11 Pros and Cons of Living in Tennessee

Can a low cost of living and world-class whiskey outweigh brutal summer heat and violent crime? Check out all the pros and cons of living in Tennessee.
Written by R.E. Fulton
Reviewed by Melanie Reiff
From low property taxes and raw natural beauty to the country’s best barbecue (yes, we went there), there’s a lot to love about Tennessee. But high crime rates, oppressive summer temperatures, and a wanting healthcare rating can make living in the Volunteer State a challenge. 
If you’re considering a move to Tennessee, it’s important to understand the pros and cons of living here before you make the dive. For some, this Southern state is the perfect place to put down roots—but the difficulties of Tennessee life may make this state a no-go zone for others. 
Where do you come down on life in Tennessee? Decide with help from
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in under a minute. We’ve curated a list of all the biggest pros and cons of living in Tennessee for your consideration. 

Pro: Incredibly low cost of living

Tennessee’s low cost of living is one of the best things about living in the state. With a cost of living index of 86.2 (compared to the national average of 100), Tennessee is roughly 20% more affordable than most of the country
The median household income in Tennessee is $56,071 per year, but it’s possible to live on significantly less—especially outside of major cities. The average home price in Tennessee in late 2021 was just $253,000, according to data from Zillow, and statewide average rent for a one-bedroom apartment is under $1,000
Car ownership is also more affordable in Tennessee than many other states. Tennessee consistently enjoys some of the nation’s lowest gas prices, as much as $.50 per gallon less than the average across all states. Because the state only requires drivers to carry liability coverage, the cost of
car insurance in Tennessee
is also lower than elsewhere. 
MORE: Everything you need to know about buying a house in Tennessee
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Pro: The holy land of country music

For music lovers, Tennessee is closer to heaven than anywhere else in the country. Bristol, Tennessee is widely recognized as
the birthplace of country
, and the state capital of Nashville is known as “Music City, USA.” 
There’s no shortage of things for music lovers to do in Tennessee. From the
Grand Ole Opry
Country Music Hall of Fame
in Nashville to the
Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival
in Manchester, the music never stops flowing. And for fans of three of the biggest names in American music history,
, and the
Johnny Cash Museum
are waiting for you. 

Con: The heat will melt your face off

It’s time to get real: the low cost of living and musical delights of Tennessee come at a price, and that price is seriously hot and humid summers
If you’re used to Southern temperatures, the heat might not be a huge deterrent—but for anyone from northern climes, living in Tennessee gets mighty hard when summer rolls around. We’re talking about an average high temperature of 80 to 85° F in eastern Tennessee and 85 to 90° F in the rest of the state. And that’s just the base temperature—high average humidity regularly cranks the heat index up to temperatures approaching 110° F!
MORE: How to do summer car maintenance

Pro: Intense natural beauty

Heat or not, Tennessee happens to be one of the most beautiful states in the country. The
Great Smoky Mountains
are the state’s crown jewel, with over 800 square miles of mountain ridges, old-growth forests, and lush valleys. But even outside of the park you’ll find gorgeous natural settings, from the misty mountain hollows of the Cumberland Gap to the gentle plains of West Tennessee. And lest you think New England has a monopoly on autumn scenery, take a drive through the Smokies in October to get an eyeful of stunning color. 
One great way to beat the summer heat is to go underground in one of the 10,000 caverns in Tennessee—more than any other state—or hike to one of almost 900 waterfalls in Tennessee. Swimming holes and lakes are another great way to keep cool! 

Con: Get ready for tornadoes, hail, and more

Tennessee isn’t part of Tornado Alley, but it is part of the colloquially-named Dixie Alley, a group of Southern states with a track record of vicious tornadoes. For instance, a small tornado outbreak in March 2020 killed 25 people overnight in Nashville and Mount Juliet, hitting the record books as the sixth-costliest tornado in U.S. history
Tornadoes are a threat across the state year-round, but the greatest danger is at night in the western part of the state. If you live in Memphis, Jackson, or Collierville, it’s important to know safe tornado procedures (and update your homeowners’ insurance in Tennessee!). 
And tornadoes are just the beginning. Hail, severe thunderstorms, and flooding can all affect homeowners across the state—bringing major costs along with them. 

