Moving to Nashville means more than country music and pro-football. The city is teeming with culture, arts, diversity and tech, making it one of the most exciting cities in the Southeast. There’s no possible way to list every amazing restaurant, festival, music show and creative event that happens in this city. It’s too full of life to catch everything in just a few paragraphs. But I’m here to give you a jumping-off point to find your own favorites as you settle in.
While this can’t be a complete list of everything that makes Nashville great, it can get you started just in time for your move. This guide is everything you need to know about moving to Music City. We offer all the highlights. Then, discover your own favorites and fall in love with this incredible city. Let’s get started.
Here’s What it’s Like Living in Nashville
If everything you know about Nashville comes from the Country Music Awards or the TV drama Nashville, then you’re in for a treat. There is a lot to offer residents of all types. Let’s break it down.
Nashville by the Numbers
- Median household income (adjusted inflation numbers): $70,262
- State income tax: 0%
- Sales tax: 9.25%
Cost of Living:
Why Move to Nashville
The biggest employers in Nashville are in healthcare, higher education and government. These fields have strong recession-proof numbers and provide Nashville with a measure of stability. The largest employer in the city is Vanderbilt – a blend of higher education and healthcare. Next come Nissan North America and HCA rounding out the top three.
It’s also a fun city, home to minor and pro league sports (Go Preds!) and cultural festivals (your chance to compete for Dragon Boat glory). There are iconic restaurants such as Prince’s Hot Chicken and the Loveless Cafe. Plus, everyone — Gen Z just entering the workforce (surprise concert at Grimey’s) to families (Live on the Green and Little Art House) to retired couples (a Full Moon Picking Party, perhaps?) — can find the perfect way to pass the time.
What to Consider
Nashville is becoming an expensive place to live. While currently not in the top ten most expensive cities, it’s just below the top 20. “If you want to be in Nashville proper there’s going to be a premium to pay for that,” said Chris Grimes, Managing Broker at RE/MAX Homes and Estates. A big reason for that is the strain on the housing supply from the influx of people moving to Music City from California, New York, and Illinois. “We have [an] almost historic shortage of supply, and demand is almost at a historic high,” added Grimes.
If you’re moving to Nashville, the numbers can paint a frustrating picture. But even considering the growing tech presence in Nashville and the strong music industry, it is still possible to land a job that pays enough to be comfortable.
Nashville also lacks public transportation infrastructure unless your work location is downtown. The traffic grid has strained under the weight of the growing city. However, each of these downsides is an opportunity for Nashville residents to innovate and make a difference. Maybe the next innovator is you!
Nashville’s Best Neighborhoods
The area is home to quite a few different types of neighborhoods. The variety allows residents to settle in places that suit their needs and their personalities. Let’s take a look at a handful of contenders.
For Fast-Paced Urban Living
Music, food, nightlife and singles – these neighborhoods offer something for people wanting to turn up the volume.
As one of the fastest-growing areas in Nashville, The Gulch is home to swanky condos and walkable streets. It’s cheaper than living right downtown, but not by much. With easy access to the interstate and plenty of bars, restaurants and music venues to keep you busy, this area is extremely popular.
For a thriving area that’s a little more removed from the tourists, Midtown is a great choice. It’s home to an excellent selection of new condos and upscale apartments. Nashville staples like Patterson House are here. Walking to Division and Demonbreun Streets for some of the most famous music studios in the country is easy. It’s a dynamic section of the city.
For Walkable, Family-Friendly Spaces
If apartment or condo living isn’t your style and the thought of bars open until 3 am isn’t appealing, some of Nashville’s quieter areas could be a great choice.
Sylvan Park was cool before Nashville was the “It” city it’s known as today. This neighborhood is located just off Charlotte and west of downtown. It features charming cottage-style homes with sidewalks and popular eateries. These include Star Bagel, Nashville’s oldest locally owned bagel shop and bakery. McCabe Park offers golf, greenways and a brand new community center. The Produce Place continues to offer organic produce and local foods.
