The Best Places to Live in Tennessee: A Comprehensive Guide

Tennessee Nashville
What are the best places to live in Tennessee? As you may have guessed, there’s no one answer to this question – it all depends on what kind of lifestyle you’re looking for! This guide to the best places to live in Tennessee will help you find the city or town that’s right for you, no matter whether you want to be near your family and friends, nestled in the woods or mountains, near a bustling city center, or closer to nature and wildlife.  


The River City has been ranked No. 1 on many Best Places to Live lists over recent years—and it’s easy to see why. Chattanooga is affordable, with a low unemployment rate and great access to outdoor activities. The city also has an impressive arts scene, and its downtown is becoming increasingly walkable. Plus, Chattanooga doesn’t have a sales tax! There are also plenty of tech jobs available thanks to EPB Fiber Optics, a government-owned telecommunications provider that offers gigabit speeds for internet and cable TV—making it one of America’s best internet providers. (If you’re into sports, you’ll love that fact that Chattanooga is home to several minor league teams.) Living here will set you back about $3,373 per month ($37K/year).  


While Knoxville might be better known for its basketball team than its live music scene, there are some killer places to hear local artists perform. The Pilot Light hosts a range of shows from all genres, while Knoxville is home to two top-notch venues; Preservation Pub and Three Bears Café, both of which feature live music regularly. The city also offers plenty of unique bars and an indie bookstore worth exploring. While there aren’t many other entertainment options, you can’t beat having The Great Smoky Mountains right outside your door—the views are stunning!  

Johnson City

This Blue Ridge Mountain city features small-town charm and big-city growth, with a number of parks and nearby attractions that make it ideal for families. Great schools, affordable homes and opportunities for outdoor recreation like biking trails or white water rafting make Johnson City one of the best places to live in Tennessee. Low crime rates are another reason why many people decide to move here.  


If you’re looking for a small town feel, but with some urban excitement, check out Jackson. Music City is minutes away and there are plenty of cultural attractions for those who love art and history. The cost of living here is slightly above average, but it’s nothing that an average income can’t handle. While not all of these places are technically small towns, they do boast a smaller population and rural charm. This list was created with input from financial website WalletHub; you can read more about their methodology here . (Note: These are all places that currently exist within Tennessee.) 1. Normandy, TN 2. La Follette, TN 3.  


With a healthy sense of culture and style, great schools, community groups and lots of available jobs, Morristown is a great place to settle down. There are some neighborhoods that lend themselves better to families—check out North Village for its parks and recreation facilities—but much of Morristown is still well suited for younger singles looking for an active nightlife. Head into town and catch a live show at venues like Bon Temps or listen to music while dining at Fuego Bistro & Lounge. Notable neighborhoods include Miller Heights, Sam Davis Farms (or SoDa), Stony Point Road and Blackman Lane.  


The Beale Street district is a center of Memphis culture, and its legacy includes blues, rock ‘n’ roll, barbecue, and world-class musical entertainment. Memphis has a burgeoning medical sector that continues to expand year over year. No state income tax makes for affordable living for Tennesseans, especially seniors. Affordable housing is plentiful here as well. Most cities are within an hour’s drive of Memphis which means you can enjoy big city amenities with little inconvenience of living in a big city like New York or Los Angeles. Stunning scenery adds to what you have to offer with little tourism attractions nearby (Chickasaw Bluffs State Park). Nashville: The capitol of Tennessee has become a booming hot spot because of its flourishing economy.  


The second-largest city in TN, Clarksville was chosen by Outside Magazine as one of America’s top small towns. It features a picturesque campus with a vibrant community of students and offers an ideal blend of small-town charm and big-city amenities. If you’re relocating for work, you won’t be short on career opportunities; in fact, there are several Fortune 500 companies headquartered here, including JLG Industries and United Launch Alliance. Families looking for great schools will appreciate its low crime rate—Clarksville consistently places high on national lists—and plenty of outdoor activities are available nearby at Fort Campbell, which boasts bike trails, fishing spots and more.  


Music City USA is home to rich musical history, beautiful parks and more than a few excellent watering holes. Nashville was recently ranked No. 1 on WalletHub’s best places to live list for 2018, not just because of its famous entertainment industry, but also due to its affordability and strong job market. In fact, it also made it onto a different WalletHub ranking as one of America’s best cities for jobs in 2017. With an unemployment rate below 5 percent (one of the lowest rates in any city), workers can be confident that they won’t have trouble finding employment here—even if their degrees aren’t exactly related to their preferred field.  


Known as the Brick Capital of America, Dickson is a small city located on I-40. The city boasts a number of new housing developments and amenities that add to its appeal as a desirable place to live. As it is part of Williamson County, residents have access to excellent schools and other local services; additionally, they can easily commute into Nashville. Some housing options available in Dickson include luxury homes and condos at prestigious addresses like The Reserve, where units range from $300,000 – $450,000. For those who want even more bang for their buck, Dickson might be a good choice since home prices are fairly low compared with other areas in Williamson County (which already has among the lowest property tax rates in Tennessee).  


Nestled between Nashville and Knoxville, Cookeville is a small college town that is steadily growing. The city’s biggest attraction, Tennesee Tech University, adds plenty of cultural activities and opportunities for learning. The top industries here are health care and social assistance followed by manufacturing. Proximity to other large cities makes Cookeville an ideal home base for businesses looking to expand into neighboring markets. It’s one of the fastest-growing cities in Tennessee with a population of 117,864 as of 2022.

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