It's hard to visit Nashville and not get swept up in the country-music vibe. From the Country Music Hall of Fame, the Grand Ole Opry and the Opryland hotel, to a rich music scene that extends to rock, pop and other forms, music runs through the city's veins. But that's not all there is to do, whether you're moving to Nashville or just visiting.
With the exception of a few downtown districts, including the inner city, Nashville is very much a driving town. Before moving to Nashville, fly in to the International Airport about 15 minutes from downtown, rent a car and explore. Hotels are also reasonably priced in Nashville, so you can stay a while, getting a feel for each of the different neighborhoods. You can also look for weekly rentals while you are searching for a home in Nashville.
Each neighborhood has a unique demographic and different selling points. Real estate purchase or rental prices vary widely, from affordable apartments to multi-million-dollar homes on the outskirts of the city.
If you're planning a move, stick to the long spring and fall months, when the weather is mild. The summer heat can cause dehydration and exhaustion, while you can expect comfortable, milder weather in spring and fall. But be prepared for thunderstorms that could delay your move by a few hours.
If you don't mind the cold, a move in the winter may be your best bet, as snowfall is rare and typically mild. Nashville does experience all four seasons, but only the summer temperatures could be considered extreme.
It's illegal to park a vehicle on the grass, even at a private residence, so if you want to get your moving truck closer to your entrance, you'll have to park in the driveway or at the curb. Follow local ordinances for parking permits or parking restrictions, which may vary by street, to determine where to park on moving day.
The city of Nashville has 83 different neighborhoods, although locals sometimes disagree on dividing lines and certain designations. One of the most well-known is Nashville's Music Row, a popular tourist attraction and the southern center of the music industry. It sits near 17th and 18th street, just southwest of downtown Nashville. The city's two renowned universities, Belmont and Vanderbilt, are both adjacent to Music Row.
Bordering Nashville, some within city limits and some just beyond, are upscale residential neighborhoods in highly desirable school districts. These areas give families a place to live while working in one of Nashville's many thriving industries.
Full Neighborhood Report
Cost of Living
As of 2009, the cost of living index in Nashville was just 88.5, substantially lower than the US national average of 100, and less than half of New York City's 217.
Moving to Nashville from cities such as New York, San Francisco or Boston, and even southern cities like Charlotte and Raleigh, you'll save on everything from healthcare to housing. Taxes are also lower than these cities, regardless of your income level or tax bracket.
Nashville International Airport (BNA) is about 15 minutes from downtown Nashville. It used to be a hub for American Airlines, and still offers many flights from that carrier, as well as Southwest and other major airlines.
With traffic circles, different roads (and locations) that share the same name, and roads that change names on your journey, Nashville is not an easy city to drive in, but today's GPS technology makes it easier than it was years ago. Locals note that traffic congestion gets bad between 4PM and 6PM, but not New York City or Boston “bad,” where traffic comes to a standstill. It's best to plan your move to begin early morning in order to find the best parking spot and avoid traffic.
Nashville sits at the intersection of three major interstates, making the city easily accessible for movers from out of state. Route I-24 goes from St. Louis, MO to Chattanooga, TN; I-40 crosses Tennessee from Memphis to Knoxville; and I-65 takes travelers from Louisville, KY to Birmingham, AL.
Nashville's most common form of public transportation is buses provided by Nashville MTA. The Music City Star Train serves commuters in the suburbs of Lebanon, Martha, Mt. Juliet, Hermitage and Donelson.
It's a common misconception that Nashville's largest industry is music. While music ranks a close second, healthcare is actually the largest industry. The music industry, from recording to live music, brings in $6.4 billion per year and contributes 19,000 jobs to the region; healthcare contributes $18.3 billion in revenue and 94,000 jobs. More than 250 healthcare-related companies call Nashville home, including the Hospital Corporation of America, Saint Thomas Health Services and Vanderbilt University and Medical Center.
With 24 post-secondary schools, jobs in education are also prevalent in Nashville, and the city's musical and artistic vibe appeals, in particular, to professors and students in the liberal arts fields.
Job Search and Relocation Advice
One of the first things you’ll want to do when moving to Nashville is to find the best coverage for local news and the city’s incredible music and arts culture. Check out the following list of newspapers and local TV channels to get started.
The Tennessean serves as Nashville’s longest-running news source, dating back to 1907. The newspaper formerly known as The Nashville Tennessean can actually trace its roots much further back even than that, to a publication called The Nashville Whig, which began in 1812. Today, The Tennessean has a readership of approximately 175,000 from Monday to Saturday, with Sunday editions reaching over 200,000. The newspaper features coverage of local and world news, sports, business, job listings, music, entertainment and community events. The Tennessean has received two Pulitzer Prizes in its history and is considered a left-leaning publication with regard to social and political reporting.
