19 Things to Know BEFORE Moving to Tennessee: Life in TN

June 28th, 2023

19 Things to Know BEFORE Moving to Tennessee: Life in TN

Living in Tennessee

Find out why more people are moving to Tennessee than any other state!

Are you thinking about moving to Tennessee? Then you are not the only one. 82 people move to Nashville alone every day. Known as the state of country music, Memphis-style barbeque, and all things natural beauty, Tennessee brings in thousands of new residents every year.

With a current population of around 6.829 million people, Tennessee is considered the 16th most populous state in the entire country. Situated in the upper southeastern United States, the state of Tennessee stretches from the Appalachian Mountains of North Carolina all the way to the borders of the Mississippi River. You can check out the newest homes for sale in Tennessee here.

Moving to Tennessee - What is it like living in TN pros and cons

Is Tennessee A Good Place to Live?

Tennessee is one of the best places to live in the country thanks to its low cost of living, natural beauty, employment opportunities, music and culture scene, education and healthcare, and great climate. It's hard to beat the advantages of living in Tennessee, especially with a 0% income tax!

Tennessee has a rich history and predominantly Native American heritage. In fact, the Cherokee and Chickasaw mainly populated the area before the state's founding in 1796. Referred to as the Volunteer State, Tennessee coined this nickname after the War of 1812 when many residents decided to step up and volunteer for the war effort. Playing an important role in the American Civil War and Civil Rights Movement in the mid-twentieth century, Tennessee reflects on these moments of the past every single day at one of the many museums and historical landmarks.

Praised for its diversified economy and culture, the state is home to multiple popular cities such as Nashville which also happens to be the state's capital. The perfect place to live for any lifestyle, young professionals, families, students, and retirees are heading to Tennessee to enjoy all that it has to offer. Since location is one of the most important things to consider when buying real estate, it is completely understandable to wonder what makes Tennessee great. If you are unsure about calling Tennessee home, let us help you understand everything you need to know about the state and the best places to live.

Here are the 19 Things to Know BEFORE Moving to Tennessee!

There is no state income tax.

Yes, you read that correctly. Much like Alaska, Georgia, Florida, Nevada, Texas, Washington, Wyoming, and New Hampshire, Tennessee does not have a state income tax. This means that by the time taxes are taken out, earners get to keep a little bit more of their money. On the other hand, the state does decide to tax interest and dividend earnings. So while state income tax is not taken out of your paycheck on payday, if you have large earnings from investments, taxes will indeed be taken out. So how can living in a state with no state income tax benefit you and your family? According to Student Loan Hero, it could save taxpayers an average of $1,977 a year! That is a big deal and shows that every little penny counts.

There is music everywhere.

Music is a universal language. As a form of expression and creative freedom, listening to music has been proven to elevate the mood, reduce stress, and increase happiness in everyday life. So if you love listening to music as much as the next guy, this might be the city for you. Any country, jazz, blues, gospel, and southern rock lovers will love the music scene in Tennessee. The city of Nashville is often called “Music City,” “The Heart of Country Music,” and has even been referred to as “The World’s Greatest City for Music Lovers.” With all of this praise, it is safe to say that music is the driving force of both Nashville and Tennessee by blending sounds of the past with the present.

Dating back to the 1800s, settlers brought their own sounds and tunes to the area. Soon known for music publishing, Tennessee and specifically Nashville became the birthplace of many famous artists. Infamous Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, Hank Williams, and Dolly Parton are just some of the many musicians that were able to make it big thanks to Music City itself. Today thousands of artists and musicians head to Nashville with the desire to also share their music with the world. When in town expect to hear live music and to see the streets lined with famous record-producing companies. The Country Music Hall of Fame, The CMA Music Festival, and The Grand Ole Opry also reside in Nashville.

A photograph from a drone of downtown Nashville, TN with the bridge and water in the foreground and the downtown skyline

Two words: Tennessee whiskey.

Much like the Chris Stapleton song, Tennessee whiskey is smooth. Distilled using different types of grains and then aged in wooden barrels, whiskey made in Tennessee has a distinct style and taste. One of the most popular whiskeys in the area is Jack Daniels. The Jack Daniels Distillery is located in Lynchburg, Tennessee, and offers tours and tastings all year round. If you are interested in learning more about this famous brand of whiskey and how it is made, make sure to visit. Some other popular whiskey brands in the state include George Dickel, Clayton James, Heaven’s Door, Nelson’s, and Uncle Nearest. If you get tired of whiskey but still want something strong, there is always moonshine. Ole Smoky Mountain Tennessee Moonshine is a local favorite. With a distillery and tasting room in Gatlinburg, try a variety of flavors from the original to the apple pie. There are even moonshine cherries, peaches, and pickles available.

