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Moving to Nashville? Here’s What You Need to Know

by Team NextBurb 15 January 2021

Moving Guides By City

Nashville is the center of the American music industry, but it’s also a city with a thriving local business scene and has one of the fastest-growing economies in the American South.

Here’s everything you need to know about Music City.

The night sky over Nashville
The night sky over Nashville

Quick facts about Nashville

  • Nashville became the epicenter for American music in the late 1800s and continues its legacy today with the live radio show Grand Ole Opry.

    Although Nashville is mostly associated with the country music genre, you’ll find jazz, bluegrass, rock n’ roll, and R&B played live every night in hundreds of venues across the city.
  • Nashville has one of the fastest-growing economies in the country.

    The city has become a southern hub for healthcare and manufacturing industries and real estate projects, leading to growth for small businesses and sustainably-sourced restaurants and bars.
  • Living in Nashville comes with accessibility to the great outdoors and eclectic cities of the south.

    Drive east to check out giant caves or vacations in the scenic Great Smoky Mountains, where you’ll find breathtaking views, hikes, and cozy lodges perfect for a weekend getaway.

What to Know About Nashville

Population & History

Nashville was founded as a port city in 1779. After the Civil War, it grew as a manufacturing base for the south and continued to attract both businesses and educational institutions.

By the mid-1900s, Nashville was commonly known as Music City and drew artists like Elvis Presley, Etta James, and Johnny Cash to perform and record in its venues and recording studios.

Today, there are nearly a hundred record labels in Nashville. The Nashville metro area's population is 1,959,000, and the city covers 526 square miles on both sides of the Cumberland River.

Weather in Nashville

Nashville has a subtropical climate, which brings humid summers, cool winters, and mild fall and spring seasons.

Summer months are hot and sticky, with averages around 80℉. Winter months have occasional snowfall, although average temperatures don’t drop far below 37℉.

Spring and fall months come with both pleasant temperatures and heavy thunderstorms and hail.

Nashville is prone to flooding in exceptionally heavy rainfall, which most recently occurred in 2010.

Top Attractions in Nashville

Nashville is a city full of entertainment, adventure, and eclectic energy.

Whether you’re a country music fan or want to taste some of the best food in the South, you’ll find plenty to experience downtown on Music Row or in new, up-and-coming areas nearby.

Here are some of the best things to do in Music City:

Places to Visit

  • Explore The Gulch: The Gulch’s former industrial buildings have been renovated into spaces for local shops, restaurants, and bars, and are now one of the trendiest spots in the city.

    Visit the First Art Museum, which showcases iconic modern and contemporary art and work by local Tennessee artists and designers in the historic Art Deco building.

    Another must-see in the Gulch is Two Old Hippies, a legendary shop with funky, colorful home goods and clothing. Round out your shopping with a coffee from Killebrew Coffee or Barista Parlor.
  • For all things country: Nashville is filled to the brim with interactive, innovative museums showcasing the history of American music and iconic musicians.

    At the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum, family-friendly exhibits include recording studios and memorabilia from country stars like Dolly Parton and Garth Brooks.

    The Johnny Cash Museum and the Gallery of Iconic Guitars are other unique museums for music enthusiasts.

    Reserve tickets ahead of time, and you can still see country music stars perform at Ryman Auditorium and the Grand Ole Opry.
  • Discover American history: A city founded only three years after the Declaration of Independence was written, Nashville has plenty of history to tell.

    Take the family to Fort Nashborough, a historical replica on the grounds of the first Nashville settlement that overlooks the Cumberland River.

    Built a century later, the Belle Meade Plantation is also open for tours of its original manor, carriage house, and manicured gardens and offers wine tastings as well.
  • Cheering on a game: Nashville is home to NFL’s Tennessee Titans, and you can catch a game along with other die-hard fans at Nissan Stadium downtown.

    You can also watch the NHL Predators play hockey at their own home stadium, Bridgestone Arena.
A neon sign on Broadway in downtown Nashville
A neon sign on Broadway in downtown Nashville

To Eat:

Hot chicken: This dish is famous in Tennessee, so expect only the best when it comes to finding hot chicken in Nashville.

This fried chicken is cooked in a gravy of cayenne pepper, which adds an irresistible kick to an already-perfect chicken sandwich.

Find the best hot chicken from Nashville at Prince’s Hot Chicken, or order to go from Hattie B’s with a refreshing side of coleslaw to balance out the spice.

“Meat & 3”: This meat-lover’s trend started in Nashville restaurants and is now a typical way of serving food at joints all over the South.

