12 Best Places to Live in Tennessee, According to Living Standards Index

by Jem
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Tennessee is more than just a state; it’s a state of mind. From its soulful music scenes to its stunning natural landscapes and vibrant cities, the Volunteer State offers a diverse range of lifestyles and settings. But with its rich variety, choosing the perfect spot to call home can be overwhelming. To help you make your decision, I’ve put together this guide on the best places to live in Tennessee.

I’ve roamed the beautiful state of Tennessee extensively over the years, and I can vouch for the state’s incredible beauty and diversity. From the tranquil Smoky Mountains to the bustling streets of Nashville, and from the riverfront charm of Chattanooga to the historic vibes of Memphis, Tennessee’s diversity is unparalleled. Whether you’re captivated by the musical heritage, the scenic beauty, or the energetic pulse of cities like Nashville and Knoxville, there’s a corner of Tennessee that feels like it was crafted just for you.

So, where to begin? The ideal location varies for everyone. Some prioritize proximity to nature, others look for excellent schools, and for many, the cost of living is a key factor.

Dive in as I break down the best cities to live in Tennessee, based on what you value most. As someone who’s experienced the state’s many facets, I’m here to guide you through your options. I’ve combed through research, analyzed stats, and talked to locals to compile a list that caters to every lifestyle and budget. Let’s dive in!

The top places to live in Tennessee right now

The Best Places to Live in Tennessee   

Ready to explore the most picturesque places to live in the Volunteer State? Situated in the Southeastern region of the U.S., Tennessee has something for everyone. Keep reading to discover the best places to live in Tennessee.

Searching for your dream spot in Tennessee? No matter what you have in mind, this Southern gem can meet your needs.

  • Best for business opportunities: Brentwood
  • Best for outdoor activities: Chattanooga
  • Best for military families: Clarksville
  • Best for suburban living: Collierville
  • Best for history and charm: Franklin
  • Best for upscale neighborhoods: Germantown
  • Best for lakeside living: Hendersonville
  • Best for mountain views: Johnson City
  • Best for university life: Knoxville
  • Best for arts and entertainment: Memphis
  • Best for shopping and dining: Murfreesboro
  • Best for music and culture: Nashville

Here are all the top spots to live in Tennessee you should definitely know about:

1. Brentwood

Imagine a place where Southern charm meets modern amenities. Brentwood is that dream come true. With top-notch public schools and a well-maintained cityscape, it’s no wonder this suburb is often touted as one of the best places to live in Tennessee.

The community vibe here is strong, making it a great place to live in Tennessee for families and professionals alike. The city offers a plethora of parks, and the local government ensures the streets are clean and safe. It’s a place where you can truly feel at home while enjoying the perks of living near a major city like Nashville.

What sets Brentwood apart is its focus on education and safety. The public school system is one of the best in the state, making it a top choice for families. Moreover, the city’s strategic location offers easy access to Nashville’s vibrant job market, adding to its appeal for young professionals.

In Brentwood, you get the best of both worlds: a peaceful, community-focused lifestyle and the excitement of a nearby city. It’s a combination that’s hard to beat, making it a top contender for anyone looking to put down roots in the Volunteer State.

Envision an area where contemporary conveniences blend with Southern charm.
Envision an area where contemporary conveniences blend with Southern charm.

2. Chattanooga

Picture this: a city framed by the Appalachian Mountains and the Tennessee River. Welcome to Chattanooga, a destination that’s as scenic as it is vibrant. Known for its outdoor activities and family-friendly attractions like the Creative Discovery Museum, it’s one of the coolest places to live in Tennessee.

What makes Chattanooga unique is its blend of urban and natural beauty. The city offers a variety of neighborhoods, each with its own charm and nightlife scene. Whether you’re an adventure seeker or a history buff, you’ll find something to love here. It’s a good place to live in Tennessee, especially if you enjoy a mix of city life and outdoor adventures.

The city’s economy is robust, boasting one of the fastest-growing job markets in the state. Plus, the cost of living is reasonable, making it an attractive option for young professionals and families.

In a nutshell, Chattanooga offers the perfect balance of scenic beauty and urban sophistication. It’s a city that invites you to explore its diverse neighborhoods and take part in its thriving community.

