If there’s anything the last few years have taught us, it is that life can change in an instant. The world as we know it is no longer the same and many are rethinking their priorities from what they do for a living to where they call home. If you want to enjoy a blend of nature and big city amenities, then Tennessee has you covered.
The wide open state is flanked by the Appalachian Mountains and the historic Mississippi River. There are countless outdoor opportunities, beautiful landscapes, and some of the most exciting cities in the United States.
In the Volunteer State, it’s easy to find yourself within a quick drive of live music or hiking. In addition, there are some great affordable housing opportunities found in the best cities in Tennessee that aren’t weakened by a lack of career options.
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If you’re thinking of moving to Memphis, put Collierville on your list of places to check out. The family-friend suburb comes with fantastic schools, and a small town vibe encapsulated by the beautiful town square. It’s a top option for enjoying small town life with easy access to a bigger city.
Collierville has a population of 44,000, which may at first seem at odds with the vibe it purveys. But the rows of charming independent shops, cozy cafes, and public parks tell you all you need to know.
Perhaps the biggest strength of Collierville, though, is its affordable housing despite residents enjoying a higher than average income.
11. Oak Ridge
Initially a planned city, Oak Ridge has been on its own since the 1950s. In the ensuing decades, it has developed a great community vibe with an open suburban plan, providing residents with plenty of space to breathe.
Oak Ridge has a fascinating beginning, as it was created to develop tech that would help end the Second World War. Now it’s home to the Department of Energy and a national laboratory, providing the 29,000 residents and new grads with great work opportunities.
Oak Ridge harbors some of the best crime rates in Tennessee, while its housing and rent rates are well below the national average.
The up-and-coming Murfreesboro could easily find itself higher on this list in the years to come. But would-be residents can find themselves ahead of the curve by setting up shop in this town with a booming economy.
Murfreesboro is one of the fastest growing cities in Tennessee and now has a population of over 136,000. The rise in residents hasn’t yet been followed by an uptick in housing costs and newcomers can look forward to a sound school system, an abundance of public parks and a rich culture, especially when it comes to food.
Just 40 minutes from Nashville, Murfreesboro is also the home of Middle Tennessee State University.
Around 45 minutes from Knoxville, Townsend puts the mountains of Tennessee on your doorstep. The peaceful small town is a gateway to the Smoky Mountains, making it both an adorable setting and the perfect base for adventures.
Townsend has a population of under 400 people and at different times of year, it’s as quiet as the surrounding nature. The peaceful and affordable experience should put it on the radar of retirees, or anyone who wants to escape the hustle and bustle of city life.
There are, however, times when Townsend is lively thanks to its popularity among travelers. This makes Townsend a fun place to be, especially in the busy warmer months.
On the banks of Old Hickory Lake, just out of Nashville, Hendersonville is a top choice for blending the fun of Music City with some tranquility. With access to Old Hickory, residents can enjoy the lakefront beach, fishing, and boating on the water and trails around the lake’s edge.
Beyond nature, Henderson boasts the Streets of Indian Lake, a grand entertainment space with fun for young and old, along with retails and eateries. Locals also enjoy the town’s southern charm, with plenty of independent businesses plus a strong cost of living.
Students will be able to take part in a great school district, while low crime rates and affordable homes are just more reasons families should move to Hendersonville.
Along the surging Tennessee River and on the brink of the Appalachian Mountains is where you’ll find the fourth biggest city in Tennessee. Chattanooga boasts four major highways, making it easy to venture further afield, but there’s more than enough reason to stick around.
This is because Chattanooga is both scenic and affordable. It comes with plenty of history, epic viewpoints and a great balance of indoor and outdoor fun. This makes it an easy choice for all types. The large population brings great work opportunities, the outdoors are lovely and there are an abundance of schools, not to mention colleges.
Then there’s the local culture that’s diverse, having attracted newcomers from across the country. Enjoy great food and the beautiful downtown Riverwalk.
Providing residents with urban amenities alongside some of the best outdoor opportunities in Tennessee, Gatlinburg is a delightful mix. In the foothills of the Smoky Mountains, Gatlinburg boasts some of the most affordable housing of any major town in the state and renters will pay 20% less on their lease.
There are over two dozen schools in the surrounding area, most of them are highly rated and Gatlinburg rates well for diversity and level of overall education.
But it’s the lifestyle that draws most people to Gatlinburg. Locals and travelers can experience the downtown streets with many breweries and distilleries. Within minutes you can also be hiking some of the biggest mountains on the east coast.
Famous for its blues, rock and country, not to mention its mouthwatering Southern cuisine, Memphis is a top choice among those newly graduated and couples. Its culture, lifestyle, and long nights make Memphis perfect for those that wish to enjoy an active and social lifestyle.
Memphis has a rich history that dates well beyond the Civil War and found itself in the center of the Civil Rights Movement. Beyond the music venues, residents and travelers can enjoy the city’s range of historical museums that help you better understand the city and country at large.
On the edge of downtown, you’ll find the Mississippi River and further north is the Meeman-Shelby Forest State Park for outdoor recreation.
One suburb of Memphis that grabs the attention of potential residents is Germantown. Home to just under 40,000 people, Germantown boasts a shorter than average commute, an award-winning school district and decent home prices. The low crime rate, low cost of living relative to the rest of Tennessee, and big city living with a residential feel, makes Germantown a popular place to live.
Residents of Germantown get to enjoy the big city amenities provided by nearby Memphis. But the neighborhood itself features some of the regions’ top hospitals. For young families, there are multiple malls, vibrant major streets, ample parks, and some great restaurants. Locals also love Old Germantown, a part of the downtown district that harbors the town’s early days.
Split by the scenic Cumberland River, Nashville is one of the most sought after destinations in Tennessee for would-be residents and travelers alike. Today, it’s famous worldwide for its live music scene and being at the center of country music. But while residents can expect a rich nightlife and great tunes, there’s much more to life in Nashville.
It’s surrounded by some beautiful neighborhoods, including some we have mentioned. There are local parks, including Centennial Park which is home to the recreation of the Parthenon, many top-notch museums, such as the Country Music Hall of Fame, and a booming art district.
The downtown streets boast vibrant architecture that blends the new with the old. The river provides for some great outdoor fun and the city is the home of NFL’s Tennessee Titans.
South of Nashville, Franklin is home to just shy of 80,000 people. Its proximity to Tennessee’s biggest city can often overshadow Franklin, but residents don’t bat an eye. Here, locals enjoy a tight-knit community, there’s a pleasant suburban vibe, and most residents own their own homes.
Franklin is great for families, couples and recent graduates. It has a fairly youthful vibe with the average age of locals in the high thirties. This has created a lively, but not overbearing downtown area with great shops, restaurants and entertainment.
If your kid is of school age, Franklin harbors one of the top school systems in Tennessee. With the addition of Franklin’s Civil War history and abundance of local parks, it’s a great place to grow up.
A suburb of Nashville, Brentwood has grown to be one of the top places to live and visit in the state. The town has a population of just over 40,000 people with an affluent reputation and features both country music stars and upscale amenities.
Beyond the streets are lush rolling hills and beautiful vegetation. Residents have access to over a dozen public parks with miles of hiking trails, picnic areas, and other outdoor activities.
Life here comes with easy access to the core of Nashville, live music, and great eats. While the city’s major international airport connects you to around the US and worldwide destinations.
Parents will be happy to know that Brentwood ranks as one of the best school districts in the state and, with plenty to do after the bell has rung, it makes for a family-friendly town.