Derby City is a vibrant community filled with unique cultural attractions for all ages—from young professionals advancing their careers to families and retirees seeking a home. Explore these 14 pros and cons of living in Louisville, KY!

Pros of Living in Louisville

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The Bourbon Capital is a dynamic city brimming with amenities, exciting activities, and classic Southern charm. From an affordable cost of living to an outstanding food scene, here are some of the best things about life in Louisville, KY.

Pro: Affordable Cost of Living

Although it’s a bit more expensive than the rest of the state, Louisville’s living costs are more affordable than the rest of the country. Compared to other major cities in the region, like Atlanta, Charleston, Charlotte, and Nashville, the “Gateway to the South” is the most affordable large city to live in! The cost of a house in Louisville is 10% lower than the national average, meaning you can settle down on your own or get the space you need to raise a family at a reasonable price. And residents can expect their dollar to extend further on necessities like healthcare and public transportation here.

Pro: Ample Career Opportunities

The Louisville job market is on track to grow around 38% over the next ten years, which is outpacing the national average by almost 5%! One of the best parts about moving to Louisville is the city’s diverse job opportunities. The city has a remarkable unemployment rate of 3.7%, a full percentage lower than the national average. Some key industries in Louisville include healthcare, advanced manufacturing, and business services like real estate. You can seek employment at some of the best companies to work for in Louisville like PAI, Frost Brown Todd, and Brown-Forman. Other places to start careers in Louisville include GE Appliances, PMR Group, and Exelon. The city also has several Fortune 500 companies, like Yum! Brands, Humana, and Kindred Healthcare. Or pursue your passion at Louisville startups and tech companies like First Class Air Support, Waystar, and HDR.

Pro: A Strong Sense of Connection

If there’s one thing to appreciate about Derby City, it’s the many unique communities in Louisville. Local singles and young professionals flock to the artsy Germantown, known for its shotgun houses, popular dive bars, and trendy restaurants. If you head east past Downtown, families will appreciate green spaces like Waterfront Park, kid-friendly eateries, and many education options available in Jefferson County School District. These Louisville neighborhoods are filled with bungalows, ranches, and Cape Cod houses. Regardless of where you live in Louisville, your social calendar will be filled up with local neighborhood events like Food Truck Wednesdays, a Secret Garden Party!, or the Downtown Drive-In.

Pro: Top-Notch Education

Whether you’re just starting your college journey or furthering your education, there are plenty of Louisville education paths to help achieve your goals! Dive into interesting fields like accounting, bioengineering, and communication at the University of Louisville. Learn more about healthcare administration, data science, or economics at the private Catholic university, Bellarmine University. Enroll in one of the best private colleges in Louisville, Sullivan University, for information technology, business administration, or cybersecurity studies. Pursue a graduate program in financial planning, human resource management, or forensic psychology at Spalding University. Explore ministry work with a Master of Divinity, Master of Arts, or Doctoral Studies degree at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. Or get ready for a nursing career at Galen College of Nursing-Louisville.

Pro: Fun Louisville Festivals

Residents love to celebrate cultures from around the world with year-round, energetic Louisville festivals. Cheer on baby goat races, sip locally made craft beer, and dance to live music at the NuLu Bock Fest. Celebrate Irish culture with spirited events like the St. Patrick’s Parade. Commemorate the life of former world heavyweight boxing champion Muhammad Ali with the week-long Ali Festival. Get active with a 4-mile walk, around 12 miles of cycling, and a paddle across the water at the annual Mayor’s Hike, Bike & Paddle. Attend livestock shows, learn how to milk a cow, judge country hams and pumpkins, or play the Wheel of Agriculture game at the Kentucky State Fair. Let loose at the Bourbon & Beyond festival with live music, camping, and—of course—a variety of bourbon tastings.