The people are the definition of southern charm.

While many residents and neighbors may originally be from other states, the people in Tennessee are known to be nice. Exuding Southern charm, prepare to be met with smiles and warm welcomes when walking around town. From any of the best neighborhoods in Nashville to a small mountain town you will meet genuinely happy people. If you are not used to it, this kindness and warmth may seem creepy at first but it is all within good faith. Since the people are relatively open to newcomers, it is easy to make new friends. So say hello to the lady next to you in the store and wave to your neighbors.

Welcome to Tennessee sign with a flag and nature in the background

Explore one of the many caves.

If you have always wanted to venture underground then look no further. Tennessee is home to over 10,000 caverns and caves, making this state a top spot for adventure and exploration. Due to a large number of limestone deposits in the eastern United States, these caverns are crafted from rainwater and erosion. Thousands of years in the making, these caves host Native American remains and even remains of miners dating back to the Civil War and the War of 1812. Providing evidence of old moonshine stills, these caves and caverns are time capsules to the past and the era of prohibition. If you want to admire all of the stalagmites and stalactites, make sure to check out one of the many caves in Tennessee.

While this may not be the best experience for your claustrophobia, some caves have running water and even waterfalls to admire. Located in Grundy County, The Caverns is an experience like no other. This underground amphitheater and venue is the best place to listen to music. Hosting bands and performers, the acoustics in this cave are out of this world. What a cool way to listen to music. If you want to take a glass-bottom boat underwater then head on over to The Lost Sea in Sweetwater. Known as the largest underground lake in America, spot rainbow trout and boat over areas that are 75 feet deep. In Chattanooga, Ruby Falls is the largest underground waterfall in the United States. This 145-foot waterfall is absolutely breathtaking and offers both day and nighttime tours.

Tennessee is the best place to admire the fall colors.

Cooler weather, pumpkin carving, and beautiful displays of reds, oranges, and yellows in the trees are what make the fall season so enchanting. While the fall foliage up north in Maine and Vermont may be worth seeing, the colors in Tennessee are just as amazing. Beginning to change in early October and reaching peak season around the third week of the month, this is the perfect time to travel to the state. If you are driving through the mountains, make sure to bring your camera for the perfect photographic opportunities. Head out to a lookout point such as Cataloochee Valley or the Gatlinburg Space Needle and watch the colors change before your eyes.

Mountains in Tennessee with the sun setting and a rock/cliff in the foreground

The Great Smoky Mountains will be in your backyard.

The mountains are calling. If you love nature and enjoy a nice hike, then you will be happy to know that the Great Smoky Mountains could be a walk away from your new home. This mountain range is timeless and remains a crucial part of the Southern Appalachian mountain culture. Home to a diverse amount of wildlife, catch the sight of a black bear, elk, coyote, fox, or bobcat. Prized for its famous smoke and fog surrounding this mountain range, this part of the state is often considered mystical and mysterious. Producing and releasing vapor, the many plants and vegetation in the area cause the infamous haze and “smoky” appearance of these mountains. The volatile organic compounds that are released from these plants scatter blue light from the sky which creates a blue tint to the haze. The Cherokee often call this area the “Land of Blue Smoke.” Today, this is America’s most visited national park. Rent a cabin in the woods with your friends and family, or spend the day hiking at one of the many trails and lookout points.

The job market is on the rise.

Tennessee has one of the fastest-growing job markets in the United States. If you are looking for a job, you might have a good chance of landing one in this state. Not only is the economy thriving, but many large companies are setting up headquarters and shops in the area. Recently, Nashville was named as one of the top spots for finding a job since it has been rated as having the second-hottest job market in the nation. Praised for having one of the lowest unemployment rates, your future will be bright in Music City. Companies such as FedEx, AutoZone, Dollar General, HCA Healthcare, and Cracker Barrel all have headquarters here. Update your LinkedIn profile and start applying today.

Hang out with Dolly Parton at Dollywood.