Customers can choose their choice of meat (brisket, country-fried steak, or meatloaf, among other options) along with three sides, whether it be mac n’ cheese, creamed corn, hush puppies, or any other Southern favorite.

Try it with a buttery side of biscuits and a sweet iced tea from Loveless Cafe or friendly “mom and pop” joint Arnold’s Country Kitchen.

The sweet and the savory: Whether they come before or after your hearty Southern meal, Nashville has some famous snacks.

Fried pickles are battered and fried until crispy and served as an appetizer with garlic aioli, ranch, or a secret house sauce.

Try them along with a moonshine cocktail (if you dare) at The Stillery.

For dessert, try Nashville’s iconic candy, the Goo Goo Cluster. This chocolate bar with marshmallows, caramel, and peanuts was trademarked in 1912, and it’s easy to see why it’s still popular today.

You can find it at the Goo Goo Shop or mixed in with fresh-churned ice cream at local Hattie Jane’s Creamery.

For Legendary Live Music

You can’t live in Nashville without hearing live music.

Even if you never set foot in a concert venue, you’ll hear country and blues tunes rolling out across the streets of the downtown area through stereos and open windows.

Here are some of the most iconic venues in the city:

  • Ryman Auditorium is the birthplace of the music scene in Nashville. Formerly home to the Grand Ole Opry (which now has its own venue across town), Ryman not only plays country music but hosts artists like Janelle Monae and Justin Bieber.

    Legendary country and folk artists who have played at the Ryman include Hank Williams, Dolly Parton, and Taylor Swift (among many, many others).
  • Mercy Lounge has a bit of both worlds: a large, open-air auditorium for larger concerts and an intimate stage with a smaller seating area for local touring artists.

    There’s also an in-house bar with legendary cocktails, of course.
  • Another legendary venue is The Blue Room, owned and designed by rock star Jack White.

    The venue has some of the best acoustics in the city, and its recording studio is allegedly the only place in Nashville that records music straight to vinyl.
Guitars in a local Nashville store
Guitars at a local Nashville store

Outdoor Experiences in and around Nashville

With beautifully mild fall and spring weather, the Nashville area is a great place to get outdoors.

Radnor Lake is only a 20-minute drive from downtown. Although you can’t swim in the lake, it is a sanctuary for all kinds of local wildlife and has miles of paved paths to explore.

Virgin Falls Natural Area is only a two-hour drive from the city, and you can day-hike through caves and forests before returning home or camp overnight in front of peaceful waterfalls.

During high summer temps, you’ll find opportunities to cool off in swimming holes at Foster Falls in South Cumberland State Park or at the famous Cummins Falls (both a 1.5-hour drive from Nashville).

For a climb in elevation, drive three hours east to camp or vacation in the Great Smoky Mountains.

A creek in the Great Smoky Mountains
A creek in the Great Smoky Mountains

Living in Nashville

Nashville’s top employers

While Nashville is the capital of country music, its largest industry is healthcare. Economic growth has been so high over the last decade that Nashville’s metro area is considered one of the fastest-growing in the country.

Nashville is home to more than 300 healthcare companies, including the Hospital Corporation of America, HCA Healthcare, and Community Health Systems. In 2020, Amazon hired its first 1,000 employees for its Nashville office with plans to increase hires in the future.

Nashville also has a high number of higher education institutions, such as Vanderbilt University & Medical Center. Other top employers in Nashville include Kroger, Nissan North America, Asurion, and Ernst & Young.

Of course, we can’t forget the music industry. The “Big Three” music labels that control the industry (Universal Music Group, Sony Music Entertainment, and Warner Music Group) all have offices on Music Row downtown. Gibson Guitars is also headquartered in Nashville.

Construction in Nashville’s rapidly-growing downtown
Construction in Nashville’s rapidly-growing downtown

Working from home in Nashville

With plenty to do on weekends and places throughout the city to socialize, Nashville is a great place to relocate.

The city offers dozens of coworking spaces for communal and private workspaces where you can either network with colleagues or hunker down and focus.

Eleven Willow (formerly Deavor) is an inclusive space offering calm, warm-toned interiors, a photography studio, and a premium membership package with personal lockers and 24/7 access.

For artists and designers, Fort Houston provides studio spaces with a woodshop and media studio in addition to traditional desks and conference rooms. The INK Building has a community workspace, an in-house coffee shop, and social amenities like ping-pong and pool tables.

For home office internet needs, Xfinity has the cheapest plans starting at $20/month.

