When it comes to states, Tennessee is a bit of an anomaly.
Normally, that word wouldn’t seem like a compliment, but in this instance, it couldn’t function as anything else. Tennessee offers cultural diversity, natural beauty and economic opportunity that most other states just can’t match. Keep reading to learn about the best cities in Tennessee to visit, as well as the best cities to call home.
If you’re ready to move to Tennessee, contact the experienced agents at Reliant Realty to start the process of finding your dream home.
Best Cities to Visit in Tennessee
People from all over the world love to visit Tennessee. In fact, people love visiting the Volunteer State so much that tourism ranks as its number two industry, generating more revenue than both healthcare and agriculture.
Tennessee entices people from all walks of life by offering a variety of world-renowned vacation spots, natural wonders and bustling urban centers. However, when it comes to the best cities to visit in Tennessee, a few outshine the rest.
You know those commercials where a couple wakes up in a cabin, steps outside with their steaming coffees and gazes out at a majestic, forested mountain range? They were probably in Gatlinburg. Nestled in the Great Smoky Mountains on the state’s eastern edge, this town of approximately 4,000 people is ranked the best city to visit in Tennessee by U.S. News & World Report.
If you’re a nature lover with a penchant for adventure, Gatlinburg is the destination for you. Among the city’s many outdoor attractions, here are some tourist favorites:
- Anakeesta Mountain Top Theme Park
- Gatlinburg Aerial Tramway
- Hiking trails in the Great Smoky Mountains
- Gatlinburg SkyLift and SkyBridge
If you’re not able to visit the above destinations, you can still enjoy some of the best fishing, hiking, whitewater rafting, bird-watching and golfing the state has to offer. Plus, Gatlinburg is a short drive from two other scenic towns — Pigeon Forge and Knoxville — that offer their own unique mountain charms.
Nashville may be known as the Country Music Capital of the World, but its musical tradition doesn’t have anything on Memphis. Known as the Home of the Blues and Birthplace of Rock ‘N’ Roll, this iconic music city was — and is — home to some of the most influential innovators in contemporary American music, including Al Green, B.B. King, Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash and Otis Redding. Unbelievably, Memphis also found time to birth a popular genre of soul, known as the Memphis Sound or Memphis Soul.
Although Memphis offers many activities that are not solely centered around music, music is an inextricable part of its culture, playing at least a small role in each of the following must-see attractions:
- Beale Street Entertainment District
- National Civil Rights Museum
- Stax Museum of American Soul
- Mud Island
Memphis’ robust cultural offerings also include a vibrant culinary scene, famous for (but not limited to) some of the most legendary BBQ in the South. One of the best cities in Tennessee, Memphis is an absolute must-visit for anyone chasing a spirited nightlife in a city with a rich history.
It’s a bold statement, but it never stops being true: no matter who you are and what you like, you should probably visit Nashville. While Gatlinburg doesn’t suit travelers who prefer the indoors, and a family that’s vacationing with small children won’t get the most out of Memphis, Nashville truly has something for everyone.
Yes, Music City is the Country Music Capital of the World, but it’s truly so much more. It’s a place that’s grown with the times — technologically, economically and culturally. Sure, you’ll see a few 10-gallon hats, but you’ll also see a plethora of West Coast transplants trying to make their home in the new “Portland of the South.”
Among Nashville’s varied attractions, the following offer particular appeal:
Nashville is one of those rare places that successfully brings together culture, history and innovation to create a vital, forward-thinking city. Even if it’s just for a hot chicken sandwich, make sure you stop in Nashville if you’re ever traveling through.
Best Cities to Live in Tennessee
After exploring the best cities to visit in Tennessee, it may surprise you to learn that Tennessee has some of the most affordable real estate in the country. That, combined with its natural beauty, robust culture and versatile cities, makes Tennessee the ideal state to call home. However, people don’t move to states — they move to cities.
Like with anything else in life, the best cities in Tennessee for you may be different than for someone else; it all depends on what you’re looking for. If you’re looking for overall quality of life, employment opportunities, quality housing and education, these lesser-known cities are worth considering:
Ranked by Money Magazine as one of the best cities to live in Tennessee in 2020, Franklin is a little-known town with a lot to offer. Located about 20 miles south of Nashville, this town of 87,000 people has experienced a 33% population growth and a 44% job growth in the last decade.
With a median household income of $110,000 and an unemployment rate of only 6.7%, Franklin is a relatively wealthy town. Its largest employers include Nissan North America, Community Health Systems, Optum and Mars Petcare. It also touts an excellent public school system.
Germantown is a suburb of Memphis with a population of about 40,000 people. Although its median household income is $154,163, Germantown’s average home value is only $296,300, making it more affordable than many suburbs.
People who settle in Germantown enjoy a fairly temperate climate with brief and mild winters. With 29 parks covering over 750 acres of green space and recreational facilities, Germantown provides its occupants a lush, rural aesthetic, as well as relative proximity to the Memphis International Airport and Downtown Memphis.
Best City in Tennessee
Each year, U.S. News & World Report publishes rankings for cities and states across the country using data from the U.S. Census Bureau, the FBI and the U.S. Department of Labor. It ranks each city based on the following factors:
- Job Market Index: the strength of the job market
- Value Index: how comfortably the average resident can afford to live within their means
- Quality of Life Index: how satisfied residents are with their daily lives
- Desirability Index: whether people want to live there
- Net Migration: whether people are moving away
For the past five years, U.S. News has ranked Nashville the best city in Tennessee and one of the best cities in the country. However, it wasn’t always that way; in fact, Nashville didn’t experience its real estate boom until 2011. Although that boom technically ended in 2016, Nashville continued to grow exponentially in many sectors. As the city rides a tech boom that’s brought in 36% more technology jobs in the last five years, it’s no surprise that U.S. News has already announced that Nashville is the best city to live in Tennessee in 2021.
Ready to live in Nashville? Enlist Reliant Realty’s Nashville team to help you navigate a competitive housing market and find the apartment, condo or house of your dreams. We represent properties in every Nashville neighborhood, as well as in the Brentwood/Franklin areas.
Moving to Tennessee
After you learn about the best cities in Tennessee, it becomes apparent: anyone can find a home in Tennessee. Not just a physical home — a cultural home with like-minded people.
Of course, a physical home is a pretty important thing, too, so you’ll want to connect with Reliant Realty sooner rather than later. Whether you’re interested in an apartment, condo, house or commercial space, Reliant Realty has something just for you. Give us a call at 615-859-7150 to speak with an agent today.
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Additional Resources if You're Moving to Tennessee
Searching for a house can be both exciting and stressful. Here are online resources to help you plan your move.
- The Nashville Chamber of Commerce "Getting Established" page is a great resource for information on a variety of topics and is a great place to start.
- Department of Motor Vehicles instructions to re-register your out of state driver's license and vehicle.
- Check out the neighborhood! Read up on Nashville's eclectic neighborhoods and find your ideal vibe.
- Have kids? Learn about schools and their ratings before you move.