Most Expensive Places To Live In Tennessee For 2020


We used science and data to determine which cities in Tennessee that will put a big dent in your wallet.

Editor’s Note: We updated this article for 2020. This is our sixth time ranking the most expensive places to live in Tennessee.

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Everyone wants a home that mixes affordability with comfort and Tennessee does this very well. Families love the Volunteer State's beaches, midlands, and mountains as tourists before moving here and calling it home.

But before you decide to relocate, you have to do some research into the exact cost of living around the state -- and that's how we're going to help you.

These are the places in Tennessee that cost a pretty penny -- the most expensive cities in the state.

After we saved up for months and could finally afford it, we landed on this list of the ten most expensive cities in Tennessee for 2020.

So where is the most expensive place to live in Tennessee? That would be Athens.
the 2014-2018 American Community Survey for the 94 places in Tennessee with more than 5,000 people.

What's the most expensive place to live in Tennessee? Well, HomeSnacks crunched the numbers and discovered that Athens is the most expensive place to live in Tennessee.

So hopefully Rockwood (the cheapest place to live in Tennessee) can show these guys how to live on a budget in the coming years. Read on for how these places had costs rise faster than inflation.

And if you already knew these places were expensive, check out some more reading about Tennessee and the most expensive cities in the country:

The 10 Most Expensive Places To Live In Tennessee For 2020

Athens, TN

Overall SnackAbility

5
/10

Population: 13,752
Rank Last Year: 5 (Up 4)
Home Price To Income Ratio: 4.9x (1st most expensive)
Income To Rent Ratio: 43.7x (1st most expensive)
More on Athens: Real Estate | Data | Photos

Athens is a city in McMinn County, Tennessee, United States. It is the county seat of McMinn County and the principal city of the Athens Micropolitan Statistical Area, which is part of the larger Chattanooga-Cleveland-Athens Combined Statistical Area. The population was 13,220 at the 2000 census and 13,458 at the 2010 census.

The median income in Athens comes in at $29,525 and the median home value is $145,500 for 2020.

Sevierville, TN

Overall SnackAbility

4
/10

Population: 16,439
Rank Last Year: 3 (Up 1)
Home Price To Income Ratio: 4.5x (3rd most expensive)
Income To Rent Ratio: 53.3x (28th most expensive)
More on Sevierville: Real Estate | Data | Photos

Sevierville is a city in and the county seat of Sevier County, Tennessee, located in Eastern Tennessee. The population was 14,807 at the 2010 United States Census and 16,355 according to the 2014 census estimate.

The median income in Sevierville comes in at $40,780 and the median home value is $183,900 for 2020.

Crossville, TN

Overall SnackAbility

3
/10

Population: 11,368
Rank Last Year: 4 (Up 1)
Home Price To Income Ratio: 4.6x (2nd most expensive)
Income To Rent Ratio: 46.4x (6th most expensive)
More on Crossville: Real Estate | Data | Photos

Crossville is a city in and the county seat of Cumberland County, Tennessee, United States. It is part of the Crossville, TN Micropolitan Statistical Area. The population was 10,795 at the 2010 census.

The median income in Crossville comes in at $30,467 and the median home value is $139,000 for 2020.

Pigeon Forge, TN

Overall SnackAbility

4
/10

Population: 6,197
Rank Last Year: 1 (Down 2)
Home Price To Income Ratio: 4.2x (5th most expensive)
Income To Rent Ratio: 51.8x (19th most expensive)
More on Pigeon Forge: Real Estate | Data | Photos

Pigeon Forge is a mountain resort city in Sevier County, Tennessee, in the southeastern United States. As of the 2010 census, the city had a total population of 5,875.

The median income in Pigeon Forge comes in at $38,659 and the median home value is $163,200 for 2020.