Chattanooga is a place that is both energetic and scenic.
Chattanooga is a place that is both energetic and scenic.

3. Clarksville

Step into a world where the Cumberland River winds its way through rolling hills and vibrant neighborhoods. Clarksville offers this and more, making it one of the best places in Tennessee to live. The city is a haven for nature lovers, boasting Dunbar Cave State Park and a plethora of hiking trails.

Don’t let the natural beauty fool you; Clarksville is also a hub of cultural activities. From art galleries to music festivals, there’s always something happening. It’s the best area to live in Tennessee for those who crave a mix of outdoor and cultural experiences.

The city’s economy is thriving, thanks in part to its proximity to Nashville. This makes Clarksville an ideal choice for professionals seeking career opportunities without sacrificing quality of life.

In Clarksville, you’ll find a harmonious blend of natural beauty and cultural richness, all within an arm’s reach of the bustling life of Nashville. It’s a city that offers something for everyone, from the adventure enthusiast to the art connoisseur.

Enter a world where lively neighborhoods and rolling hills are bisected by the Cumberland River.
Enter a world where lively neighborhoods and rolling hills are bisected by the Cumberland River.

4. Collierville

Ever dreamt of a place where community spirit thrives and the quality of life is second to none? Look no further than Collierville, a suburb that’s often considered the best place to live in Tennessee. With its historic town square, Collierville offers a quaint yet vibrant atmosphere that’s hard to find elsewhere.

Collierville is a haven for families, offering excellent schools and a plethora of parks and recreational activities. It’s the best Tennessee town to live in if you’re looking for a tight-knit community where everyone knows your name. The town also hosts various events throughout the year, from farmers’ markets to holiday parades, ensuring there’s never a dull moment.

The town’s economy is robust, with a variety of local businesses and industries providing ample job opportunities. Plus, its proximity to Memphis offers the best of both worlds: a peaceful suburban life with easy access to the hustle and bustle of a major city.

Marrying historic allure with contemporary comforts, Collierville emerges as a perfect residential haven for both families and professionals, solidifying its reputation as a go-to destination in Tennessee.

Collierville is a community widely regarded as Tennessee's best place to live.
Collierville is a community widely regarded as Tennessee’s best place to live.

5. Franklin

Step back in time without leaving the comforts of the 21st century. That’s Franklin for you, a city that effortlessly blends its rich history with modern amenities. It’s one of the top cities in Tennessee to live in, especially if you’re a history buff or someone who appreciates well-preserved architecture.

Franklin is more than just a pretty face; it’s a city with substance. The local economy is strong, and the schools are some of the best in the state. It’s the best city to live in Tennessee for families and professionals who want a high quality of life without the chaos of a big city.

Outdoor enthusiasts will find plenty to love here, too. With numerous parks and green spaces, Franklin offers a breath of fresh air for those looking to escape the concrete jungle. The Harpeth River provides opportunities for kayaking and fishing, adding another layer to the city’s appeal.

Blending historical charm with modern conveniences, Franklin offers a unique living experience that makes it a compelling destination for those considering a move to Tennessee.

Franklin is a city that skillfully combines a strong historical background with contemporary comforts.
Franklin is a city that skillfully combines a strong historical background with contemporary comforts.

6. Germantown

Picture a community where tree-lined streets meet upscale boutiques. Welcome to Germantown, a suburb that exudes elegance at every turn. With its top-rated schools and luxurious homes, it’s one of Tennessee’s best places to live.

Germantown isn’t just about aesthetics; it’s a community that values quality of life. The city is home to numerous parks, including the beautiful Germantown Charity Horse Show grounds. It’s a nice city to live in Tennessee, particularly if you enjoy equestrian events or simply love being around horses.

The local economy is strong, fueled by a mix of local businesses and larger corporations. This economic stability makes Germantown an attractive option for professionals and families alike.

With a focus on both aesthetic appeal and meaningful substance, Germantown stands out as a leading choice for individuals aiming for a high standard of living within the borders of Tennessee.

Germantown is a suburban area that oozes style everywhere it looks, truly one of the best places to live in Tennessee.
Germantown is a suburban area that oozes style everywhere it looks, truly one of the best places to live in Tennessee.

