Moving To Tennessee: What You Need to Know

Updated December 2021

Are you planning to move to Tennessee? If so, you will enjoy some of the country’s most scenic nature, outrageously delicious food, endless music, friendly people, and world-class festivals that you can shake a stick at. And you can enjoy it all with some of the lowest costs of living in the country. It’s hard not to love Tennessee, and that’s why more people move here than any other state. 

Still, you may not know much about Tennessee and may have some questions. What is life like here? Will you find work? What are the rent and home pricing like? Are there some recommendations for moving there?   

You have come to the right place; after all, Bellhop is based right here in Tennessee. We know this state is a wonderful place to live, but it isn’t for anyone. This article provides you with an honest review of everything you need to know about this great state. We give you the pros and cons and outline the best strategy for moving here when the time is right. 

Bellhop helps people move all over Tenneessee! We provide services in:

Let’s start with some traits for which Tennessee is most famous.

Southern Charm and Hospitality

If you enjoy the warm-and-fuzzies, Tennessee‘s southern charm will wrap you up like a blanket. Residents like everyday life more simple and friendly. There are plenty of transplants here, but Tennesseans are known to be nice, offering smiles and warm welcomes as you walk through town. It’s true no matter where in the state you live.

Tennesseans also have a low cost of living and high quality of life. There’s plenty to be happy about. 

The Music Scene

Memphis is known as the “Home of the Blues” and the “Birthplace of Rock and Roll.” Nashville is known as Music City and the “Country Music Capital of the World.” Needless to say, music is huge here. The industry supports 56,000 jobs in Nashville alone. Elvis Presley, Dolly Parton, and Justin Timberlake came from here, and Chris Stapleton calls our state home

Tennessee‘s music scene is state-wide, and although country music is big here (life may be tough if you aren’t a fan), the range of music is also diverse. You can watch all styles of music at local bars, restaurants, local music venues, and music festivals all across the state. If you’re a music fiend, you’re going to like Tennessee.

Breathtaking Mountain Landscapes

Tennessee runs from the Great Smoky Mountains to the east of the Mississippi River. It is festooned with cascading waterfalls, rolling hills, sunlit mountains, snaking rivers, and ample watering holes. 

The Smoky Mountains are famous for their majestic mountains, rolling hills, and mysterious fog. The mountain range is the most visited national park in the country and is synonymous with Appalachian mountains culture. You can enjoy hiking, mountain biking, walking, fishing, spotting wildlife, and exploring some of the prettiest terrains in the world. The mountains are especially gorgeous in the fall – just as beautiful as Maine and Vermont. And if you are there in June, the fireflies are truly spectacular.  

A top attraction is Sunset Rock atop Chattanooga’s Lookout Mountain, where you can see a total of four states from one vantage point –– Tennessee, Georgia, Alabama, and North Carolina.

Caves Galore!

Do you love caves? How about 10,000 of them? Tennessee is a top destination for caves. Some caves even have waterfalls. At 145 feet, Ruby Falls is the largest underground waterfall in the United States and gorgeous – even at night. Other popular attractions are Raccoon Mountain Caverns and Tuckaleechee Caverns.


If Smoky Mountains National Park isn’t enough, you can also visit Cherokee National Forest: At 650,000 acres, you can go rafting along the Ocoee River, visit Bald River Falls, fish the rivers, and camp without crowds.

If urban parks are more your thing, then be sure to visit magnificent Centennial Park in Nashville. It is scenically beautiful and hosts many activities within its 132 acres.

The Food and Drinks!

Tennessee is also known for its thriving food, beer, and coffee scene. Food-wise, the state is known for home-style southern cooking. Nashville is home to crispy hot chicken, Memphis is home to mouthwatering BBQ (love that pulled pork shoulder!), and Chattanooga is home to practically endless fusion. The state is also famous for its catfish, cornbread, and many other dishes. Be sure to dive into the state’s farmer’s markets. 

Not to be outdone by food, this great state is the birthplace of Tennessee whiskey and Jack Daniel’s. Craft beer is also popular.

Activities in Tennessee

Between all that eating and drinking, you’ll have plenty to do. Here are some well-known attractions and festivals.

Popular Sites and Theme Parks

Since both Elvis and Dolly have called Tennessee home, you can get to know them better. Graceland is the country’s third most popular attraction, receiving 600,000 visitors a year. As theme parks go, Dollywood is the country’s sixth most popular attraction. You can even watch her sing there.  

Other historical sites include the Country Music Hall of Fame and the National Civil Rights Museum, dedicated to the life and legacy of Martin Luther King. 

Other attractions include world-class festivals and fairs like Bonnaroo, Mountain Laurel Festival, CMA Music Festival, Daffodil Day, Trails & Trilliums, Mountain Laurel Festival, Slawburger Festival, and much more.

