15 Things to Know Before Moving to Nashville, TN
Music City, the Country Music Capital, and the Athens of the South — Nashville, Tennessee is known by many names.
Each nickname is an homage to the city's cultural roots in music, education, and, of course, Southern hospitality. It's an exceptional area that offers good eats, entertainment, and lots of fun to any prospective renter lucky enough to have the opportunity to plant roots in the city.
That said, every city has its quirks and things that make it special. Unfortunately, you usually don't find this out until you've made your move.
That's why we've put together this list of the essential things to know before moving to Nashville. Let's dive in!
1. What it’s Like Living in Nashville, TN
Nashville is located in the north-central region in the state of Tennessee. It’s the county seat of Davidson County.
A simple two-hour drive from Nashville will bring you to several popular destinations in the area. That includes Chattanooga, with its gorgeous scenic views and easy access to other popular destinations.
For those lovers of the outdoors, Nashville is in perfect proximity to The Great Smoky Mountains. Clocking in at a 4.5-hour drive, it's the perfect destination for a simple weekend getaway.
The Kentucky Bourbon Trail is another nearby locale. It’s a must-visit location for any whiskey lover. Dozens of bourbon whiskey distilleries are just a hop, skip, and a jump away from Downtown Nashville.
2. Cost of Living in Nashville
The cost of living in Nashville is manageable for many renters. Nashville’s cost of living is 3% lower and housing costs are also 9% lower than the national average.
Here's an idea of how much things cost when moving to Nashville, reported by PayScale:
- Energy bill: $150.73
- Loaf of bread: $3.23
- Doctor's Visit: $90.45
- $2.62 for a gallon of gas
Expenses like your apartment utilities, healthcare, and food will run the gamut, depending on your preferences. However, the average costs for these expenses are not out of the ordinary or exorbitantly high.
Currently, the median rent price for a one-bedroom apartment in Nashville sits at $1,297. A two-bedroom unit sits at $1,495. When you compare it to other major metropolitan cities, Nashville's rent prices are on the lower end of the price spectrum.
Despite the reasonable rents compared to other metropolitan cities, the cost of living in Nashville is on the rise. Rents are up sharply by 21.6% in comparison to the same time last year. Nashville's year-over-year rent growth leads the state average of 21.1%, as well as the national average of 17.1%. Keep your eye out for rent specials in Nashville that could save you hundreds on rent.
To live comfortably in a one-bedroom apartment in Nashville, you need an income of at least $51,880 a year or $26.61 an hour. For a two-bedroom apartment, you should aim for $59,800 a year or $29.90 an hour.
The Census Bureau reported that Nashville’s median income was $62,087 as of 2020. By comparison, the US median income is $62,843.
However, it’s important to know that these figures are different from the basic living wage. Living above the poverty threshold in Nashville requires $16.25 an hour for a full-time employed single individual. You'll need to aim higher to afford nightlife, vacations, and restaurants.
Learn more about the state of Tennessee's cost of living.
3. Who's Moving to Nashville?
According to Apartment List’s Renter Migration Report, renters in Nashville are considering staying in The Volunteer State and want to move to Memphis, Chicago, or Clarksville. While renters from Atlanta, Knoxville, and Chattanooga are all searching for apartments in Nashville.
Learn more about how to move to a new state.
4. The Job Market and Economy in Nashville
The job market and economy in Nashville have been negatively affected by the pandemic, as have most cities and towns across the country.
However, the most recent data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics suggests that Nashville is in the process of recovering from the economic downturn of the past year.
That said, if you’re making the move to Nashville, it's essential to understand your employment options. Healthcare is the primary employment and economic industry in Nashville. It accounts for over 9% of jobs in the city.
Other major industries include Music and the Arts, Tourism, Education (university staff), and a growing tech scene. In short, there’s a great variety of jobs available to Nashville residents.
Some of the biggest employers in Nashville are Bridgestone Americas, Asurion, Dollar General, and Vanguard Industries, all of which are headquartered in the Music City.
