The 11 Best Cities to Live in Tennessee

Tennessee, also known as the “Volunteer State,” is one of the fastest-growing states in the United States. Tennessee has a lot to offer to just about anyone with its rich history, an abundance of music and every type of outdoor activity you can imagine.

Tennessee is a great place to live, whether you’re looking for the busy city life of Nashville or the peace and quiet of a smaller suburb like Mount Juliet. Each of these top 11 best cities to live in Tennessee has something that will appeal to everyone.

1. Nashville

HOMEiA Score: 92/100

  • Population: 689,447 | Rank Last Year: #30
  • Cost of Living: 3.1% lower than the U.S. national average
  • Home price to income ratio: $239,000/$59,828=3.99 (buying homes is inexpensive)
  • Income to rent ratio: $59,828/$13,200=4.53 (renting homes is affordable)

Nashville, the capital and second largest city in Tennessee, is also called “Music City.” It is home to the Grand Ole Opry, Bluebird Café, Tootsie’s Orchid Lounge and the Ryman Auditorium, some of the most famous music venues in the world.

People from the east coast to the west coast are moving to Nashville every day, and the city has grown substantially in the past 10 years.

Nashville has one of the hottest housing markets in the U.S. The median price for a single-family home in Nashville is $341,700 and rising rapidly. Still, living in Nashville is relatively affordable when compared to other large cities in the U.S.

Sports are a big deal in Nashville. The Tennessee Titans are the NFL team and football fans from across Tennessee come to Nashville for the games. There is also a pro hockey team (the Nashville Predators), a pro soccer team (Nashville SC), and a minor league baseball team (the Nashville Sounds).

The city has a robust dining scene that features Southern food. The famous Nashville hot chicken, a spicy type of fried chicken, is a local favorite.

Broadway Street, located downtown, is known for its “honky tonks” — a name given to bars that feature country music. But Nashville celebrates all genres of music, not just country. Blues, jazz, rock and bluegrass can also be found here, performed by some of the most talented musicians in the world.

Nashville is home to notable historic sites, such as the Belle Meade Plantation, which is a Greek-revival-style plantation house and grounds that dates back to the 1840s. Andrew Jackson’s Hermitage is a plantation that was owned by the seventh president of the United States and is now a museum.

There are also several music-related museums, including the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum, the Johnny Cash Museum and the Musicians Hall of Fame and Museum. One of the newest additions to the Nashville museum scene is the National Museum of African American Music. The museum’s exhibits celebrate more than fifty music genres that were created and influenced by African Americans, such as blues, jazz, gospel, R&B and hip hop.

2. Mount Juliet

Mount Juliet

HOMEiA Score: 94/100

  • Population: 39,289 | Rank Last Year: #22
  • Cost of Living: 18% lower than the U.S. national average
  • Home price to income ratio: $274,800/$91,303=3.01 (buying homes is expensive)
  • Income to rent ratio: $91,303/$17,088=5.34 (renting homes is affordable)

Mount Juliet, also known as the “City Between the Lakes,” is one of the fastest-growing cities in Tennessee. A suburb of Nashville, it is situated between Old Hickory Lake and Percy Priest Lake. Both are popular recreational areas among locals.

Mount Juliet is located in a scenic area with a lot to do. It is a perfect place for families. For those with active lifestyles, there are activities such as boating, fishing, swimming, camping and hiking.

There are five parks in the city, including the Charlie Daniels Park, a beautiful community park located in the center of town. It includes play areas for kids and fitness areas for adults.

Providence Marketplace is the largest open-air shopping center in the Nashville metro area. It’s a combination of both affordable and upscale shopping. There are also a movie theater and several restaurants in the area.

The cost of living in Mount Juliet is lower than the national average, which makes it a great city to live in.

Mount Juliet is a short 20-minute drive from downtown Nashville, yet it has a small-town feel. Many large companies, such as Amazon, have offices in the area. With these types of businesses setting up shop, Mount Juliet has an abundance of jobs.

3. Franklin

HOMEiA Score: 86/100

  • Population: 83,454 | Rank Last Year: #50
  • Cost of Living: 3% lower than the U.S. national average
  • Home price to income ratio: $412,400/$98,231=4.20 (buying homes is inexpensive)
  • Income to rent ratio: $98,231/$17,772=5.53 (renting homes is affordable)

With an area known as “America’s Favorite Main Street District,” Franklin is full of antique shops, art galleries and restored Victorian buildings. It is most famous for being a key site of the American Civil War, so it is the perfect place for history buffs.

The seventh-largest city in Tennessee, Franklin is home to the historic Carter House and to Carnton Plantation, the grounds of which include the McGavock Confederate Cemetery. People flock to Franklin throughout the year to see these attractions.

