Tennessee is a terrific vacation destination, thanks to charming small towns, world-class music and dining scenes, the nation’s most-visited national park, and top-notch whiskey distilleries. But Tennessee has also become one of the top 10 fastest-growing states in the country. Attracted by a lower cost of living, affordable housing, excellent healthcare services, universities, and family-friendly cities, more and more people are looking at the Volunteer State as a possible home base. Jobs are plentiful, too, and Tennessee boasted the second fastest-growing economy in the nation last year. Here are 10 of the best places to live in Tennessee, according to real estate agents in the know.
The capital of country music has long been a popular vacation spot, but Nashville is also an excellent option for those looking to relocate, especially if great entertainment, world-class restaurants, affordable real estate, and excellent employment opportunities are at the top of your wishlist. And with a median home value of $420,000 and a real estate market that tends to weather economic downturns better than other areas, Nashville is a great place to invest.
“[Homes in] the Nashville/Middle Tennessee area range in price from $300,000 to $8 million; there are options for everyone,” said Jenny Telwar of Zeitlin Sotheby’s International Realty. According to Happy Fulk, an agent with Parks Realty/Luxury Portfolio International, the most sought-after neighborhood in the city is Wedgewood-Houston (or WeHo), located south of the downtown area. Fulk also recommends Green Hills, Belle Meade, Oak Hill, and Forest Hills.
Set along the Tennessee River and with the Appalachian Mountains in the background, Chattanooga is pleasingly scenic. The mid-size city is home to about 183,000 residents, and it has all the urban amenities you could want while still managing to feel like a laid-back small town. The Creative Discovery Museum and the Tennessee Aquarium are excellent attractions for families, and there’s a Minor League Baseball team and plenty of water sports activities here, too.
“If you love history, culture, scenic beauty, adventure, and fun — all in a family-friendly environment — Chattanooga is the place to be,” said Lizzer Graham, a native Chattanoogan and a real estate agent at Fletcher Bright Realty/Luxury Portfolio International. “The neighborhoods here in Chattanooga are as diverse and wonderful as the city itself. “
Downtown Chattanooga is great for those looking to be within walking distance of the city’s many restaurants and shops; condominiums in the area offer beautiful river views. North Shore is another vibrant neighborhood with cafes and independent boutiques, also home to one of the longest pedestrian bridges in the world. And with many parks and green spaces ideal for biking, hiking, and canoeing, Hixson is another great option for families.
Located about 30 miles from Great Smoky Mountains National Park and surrounded by easily accessible lakes, Tennessee’s third-largest city is a magnet for nature lovers. Home to the University of Tennessee, Knoxville is also where 25,000 college students reside. Add a growing number number of young professionals and you’ve got a vibrant city where sports and cultural events abound all year long.
“From a housing standpoint, property taxes are comparatively low, and the area offers everything from downtown condos and modest homes to properties with large yards and sprawling lakefront homes,” Claudia Stallings, chief operating officer at Wallace Real Estate/Luxury Portfolio International, explained. The median home value sits at around $325,000.
Diana Traylor, principal broker at Crye-Leike Realtors, also suggests that prospective movers look at the neighborhoods of West Knoxville, Powell, Halls, Hardin Valley, and Karns.
Nestled along the Cumberland River and Old Hickory Lake, Hendersonville keeps its 63,000 residents active with an abundance of water sports. Add to that the town’s 11 parks, bike trails, tennis courts, and tee-ball fields and you get an idea of why people here spend so much time outdoors.
“Lots of famous people call Hendersonville home, but you don’t have to be famous to live here,” said Jayne Coleman, realtor at Parks Real Estate/Luxury Portfolio International. She also added that home prices between $358,000 and $500,000 are in shorter supply than they were a year ago, but they do tend to stay longer on the market, giving potential buyers more time to decide.