The Nashville City Paper
Commonly referred to as simply The City Paper, this free weekly publication is the only direct competition of the more widely read Tennessean. The City Paper is published every Monday and contains local news, business, job listings, sports coverage, and a calendar of various community events taking place throughout Nashville. The newspaper was founded in 2000 and has an estimated circulation of 78,000.
Catering to those interested in alternative news reporting and coverage of the vast and varied arts and entertainment scene in “Music City,” the Nashville Scene is every music and art lover’s first stop when scoping out local places and events of interest. Founded in 1989, the Nashville Scene is published once per week and can be found free of charge at various newsstands and stores throughout the city. With a weekly readership of approximately 50,000, the newspaper is also a good source of information on city dining and nightlife.
Out & About Newspaper
Spotlighting the LGBT community of Nashville, Out & About Newspaper is a free monthly publication that covers news, politics, business and entertainment. It has an estimated circulation of 30,000 and is the largest LGBT publication in the state of Tennessee.
The Tennessee Tribune
The most widely read and distributed African-American news publication in Nashville, The Tennessee Tribune has a circulation of 25,000 and is published once a week. The newspaper regularly covers news, politics, business, education, sports and lifestyle stories relevant to Nashville’s African-American community.
Local TV News Channels
Find local news coverage on the following Nashville TV stations:
Part of the humid subtropics, Nashville's temps average 80 in the summer and around 38 in the winter, with occasional mild snowfall in January and February (and sometimes December and March). Spring and fall are warm, but thunderstorms—and even tornadoes—could delay your moving plans. Check local weather forecasts to time your move for a warm (or cool), dry day for a more comfortable move. Humidity tends to drop in the afternoon, but to avoid traffic, early mornings may be the best time for moving. And if you move to Nashville in the spring, pack your tissues and OTC allergy meds; Nashville was ranked as the eighteenth-worst spring allergy season in the US.
Tornadoes have devastated the city in the past, but the city is not in the tornado belt. For the most part, locals don't worry about the possibility, and fear of a tornado should not be reason to decide not to move to Tennessee. These factors might make the city sound undesirable, but the comfortably moderate temperatures in winter, spring and fall make it a nice place to live year-round.
The city of Nashville is served by Metropolitan Nashville Public Schools, a district of 71 elementary schools, 36 middle schools and 15 high schools. There are also 17 private elementary and secondary schools, including many Christian schools, within city limits. MNPS has an enrollment of more than 74,000 students. All but three of the high schools follow Standard School Attire, consisting of collared shirts and limited choices in clothing colors.
If you're considering moving to the suburbs of Nashville and a top school district is important to you, residents cite Williamson County, Sumner County (which includes the suburb of Hendersonville) and Wilson County as having top Nashville schools.
If you're moving to Nashville and having a new home built or making renovations to the home you're purchasing, you may need to acquire permits. This link provides directions to do so, as well as information on fees required to cover the administrative costs of permit processing.
Parking permits are also required in many residential areas. If the area where you're moving already permits street parking, you need merely pay a $10 fee and submit a permit application. If your area doesn't have parking permits, you can submit a petition containing every resident's name, address and telephone number to:
Metro Public Works
Traffic and Parking Division
ATTN: Diane Marshall
750 S. 5th St.
Nashville, TN 37206
Learn more at Nashville.gov.
Tennessee residents do not pay state income tax. The Nashville sales tax is 9.25 percent (7 percent state sales tax, 2.25 percent local), making it thirteenth-highest in the country for cities with a population over 200,000, and above New York, a city known for its high cost-of-living. Take heart, though, if you're moving to Nashville. Chicago, Phoenix and many California cities rank above Nashville for this dubious distinction.
After decades without toll roads, the Tennessee Department of Transportation passed the Tennessee Tollway Act. Even so, no toll roads exist (yet) in the Nashville area.
When you move to Nashville, remember to file your change of address with the US Postal Service, where you can also pick up voter registration forms to change your voting district. You're considered a Nashville, Tennessee resident from the first day you live in a state with the intention of making it your permanent residence, and your voter registration application must be received at least 30 days before the election.
Trash & Recycling
Trash and recycling management in Nashville is handled by Metro Public Works. Homes in the Urban Services District receive brown roll-out carts for garbage. As of July 2012, residents will be charged for pick-up of more than two carts, but additional recyclable containers are available free of charge.
Nashville has a strong commitment to recycling, with all plastics 1-7 accepted through curbside pick-up. You can also recycle residential cooking oil and electronics equipment. Follow the guidelines listed on the Metro Public Health website to learn how.
Metro Public Works also offers two different types of compost containers to reduce solid waste. Nashville is in the midst of enacting new, stricter trash and recycling laws, outlined here.
Registration of a vehicle is not handled by the state's Department of Motor Vehicles, but by the Tennessee Department of Revenue Taxpayer & Vehicle Services Division. You can handle most transactions related to your driver's license (including renewal and change of address) online.
For quick-hit links to resources you’ll need after moving to Nashville, refer to the following list: