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