Ronda Hawkins, a broker with Parks Real Estate/Luxury Portfolio International and a Murfreesboro resident, says that her hometown is “the secret of Tennessee.” Because of its proximity to Nashville (about 30 miles away), Murfreesboro offers many big-city perks, including an international airport, large event venues, and healthcare facilities. But property here comes with a much lower price tag.
“The great news for homebuyers is that we do have inventory,” Hawkins explained. “The west side has a lot of new construction, giving buyers the opportunity to pick finishes and fixtures. There are great entry-level price points, so you can get a new home in the $350,000 to $450,000 range, and that’s fantastic in comparison to other areas in middle Tennessee.”
Shelton Square, Breckenridge, and Riverview are among Murfreesboro’s most sought-after communities.
As Tennessee’s fifth fastest-growing city, Franklin has almost 40 percent more residents than it did a decade ago.
“The Franklin area is the epitome of town and country,” said Charlie Neese of Zeitlin Sotheby’s International Realty. “It has a beautifully restored and vibrant downtown area which has kept the historic charm alive and well.”
Franklin also has many parks, plus the beautiful Harpeth River, where you’ll find residents kayaking, fishing, and swimming. And thanks to the town’s idyllic location and proximity to Nashville (about 20 miles), the area is popular with stars like Carrie Underwood. But you don’t need to status afford a house here.
“Condos and townhomes in Franklin start in the $300,000s,” added Neese. Popular neighborhoods include Westhaven and Ladd Park.
Memphis offers plenty of jobs, especially in the healthcare industry, plus excellent schools, sporting facilities, and teams. Cost of living here is lower than the country and the state’s average, too. Add hundreds of miles of hiking and biking trails and a historic music scene to the mix, and it’s hard to think of a reason not to move here.
“Memphis offers a substantial value in owning a home,” said Mickey McLellan, a broker with Crye-Leike Realtors/Luxury Portfolio International. The median home value in the city is about $148,000, the lowest of any other city on this list; check out the neighborhoods of Chickasaw Gardens, Belle Meade, Kirby Woods, The Cloisters, and Normandy Park if you’re in the market.
Another charming small town with big-city amenities, Collierville is home to about 52,000 residents and is only 30 minutes from Memphis. Abundant natural resources drew Native Americans and European settlers to the area, so there’s lot of history to uncover here. And nowadays, Collierville’s school system is a draw for families, as are the laid-back lifestyle and sense of community. A stable real estate market helps, too.
“Collierville is a diversified community with a neighborhood to suit everyone. The average sales price is $528,464, and new construction prices are starting at over $600,000,” Kay Paul of Crye-Leike Realtors/Luxury Portfolio International said.
Johnson City is rich with scenic mountain views, located in the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains in northeast Tennessee. It’s also a short drive from several lakes and rivers. And if you are looking for long weekend escapes, Nashville, Atlanta, Asheville, and Charlotte are all less than 300 miles away.
“The desirability of our beautiful town has driven demand through the roof,” said Greg Cox, owner and broker at Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Greg Cox Real Estate. “Quality listings do hit the market every day, and the competitive frenzy has slowed down to help make the process less stressful.”
And while the median home value has increased almost nine percent since last year, it still remains below $250,000.
This city on the Kentucky border is just a 40-minute drive from Nashville, and it has seen unprecedented growth in the past decade. Home to Dunbar Cave State Park, a 144-acre protected area with hiking trails, abundant wildlife, prehistoric cave art, and the snaking Cumberland River, Clarksville is an idyllic destination where nature takes center stage. The city is undergoing a major revitalization of its downtown area right now, which will add mixed-use retail spaces and luxury residences.
“Homebuyers will find properties in almost any price range and still have access to great schools, a growing healthcare community, and an easy drive to Nashville,” Eddie Ferrell of Crye-Leike Realtors/Luxury Portfolio International, said.
Choosing a Clarksville broker who knows the city’s neighborhoods and lifestyles is key to finding your dream home. Among the most sought-after areas are Sango, Cunningham, Woodlawn, and the downtown area. The median home value around town is $289,835.