Honky-tonk and cowboy boots are not the only things that keep Tennessee kickin’ up their heels, the Volunteer State has some of the best places to live East of the Mighty Mississippi.
Heck, there’s a reason Justin Timberlake bought a home in Franklin, Nicole Kidman took up residence in Nashville, and that Tennessee is always inviting you to “take a walk in Memphis.” North, South, East, or West Tennessee, there’s a Tennessee city for everyone. Dollywood in Pigeon Forge and the Tennessee Aquarium in Chattanooga are just a few of Tennessee’s great cities where you can live, work, and play.
However, to make our top ten best places to live in Tennessee for 2020 list, our super star places really had to bring their A-game. The top ten best cities on our list average some of the highest household incomes and boasts some of the most expensive homes. These cities also have some of the most educated residents and safety is a priority.
Want to know what cities crushed the competition? Grab some Tennessee BBQ, crank some Elvis, find a sunny spot in Graceland and read on as we uncover where you should call home in Tennessee.
The 10 Best Places To Live In Tennessee For 2020
Median Home Value: $321,600
Median Household Income: $116,585
It used to be that Jack Daniels, and Dolly Parton were the most common names to come out of Tennessee; but now, we can add Germantown to that list. Located slightly southeast of Memphis, this small town in Shelby County, has held strong for the last two years as the #1 best place to live in Tennessee.
But, don’t roll out the red carpet just yet, home prices here are upwards of $321,600 and your median household income needs to be somewhere in the area of $116,585/year to cover your cost of living. In fact, Germantown is one of the richest places in the Volunteer State.
However, don’t write off Germantown completely. You’ll be happy to know that you have a better chance of getting a job here than being part of a crime as both the the unemployment rate and crime rate in Germantown are well below the national average.
Median Home Value: $622,000
Median Household Income: $160,597
Like a finely tuned guitar on a night of the Grand Ole Opry, Tennessee’s 2nd best place to live, Brentwood, is perfect. In order to obtain perfection, the city of “Burning Faith,” had to produce some pretty big SnackAbility scores: and it did just that.
This classic Nashville suburb scored a 9.5/10 for its strong job market, a 9.5/10 for its great schools, and an 8.5/10 for its low crime rate. And here’s why: the unemployment rate in Brentwood is well below the national average. The people here work hard and will expect you to do the same if you decide to call their pride and joy home–they currently have the lowest percentage of people on public assistance. The schools here are performing and the locals are educated: their Crockett Elementary School is a Blue Ribbon School and the percentage of residents with a Bachelor’s Degree and a Master’s Degree is well above the state and national average.
Do we think this is why Brentwood is one of the safest places in Tennessee? We can’t say for sure, but the odds are in their favor.
Median Home Value: $347,300
Median Household Income: $104,933
If you’re looking for a signal to move to Tennessee’s 3rd best place to live, Signal Mountain can give you just that. And if you’re looking for a place that is safe, with cool mountain homes, and a bunch of fun, outdoor activities, Signal Mountain can help with that too.
Located slightly northeast of Chattanooga, along the Tennessee River and the great Walden Ridge, Signal Mountain is one of the least populated places and it has the 2nd lowest crime rate on our list. Yes, it’s going to take a special kind of person to live in Signal Mountain–one who can make a median household income of $104,933/year. The upside to this number, a higher cost of living means less people and less crime.
Median Home Value: $300,600
Median Household Income: $113,789
You’ve probably already heard of Collierville because Parade Magazine named it “One of the Best Main Streets in America”. So, it shouldn’t be a surprise that it’s also the 4th best place to live in Tennessee. All eclectic coffee shops and quaint cafes aside, Collierville earned our ranking due to its cost of living, low crime rate, low unemployment rate, and the fact that the people here value education.
Here’s an inside look to Collierville’s numbers–the job market in this Memphis suburb is strong and the unemployment rate is the 6th lowest in the state. Incidentally, Collierville is 8th in the state for the least number of people living in poverty. To live comfortably, however, you’re going to need a job that pays the median household income of $113,789/year.
And if you’re looking for a great place for your family, Collierville is one of the best places to raise a family in The Volunteer State. Besides great schools for your kiddos, you’ll be happy to know that over half of Collierville’s residents hold a degree as well.
Median Home Value: $385,500
Median Household Income: $94,808
If you’re looking for a place close to Nashville without Music City’s hassle, Franklin is about the best that you’ll find–and, the overall 5th best place to live in Tennessee. However, Franklin’s cost of living is on the higher end. This city is the 5th best for home prices at $385,500 and you’re going to have to make the median household income of $94,808/year to live comfortably. Not surprising, these numbers also put Franklin on the map as one of the wealthiest places in Tennessee.
And, folks, this is most evident where old and new “country” collide on the corner of Main Street and 5th Avenue in the city’s affluent downtown area. You can stroll the Franklin Farmers Market and shop in the many boutiques by day and you can enjoy Franklin’s nightlife sipping on whiskey at one of their distilleries or singing along to your favorite country songs at one of their honky tonks by night.
That’s not all. Franklin scored a 9.5/10 for education on our SnackAbility scale. So, if you were wondering if this place has great schools, they do. This city of 75,366 residents is also one of the safest. The crime rate here is 47% below the national average.
Median Home Value: $257,800
Median Household Income: $89,054
Hop on the I 65 and cruise about 25 minutes south of Franklin and you’ll run right smack dab into Tennessee’s 6th best place to live, Spring Hill. The crime rate in Spring Hill tells us that they’re not robbing banks and they’re not robbing each other, so it just must be good ‘ol fashioned hard work that has this city’s household median income up around $89,054/year and the poverty rate the 5th lowest in the state. Heck, we shouldn’t be too surprised considering the unemployment rate here is 3.0%.