If you love roller coasters and all things amusement parks then Tennessee has got you covered. Instead of traveling hours on the interstate to Disney World, head on over to Dollywood! The land of Dolly Parton herself, this is a magical experience in the Smoky Mountains perfect for a family trip or romantic adventure. With more than forty world-class rides, high-quality entertainment, and fine dining experiences, the only thing that you will be encountering in Dollywood is fun. Inspired by Dolly Parton’s childhood memories, stay at the DreamMore resort or in one of the Dollywood cabins. There is now even a waterpark to enjoy in the warmer months. Grab a daytime or annual pass and if you are lucky enough maybe you will run into Dolly while you are there.

The Tennessee State Flag Close Up

You can visit Graceland.

The King of Rock N Roll is the nickname of notable icon Elvis Presley. Elvis resided in Memphis, Tennessee at his 13.8-acre mansion with his wife Lisa Marie Presley. This gorgeous home and mansion is called Graceland and is listed on the National Registrar of Historic Places. Opened as a museum in 1982 and declared a Historical Landmark in 2006, Graceland is the second most-visited house in the United States following the White House. This beautiful property is worth the visit where you can view his home, gardens, and airplane while learning about his life. Sadly Elvis passed away on the grounds in 1977 and is currently buried on the property. While Elvis may no longer be with us, his legacy will continue to live on.

Enjoy one of the many festivals and fairs.

There is always something to do in Tennessee. Fairs, music festivals, art shows, and cultural celebrations seem to be happening at all times. One of the most notable festivals in the state is the Bonnaroo Music Festival which is hosted in Manchester, Tennessee. This four-day music festival brings in thousands of visitors each year and continues to get bigger over time. Four-day general admission tickets start at around $300. From the Foo Fighters to Tyler the Creator, a large variety of performers always appeal to any music taste. If you have always wanted to crowd surf, check out Bonnaroo. Other festivals include the Riverbend Music Festival, Fire on the Water Music Festival, and even the Middle Tennessee Strawberry Festival where you can enjoy live music and all things strawberries.

The schools and universities are top-notch.

If you are going to college or have school-aged children, the education in Tennessee is one of the best reasons to move for. Home to one of the most prestigious universities in the area, Vanderbilt University is a Southern Ivy League school and is one of the top research institutions in the world. The University of Tennessee, University of Memphis, Belmont University, and The University of the South, are just some of the many other highly regarded institutions that Tennessee has. No worries there if your kids are still in public or private school. The state has top-ranking school districts to choose from including Germantown, Johnson City Schools, Greeneville City Schools, and Oak Ridge School District. If one thing is certain, your kids will be highly educated in Tennessee.

The Tennessee Promise Program offers free college.

Not only are the schools in the area highly sought after, but Tennessee even offers free college! It sounds too good to be true right? But we promise that it is. If you have a child that graduates from a Tennessee high school, then your kid will have the chance to attend a Tennessee community college for free. The Tennessee Promise Program is a scholarship and mentoring program that provides an amazing opportunity for students that want to attend a community or technical college close to home. Any high school senior who graduates and who is a Tennessee resident is eligible for this program. This scholarship can be used at one of the state's thirteen community colleges or twenty-seven technical colleges. While attending a university can be a huge financial burden, this is a great opportunity for anyone who wants to avoid taking out a student loan. Hopefully, other states will follow in Tennessee’s footsteps and start to offer similar programs for our nation’s youth.

College in Tennessee with a close up of students working diligentlyr

You will be surrounded by history.

The Civil Rights Movement is one of the most important movements in American history fought to end racial discrimination and segregation in the 1950s and 1960s. Tennessee played a major role in the movement as it was at the forefront of many protests and boycotts. American minister and leader of this movement Martin Luther King Jr. hosted many rallies and protests in Memphis. Today visit the National Civil Rights Museum at the Lorraine Motel in Memphis. This historic building was the site of the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr. and is now a museum dedicated to the Civil Rights Movement and the impact that it has on our culture to this day. Memphis is also home to the Slave Haven Underground Railroad Museum where visitors can take a tour and learn about this gate to freedom.

Tennessee can get really hot.