Pro: Supportive LGBTQ+ Community

Given a perfect score on the Human Rights Campaign’s Municipal Equality Index since 2015, this southern city is a place for everyone to feel welcome. Louisville was the first place in Kentucky to pass a fairness ordinance that protects against employment and housing discrimination for the LGBTQ+ community. The ordinance also includes provisions for gender identity protection. Today, the city has its own Human Relations Commission to investigate discrimination claims. There are ample LGBTQ+ resources like the LGBT Center at the University of Louisville, the LGBTQ+ Community Coalition, and the Fairness Campaign. Popular gay bars in Louisville include Play Louisville, Chill Bar Highlands, and Big Bar. And organizations like Kentuckiana Pride Foundation and Pandora Productions host a variety of LGBTQ+ events throughout the year, like Kentuckiana Pride Festival, The Henry Clay theatre performances, and Kentuckiana Pride Parade.

Pro: The Historic Kentucky Derby

Since 1875, Louisville has been home to the world’s most famous horse race, the Kentucky Derby, at Churchill Downs Racetrack. Often referred to as the “most exciting two minutes in sports,” this race can bring in an estimated $405 million of value to Derby City. Not all the race money is kept for profit, though! The Kentucky Derby Festival Foundation and The Churchill Downs Foundation both give back to the community. Before attending your first race, familiarize yourself with the latest Kentucky Derby fashion trends, like bright floral designs and classic derby hats. Keep the party going with plenty of derby-related things to do in Louisville like the month-long Kentucky Derby Festival. Explore all things bourbon, thoroughbred racing, and Bluegrass music at Thurby. Or step back in time to explore years of Kentucky Derby history with interactive exhibits like Riders Up!, Kentucky Farms, and Jockey Stories at the Kentucky Derby Museum.

Pro: Rich Louisville Arts & Culture

For things to do in Louisville that’ll get your creativity flowing, check out the city’s art scene! Admire beautiful exhibits like Homecoming: A Walking Stick by Henry Gudgell, attend events like After Hours at the Speed, or watch an indie film in the CINEMA+ at the Speed Art Museum. See a variety of live acts like ABBAFAB, Soul Food, and Seth Walker at the Kentucky Center for the Performing Arts. Explore the world of contemporary art, enroll in workshops, or drop into Artist Talks at the KMAC. Watch independent cinema from across the world and support students film debuts at the Louisville International Festival of Film. Stop by Louisville music venues like the Bourbon Hall or the Headliners Music Hall. Explore 21c Louisville Museum, a unique hotel and contemporary art space open to the public. Or take a break from Louisville art galleries and get some fresh on the highly walkable streets while scouting for Louisville murals.

Pro: Plenty of Outdoor Spaces

While there are lots of things to do indoors, nature enthusiasts will love the many outdoor activities happening in Louisville! Play a game of pickleball, disc golf, or basketball at the 283-acre Charlie Vettiner Park. Walk or drive along the two-mile scenic loop, practice archery, or play around in the sprayground at Cherokee Park. Reel in fresh fish, grill out with family, or practice your tennis serve at Chickasaw Park. Cool off from the heat in the largest outdoor pool in Louisville, hike the Goose Creek Nature Trail, or hit the BMX track at E.P. Tom Sawyer State Park. Travel just 15 minutes outside of Downtown Louisville to the nation’s largest municipal urban forest, Jefferson Memorial Forest, to canoe, ride horses, and picnic. Explore a former limestone quarry, glide across six different zip lines, and maneuver a ropes challenge course at Louisville Mega Cavern.

Pro: Local Louisville Cuisine

Although Bourbon City is known for its Hot Brown Sandwiches, there are plenty of other options available that make this town the foodie haven you’ve been looking for! For the best brunch in Louisville, with classics like The Breakfast Sandwich and Burrata Toast, head to Gralehaus. Feast on popular Louisville BBQ meals like the Pulled Pork Plate, Brisket Tacos, and Smoked Wings at Feast BBQ. Try out farm-to-table Latin cuisine like Empanadas, a Vegetarian Burrito, and Huevos Motuleno from the Mayan Cafe. Dig into Shrimp Rolls, Fried Wontons, and Mongolian Beef at Oriental House. Treat yourself to homemade American fare like the Country Fried Steak Platter, Kentucky Hot Brown, or The Garden Burger at Twig And Leaf. Our dine on the Cask Southern Kitchen & Bar outdoor patio in Louisville with dishes like the Cask Burger, Smoked Meatloaf, or Pan Seared Pork Chop.