For residents looking for outdoor recreation, Timberland Park is the perfect location. This park is 72 acres of lush greenery and is a popular place for hiking and bird watching.

The Factory at Franklin offers a unique shopping and dining experience. The building is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, and it is a great place to spend a Saturday afternoon.

For those who enjoy art, Gallery 202 is a popular gallery located downtown. It showcases paintings, antiques, jewelry, pottery and glassware.

Franklin is also known for having several fun annual events, such as the Pilgrimage Music and Culture Festival, the Main Street Festival, Pumpkinfest and Dickens of a Christmas, just to name a few.

The 11 Best Cities to Live in Tennessee

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4. Hendersonville

Hendersonville

HOMEiA Score: 96/100

  • Population: 61,753 | Rank Last Year: #20
  • Cost of Living: 21% lower than the U.S. national average
  • Home price to income ratio: $282,000/$75,146=3.75 (buying homes is inexpensive)
  • Income to rent ratio: $75,146/14,040=5.35 (renting homes is affordable)

The fourth largest city in the Nashville metropolitan area, Hendersonville is located on 26 miles of shoreline on Old Hickory Lake and is aptly called the “City by the Lake.” It also runs alongside the Cumberland River.

Because of the city’s proximity to the river and two lakes, it is a popular recreational spot for swimming, fishing, boating, paddle boarding and kayaking. Residents are also able to charter a sailboat cruise.

Hendersonville is 20 minutes from downtown Nashville and 30 miles from the Kentucky/Tennessee border. The median home price in 2022 was $367,200.

As far as education goes, Hendersonville has some highly rated institutions. Merrol Hyde Magnet School is one of the top-ranked schools in the country. Henderson High is Hendersonville’s public high school, and it is known for its performing arts programs. Taylor Swift is a former student.

Swift is not the only famous musician to have called Hendersonville home. Others have included Johnny Cash, Conway Twitty and Roy Orbison.

As with many cities in Tennessee, Hendersonville is rich in history. The city was founded in the late 1780s and people can visit the Historic Rock Castle to learn all about its past.

There are many shopping areas in Hendersonville. The Streets of Indian Lake mall has many different types of shops as well as a stage where you can take a break from shopping and relax while listening to live music.

When it comes to restaurants, Hendersonville has a little bit of everything. Café Rakka, which serves Mediterranean and Middle Eastern fare, is a popular spot for the locals. The Music City Diner serves American and Greek dishes.

Hendersonville also has a vibrant art scene, including live theater.

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5. Thompson’s Station

Thompson’s Station

HOMEiA Score: 98/100

  • Population: 3,471 | Rank Last Year: #16
  • Cost of Living: 10% lower than the U.S. national average
  • Home price to income ratio: $629,600/$104,250=6.04 (buying homes is very affordable)
  • Income to rent ratio: $104,250/$11,375=9.16 (renting homes is very affordable)

Thompson’s Station is located in a beautiful area, tucked away in the rolling hills and breathtaking countryside. It’s an escape from the hustle and bustle of living in a large city. With Nashville and Franklin nearby, it is only a short drive to shopping, entertainment and restaurants.

Thompson’s Station is the perfect place for quiet, relaxing walks because of several parks, including Sarah Benson Park, Nutro Dog Park, Heritage Park and Preservation Park. In addition to the walking trails, the parks have playgrounds and places for family picnics. There are also  popular places to fish nearby.

This small city has a robust art scene, which includes performing arts and music. The FirstBank Amphitheater, a 7,500-seat concert venue, is a popular place to take in a show.

Thompson’s Station is also home to H. Clark Distillery, which produces high-quality bourbon, gin and whiskey.

Like most of the cities in Tennessee, Thompson’s Station has an abundance of interesting history. It is the site of a famous Civil War battle in 1863 called the Battle of Thompson’s Station. The town’s attractions include Homestead Manor, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

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6. Knoxville

HOMEiA Score: 89/100

  • Population: 190,740 | Rank Last Year: #41
  • Cost of Living: 18% lower than the U.S. national average
  • Home price to income ratio: $142,700/$41,598=3.43 (buying homes is inexpensive)
  • Income to rent ratio: $41,598/$10,596=3.93 (renting homes is lightly affordable)

Home to the University of Tennessee, Knoxville is the third-largest city in the state. It is a college town where football is the most popular sporting event. Knoxville is known as a friendly and progressive city, and it is home to many different cultures.

