I get a ton of emails about moving to Nashville, Tennessee because of this post "Why I Moved To Nashville". So to follow up, I have written this blog on my account of what it is like to live in Tennessee. I would also recommend following my Instagram and watching my "Nashville", "Tennessee" and "The South" stories. I personally moved to Tennessee because I wanted to be apart of southern culture. I had country dreams of catching fire flies in a mason jar, eating fried chicken, barn parties, SEC football tailgates, boys with trucks taking me to shoot guns and go mudding etc. For the record none of that exists in Nashville, except the southern food. To my surprise most people in Nashville are transplants from the midwest, east coast or California. If you want a real Tennessee experience you have to get outside of Nashville.
I love Nashville because it is the perfect sized city for me. Nashville is an up and coming small city. There is no public transportation except for the bus. Running errands is pretty easy here and everyone is nice. All of the stores I need are down the street in one shopping center. Groceries aren't cheaper than other places. Nashville actually has a kind of high sales tax.
I like how accessible Nashville is because you can get out of town into nature or be off to another city like Atlanta really easily. I travel for work a lot to various small towns so I have been all over the state and south east. I have been able to visit Kentucky, Ohio, Alabama, Georgia, North Carolina in a short drive. Aside from Nashville I like Chattanooga, Knoxville and Memphis. Outside of these cities are small towns, some more rural than others. I love working in the small towns because everyone knows each other and is so friendly. I think if you are moving from a more cosmopolitan area it is a really humbling experience to get out and talk to people who live in these small towns. I've learned a lot from these people and how they live. For example farmers have incredible work ethic, farm equipment is really expensive, hunting for meat has 0 carbon footprint and just how to be more self sufficient in general. You can also see the socioeconomic issues that effect these people and how they are different than the problems in cities. A farm homestead is my goal in life so I love exploring and learning more about the country.
*** Minimum wage in Tennessee is $7.25. Any tip job starts at $2.50/an hour.
Housing isn't necessarily cheaper and it is still going up! Especially with over 100 people moving to Nashville per day! My rent has gone up $200 in 1 year. There is a lot of gentrification and new construction. I have lived in the same house for going on three years. When my roommate and I try to find possible future housing there honestly isn't any options, so we stay in our house. The traffic getting out of Nashville is terrible in every direction. I don't leave my house after 3:00pm because of it. The streets and freeways just aren't designed for the amount of people and the city never planned to have this population boom so it is still 2 lane freeways. So if you are living in any Nashville suburb plan on a traffic commute. There are a lot of new apartments downtown and remodeled houses. Most of Nashville has been gentrified. You can ask anyone how East Nashville or Germantown was 10 years ago and they'll give you a scary look. Now you'll be lucky to buy a house in East Nashville for under $200,000. Most people are moving to Nashville with the intent to buy a house, not rent, so rent is high and higher than some mortgages.
The good part is for a decent price you can get a yard, laundry, deck and your own room.
Tennessee has all 4 seasons. Seasonal depression is real. The heater bill is high. Does it suck? No, but it can be a transition for a lot of people thinking about moving to Nashville. No one really told me about the weather before I moved, so I'm giving y'all a warning. My electricity bill is over $300 in the winter months for a two bedroom house. If you factor that into my rent my rent IS NOT CHEAPER THAN CALIFORNIA. A lot of people, specifically landlords will leave out these details. It also rains probably 1-3x a week. It is humid and muggy during most of the warmer seasons. There is thunder storms frequently. There are crazy winds and tornado warnings a few times a year. Multiple times a year the temperature will drop from 65 degrees to 27 degrees in a night. The day will start off sunny then turn into flash flood thunderstorm. The weather here is random AF. There are a lot of bugs and mosquitos. My favorite season is autumn because the humidity drops and the leaves change color. I love having all four seasons but a lot of people move places for better weather, so unless you are from up North that isn't really here.
Downtown Nashville is mostly designed for tourists. With the Music City Convention Center, Bridgestone Arena and a ton of hotels all on the same few blocks it is perfect for conventions, sports and apparently Bachelorette parties. So this would be a good spot for you if you are looking for work in hospitality and restaurant management. Nashville is a drinking town, drinking is pretty much what goes on here. Especially in the winter when the weather puts a limit on what you can do for recreational activities. Besides drinking there is eating.
So it is important to note that not all of the bars are honky tonks. If you are into music there are a lot of venues and bars that have music. Weekends usually have more tourists in town, especially downtown. I am not really into seeing small bands and I am not involved in the music scene here so I personally don't go out that much. I prefer dive bars or bars you can dress casually at. I mostly hang out in East Nashville because it is close to my house. The Nashville OG community doesn't really like the new crowd of people coming to hang out in East Nashville, but what can you do. Mid Town is close to Vanderbilt so that is the more "collegey" bars are. 12 South area has some bars but to be honest I haven't really gone over there. If you want to dress up and drink expensive cocktails after work The Gulch area is probably your best bet.
Most of the bars in Tennessee you are allowed to smoke inside. The law is if you are a 21+ establishment you can choose to have smoking in your bar. Most of the bars outside of downtown do allow smoking. Some bars are smokier than others.
Nashville is starting to have more food diversity but for the most part it is Southern and American food. It is a law that all the bars have to serve food. I cook at home 95% of the time so I wouldn't be the best person to ask for restaurant recommendations. As much as I want to go try all these places I see on Instagram, if I go out its usually to my routine favorite places. There are a ton of new restaurants popping up. Ethnic food is slowly trickling in but for the most part it is southern and bbq! The groceries stores are mostly Kroger and Publix. There is a very crowded Trader Joes and a Whole Foods in Greenhills. There are a few organic stores and an awesome farmers market. When you get outside of Nashville it is prodominatly fast food. If you are new to the south Bojangles and Zaxby's are awesome!
Nature is my favorite part about living in Nashville. In the city there are several huge parks with trails and ponds. The Cumberland River runs through downtown. I love going to find swimming holes, rivers and waterfalls outside of the city. Majority of the nature is over an hour from Nashville. Chattanooga would be the place to go if you want to live in the nature. Exploring the cave system is pretty cool also.
My biggest advice is don't move to Nashville and complain. It is hard to move anywhere new and make friends, adjust to the weather, learn your way around and feel at home. It took me a while to adjust and I am a very adaptable person. Also the dynamic of the city is rapidly changing and it is morphing into a big city very quickly.
I feel like Nashville is my home, when I leave Nashville I can't wait to get back here. People often ask me how long I plan on being in Nashville and my answer is I know I will stay in the south indefinitely. I think the pros out weigh the cons for Nashville but it all depends on what you are looking for!