Pro: Bourbon Country Nightlife

Historically, farmers in Louisville used the limestone-filtered water from the Ohio River to distill whiskey. This strong connection to bourbon continues today in local distilleries and Louisville nightlife. Participate in the epic Kentucky Bourbon Trail with stops at Louisville distilleries like Michter’s Fort Nelson Distillery, the Old Forester Distilling Co., and Angel’s Envy. Take a guided tour of the state’s first African-American-owned distillery, Brough Brothers. If you have a bourbon tater in your life, show them the “finest farm-to-bottle operation” at Kentucky Artisan Distillery. For non-whiskey drinkers, travel to the Fourth Street Live! entertainment district for live music at Hot Country Nights, watch pianists battle it out at Howl at the Moon, and ride the mechanical bull at PBR Louisville. Practice your aim and celebrate your victory with a drink afterward at Flying Axes. Enjoy live rock, country, and blues music while sipping on unique cocktails like Stevie Ray’s Spanish Russian at Stevie Ray’s Blues Bar. Laugh out loud with nationally touring comedic acts like Ashley Gavin, Justin Whitehead, and Jason Mewes at the Louisville Comedy Club. Dance the night away with live performances from acts like Drive-By Truckers, Jackyl, and Paul Cauthen at the historic Mercury Ballroom.

Cons of Living in Louisville

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While there are many positives to life in Bourbon City, here are a few drawbacks to consider before moving to Louisville.

Con: Extreme Weather

Living in the South means the weather tends to be hot and muggy, especially during the summertime. The hottest temperatures in Louisville happen from May to September, with the worst month in July at an average daily high of 87 degrees. September is the most humid month of the year with 72% humidity levels. Always plan to have your umbrella handy since Louisville has an average annual precipitation of around 44 inches, which can lead to flooding of the Ohio River and possible flash flooding throughout the area. Besides rainstorms, Louisville’s severe weather includes tornadoes most common on spring and summer evenings. To prepare for a tornado, you can sign up for community alerts, know where your nearest public tornado shelter is, and pack a disaster supplies kit to keep on hand in your home. Despite the potential for severe weather conditions, Louisville is still a great place to live for those who like warm weather and snow levels below the national average. Locals stay cool during the hot season by visiting local outdoor pools and spraygrounds like Nelson Hornbeck Park and Algonquin Park.

Con: Seasonal Allergies

Louisville may not be in the top ten worst cities for allergies, but the region still ranks in the top 100 allergy capitals in the U.S., so you can expect to deal with high pollen counts and a challenging allergy season. The pollen levels are rarely low here because of the city’s position next to the Ohio River Valley, which allows pollen-producing plants to thrive. Some of the most common sources of pollen in Derby City include local vegetation like Kentucky Bluegrass, Timothy Grass, and Bermuda Grass. That said, there are a few preventative measures you can take to help lessen your symptoms during allergy season in Louisville. Try reducing seasonal allergy symptoms by limiting your time outside during peak allergen times, keeping your home pollen-free, and showering often to wash away pollen from your skin and hair. You can also head to nearby immunologists and asthma specialists or seek allergy care at the University of Louisville Health to get medical assistance for your seasonal allergies.

Con: Limited Public Transportation

Residents don’t have a ton of choices when it comes to public transportation in Louisville. The city’s main public transportation service is Transit Authority of River City (TARC)’s Rapid Transit or Paratransit buses. However, TARC recently announced service cuts and a reduction in frequency that will impact a majority of the city’s routes. If your destination is nearby, consider strolling through this walker’s paradise or renting electric scooters and bikes through Bird or Lime. For longer commutes, buy a Megabus, Greyhound, or Amtrak ticket at the Louisville Station. Or stick with driving your own vehicle and enjoy commute times in Louisville that are slightly shorter than the national average.

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