Thanks to its location on the Tennessee River, residents and tourists can enjoy boating, swimming and fishing. And one of the best things about Knoxville is that it is only 35 miles from the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

Downtown Knoxville is a popular entertainment spot that offers live music, microbreweries, restaurants and art. The Market District, also located downtown, features 19th-century buildings with many restaurants and shops.

The city has a large arts community that hosts many different festivals throughout the year, such as the Dogwood Arts Festival, the Knoxville Cheese Festival and the Rossini Festival.

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7. Chattanooga

HOMEiA Score: 87/100

  • Population: 181,099 | Rank Last Year: #48
  • Cost of Living: 10% lower than the U.S. national average
  • Home price to income ratio: $167,500/$45,527=3.68 (buying homes is inexpensive)
  • Income to rent ratio: $45,527/$10,308=4.42 (renting homes is affordable)

Located in southeast Tennessee, Chattanooga is situated in the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains and along the Tennessee River. The city is known for its many kid-friendly attractions, including the Tennessee Aquarium, which is the world’s largest freshwater aquarium.

Known internationally from the 1941 song “Chattanooga Choo Choo” by Glenn Miller, Chattanooga is a fun place to visit or live.

It is a very affordable city, one of the most affordable in Tennessee, so it is a popular place for families to set down roots. The cost of living is 16.2% lower than the national average and the median home price is $218,700.

The residents of Chattanooga live a relaxed lifestyle, largely due to being so close to scenic outdoor activities such as hiking and bicycling. There are hundreds of miles of trails and greenways that allow for exercise and relief from the day-to-day stresses of life.

After a long day of work and school, residents can take a stroll on the Chattanooga Riverwalk, which runs 16 miles along the banks of the Tennessee River.

Among the most amazing things about Chattanooga are the many breathtaking waterfalls. A popular hike takes visitors through the Lula Lake Land Trust to see Lula Falls, which is a 110-foot waterfall that cascades into a lake. The city is also home to Ruby Falls, which makes a 260-foot descent into an underground cavern. The nation’s deepest and tallest underground waterfall is here, too, hidden beneath Lookout Mountain.

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8. Pigeon Forge

HOMEiA Score: 93/100

  • Population: 6,343 | Rank Last Year: #28
  • Cost of Living: 11% lower than the U.S. national average
  • Home price to income ratio: $185,100/$48,327=3.83 (buying homes is inexpensive)
  • Income to rent ratio: $48,327/$8,652=5.59 (renting homes is affordable)

Located four hours outside Nashville, Pigeon Forge is a beautiful and picturesque mountain town and the gateway to 500,000 acres of Appalachian wilderness. Nestled in the Great Smoky Mountains of eastern Tennessee, it has over 800 miles of hiking trails, as well as ski slopes. For those who want to experience camping at its best, there are many places in the dense forests.

The cost of living in Pigeon Forge is 13.4% lower when compared to the rest of the U.S, and the median home price is $333,000. It’s a great place for those who want to live in a small, tight-knit community.

Country music superstar Dolly Parton grew up in the area and now has an Appalachian Mountain–themed park, complete with carnival rides and a water park. There is also a museum that consists of her memorabilia and costumes.

Shopping is popular in Pigeon Forge due to the many outlet malls. It is the perfect place to do some bargain shopping for just about anything you can imagine.

The Island in Pigeon Forge is a fun destination where locals and tourists can find restaurants, unique local boutiques for shopping and family-friendly activities such as Gatlin’s Bumper Cars, Gatlin’s Mirror Maze, Alcatraz East Crime Museum and the Great Smoky Mountain Wheel. The Margaritaville Island Hotel is also located on the grounds.

Pigeon Forge is a major tourist destination that welcomes more than 10 million visitors every year. You can find authentic Southern hospitality in this quaint city, and it is a popular place for people to retire.

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9. Memphis

HOMEiA Score: 75/100

  • Population: 633,104 | Rank Last Year: #143
  • Cost of Living: 19% lower than the U.S. national average
  • Home price to income ratio: $107,100/$41,864=2.56 (buying homes is buying homes is expensive)
  • Income to rent ratio: $41,864/$10,980=3.81 (renting homes is slightly affordable)

Located in western Tennessee, on the Mississippi River, Memphis is known for blues music, barbecue and Graceland — the former home of Elvis Presley and the most popular attraction in the area. Millions of visitors flock to Memphis every year to experience the many attractions, live music, barbecue and soul food.

Locals have many choices when it comes to restaurants. Gus’s World-Famous Fried Chicken is a Memphis tradition with its hot and spicy fried chicken. The Brass Door Irish Pub is a popular hangout located near the world-famous Peabody Hotel. The Rendezvous serves up racks of dry-rubbed smoked ribs and sausages.