Experiencing all four seasons, Tennessee has a moderate climate with cool winters and warm summers. But, what many people do not factor in is how humid the state can get especially in the summer months. The average temperature in July is about 92 degrees and that is without considering humidity. With that in mind, spend the summer days by a pool and preferably with air conditioning. Remaining mostly partly cloudy, Tennessee gets an average of 51 inches of rain a year so make sure to also pack your rain jacket and umbrella. The winters are normally pretty cold and snow is possible. While this is a southern state, it snows in Tennessee but not as much as in some other states. Nashville can get up to ten inches of snow a year, and do not forget to prepare for large snowfall in the mountains.

It is home to many famous writers.

Music is not the only thing that Tennessee residents can write well. In fact, Tennessee is home to many famous literary writers who made a huge impact on American literature. Writers from this southern state all created fiction, nonfiction, and poetry. James Agee, May Justice, Shelby Foote, Allen Tate, Peter Taylor, and Caroline Gordon are some of the many literary legends in Tennessee. Inspiring many, the works of these writers continue to be read to this day. Not only home to famous writers but the Tennessee University of the South continually publishes “The Sewanee Review,” which is the oldest periodical of its kind in the United States. If you love reading and writing, maybe you will become inspired by the natural beauty in the area to write the next big literary work.

Sports, sports, and more sports.

Prepare to cheer on your new favorite sports team. Tennessee loves its sports and it currently has three professional sports teams to support. The Nashville Predators Major League Hockey Team, The Tennessee Titans National Football League Team, and The Nashville Grizzlies Rugby Football Club Team all play in the area. For residents who like minor league, The Nashville Sounds Minor League Baseball Team, The Nashville Storm Minor League Football Team, and the Nashville SC Minor League Soccer Team all play in Nashville. For anyone who would prefer to watch college sports, there is plenty of that. Thanks to all of the many public universities, it is an SEC Nation in this part of the country.

The amazing Tennessee BBQ photo of a barbecue chicken sandwich

The amazing Tennessee BBQ.

The barbeque in Tennessee is something else. Thanks to the city of Memphis, this barbecue style is one of the four styles in the United States. Prepared in either a “wet” or “dry” rub, ribs, brisket, and pork shoulder have a unique twang of spice. While it is best known for its dry rub, Memphis barbeque sauce is made using tomatoes, vinegar, and a variety of spices to achieve a smokey yet sweet taste. Often served with classic southern sides including mac and cheese and coleslaw, eating Tennessee barbeque is more than just a tradition. While there may be hundreds of barbeque joints to check out, some of the top award-winning barbeque restaurants are Central BBQ in Memphis and Hickory Pit Bar-B-Que in Chattanooga. If you are a vegetarian or a vegan, this may not be your cup of tea but do not fret since there are plenty of other meatless options out there.

There are some weird laws.

When moving to a new place it is important to be up to date on the traditions and laws of the area. While many laws may be outdated and make no sense, Tennessee has a number of weird laws that are still active today. So in case the police stop you, we have provided you with a shortlist of some of the strange laws in the state that are still in existence as you read this article.

  1. It is illegal to drive while asleep. So instead take a nap when you get home.

  2. It is illegal to share your Netflix password. Your ex can no longer use your account.

  3. You can not sell hollow logs. Good call.

  4. Do not carry a skunk over the state border. Do not recommend this.

  5. A whale is the only animal that is legal to shoot out of the car window. Good thing Tennessee is landlocked.

  6. In the town of Oneida, it is illegal for a woman to call a man and ask him out on a date. Say goodbye to independent ladies.

  7. If the roadkill looks delicious, it is legal to eat it. Why go to the grocery store?

  8. It is illegal to sing the song “It Ain’t Goin’ To Rain No Mo” in the town of Oneida. Someone must have had a traumatic experience.

Living in Tennessee - The Bottom Line

With no state income tax, a thriving job market, historical landmarks, and an amusement park strictly dedicated to Dolly Parton, it is no surprise that many people are moving to Tennessee. Ranked as the number one place to retire, Tennessee is full of opportunity and perfect for any age group. If you're considering moving anywhere in Tennessee contact our real estate specialists today to help you find your dream home!

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Ryan Fitzgerald

Ryan Fitzgerald

Hi there! My name is Ryan Fitzgerald, and I am a REALTOR®. My goal is to help you learn more about real estate through our Real Estate Blog! Hopefully, you enjoyed the above blog post and it found a way to provide help or value to you. When you're ready to buy or sell a home of your own let us know here. Please feel free to join the conversation by dropping us a comment below.