If your life journey has you moving to Jackson, Mississippi, this could be your chance to find your true hometown. Take it from transplants like Jeff Rent, a Midwesterner who landed in Jackson two decades ago as a TV meteorologist and now serves as president and CEO of the Greater Jackson Chamber Partnership.
“Jackson has something for everyone,” he says. “With convenient access to outdoor recreation, entertainment and some of the South’s best cuisine, you can find it here. Add in the historic and cultural sights from the numerous stops along the Mississippi Freedom Trail to the world-class Mississippi Civil Rights Museum and Museum of Mississippi History, and Jackson is an ideal location to put down roots.”
Jackson offers the amenities and diverse communities of a large city while still delivering on the hospitality unique to Mississippi, says Kim Lewis. Kim is a California transplant who works as the communications and destination development manager at Visit Jackson. It’s no surprise that Jackson scores the highest on the Human Rights Campaign’s Municipal Equality Index out of every city in the state.
“The population of Mississippi’s capital city is comprised of communities of diverse backgrounds and experiences,” she says, “all of whom collectively represent the strength and creative energy of Jackson.”
12 Things to Get You Acquainted with Jackson, MS Before Moving Here
1. Jackson, MS is all about soul.
For a place that bills itself as “The City With Soul,” you would expect a good time. And that’s what you’ll find in Mississippi’s capital city. More than a dozen Mississippi Blues Trail sites in Jackson help tell the story of “The Birthplace of America’s Music.” That spirit lives on in songs like the global smash “Uptown Funk,” which name-checks the city and features local singer Keyone Starr on vocals.
Now, if you’re all about soul, then you’d better back it up in the kitchen. Some Mississippi cities claim their biscuits, catfish and sweet potatoes as the world’s best—all good choices and all deserved. But Jackson is where it all comes together. Gumbo and seafood from the Gulf Coast and farm-raised catfish from the Delta mingle with local soul food for one heck of a menu.
2. A Brief History of Jackson, MS:
Jackson was known as LeFleur’s Bluff, an outpost situated on a natural rise above the Pearl River along the Natchez Trace between Natchez, Mississippi, and Nashville, Tennessee. That is, until it was selected as the state capital in 1822. A century later, Jackson grew into the most populous city in the state, a title it has held ever since.
Jackson played a role in the siege of Vicksburg during the Civil War. Once the city fell to Union troops, they began to dismantle the infrastructure. “Sherman Neckties,” the bent lengths of rail line General Sherman’s troops wrapped around trees, were a common sight at the time.
Today, these stories and more are told at the Museum of Mississippi History and the Mississippi Civil Rights Museum. Both museums are located adjacent to the Old Capitol Museum in downtown Jackson. Nearby is the home of civil rights activist Medgar Evers, a newly christened National Historic Landmark. It houses a museum dedicated to his life and work in the Civil Rights Movement.
Like the state of Mississippi as a whole, Jackson has contributed greatly to pop culture. Jackson native Bob Pittman co-founded MTV, while celebrity chef Cat Cora became the first woman Iron Chef America. Pulitzer Prize-winning author Richard Ford is part of a local literary tradition. That tradition includes Willie Morris, Eudora Welty and Kiese Laymon.
3. Jackson has mild temps and (sometimes) wild weather.
Jackson is located in central Mississippi, in the heart of the Deep South. This region is known for experiencing warm, humid summers and mild winters. The seasonal average temperatures range from a high of 80 degrees to a low of 47 degrees Fahrenheit. But the city experiences a little bit of everything in between. Spring and fall storms can kick up gusty winds, hail and even some tornadoes. Winters are known to dump an inch or two of snow every few years. Spring and fall are brief but pleasant.
4. Where to Live: Jackson’s Best Neighborhoods
Young adults, families and retirees will find plenty to love in the historic districts of Eastover, Belhaven and Fondren. Each neighborhood has its own feel and flavor. All follow a common theme: safe, family-friendly and picturesque, with towering, mature oaks, dogwoods, redbud trees and a generous serving of Southern hospitality.
Jackson’s northeastern corridor is full of picturesque family neighborhoods set in wide, tree-lined lanes, and Eastover is the crown jewel. Homes in this high-end residential neighborhood are popular with families and retirees. The mixed-use District at Eastover attracts younger residents with luxury lofts and upscale eateries and shopping.
Young families are a mainstay of laid-back Belhaven. Belhaven is a large neighborhood connecting downtown to the city’s museum district. It is known for its mid-century modern architecture. Two liberal-arts universities in the neighborhood—Millsaps College and Belhaven University—add to the area’s boho, bike-friendly vibe. Belhaven is best experienced at community-wide socials like Bright Lights Belhaven Nights.
A diverse grouping of restaurants including Aladdin Mediterranean Grill, Brent’s Drugs, Walker’s Drive-In, Pig and Pint and Barrelhouse give downtown Fondren its flavor. However, live-music venues bring the funk (and blues, rock, country—you get the picture). Duling Hall, a music club housed in a former school auditorium, hosts artists like Jason Isbell, The Flaming Lips and others in an intimate setting. Just around the corner, you’ll find blocks and blocks of charming homes built in the post-WWII boom set along quiet residential streets.