5. People are Flocking to Nashville
Outside of the effects of the pandemic, Nashville has always been a popular city. Its reputation for churning out good food and musicians is unparalleled. However, the city has experienced a substantial population boom in recent years.
Apartment List crowned Nashville as the most changed metro area in the US in the 2010s. Nashville recorded 14.6% population growth from 2010 to 2018. Moreover, the workforce became more educated, households became wealthier, and housing options boomed.
Nashville’s a city that’s currently evolving into a premier southern metropolitan area. Despite the massive positive shifts, Nashville still retains its affordability as a city with a relatively low cost of living.
6. Fall in Love with the Music City
Nashville has so much music to offer. Live music is pretty much ubiquitous throughout the city. Restaurants, bars, cafes, and even street corners offer melodic country tunes whenever you visit.
Spots like the Bluebird Cafe, a music club in the city, have hosted such greats as Taylor Swift, Maren Morris, and Phill Vassar. Patrons of the club enjoy acoustic music sets by up-and-coming and famous artists alike.
Other major music venues include the Grand Ole Opry and the Ryman Auditorium which host concerts and shows from some of the biggest names in the entertainment industry.
Finally, South Broadway Avenue, located in Downtown Nashville, is an entertainment hub famed for its plethora of honky-tonks and live music offerings. There are other entertainment options on South Broadway Avenue. However, visitors come and stay for the music.
7. Nashville's Nightlife Scene
Nashville enjoys a lively nightlife scene, in some part driven by its substantial college-age population. Much like everything else in Nashville, the nightlife scene is driven by music.
Bars and clubs offer live music all night long, so you can eat and drink your fill while enjoying great music. New high-rises and an increasing hipster population have provided more options for those enjoying a night out. You'll find rooftop bars, wineries, karaoke, and more exploring Nashville at night.
8. Nashville Neighborhoods
Nashville boasts a collection of unique neighborhoods. As a prospective renter, it's important to understand what each neighborhood has to offer and get a feel for the vibe of the neighborhood to determine which is the best fit for you. Here's a brief rundown of the best neighborhoods in Nashville.
West End Park
Located close to Vanderbilt University, West End Park is a neighborhood made up of students, university staff, and young professionals.
There are tons of entertainment opportunities. That includes the aptly named "Rock Block" for an evening filled with rock music.
As Centennial Park sits in the center of the neighborhood, West End Park is the ideal location for any resident that enjoys the outdoors.
This historic neighborhood is just south of Downtown Nashville. It comprises musicians and other members of the Music and Arts industry in Nashville.
Known as a tourist location, Music Row is home to tons of restaurants, bars, and entertainment spots. Residents of Music Row enjoy condos and apartment living.
A lovely little neighborhood adored by both locals and tourists, The Gulch boasts many of Nashville's high-rises, lofts, and apartment complexes.
You'll find restaurants with mouth-watering delights and art entertainment in spades within the confines of The Gulch.
Live music, high-quality restaurants, and lots of entertainment options flood the streets of the Vanderbilt-Midtown neighborhood. Residents of this neighborhood are generally on the younger side, as students and young professionals.
However, the neighborhood doesn't give off a college-town vibe. It's a lovely area within the city to escape the hustle and bustle.
Speaking of hustle and bustle, Downtown Nashville has lots of both. A goldmine of entertainment and fun lies in wait for anyone who ventures into the neighborhood.
Restaurants, bars, live music — you name it, and Downtown Nashville has it. Newly home to hipsters and honky-tonk lovers, this neighborhood is certainly unique.
9. Nashville Culture
Music is built into the very DNA of Nashville. The city is known for its culture of country music, but it’s a hub that has churned out musicians across many genres ranging from hip-hop to classic piano.
That said, country music is a huge part of Nashville's music culture. There's a reason the Country Music Hall of Fame is located in the city. The distinct Nashville sound originated in the 1950s. It has gripped the city ever since.
As the home of country music, don't expect to escape the sound if you're not a fan. Seriously! Nashville is country music-loving to its core. Anyone who dislikes country music would not be a good fit in this city.