12 South is a thriving area with lots of local restaurants and little shops. It’s anchored by Sevier Park, a small green area located centrally and home to a weekly farmer’s market and plenty of festivals in the spring, summer, and fall. These include the popular Sevier Park Fest in May. With charming, single-family homes lining the side streets of the connecting road 12th Ave S. and plenty of sidewalks from Belmont to nearly downtown, the picturesque neighborhood has a lot to offer.
For a Little of Everything
If you’d love a little bit of everything, there are a few places you could choose.
Everything east of I24 is considered part of this historic section of Nashville. East Nashville is home to a thriving art scene. You’ll find plenty of local eateries and hip bars such as Chopper and Pearl Diver. With new condos, traditional bungalow-style single-family homes and everything in between, it’s home to both young professionals and families alike. The neighborhood is known for its lovable and wacky character. There’s an annual art festival dedicated to the tomato. Truly, East Nashville has everything a Nashville resident could want.
Considered one of the oldest areas of Nashville, Germantown boasts an eclectic vibe that’s still mild enough to close down by 10 pm. It’s best known for German-themed restaurants and festivals. And yes, there’s a decent Oktoberfest. But it’s also a walkable area with boutiques and a few art galleries. It’s close to the central Nashville Farmers’ Market and the Bicentennial Mall green space. It offers single-family homes, condos and even a few high-rises. Germantown is also home to Monells, a staple of the Nashville restaurant scene. Guests dine on Southern fare in a family-style table setting.
Sandwiched between the Cumberland River and Sylvan Park is the Nations, a once-industrial neighborhood; it’s seen rapid development in recent years. Older remodeled homes, as well as new condos and townhouses, line the streets. The neighborhood is home to a range of restaurants and bars such as Daddy’s Dogs, Coco’s Italian Market and The Centennial. Residents of all ages will appreciate that the neighborhood boasts not one, but two parks with England Park as well as West Park.
Other Notable Neighborhoods
Nashville is home to quite a few different areas. Check out a variety if you can before making your official move to Nashville.
- Green Hills – Green Hills is a classic neighborhood with lots of space and single-family homes. It is in proximity to the Mall at Green Hills and David Lipscomb. It has a K-12 private school and four-year private university.
- Charlotte Park – Sandwiched between downtown and Bellevue, this area is home to quite a few retirees and families. It’s experiencing a renaissance and could have more affordable homes or apartments (for the moment).
- Elliston Place – A sliver of space west of downtown and adjacent to Centennial Park, this area is known for rock and roll. It has plenty of small venues like Exit/In and The End.
- Melrose – Melrose is a quieter area built for families and young professionals who want to experience what old Nashville feels like. It’s a classic neighborhood with access to grocery stores, restaurants like Sinema and The Sutler, and plenty of housing. And it’s the original location of M.L. Rose.
Things to Do
Nashville offers a wide variety of things to do despite its smaller size. No matter your interest, there’s a place in Nashville for you.
Nashville is known as Music City for a reason. The Country Music Hall of Fame is a must for both tourists and residents alike. It has installations that highlight both well-known musicians and the industry itself.
Around the city, residents have a variety of ways to hear music. Local options include Mercy Lounge (and its upstairs sister, The Cannery), The 5 Spot, 3rd and Lindsley, Exit/In, Bluebird Cafe, Minerva Avenue, The Vanguard and the Station Inn, host music from every genre imaginable. In reality, every corner in the city has a music venue. One of the best local pastimes is finding new, hidden gems.
For bigger shows, The Ryman (the original home of The Grand Ole Opry) offers some of the best listening in the city. Residents revere this venue, and out-of-towners can catch intimate shows of some of the best acts in the country. Bridgestone Arena welcomes big-name headliners throughout the year. Outdoor venue Ascend Amphitheater is a popular music destination during the summer months.
Nashville is also home to the classical music venue, The Schermerhorn. It has an in-house orchestra. They play everything from classics to up-and-coming composers to movies like Star Wars with live music. TPAC brings both musicals and concerts from a variety of genres to the city to round things out.
Nashville has both a pro-football team, the Titans, and a nationally ranked pro-hockey team, The Predators. But don’t call them that after moving to Nashville – or “Smashville” as hockey fans call it. It’s ‘The Preds’ forever. You get that pro-team excitement at still affordable prices for some of the seats.