Cookeville, TN

Overall SnackAbility

4
/10

Population: 32,894
Rank Last Year: 2 (Down 3)
Home Price To Income Ratio: 4.4x (4th most expensive)
Income To Rent Ratio: 51.9x (20th most expensive)
More on Cookeville: Real Estate | Data | Photos

Cookeville is a city in Putnam County, Tennessee, United States. Its population at the 2010 census was 30,435. It is the county seat and largest city of Putnam County and home to Tennessee Technological University. It is recognized as one of the country's micropolitan areas, smaller cities which nevertheless function as significant economic hubs. Of the twenty micropolitan areas in Tennessee, Cookeville is the largest; the Cookeville micropolitan area's 2010 Census population was 106,042.

The median income in Cookeville comes in at $36,341 and the median home value is $161,200 for 2020.

Johnson City, TN

Source: Public domain
Overall SnackAbility

6
/10

Population: 66,037
Rank Last Year: 11 (Up 4)
Home Price To Income Ratio: 4.1x (6th most expensive)
Income To Rent Ratio: 55.6x (39th most expensive)
More on Johnson City: Real Estate | Data | Photos

Johnson City is a city in Washington, Carter, and Sullivan counties in the U.S. state of Tennessee, with most of the city being in Washington County. As of the 2010 census, the population of Johnson City was 63,152, and by 2015 the estimated population was 66,027, making it the ninth-largest city in the state.

The median income in Johnson City comes in at $40,786 and the median home value is $165,900 for 2020.

Chattanooga, TN

Overall SnackAbility

4
/10

Population: 177,365
Rank Last Year: 10 (Up 2)
Home Price To Income Ratio: 3.6x (18th most expensive)
Income To Rent Ratio: 53.2x (24th most expensive)
More on Chattanooga: Real Estate | Data | Photos

Chattanooga is a city in the U.S. state of Tennessee, with a population of 176,588 in 2015. The fourth-largest Tennessee city, it is the seat of Hamilton County. Located in southeastern Tennessee in East Tennessee, on the Tennessee River, served by multiple railroads and Interstate highways, Chattanooga is a transit hub. Chattanooga lies 120 miles northwest of Atlanta, Georgia, 120 miles southwest of Knoxville, Tennessee, 135 miles southeast of Nashville, Tennessee, 120 miles northeast of Huntsville, Alabama, and 148 miles northeast of Birmingham, Alabama.

The median income in Chattanooga comes in at $43,964 and the median home value is $160,100 for 2020.

Nolensville, TN

Overall SnackAbility

9
/10

Population: 7,656
Rank Last Year: 8 (Down 1)
Home Price To Income Ratio: 3.4x (26th most expensive)
Income To Rent Ratio: 57.9x (49th most expensive)
More on Nolensville: Real Estate | Data | Photos

Nolensville is a town in Williamson County, Tennessee. The population was 5,861 at the 2010 census.

The median income in Nolensville comes in at $124,572 and the median home value is $428,100 for 2020.

Lebanon, TN

Source: Public domain
Overall SnackAbility

5
/10

Population: 31,592
Rank Last Year: 6 (Down 4)
Home Price To Income Ratio: 4.0x (8th most expensive)
Income To Rent Ratio: 58.8x (54th most expensive)
More on Lebanon: Real Estate | Data | Photos

Lebanon is the county seat of Wilson County, Tennessee, United States.

The median income in Lebanon comes in at $51,307 and the median home value is $207,600 for 2020.

Collegedale, TN

Overall SnackAbility

8.5
/10

Population: 11,256
Rank Last Year: 12 (Up 1)
Home Price To Income Ratio: 3.8x (15th most expensive)
Income To Rent Ratio: 58.2x (51st most expensive)
More on Collegedale: Real Estate | Data | Photos

Collegedale is a city in Hamilton County, Tennessee, United States. The population was 8,282 at the 2010 census and 10,729 in a 2014 estimate. Collegedale is a suburb of Chattanooga and is part of the Chattanooga, TN-GA Metropolitan Statistical Area. Collegedale is home to Southern Adventist University. The median household income is among one of the highest in Hamilton County. It has been ranked as one of the best and safest places to live in Tennessee.

The median income in Collegedale comes in at $55,567 and the median home value is $210,800 for 2020.