Other providers include AT&T ($35/month) and EarthLink (from $50/month).

Cost of Living

Nashville’s status as a highly desirable city to live in has pushed its cost of living higher over the past decade, but numbers are still relatively affordable.

The median home value for the Nashville-Davidson metro area is $217,500, and the median rent is $1,008.

Sales tax in Davidson County is 9.25%, which is 2.13% above the national average of 7.12%.

Property taxes in Tennessee are some of the lowest in the country, with the average property tax rate in Davidson County running near .82%, and the state has no income tax.

Transportation & Commute

The Nashville bus system has around 50 regularly-scheduled routes that run around the city, including express routes and a direct route to the airport.

Bus fares are $2 per ride or $4 for a day pass. Public transit is more limited on weekends than on weekdays, so be sure to check out schedules before traveling. Nashville also has a light rail system, which the city plans to expand to account for its growing population.

Lines currently run downtown and branch out to the west, southwest, and southeast.

Nashville and the surrounding areas are served by Nashville International Airport (BNA).

Just a 13-minute drive from downtown Nashville, this airport is a hub for Southwestern Airlines and offers direct flights to other major U.S. cities and several international destinations. Other airlines outside of BNA include United, American Airlines and Allegiant Air.

Best Places to Live in Nashville

Best neighborhoods for families with kids

  • Brentwood: This suburb has some of the best-ranked schools in the Nashville metro area. Brentwood is consistently ranked as one of Nashville’s best suburbs for its community centers, libraries, parks, and opportunities for sports and outreach programs.

    The median home price is $737,161, and downtown is only 20 minutes away by car.
  • Nolensville: A quick-growing suburb to the south of Nashville is Nolensville.

    With excellent schools and a median home price of $496,759, Nolensville has beautiful spacious parks (and wine lovers should note that it is close to the beautiful Arrington Vineyards as well).

    Nolensville is a 32-minute drive to downtown Nashville.
  • Thompson’s Station: Another suburb with high-ranking schools is Thompson’s Station.

    This tranquil town is a 30-minute drive south of Nashville and has historic sites, parks, and easily accessible shopping and dining.

    The median home price in Thompson’s Station is $502,337.

Best neighborhoods for young professionals

  • Berry Hill: This funky town south of downtown is one of the best places for young professionals.

    With a median home price of $350,457, Berry Hill has its own shopping, recording studios, and eclectic bars and restaurants.

    To top it off, it’s only a 12-minute drive from the Nashville city center.
  • Neighborhoods in Nashville: To be in on the action, why not consider downtown Nashville itself?

    You’ll find condos and single-family homes at a median price of $302,944 in fast-paced spots like The Gulch and Music Row, as well as in calmer enclaves like Germantown, where residents have walking access to Nashville’s excellent farmer’s market.
  • Franklin: For an oasis from city life that still has its own community and vibrant energy, check out Franklin.

    A 30-minute drive south of Nashville, Franklin has great schools, locally-owned bars and restaurants, and is surrounded by scenic farmland.

    The median home price in Franklin is $461,802.

Higher Education

Nashville is home to a stellar range of academic institutions.

Most prestigious is Vanderbilt University, which was founded in 1873 and has high-ranked undergraduate and graduate programs in medicine, nursing, business, and education.

Other notable institutions in Nashville include Middle Tennessee State University, Welch College, Fisk University, and Christian College Belmont University and Lipscomb University.

Crime in Nashville

While the crime rates in Nashville are 70% higher than the national average, many surrounding suburbs and areas close to downtown are considered safe and secure places to live for families and young professionals alike.

As with any city, it’s important to exercise caution towards your surroundings and to keep track of your location, but Nashville can be traveled and navigated with ease and comfort.

Look at crime rates for specific neighborhoods to learn more about safety around the city.

Are you considering Nashville as your next home?

Nashville’s artistic energy and status as a fast-growing city are only part of its appeal.

Whether you’re looking for an evolving job market or a strong community of fun-loving residents and local shops and businesses, this city has neighborhoods that appeal to any price point or interest.

Look no further for a home with a vibrant lifestyle and access to entertainment, fine dining, and professional growth for innovative entrepreneurs and creative professionals alike.

Here at Nextburb, we’re committed to providing you with the facts you need to know about any area you’re considering as a future home.

Discover the best places to live in the United States to find out more about neighborhoods to live in, school ratings, crime data, and real estate options.

We’ll provide you with recommendations based on your lifestyle and budget preferences to help you discover where you want to go.

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