Plenty of Water to Cool Off

It gets hot here in Tennessee during the summer, but thankfully you have half a dozen rivers and nearly 1400 lakes. Water sports are a popular activity. Combined with all the biking and hiking and gorgeous scenery, Tennessee is a wonderful place to be outdoors.

Income and Employment

Currently, the state sits at an unemployment rate of 3.4%, just under the national average. State-wide, the average salary is between $32,000 and $34,000, but it is quite a bit higher in the biggest cities. The average salary in Nashville is $51,000. Chattanooga is $44,000 and Memphis is $47,000. Keep in mind that the cost of living in Tennessee is also very low. We will get into this more in a minute. 

The state of Tennessee has some large companies here. The ten largest are:

  • FedEx
  • Eastman Chemical Co. 
  • HCA
  • Dollar General
  • Community Health Systems
  • Cracker Barrel
  • AutoZone
  • Brookdale Senior Living
  • International Paper
  • Envision Healthcare
  • LifePoint Health

Healthcare and music are also big here, particularly in Nashville. Chattanooga is strong on tech and popular with startups. Combined with its low cost of living, the city is a hotspot for entrepreneurs.

Here are the top industries in the state (in no particular order:)

  • Music/entertainment
  • Healthcare
  • Agriculture
  • Manufacturing
  • Tourism
  • Automotive
  • Education
  • Construction
  • Transportation
  • Professional and business services

No Personal Income Taxes

You read that right. Tennessee is one of only nine states without a personal income tax. In exchange for the lack of income tax, you will pay interest and dividends at 6% through the Hall Tax. You may need to account for this in your budget. Tennessee also has a sales tax rate of 7%.

Free College!

Tennesseans enjoy free community college for high school graduates. Combined with the low cost of living and ability to roll credits into universities, you save significant money here in Tennessee. Free schools include thirteen community colleges or twenty-seven technical colleges. 

Low Cost Of Living 

How’s The Cost Of Living In Tennessee?

Tennessee rates run 15-25% below the national average. You benefit from lower rates ranging from homes to groceries and other living expenses. Combined with a high quality of life, the state attracts residents of all ages. Tennessee is the number two place to retire.  Even the fiscal health of the state is one of the best in the nation. 

The Real Estate Market

Are homes expensive in Tennessee?

Tennessee does have luxury homes, but the housing market is one of the most affordable states in the country. Rent for a one-bedroom apartment can range from $500 to $700 in many areas. Still, Nashville rent runs around $1,550 for a one-bedroom apartment, so it definitely varies depending on where you live. Bigger cities like Memphis or Chattanooga offer better deals than Nashville. 

The same goes for home prices. State-wide, the typical home runs around $230,000. Middle Tennessee runs around $400,000. The best markets are:

  • Nashville
  • Chattanooga
  • Murfreesboro
  • Germantown
  • Knoxville

Which Parts of Tennessee Have a High Cost of Living?

  • Nashville
  • Brentwood
  • Franklin
  • Nolensville
  • Germantown
  • Mount Juliet
  • Nashville

Which Parts of Tennessee Have a Low Cost of Living?

  • Chattanooga
  • Johnson City
  • Alcoa
  • Murfreesboro
  • Smyrna
  • Clarksville

Where is the Best Place to Live in Tennessee for Young Professionals?


Knoxville is known as the “happiest place to work in.” It offers affordable housing, a low cost of living, and plenty of fun watersports, boating, and swimming on the Tennessee River.

Johnson is an excellent place to start a family. Houses can be expensive, but rent is cheap. You will be neighbors with other people beginning their new lives, making it a great way to start a foundation. There are also tons of nature and parks, waterfalls, rivers, and mountains. The area is also a draw for history and art lovers.


Located along the Mississippi River, Memphis has a surprisingly low cost of living, making it a great place for first home buyers. You also get good schools to boot, including colleges. It is a very active city, too. If you love rock n’ roll and the blues, it all started here. You also get some distance from the state’s country music scene. Indulge in the nightlife, festivals, and craft beers.

Be sure to visit Silky O’Sullivan’s and their drunk goats. Yep, you read that right.  

Chattanooga, aka “Gig City”

This is where you can set roots as an entrepreneur. This city offers strong tech, tourism, and city living, and ample nightlife and shopping. Head outdoors, camp, and explore caves as well.

Where is the Best Place to Live in Tennessee for Families? 

  • Murfreesboro
  • Spring Hill
  • Brentwood
  • Hendersonville
  • Signal Mountain
  • Nolensville
  • Franklin
  • Germantown

Some more populated areas bring benefits for families. The most populated counties are: 

  • Shelby County: 929,744
  • Davidson County: 715,884
  • Williamson County: 247,726 
  • Knox County: $478,971
  • Rutherford County: $341,486

Education: Public Schools Private Schools, and Higher Education

For 2021, Forbes Ranks Tennessee 35th in quality school systems, and it has the 7th lowest public school spending. There is some definite room for growth. As for colleges and universities, you are in great shape. Vanderbilt University is ranked 14th by U.S. News and World Report, and the state is home to other quality schools like the  University of Tennessee, the University of Memphis, Belmont University, and The University of the South, and Middle Tennessee State University. 