7. Hendersonville

Ever wondered where you can find a blend of lakeside tranquility and suburban convenience? Hendersonville is your answer. Situated on the banks of Old Hickory Lake, it’s one of the best Tennessee cities to consider if you’re a fan of water activities or simply enjoy serene lake views.

Hendersonville is more than just a pretty lakeside town; it’s a community that values education and safety. The schools here are highly rated, making it among the best towns to live in Tennessee for families. The town also has a low crime rate, adding another layer of appeal for those looking to settle down.

The local economy is diverse, with a range of job opportunities in healthcare, education, and retail. Plus, its proximity to Nashville means you’re never too far from the action of a major city.

Boasting the perfect blend of scenic landscapes and suburban comforts, Hendersonville emerges as an idyllic setting for both families and those who love the great outdoors, making it a prime location for life in Tennessee.

Safety and education are important to the people of Hendersonville.
Safety and education are important to the people of Hendersonville.

8. Johnson City

Nestled between mountains and valleys lies Johnson City, a place where natural beauty and urban conveniences coexist. With its scenic trails and bustling downtown, it’s one of the most livable cities in Tennessee.

The city is a haven for outdoor enthusiasts. Whether it’s hiking in Buffalo Mountain Park or fishing in Boone Lake, Johnson City offers a variety of recreational activities. It’s among the nice parts of Tennessee to live in if you’re someone who loves to be surrounded by nature.

But Johnson City isn’t just for the outdoorsy types. The city has a thriving arts scene, featuring galleries, theaters, and live music venues. Plus, the economy is robust, with a focus on healthcare and education, making it a solid choice for professionals.

A harmonious mix of natural beauty and contemporary conveniences makes Johnson City a compelling option for those planning to settle in Tennessee.

Johnson City is a location where urban comforts and scenic beauty coexist, truly one of the best places to live in Johnson City.
Johnson City is a location where urban comforts and scenic beauty coexist, truly one of the best places to live in Johnson City.

9. Knoxville

From the vibrant arts scene to the stunning Smoky Mountains, Knoxville offers a diverse range of experiences. It’s a where to live in Tennessee if you’re looking for a city that offers both natural beauty and cultural richness.

Knoxville is a city that celebrates diversity, not just in its people but also in its offerings. The city is home to the University of Tennessee, bringing a youthful energy and intellectual vibe. It’s one of the best cities to live in Tennessee, particularly if you value education and cultural diversity.

The local economy is strong, with a focus on sectors like healthcare, education, and technology. This makes Knoxville an attractive option for professionals looking for career growth.

Knoxville is a great option for people looking for a balanced lifestyle in Tennessee because it’s a lovely, diversified city. There are tons of fun things to do in Knoxville that will make this city worth your while!

Knoxville has a wide variety of experiences, from the breathtaking Smoky Mountains to the thriving cultural scene.
Knoxville has a wide variety of experiences, from the breathtaking Smoky Mountains to the thriving cultural scene.

10. Memphis

Imagine a city where the Mississippi River sets the stage for a rich tapestry of music, food, and culture. That’s Memphis for you, a city that’s as famous for its barbecue as it is for its blues. It’s a great place to live in Tennessee, especially if you have a penchant for soulful experiences.

Memphis is a city that never sleeps, offering a vibrant nightlife and a plethora of entertainment options. From Beale Street’s live music to the historic Sun Studio, it’s the best Tennessee town to live in if you’re an aficionado of the arts.

The city’s economy is diverse, with sectors like healthcare, logistics, and tourism playing a significant role. This economic variety makes Memphis an attractive option for professionals from all walks of life.

In Memphis, you’ll find a city that’s rich in history and bursting with modern energy, making it a compelling choice for anyone looking to experience the soul of the South.

Memphis is known for its barbecue almost as much as it is for its blues music, making it one of the best places to live in Tennessee.
Memphis is known for its barbecue almost as much as it is for its blues music, making it one of the best places to live in Tennessee.

11. Murfreesboro

Picture this: a city that’s growing at an impressive rate yet maintains its small-town charm. Welcome to Murfreesboro, a city that’s quickly becoming one of the best areas to live in Tennessee. With its expanding job market and affordable housing, it’s a magnet for young professionals and families alike.