Pro: The best whiskey and BBQ east of the Mississippi

Okay, enough doom and gloom—let’s talk about whiskey, and let’s talk about barbecue. 
Tennessee’s main rival in the whiskey game is, of course, Kentucky, but the Volunteer State stands up to the competition with some of the country’s finest whiskies, like
George Dickel Barrel Select
. The
Tennessee Whiskey Trail
is the best way to sample the full breadth and history of the state’s distilleries. 
And what can we say about Tennessee barbecue? Memphis-style BBQ is one of four major regional barbecue styles in the country, and it’s defined by slow cooking, dry rubs, and tomato-based sauces with a kick of tang and heat. Is it the best BBQ in the country? To avoid starting a food war, we’ll say: probably
Better yet, see for yourself at award-winning barbecue spots like
A&R Bar-B-Que
in Memphis and
Peg Leg Porker
in Nashville. Ribs are not optional

Pro: Low property taxes and no personal income tax

When looking at the pros and cons of living in Tennessee, how could we forget one of the absolute best things about Tennessee life: no personal income tax
Yes, you read that right—residents of Tennessee don’t have to pay any personal income taxes. On top of that, the state’s property tax rates are some of the lowest in the nation, with households paying an average of $1,000 per year. Although you’ll likely see higher property taxes in urban areas, the average is still under $2,000/year—which is seriously impressive when you consider that U.S. homeowners paid an average of $3,719 in property taxes in 2020. 
MORE: Lake County, Tennessee property tax

Con: Violent crime is sky-high

On the flip side of those low tax rates is one of the highest rates of violent crime in the nation. 
Statewide, Tennessee has a violent crime rate of 595 per 100k residents, which is considerably higher than the national average of 379 per 100k. Some of that violence is due to the unusually high gang presence in Tennessee cities, particularly in the eastern part of the state. 
Of course, that high crime rate isn’t consistent across the whole state, and some places are more dangerous than others. Memphis, for instance, is consistently rated as one of the most dangerous cities in the US. A 2022 study published by
put Memphis at #6, but in other studies it’s ranked as high as the second most dangerous city in the country. 
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Pro: Community college could be 100% free

This is a big one for families with high school students: through the
Tennessee Promise Program
, high school graduates have the chance to attend community college completely free of charge. That means $0 in tuition and $0 in fees—and an associate’s degree at the end! 
While this doesn’t mean you’ll have access to free four-year college education, starting with a free community college experience can dramatically lower the cost of getting a bachelor’s degree. And in some cases, a community college will take you anywhere you want to go! 

Con: Lacking healthcare scores

While education is a strong point for Tennessee, healthcare is not. In
U.S. News’s
analysis of healthcare access and public health, the Volunteer State narrowly missed a spot in the bottom 10. 
Obesity rates are high in Tennessee, and it’s not just all the amazing food. Public health in the state is weak, leading to poor health outcomes for many residents—and accessing healthcare can be a challenge, especially if you’re one of the 14.9% of residents living without any health insurance

Pro: Second-best roads in the nation

Let’s end with a small piece of good news: Tennessee has the second-best roads in the nation, with 5.3% of public roadways in poor condition (compared to the national average of 19.9%). 
Living in a state with good roads makes a difference—and not just in your frustration levels on your daily commute. Driving regularly on well-maintained roads reduces wear and tear on your vehicle, making car ownership costs more manageable in the long run. The fewer potholes you hit on the way to work, the fewer trips you’re likely to take to the mechanic. 

Is Tennessee a good state to live in?

Yes, Tennessee is a good state to live in, but it’s not without its drawbacks. If you’re considering a move to the Volunteer State, take all the pros and cons above into account before making the final call. 
Tennessee is a great state for: 
  • Music lovers
  • Outdoors enthusiasts
  • Families with high school students
  • Car owners and anyone who loves to drive
But if you’ve got concerns about crime or any chronic health conditions, the cons of living in Tennessee might outweigh the pros. 
MORE: The best places to live in Tennessee

How to upgrade your car insurance in Tennessee

One of the greatest things about living in Tennessee is the low cost of car ownership. From easy-to-meet insurance minimums and low gas prices to stellar roads, the Volunteer State makes it easy (and rewarding!) to own a car. 
So does
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