Memphis is most famous for its major contributions to music. So much influential music started in the city, including blues, soul, and rock ’n’ roll. The influential musicians who have recorded albums at the legendary Sun Studio include not only Elvis Presley, but B.B. King, Johnny Cash, Jerry Lee Lewis, Carl Perkins and Charlie Rich, just to name a few. Famous record producer Sam Phillips opened Sun Studio in 1950.

Another major music landmark in Memphis is Stax Records, which is a record company founded in 1957. The label was influential in the genres of soul, blues and funk. Famous musicians who have recorded albums there include Isaac Hayes, Otis Redding and Booker T. & the M.G.’s. It has been turned into a museum that is a popular attraction for locals and tourists alike.

The National Civil Rights Museum takes visitors on a history tour of civil rights in the U.S. The museum is built around what was once known as The Lorraine Motel, which was where Martin Luther King was assassinated in 1968. It is one of the nation’s premier cultural museums.

The median home price in Memphis is $123,800, which makes it a very affordable city; in fact, its cost of living is 24.0% lower than the national average.

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10. Murfreesboro

Murfreesboro

HOMEiA Score: 81/100

  • Population: 152,769 | Rank Last Year: #94
  • Cost of Living: 8% lower than the U.S. national average
  • Home price to income ratio: $238,000/$62,003=3.84 (buying homes is inexpensive)
  • Income to rent ratio: $62,003/$12,624=4.91 (renting homes is affordable)

Murfreesboro, called “The ’Boro” by the locals, is a city known for its American Civil War history. It is the perfect place for history buffs to live.

Many Civil War battles occurred in the area. Stones River National Battlefield is a popular national park where fighting took place from 1862–1863. Today it includes a museum and a national cemetery.

Other places to learn all about Murfreesboro’s history include the Oaklands Historic House Museum and the Historic Cannonsburgh Village. The Cannonsburgh Village gives visitors a taste of life in the 1800s with a schoolhouse, a museum, an old wedding chapel, a blacksmith’s shop and more.

There are many fun recreational activities in the Murfreesboro area. For those who love spending time outdoors, there are over 12 miles of paved trails with 11 trailheads.

Murfreesboro is the largest suburb of Nashville and has ranked among the top “boomtowns” in the country. The cost of living is low and it is a great place to raise a family. In fact, it is one of the most affordable cities in the state and has a growing economic base. The median home price in Murfreesboro is $311,400.

Public schools in the area are rated higher than many of the school systems in Tennessee. It is easy to get around the city due to the public transportation system, which is the Rover system. A one-way fare is only $1 for adults.

Residents love to spend their free time at the Public Square, which is on Main Street. There are many fun events throughout the year such as Jazz Fest, a Christmas tree lighting and trick-or-treating on Halloween. In the summertime people gather here to buy fruits and vegetables from the local farmers.

There are a lot of different places to go out to eat, such as Your Pie, which is a do-it-yourself pizza place, and Donut Country, which opens at midnight to sell hot glazed donuts. The Murfreesboro Center for the Arts features a plethora of entertainment choices including theater, concerts, magic shows and dances.

11. Brentwood

Brentwood, TN

HOMEiA Score: 90/100

  • Population: 45,373 | Rank Last Year: #39
  • Cost of Living: 49% above the U.S. national average
  • Home price to income ratio: $655,400/$168,688=3.89 (buying homes is inexpensive)
  • Income to rent ratio: $168,688/$25,020=6.74 (renting homes is very affordable)

One of the most affluent suburbs of Nashville and one of the wealthiest cities in the U.S., the city of Brentwood is home to many of Nashville’s most famous residents, such as country music superstars Garth Brooks and Dolly Parton and supermodel Niki Taylor. The median house price in Brentwood is $894,600. Brentwood is also known for its strong business community.

Brentwood is a historic city that has some of the most beautiful parks in the state. In fact, there are 14 parks in the city, including Crocket Park, a popular recreational site with 164 acres of rolling hills and walking trails. Radnor Lake State Park is one of the most stunning areas in Brentwood. The park has six hiking trails that wind through native wilderness. Residents often come across such wildlife as river otters, beavers, bobcats and coyotes.

Brentwood is ranked as one of the safest cities in the U.S. In addition, it has one of the best school districts in the state. There are many options to choose from, including both private and public schools. Brentwood is a popular place to raise a family.

The city has a rich history, beginning with the Native Americans who lived in the area. During the American Civil War, Brentwood was destroyed in battle. It has been rebuilt over many years into the beautiful city it is today.

Conclusion: Tennessee is a beautiful state that draws people from all over the world with its natural beauty and its culture. Overall, it is an affordable place to live regardless of your budget, and it has a lot to offer.

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