Murfreesboro is not just about growth; it’s about quality. The city offers a range of recreational activities, from hiking in the Barfield Crescent Park to exploring the Stones River National Battlefield. It’s a great place for where to live in TN if you’re someone who enjoys a mix of history and outdoor adventures.

The city is also home to Middle Tennessee State University, adding a youthful vibe and a focus on education. This makes Murfreesboro an attractive option for students and academics.

Both growing and grounded, Murfreesboro stands out as a top choice for those aiming for a balanced lifestyle in Tennessee.

Murfreesboro is a city that is rapidly rising to the top of Tennessee's greatest places to live.
Murfreesboro is a city that is rapidly rising to the top of Tennessee’s greatest places to live.

12. Nashville

Think of a city where music flows as naturally as the Cumberland River, and you’ve got Nashville. Known as the Music City, it’s the best place to live in Tennessee if you’re a musician, a music lover, or anyone who appreciates a good tune.

Nashville isn’t just a one-note town; it’s a city that offers a diverse range of experiences. From the historic Ryman Auditorium to the trendy boutiques in The Gulch, it’s one of the coolest places to live in Tennessee. The city is a melting pot of cultures, making it a vibrant place to live and work. Nashville’s unique restaurant scene embodies this diversity quite nicely. And the nightlife in Nashville is also top notch!

The local economy is robust, with sectors like healthcare, education, and, of course, music playing significant roles. This economic diversity makes Nashville an attractive option for professionals from various fields.

The diversity of Nashville is as varied as its musical styles, making it a go-to spot for anyone craving a lively, culturally diverse lifestyle in Tennessee. Wondering where to live in Nashville? This guide on where to stay in Nashville has got you covered.

Nashville comes to mind when you imagine a place where music is as organic as the Cumberland River.
Nashville comes to mind when you imagine a place where music is as organic as the Cumberland River.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) About the Best Places to Live in Tennessee     

Interested in learning more about the most livable cities in Tennessee? Here are some frequently asked questions that come up when discussing Tennessee’s best cities to live.

What is the best part of living in Tennessee?

The best part of living in Tennessee is its unique blend of natural beauty and cultural richness. From the Smoky Mountains to the vibrant music scenes in cities like Nashville and Memphis, Tennessee offers a diverse range of experiences. It’s a state where you can go hiking in the morning and enjoy a live music performance in the evening. The cost of living is relatively low compared to other states, making it an attractive option for families and young professionals. Additionally, the state’s central location in the U.S. makes it convenient for travel and business.

Where is the best place to live in Tennessee?

Determining the best place to live in Tennessee depends on your lifestyle and priorities. If you’re looking for a city with a vibrant music and arts scene, Nashville is hard to beat. For those who prefer a smaller city with outdoor activities, Chattanooga offers a mix of urban and natural experiences. Families often gravitate towards suburbs like Brentwood and Franklin due to their excellent school systems. Best Tennessee towns to live in for retirees might include places like Johnson City, which offers a slower pace of life with plenty of amenities. Murfreesboro is gaining attention for its rapid growth and affordable housing, making it a good place to live in Tennessee for young professionals. Ultimately, the best place for you will align with your personal needs, whether that’s career opportunities, outdoor activities, or cultural offerings.

What is the safest city in Tennessee?

When it comes to safety, Collierville often tops the list as one of the safest cities in Tennessee. Located just outside of Memphis, this suburban town offers a high quality of life with low crime rates. The community is tight-knit, and the local police force is highly effective, making it the best area to live in Tennessee for those who prioritize safety. Additionally, Collierville boasts excellent schools and family-friendly amenities, adding to its appeal. However, it’s always a good idea to check the most recent crime statistics and speak with locals to get a comprehensive view of safety in any area you’re considering.

Is it expensive to live in Tennessee?