10. Universities in Nashville
Nashville is far from a college town, but... there are a lot of colleges in the city. Whether you’re a young professional looking for employment in the education sector or a student looking for the best city to spend the next four years at, Nashville has something to offer.
Here's a list of universities located in Nashville:
- Vanderbilt University
- Tennessee State University
- Lipscomb University
- Belmont University
- Fisk University
The upside of the high number of universities in Nashville means that education, employment, and entertainment opportunities are always in abundance in the city.
11. Nashville's Climate
Nashville is known for its warm subtropical climate. Nashville residents experience humid, hot summers with temperatures generally ranging from the low eighties to the low nineties.
Winters in Nashville are generally mild. The weather rarely dips below the low thirties but has dipped lower. However, you'll generally find that Nashville winters are very manageable.
12. Nashville Food & Drink Scene
As a Southern city, Nashville is no stranger to the delights of Southern cuisine. In fact, food might just be Nashville's second-biggest draw, behind music. The famous hot chicken, biscuits, grits, barbeque, seafood, and soul food of the South is in great abundance in Nashville.
Nashville is a true foodie's paradise. There are hundreds of breweries, restaurants, bars, and cafes. Each one offers delectable food and drink. Some of the most popular restaurants in Nashville include:
- Butcher & Bee: Serving the meals that live up to the title of "comfort food," Butcher & Bee has something on the menu for everyone, including fresh bakery pastries, burgers, and vegetarian options.
- The Stillery: Brick-fired pizza, mason jar cocktails, burgers, and salads adorn the menu of this popular Nashville restaurant.
- Arnold's Country Kitchen: There is nothing fancy about Arnold's Country Kitchen, but it doesn't matter one bit. People keep coming back for the incredible southern comfort food. It's a must-stop in Nashville.
- Monell's: For country food served family-style, there's no better place than Monell's. The restaurant has garnered well-earned national acclaim.
- The Loveless Cafe: As one of the most well-reviewed restaurants in Nashville, (seriously! Over 7k reviews and a cumulative 4.7-star rating), the Loveless Cafe certainly does get a lot of love. Stop by for a boutique experience, great southern food, and outdoor activities.
13. Nashville Parks & Outdoors Scene
Outdoor lovers rejoice! Nashville has many avenues for outdoor entertainment. Luckily, you’ll be able to enjoy all of Nashville’s outdoor recreation options year-round due to its mild winters. Here are some of the best outdoor recreation options in Nashville.
- Radnor Lake State Park lies just south of the city. It boasts 1,368 acres, trails, wildlife, and more. Bring your pet, your bike, or your family to this gorgeous park.
- Warner Parks are actually two parks that collectively span 3,100 acres. These parks feature picnic areas, a dog park, hiking trails, biking trails, and more.
- Centennial Park is just west of downtown Nashville. It features 132 acres of land. This smaller park includes free WiFi for patrons, a walking trail, historical monuments, a dog park, volleyball fields, and more. Oh, and Taylor Swift used to read here!
Don't forget, Nashville's location also means you can take a weekend vacation hiking the Great Smoky Mountains less than 5 hours away.
14. Public Transportation in Nashville
As a premier metropolitan area, Nashville surprisingly lacks a robust and comprehensive public transportation system.
Most Nashville households rely on personal vehicles to get around, with around 91% of households reportedly owning a car. Those who don't generally rely on rideshare options such as Uber or Lyft.
The unfortunate consequence of the high rate of vehicle ownership is wildly congested traffic in the city. This can cause a significant extension of your commute time.
That said, public transportation in Nashville isn't totally nonexistent. The Nashville Metropolitan Transit Authority (NMTA) handles public transportation within the city. However, it’s severely lacking in suburban service. Moreover, the system only features bus transportation options, with no rail service.
15. Nashville Sports
If you're a sports lover, then Nashville might be the place for you! With two professional sports teams, the Tennessee Titans (NFL) and the Nashville Predators (NHL) located in Nashville, there's no shortage of sports entertainment.
Not to mention, Vanderbilt is a D1 university, with the Commodores competing against other D1 athletes across the country. Baseball, football, basketball, and more — grab some season passes and you just might witness a future star athlete's humble beginnings.