5. Keep more of what you earn after moving to Jackson, MS.
Moving to Jackson is an automatic pay raise for many movers. The overall cost of living and the cost of housing is lower than the national average. Sales taxes are 8 percent, including state and city. That’s slightly higher than the national average of 7.1 percent. Annual property taxes are in line with the national average of about one percent of a home’s assessed value.
- Jackson’s cost of living is 11 percent below the national average.
- Housing costs are 24 percent below the national average.
- The median rent is $820/month.
- The median cost of a home is $137,500.
6. The job market is stable here.
Good news for any young professionals moving to Jackson, MS: Jackson has a diversified, stable job market. It has a 5.4 percent local unemployment rate, compared to 6.2 percent nationally as of this writing. The metro area’s biggest employers include the state of Mississippi and manufacturing hubs for Nissan and Continental Tire and four major hospital systems and innovators in aerospace and telecommunications.
7. How safe is Jackson, MS?
Jackson is generally safe, with a small-town feel and overall neighborly atmosphere. But statistics reveal an above-average crime rate. This is mainly in residential neighborhoods on the city’s western side and away from most of the city’s business, shopping and dining districts.
8. There are plenty of higher learning opportunities in Jackson, MS.
In addition to Millsaps College and Belhaven University, Jackson is home to two historically black colleges and universities, the state’s medical school and two community colleges. Here’s a list of all the secondary education options in the area.
- University of Mississippi Medical Center
- Millsaps College
- Belhaven University
- Tougaloo College
- Jackson State University
- Mississippi College
- Hinds Community College
- Holmes Community College
9. It’s easy to get here, there and everywhere.
The main gateway to the city is the Jackson-Medgar Wiley Evers International Airport. The city is also a hub in interstate travel. The intersection of the continent-spanning I-55 and I-20 freeways and U.S. highways 80 and 49 is found here. You can get around on local roads or ride a bus from JATRAN, the Jackson Area Transit System.
Traffic in Jackson is hardly ever an issue. There may be a solid volume of cars and trucks on the roads, especially during peak times, but unless there is an accident or construction, the lanes move smoothly. It’s not unusual to travel from the southern edge of the city to the northern border in 15 minutes via interstate highways.
10. Best Food and Restaurants in Jackson, MS
Mississippi, along with other Southern states, has one of the highest rates of obesity in the nation. We’re working on it. But y’all, seriously, have you tried the food? Bring your appetite and check out these local favorites.
Burgers are really the main attraction here. Chipotle mayo, burrata cheese and fresh pesto are a few of the eclectic ingredients you can get. Fine & Dandy is located in The District at Eastover.
Barbecue shrimp and grits locally raised Simmons catfish and wood-fired pizzas are three menu staples in this Belhaven fave.
This North Farish Street storefront specialized in sliders of all types: bologna, sausage, hamburger and the house specialty, pig ear. Grab an order of tamales while you’re there.
If you prefer to stay with more traditional fare, you can’t beat a filet from Tico’s. Three decades and running strong in northeast Jackson.
11. There are sports, activities and events for all.
The Jackson metro is home to the Mississippi Braves, a AA baseball club affiliated with the Atlanta Braves. They play in a stadium just across the Pearl River from downtown.
NFL Hall of Famer Walter Payton’s legacy lives on at Jackson State University. NFL star Deion Sanders has brought his “Prime Time” approach to coaching the school’s football team. JSU’s Sonic Boom of the South marching band is known worldwide for its theatrical performances and signature bombast.
The city also hosts the USAIBC International Ballet Competition at Thalia Mara Hall. The competition brings more than 100 of the best ballet dancers in the world to Jackson every four years.
Next door to Thalia Mara Hall is the Mississippi Museum of Art. This museum is a spacious gallery with a permanent collection of more than 5,800 pieces. While the museum features many prominent 19th and 20th century artists, such as Georgia O’Keeffe, Andy Warhol, Walter Anderson and more, it also regularly hosts traveling exhibitions. These exhibitions feature art movements like the Impressionists and the works of Monet, Van Gogh and Degas.
12. You can get outdoors without leaving the city.
Just upstream from Jackson, a three-mile-long dam spreads the waters of the Pearl Rivers over the 33,000-acre Barnett Reservoir. Watersports and fishing opportunities abound here. Kayaks and canoes are popular for exploring the creeks that feed into “the Rez,” as it’s known locally. Mountain biking trails in nearby Ridgeland offer 10 miles of hilly terrain for riders to explore. The Natchez Trace Parkway is home to various trail systems for day packing.
LeFleur’s Bluff State Park, just a short drive from Belhaven, Fondren and Eastover, is a 305-acre green space along the Pearl River. Here you can enjoy fishing, camping, hiking and other outdoor activities in the heart of the city.
The Bottom Line About Moving to Jackson
We don’t get to pick where we’re born, but we can sure choose our hometown along the way. Most of us would leave behind big-city traffic and the high cost of living if we could find a low-key spot with top-notch amenities, pleasant weather and plenty of opportunities for professional growth. Jackson is a comfortable city, just large enough to support but with a small-town, love-your-neighbor ethos.
If you need a little help with your belongings during your move to Jackson, search for self storage units in Jackson. We’d be happy to help you settle in the right way!