Do you have kids? The top public and private school districts for an above-average education include: 

  • Germantown
  • Maryville
  • Arlington
  • Kingsport Lawrence County
  • Roane County
  • Cumberland County 
  • Jefferson County
  •  Gibson Co SP Dist
  • Dyer County 
  • Greene County 

For public education, there are many quality schools, including:

  • White Station High School
  • Campus School
  • Houston High School
  • Germantown High School
  • Middle College High School
  • Hardin Valley Academy
  • L&N STEM Academy 
  • Farragut High School
  • Greeneville City Schools


For private education, some highly-rated choices include: 

  • St. Mary’s Episcopal School
  • Lausanne Collegiate School
  • The Ensworth School
  • Hutchison School
  • Christian Academy 

What is Bad About Living in Tennessee

Summer Heat and Other Weather Facts

What is the Year-Round weather in Tennessee?

In general, Tennessee is temperate, with mild winters and hot summers. Much like other southern states, the summer months between June and August can be brutal. You’ll be hot and sweaty and looking for air conditioning. The good news is you will get used to it, or at least we have. The warmest spots are Central Basin and Sequatchie Valley.

Tennessee can experience some cool winters and even some snow. The state averages 9 inches a year, the most falling in Eastern Tennessee.  You can ski in one area of the Great Smoky Mountains.

Spring is typically warm and rainy. After the warm summers, the fall seasons average 60 degrees.

Tennessee also has occasional tornadoes during the tornado season and can get heavy thunderstorms. Other disasters include:

  • Flash floods
  • Winter storms
  • Tropical depressions
  • Earthquakes

Low Minimum Wage

Unfortunately, Tennessee‘s minimum wage is low at a $7.25/hr starting minimum wage. Still, many businesses simply ignore it and pay higher.

Gangs and Crime

What are the most dangerous places to live in Tennessee?

Unfortunately, Tennessee does have its share of crime, particularly in East Tennessee. Every prominent gang has a presence there. Still, you can avoid those more dangerous areas of town.

Some cities worth noting are:

  • Crossville
  • Dyersburg
  • Athens
  • Memphis
  • Newport
  • Chattanooga
  • Sweetwater


Though the state has decent public transportation, use a car if you need to make your appointment. Traffic gets busy. 

Let’s Get Moving!

If you are ready to move to Tennessee, here is some advice to make that move easier.

What is the best month to move to Tennessee?

The best times are when temperatures are down, such as fall or winter, but if you don’t have much control, do your best to avoid the hot summer months from June to August.

What is the Best Way to Organize My Move?

You may picture renting a truck, picking up a few friends, and loading up cardboard boxes, but as professional movers, we know there is much more to a move than packing and loading. This is why we put together a comprehensive checklist specifically on the subject. Click here to download the list and keep it on hand. (link needed) You’ll find that it takes into consideration a wide range of factors, and all are important. Our guide provides an easy-to-follow, chronological list of 68 steps broken into different time stages.

Some of the more significant steps to keep in mind are as follows: 

Start 60 Days Early if Possible

When planning your move, packing shouldn’t be at the top of the list. There are time-sensitive steps to complete first, and starting gives you plenty of time. Examples of steps include compiling a full list of items you will transport to gain moving bids, informing your work and children’s schools, giving notice to your rental company, organizing transportation, and securing parking and elevators at both locations.

Once done, you can start packing. Bellhop can help with all packing materials and any level of needs, from full moving crews and trucks to truck rentals and materials. We can provide any level of service to meet your budget. 

30 Days Out

As you continue packing, use this time to schedule disconnect and connect dates for services and utilities, collect medical records, service your car, and update addresses, ID, and bank information. This is also a good time to schedule sitters for the kids and pets during the move.

1 Week Ahead

Secure digital files, donate food and other items, start cleaning the home and finish packing.

Day Before the Move

Clean the refrigerator, disassemble furniture, clean the home, and have a suitcase of clothes and essentials ready. Then finalize the details with your mover and get a good night’s sleep.

Day of the Move

Point the movers in the right direction. Have them load the truck so that the last items loaded correspond to the furthest areas of the new home; that way, they can unload into those areas first while pathways are clear. Then do a final walk-through with the landlord and meet the crew at the new home, where you’ll do a precheck and start the move-in process.

1 Week After Moving

Thank all your movers and friends who helped you realize your new home and post a review of your movers online.

Living in Tennessee – The Bottom Line

Is it Worth Moving to Tennessee?

We’ve said it before, and we will say it again: Tennessee is a great state and one certainly worth calling home. If you are interested in making a jump here, don’t hesitate to give us a call. As Tennessee movers, we know the state and are ready to help.

By the Bellhop Team.