That isn’t all. Nashville’s minor league baseball team, the Sounds, just moved to a brand new venue for affordable outdoor fun. The latest sports addition to the city, the Nashville Soccer Club, is another major league team. They play in the USL championship. Looking for some sports fun a little more off the beaten path? Consider checking out the Nashville Roller Derby for some skating action. Stock car racing fans will want to catch an engine-roaring race at the Nashville Superspeedway. It’s the country’s oldest continually operating racetrack.
Outdoor sports are also available locally with hiking clubs and meetups. Paddleboards and kayaks are a popular site on the Cumberland River. Nature fans will want to take advantage of Edwin and Percy Warner Parks. They are composed of 3,100 acres and are a mere nine miles from downtown.
Nashville’s diversity is unmatched in the state. You can experience something wholly different than the classic music and bar scene here. Nearly a third of the city’s public school students speak a different language than English while at home. The city’s Welcoming America initiative has created a thriving cultural environment.
You can take part in local festivals such as the Nashville Culture Festival, the Nashville Cherry Blossom Festival, the Thai-Laotian Food Fair, the Indian Education Tennessee Pow Wow and the Greek Festival, among many others. The Tennessee Immigrant and Refugee Rights Coalition offers many events, such as the InterNASHional Food Crawl and the Global Education Center, dedicated both to entertainment and education.
Nashville is home to many restaurants in this space as well. Travel down Nolensville Road for everything from Persian restaurants to traditional Mexican fare and weekly salsa dancing at Plaza Mariachi. Head to Sulav for a taste of Kurdish dishes, Epice for upscale Lebanese dining, Chaatable for Indian street food or Anatolia for traditional Turkish cuisine. Check out Nashville’s local paper The Scene, for even more ideas.
The Frist is Nashville’s premier art museum dedicated both to world-class art exhibits and community education. The city recently opened the National Museum of African American Music, highlighting artists such as Jimi Hendrix and Louis Armstrong. Art thrives outside of the museums in Nashville as well. Local galleries host exhibitions and an entire Second Saturday Art Crawl is dedicated to local galleries and artists.
Local theater is also thriving. The Belcourt offers both popular movies and independent films, The Porch provides both entertainment and education, and small publishing houses such as April Gloaming.
Families will want to expand the minds of little ones and visit the immersive Adventure Science Center.
With over 20 higher education institutes within the city, Nashville is home to plenty of world-class education. Vanderbilt University (ranked 15th in the nation) and Belmont University provide undergraduate and graduate-level education. Smaller colleges such as David Lipscomb provide intimate education settings and plenty of scholarships.
Nashville is home to prestigious historically black colleges and universities. Fisk, Tennessee State University and Meharry provide students of all backgrounds quality education. Community colleges such as Nashville State Community College help students with affordable two-year degrees. Specialty colleges such as Watkins College of Art and Design help fill niche programs.
Food in Nashville is some of the best in the country. Not only do you have all the food we mentioned in the cultural section, but dining that touches on any type of experience you could want.
Prince’s Hot Chicken is the original Nashville hot chicken place. The Cake Project offers a brand new cheesecake experience to North Nashville. Catbird Seat provides diners with a unique, open-seating plan and changing menu. The duo behind Biscuit Love and ‘za provide food that just makes you happy.
Redheaded Stranger hits your breakfast taco cravings, and Nicky’s Coal Fired offers the perfect pizza. Husk provides iconic southern and veggie dishes while Arnold’s Country Kitchen continues its traditional “meat and three” style. Bastion offers a secretive back-of-the-restaurant vibe, while Lockland Table encourages open seating and community. Consider Marsh House for a date night of upscale Southern seafood or Big Al’s Deli for one of the best breakfasts in town.
Moving to Nashville
The city has so much to offer new residents with thriving, friendly communities and lots more than just country music. It’s no wonder Nashville was recently declared the friendliest city in the US and eighth overall in the world. It has a wealth of creativity and kindness. After moving to Nashville, you’ll understand the magic.
Is a move to Music City in your future? Find self storage in Nashville to make your move a smooth one!
Update: This post was originally published on May 28, 2020. It was revised on May 3, 2021, with new information from Nashville expert, Joel Stice.