How We Determined The Most Expensive Places To Live In The Volunteer State For 2020

Map Of The Cheapest Places To Live In Tennessee
The two most important things to think about when it comes to being able to afford if you can live comes down to:

  1. How much do money do I make?
  2. How much do I have spend to live there?

You need to understand your costs in the context of how much money you make.

For example, if the median household earns $100,000 and spends $40,000 on housing it's actually cheaper to live there than a place with a median income of $50,000 and housing costs of $21,000. You might spend more on housing, but you have more money overall to play with.

With that example in mind, we derived several statistics from the latest Census American Community Survey 2014-2018 around incomes and costs. They are:

  • Median Home Price / Median Income (lower is better)
  • Median Income / Median Rent (Higher is better)
  • Median Home Price

We added simply median home price because high home prices generally correlate with higher expenses for all costs related to homes (heating, electricity, etc).

You can then compare these metrics in each of the places in Tennessee to figure out which is the most expensive.

What you are left with is a "Cost of Living Index" by taking the average rank of each of these metrics for each city.

So we used that cost of living index in order to rank all of the 94 places in Tennessee that have more than 5,000 people.

The place with the highest cost of living in Tennessee according to the data is Athens. You can download the data here.

Taking A Chunk Out Of Your Paycheck In Tennessee For 2020

Well there you have it, the places in Tennessee that have the highest cost of living, with Athens ranking as the most expensive city in the Volunteer State.

Here's a look at the most affordable cities in Tennessee according to the data:

  1. Rockwood
  2. Lewisburg
  3. Manchester

For more Tennessee reading, check out:

Detailed List Of The Most Expensive Cities In Tennessee

Rank City ExpensiveScore Population Home/Income Ratio Income/Rent Ratio
1 Athens 14.67 13,752 4.9x 43.7x
2 Sevierville 18.0 16,439 4.5x 53.3x
3 Crossville 18.33 11,368 4.6x 46.4x
4 Pigeon Forge 18.33 6,197 4.2x 51.8x
5 Cookeville 19.0 32,894 4.4x 51.9x
6 Johnson City 24.33 66,037 4.1x 55.6x
7 Chattanooga 25.33 177,365 3.6x 53.2x
8 Nolensville 25.67 7,656 3.4x 57.9x
9 Lebanon 26.33 31,592 4.0x 58.8x
10 Collegedale 27.0 11,256 3.8x 58.2x
11 Cleveland 27.33 43,924 3.9x 55.8x
12 Murfreesboro 27.67 130,968 3.7x 58.6x
13 Martin 28.33 10,721 4.0x 51.8x
14 Erwin 28.33 5,891 4.0x 47.0x
15 Goodlettsville 29.0 16,900 3.4x 57.4x
16 Franklin 29.33 75,366 4.1x 66.4x
17 Knoxville 29.67 185,429 3.4x 46.3x
18 Hendersonville 32.0 56,421 3.5x 61.2x
19 Gallatin 32.67 36,139 3.6x 59.6x
20 Jackson 33.0 66,878 3.2x 49.1x
21 Covington 33.33 8,855 3.6x 44.2x
22 Morristown 33.5 29,547 3.5x 46.1x
23 Signal Mountain 34.0 8,523 3.3x 61.3x
24 Brentwood 36.33 41,987 3.9x 84.9x
25 Red Bank 36.67 11,748 3.4x 54.5x
26 Lenoir City 37.67 9,122 3.1x 47.0x
27 Columbia 39.67 37,455 3.1x 53.4x
28 Clinton 40.67 9,908 3.6x 63.1x
29 Dickson 40.67 15,294 3.4x 58.6x
30 Greenbrier 42.33 6,770 3.0x 54.9x
31 Mount Juliet 43.0 32,882 3.0x 62.4x
32 Oakland 43.0 7,707 2.4x 50.2x
33 Fairview 43.33 8,599 3.2x 63.2x
34 Dayton 43.33 7,340 3.2x 49.2x
35 Kingsport 44.67 53,115 3.5x 61.6x
36 Maryville 45.0 28,520 3.3x 71.9x
37 Farragut 45.0 22,260 3.3x 95.2x
38 Jefferson City 45.67 8,235 3.3x 55.7x
39 Alcoa 45.67 9,633 3.0x 53.8x
40 Springfield 45.67 16,787 3.0x 56.7x
41 Arlington 46.0 11,689 2.3x 54.9x
42 Fayetteville 46.0 6,987 3.1x 51.4x
43 Jonesborough 46.33 5,321 3.0x 60.9x
44 Elizabethton 46.33 13,555 3.4x 57.7x
45 Greeneville 46.67 14,896 3.7x 61.6x
46 Spring Hill 47.67 37,830 2.9x 65.6x
47 Harriman 48.0 6,136 3.2x 53.3x
48 Shelbyville 49.33 21,319 2.9x 52.3x
49 La Vergne 49.33 35,237 2.4x 52.4x
50 Clarksville 49.67 150,602 2.8x 56.0x
51 Newport 51.33 6,757 4.0x 59.3x
52 Kingston 52.33 5,821 3.1x 68.3x
53 Smyrna 52.33 48,361 2.9x 62.5x
54 East Ridge 52.67 21,134 2.8x 53.6x
55 Brownsville 53.33 9,715 2.9x 51.1x
56 Savannah 54.67 6,964 3.1x 58.1x
57 Mcminnville 55.5 13,650 2.9x 51.2x
58 Germantown 56.33 39,164 2.8x 84.0x
59 Memphis 56.33 653,248 2.5x 44.2x
60 Henderson 57.0 6,247 3.0x 56.6x
61 Sweetwater 57.0 5,870 3.1x 61.8x
62 Pulaski 57.5 7,652 2.8x 52.8x
63 Ripley 58.33 8,023 2.8x 49.1x
64 Bristol 58.67 26,766 3.0x 61.1x
65 Tullahoma 59.0 19,669 3.0x 62.5x
66 Collierville 60.0 49,610 2.6x 91.0x
67 Lakeland 60.33 12,628 2.5x 84.7x
68 Oak Ridge 61.0 29,030 2.9x 70.3x
69 Church Hill 61.33 6,681 3.0x 73.3x
70 Paris 61.33 10,042 2.8x 54.7x
71 Bartlett 62.0 58,828 2.1x 62.1x
72 Dyersburg 63.67 16,559 2.7x 55.5x
73 Mount Carmel 63.67 5,327 2.9x 71.9x
74 White House 63.67 11,513 2.5x 74.5x
75 Loudon 63.67 5,687 2.8x 59.1x
76 Mckenzie 64.33 5,363 2.7x 53.3x
77 Lawrenceburg 65.0 10,684 2.7x 53.5x
78 Milan 65.33 7,703 2.7x 57.7x
79 Millersville 65.33 6,570 2.5x 74.7x
80 La Follette 65.67 6,911 2.1x 46.8x
81 Winchester 66.0 8,578 2.9x 78.8x
82 Millington 67.33 10,720 2.3x 56.8x
83 Humboldt 67.67 8,226 2.1x 49.1x
84 Atoka 68.67 9,139 2.1x 74.5x
85 Portland 71.33 12,539 2.4x 66.1x
86 Union City 71.5 10,478 2.8x 60.6x
87 Hartsville/trousdale County 73.67 9,573 2.5x 73.8x
88 Munford 75.33 5,998 2.1x 86.3x
89 Lexington 77.5 7,735 2.6x 68.8x
90 Dunlap 77.67 5,083 2.5x 67.4x
91 Bolivar 78.33 5,002 2.7x 64.1x
92 Manchester 79.0 10,561 2.4x 68.2x
93 Lewisburg 79.33 11,638 2.2x 59.0x
94 Rockwood 79.67 5,419 2.5x 60.0x

How Is The Area In ?

About Chris Kolmar

Chris Kolmar has been in the real estate business for almost ten years now. He originally worked for Movoto Real Estate as the director of marketing before founding HomeSnacks.

He believes the key to finding the right place to live comes down to looking at the data, reading about things to do, and, most importantly, checking it out yourself before you move.

If you've been looking for a place to live in the past several years, you've probably stumbled upon his writing already.

You can find out more about him on LinkedIn or his website.