Spring Hill’s level of commitment to excellence is also evident in their great schools. The elementary and secondary schools here are constantly earning high marks and families have taken notice making Spring Hill one of the best places to raise a family.
Speaking of family friendly, Spring Hill has the youngest population of residents with a median age of 32. So, if you’re looking for those first time “Mommy and Me” groups, you’ll find those here. And if you’re looking for other young singles, you’ll find that here as well: Spring Hill is one of Tennessee’s best places for singles.
Median Home Value: $428,100
Median Household Income: $124,572
The livability factors that have made Nolensville the 7th best place to live in Tennessee include–but are not limited to–the city’s cost of living, low crime, great schools, and a strong job market.
Located 35 minutes southeast of Nashville, in Williamson County, Nolensville has the 2nd highest income and the 2nd lowest unemployment rate at 1.8%. If you can afford the $428,100 price for a home here, you’ll think that you’ve won Best Country Vocalist at the CMAs. But, if you want to be able to afford the overall cost of living in Nolensville, you’d probably be better off winning the Tennessee Lottery instead: it’s pretty expensive here.
However, don’t let a couple of dollars stand between you and a better quality of life in Nolensville. If you do, you’ll be missing out on the fun, “Nolensville” things to do: like, mingling with the community at the local brewery or biking the trails at one of the city’s five parks.
Median Home Value: $179,100
Median Household Income: $83,746
If you were to ask any one of Bartlett’s aficionados why their city of 58,828 residents is the best, they would probably tell you it has something to do with their great southern hospitality. And while we are sure this is the case, for us, a little more had to go into its rank as the 8th best place to live in Tennessee.
Located in the furthest southeastern corner of The Volunteer State, the Green Bottom community really does check all of the boxes. Bartlett’s low cost of living has made this city one of the most affordable places to live on our list. Additionally, Bartlett has one of the lowest median home prices at $179,100; and if you want to fit in with the majority of residents here, you only have to make $83,746/year. However, it would not be in your best interest to move to this city without a job: Bartlett has one of the highest unemployment rates on our list at 4.2%.
One of the best things about Bartlett is that it is super safe. The crime rate here is 14% below the national average. So, you should definitely keep an eye on this Tennessee gem. If Bartletts quality of life keeps improving and it continues to move up the ranks, who knows, next year it might be at the top of our list.
Median Home Value: $198,500
Median Household Income: $59,407
For those of you who had your heart set on living close to the Great Smoky Mountains and Dollywood, but didn’t want to sacrifice first class for mediocrity, you’re in luck, Tennessee’s 9th best place to live, Maryville, is nestled right there in the center of it all.
But, if you want to keep up with the Maryville locals, your cost of living budget needs to include a household median income of $59,407/year to afford the 19th lowest home prices in the state. The unemployment rate in Maryville is quite a bit higher than the national average. The silver lining, however, if you don’t find a job that pays Maryville’s median income, this Blount County city has the 32nd commute times; in fact, you can be in Knoxville in 25 minutes.
Median Home Value: $255,000
Median Household Income: $84,678
Here’s the word on East Division street –, the grass is greener and money really does grow on trees in Tennessee’s 10th best place to live, Mount Juliet.
Well, if you look at it like this, Mount Juliet is the “City Between Lakes” and one of the only cities on our list located along Tennessee’s infamous Cumberland River, so we get it, it’s greener. Money trees? We’re not entirely sure, but the residents here make a nice household median income of $84,678/year. And if you want a job in Mount Juliet, you shouldn’t have a problem getting one: this city has the 7th lowest unemployment rate on our list.
If you’re not sure that you want to take the plunge into Mount Juliet’s real estate market out of the gate, as the median home price here is the one of the highest compared to its median income, a rental is a solid alternative.
The Pressing Question: Size
Before we even started to collect data, we had to answer a tough question: Is it fair to pit cities with populations over 100,000 against places with a population of 18?
We firmly decided no, that just isn’t fair.
So to create our ranking, we broke places to live into three tiers:
- Cities — Populations over 5,000
- Towns — Populations between 1,000 and 5,000
- Small Towns — Populations below 1,000
This left us with 91 cities, 175 towns, and 136 small towns.
We then decided, no matter how much anyone loves their town, the best cities to live in Tennessee have more of everything and therefore you need to have over 5,000 people to truly be ‘the best’.
How We Calculated The Best Cities To Live In Tennessee
Now that we had our set of cities, it was time to rank them.
We ranked each place in Tennessee across a number of criteria from one to 91, with one being the best.
We then took the average rank across all criteria, with the city posting the lowest overall score being crowned the winner of the title “Best Place To Live In Tennessee”.
The criteria we looked at were:
- Median Home Values
- Median Income
- Population Density (Higher better)
- Unemployment Rate
- Commute Time
- Education Levels
- Health Insurance Coverage
- Poverty rates
After the dust settled, what was the best place to live in Tennessee? That would be Germantown.
If your city or town isn’t among the top 10, jump down to the bottom of the post to see a detailed chart of the best places in Tennessee.
Otherwise, buckle up for a ride down good living lane with Germantown at the end of the cul-de-sac.
Wrapping Up The Best Places When It Comes To Living In Tennessee
If you’re looking at areas in Tennessee with the best economic situations, where there’s lower than average crime, and a lot to do, this is an accurate list.
Germantown made a strong showing to take in the overall number one spot for the best place to live in Tennessee for 2020.
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