Is Moving to Nashville Right for You?
Do you like country music?
If yes, then Nashville is the perfect place for you. If not...
Seriously, though, regardless of whether you can see yourself patronizing your local honky-tonk, Nashville is a great city. Nestled in the South, and boasting sports, music, arts, food, and other entertainment opportunities, Nashville has a lot to offer any prospective renter.
If Nashville doesn't seem like the perfect place for you though, consider Knoxville, another Tennessee city.
If you're ready to move to Nashville, register with Apartment List above to find your perfect apartment!
FAQs: What to Know Before Moving to Nashville
What's the weather in Nashville?
Nashville's weather is mild, but not as temperate as you might expect in the South. Winters are cold and wet and experiences partial cloud coverage year-round. Summers are hot and muggy, but luckily you're never far from central air conditioning, especially in pubs and restaurants.
What's the timezone in Nashville?
Nashville is on Central Daylight Time. When it's 9am in New York, it's 8am in Nashville.
What to do in Nashville?
Nashville is more than honky tonks and country music, although there's plenty of that too. Enjoy music at the Grand Ole Opry and Ryman Auditorium. For local live music, try Tin Pan South or Bluebird Cafe. Or escape the city for a few hours to nearby Radnor Lake State Park or Centennial Park.
What county is Nashville in?
Nashville is located in Davidson County, which is also the second most populous city in Tennessee. It's also the county seat in Nashville and the state capital.
What are the benefits of moving to Nashville?
Nashville welcomes newcomers to its unbeatable music scene, a reasonable cost of living, and low unemployment rate. Unemployment is low in Nashville, and you can build a career in music production, health care, finance, higher education, publication, tourism, and technology. The higher education opportunities are also strong in Nashville, with institutions like Vanderbilt and Belmont universities.
What are the pros and cons of living in Nashville?
Nashville is a booming city with a small town vibe. It's filled with multiple genres of music, fabulous dining, bars, and nightlife. There's also a low unemployment rate. However, you'll need to deal with the hot, humid summers and intense seasonal allergies. Traffic also leaves a lot to be desired when you live in Nashville.
Where are the best places to live in Nashville?
Nashville's neighborhoods are vibrant, especially in Downtown where music venues, museums, and restaurants are plentiful. East Nashville offers. Small town feel and is home to entrepreneurs, creatives, and independent spirits. For something more suburban Green Hills offers a place for shopping, pubs, and the iconic Bluebird Cafe club. Bellmont - Hillsboro Village are among the best neighborhoods for students attending Belmont University and Vanderbilt.
Read more about the best neighborhoods in Nashville.
What's it like living in Nashville?
Nashville boasts a reputation for live music seven days a week, museums, sports franchises, and low unemployment. Higher education is well-regarded in Nashville, with opportunities for staff and college students. The city frequently ranks upon the best places to live and you can enjoy fine dining or a honky tonk without leaving Nashville.
What are the taxes in Nashville?
Like the rest of Tennessee, Nashville has no income tax on wages with an income tax rate of 0%. However, the minimum combined 2022 sales tax rate for Nashville is 9.25% and represents the state, county and city sales tax rates. Tennessee’s sales tax rate is currently 7%.
What jobs are popular in Nashville?
Major industries and popular jobs in Nashville include music production, tourism, finance, higher education, insurance, healthcare management and manufacturing. With a low unemployment rate, Nashville is a welcoming city for newcomers looking to build their careers.
What universities are in Nashville?
There are 20 colleges and universities in the Nashville metro area.The biggest institutions include Vanderbilt University, Belmont University, Middle Tennessee State University, and Frisk University.
What are things to do in Nashville?
Nashville embraces its country music roots, but it’s also home to rock, independent music, religious artists, and more. The Grand Ole Opry and Ryman Auditorium are iconic venues, but you can also try Tin Pan South or Bluebird Cafe to hear undiscovered stars. Or stop by the Frist Art Museum, The Parthenon, National Museum of African American Music, Adventure Science Center, and more.