The cost of living in Tennessee is generally considered to be lower than the national average in the United States. However, this can vary depending on the specific area within the state. Here are some key points to consider:

  1. Housing Costs: Housing in Tennessee is relatively affordable compared to many other states. This includes both home purchase prices and rental rates. However, prices have been rising in popular areas like Nashville and Knoxville.
  2. No State Income Tax: Tennessee does not have a state income tax on wages, which can be financially beneficial for residents. However, there is a tax on interest and dividends, known as the “Hall tax,” which is being phased out.
  3. Utilities and Services: The cost of utilities such as electricity, gas, and water is generally in line with or slightly below the national average.
  4. Transportation: Costs for transportation, including gas and vehicle maintenance, are typically lower in Tennessee than in many other states. However, public transportation options may be limited, especially in rural areas, making car ownership more necessary.
  5. Groceries and Everyday Expenses: The cost of groceries and everyday items is generally affordable and comparable to or slightly below the national average.
  6. Healthcare: Healthcare costs in Tennessee are around the national average, though this can vary based on individual circumstances and specific locations within the state.
  7. Urban vs. Rural: As with most states, living in urban areas like Nashville, Memphis, or Knoxville tends to be more expensive than living in rural areas or smaller towns.
Tennessee is a way of life, not just a location on a map.
Tennessee is a way of life, not just a location on a map.

Which Tennessee city should I live in?

The city you should live in Tennessee largely depends on your lifestyle and what you’re looking for. If you’re a music enthusiast or a young professional, Nashville offers a bustling urban environment. For those who are into outdoor activities like hiking and river rafting, Chattanooga is a great fit. If you’re looking for a city that offers both a strong job market and a family-friendly environment, Knoxville could be your go-to. Memphis is ideal for those who love history, music, and a vibrant cultural scene. Hendersonville and Germantown are excellent choices for families due to their top-rated schools and community programs. In essence, the best Tennessee cities to live in will align with your personal and professional needs.

Is it a good idea to move to Tennessee?

Making the move to Tennessee can be a fantastic decision for a variety of reasons. The state offers a lower cost of living compared to the national average, making it a great place to live in Tennessee for those looking to stretch their dollar. The job market is diverse, with strong sectors in healthcare, manufacturing, and tourism. Tennessee is also rich in natural beauty, from the Smoky Mountains to the Mississippi River, offering plenty of opportunities for outdoor adventures. The state’s central U.S. location makes it convenient for travel, and its rich cultural heritage in music and history adds another layer of appeal. Overall, Tennessee offers a balanced lifestyle that combines modern amenities with a touch of Southern charm.

Is Tennessee a healthy state to live in?

Tennessee has been making strides in improving its healthcare system and overall well-being of its residents. Cities like Nashville and Memphis have multiple top-rated hospitals and a wide range of healthcare services. Outdoor activities are abundant, from hiking in the Smoky Mountains to kayaking in the Tennessee River, making it one of the most livable cities in Tennessee for those who love an active lifestyle. However, like any state, Tennessee faces healthcare challenges, including rural healthcare access and higher rates of certain chronic conditions. It’s essential to research and consider your healthcare needs when choosing a place to live, but overall, Tennessee offers a range of options for a healthy lifestyle.

What is the coldest city in Tennessee?

The coldest city in Tennessee is generally considered to be Mountain City, located in the northeastern part of the state. This city experiences colder temperatures due to its higher elevation in the Appalachian Mountains. Mountain City, along with other communities in the higher elevations of East Tennessee, typically has cooler temperatures throughout the year compared to the rest of the state.

Final Thoughts on the Best Places to Live in Tennessee

Tennessee isn’t just a spot on the map; it’s a lifestyle. Think Southern warmth meets modern life. You get city vibes in Nashville and Memphis, and pure nature in the Smoky Mountains. Whether you love hiking, music, or a safe place for your family, Tennessee has it all.

One big plus is the cost of living. It’s lower than many places, making it great for young workers or families on a budget. Jobs? Plenty. Fields like healthcare, tech, and education are booming. It’s a place to grow your career and enjoy life at the same time.

So, what are the best places to live in Tennessee? When it comes to culture, Tennessee is rich. History buffs will love the old sites, and music fans have blues, country, and rock ‘n’ roll. In Tennessee, music touches your soul.

Still wondering where to live in TN? This guide is your roadmap. Tennessee isn’t just a place to stay; it’s a place to thrive and chase your dreams. It’s one of the best places to move in Tennessee if you’re looking to create a life that aligns with your aspirations.

The top places to live in Tennessee for all
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