15 Best Places to Live in Tennessee

Written by Darren Griffiths
Updated on
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What first comes to mind when Tennessee is mentioned? Birthplace of the blues and home of Elvis Presley? Well, you are not alone. Its musical roots is what many often associate The Volunteer State with – and the Memphis barbecue, of course – but this southern gem of a state is much more than that.

Found in the southeastern region of the United States map, Tennessee has in the recent past been considered one of the best states to live in the country. And for good reason.

If you are looking to move to a state crammed with beautiful scenery, deep-rooted cultural traditions and where the cost of living is low, Tennessee is just the place for you.

With more than 6.6 million people calling it home, this is the 17th largest state in terms of population.

The eastern side of the state seats the Great Smoky Mountains where the nation’s most visited national park is located: the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. It is a dream for anyone looking for virgin hiking trails.

If farming is more your kind of thing, the western part, featuring miles of lush farmland, will appeal to you best.

But just like every other state, Tennessee has a mix of larger urban areas (Memphis and Nashville, for example) as well as many small communities that are a nice escape from the hustle and bustle of the big city.

We dug around to figure out exactly where in Tennessee is most ideal to pitch a forever tent, and here is what we came up with.

1. Brentwood

Brentwood, TennesseeSource: www.nashvillesmls.com

Located just north of Franklin, you’ll find the scenic city of Brentwood. Home to a thriving retail district, Brentwood has a wide variety of shopping, restaurants, and endless outdoor recreation. Whether you’re from the city or love a suburban atmosphere, Brentwood offers plenty for its residents.

Known as one of the best places to live in Tennessee, Brentwood is considered one of the most desirable places to live among families. Home to a population of around forty-three thousand, this gorgeous and historical city is filled with beautiful parks, recreational areas, and some of the top schools in Tennessee.

When considering moving to Brentwood, you’ll be welcomed by friendly and loving neighbors, making the city a perfect place to call home. Located only ten miles from Nashville, Brentwood is ideal for those who still want to be located near top attractions without needing to make long commutes to work. 

Brentwood has a real estate market that suits many different budgets, styles, and sizes. Brentwood has it all if you’re in the market for a single-family home, bungalow, or executive estate!

Entertainment & Activities

Some of the best things to do in Brentwood are:

  • Dyer Observatory
  • Deerwood Arboretum and Nature Area
  • Brentwood Skate Center
  • Owl’s Hill Nature Sanctuary
  • Monkey Treehouse
  • DEFY Nashville Trampoline Park
  • Historic Primm Park
  • Maryland Way Park

2. Franklin

Franklin, TennesseeSource: James R. Martin / shutterstock

As a small suburb of Tennessee, Franklin is one of the best places to live in Tennessee and is considered one of the best small towns in America. In Williamson County, Franklin is only a twenty-two-mile drive from Downtown Nashville. This short, thirty-minute drive on the interstate makes it an easy commute if you need to work in the big city.

Founded in 1799, Franklin is home to two of the most significant civil war battles: The Battle of Franklin in 1863 and 1864. The best part? Franklin offers walking tours or visits to the Carnton Planton so you can experience what it was like living during that time. When you first visit Franklin, you’ll also notice that many residents take pride in their town and fly their state flag.

If you’re an outdoor enthusiast, you won’t be disappointed with the amount of outdoor activities Franklin offers. In Franklin, activities are suited for all four seasons, so visitors and residents experience year-round excitement. The city of Franklin is filled with nature parks, dog parks, outdoor sports, and recreation of all types.

The city of Franklin is more than just its activities; it has some of the best festivals too! In the Fall, you can enjoy their annual Pumpkin Festival or the Dickens of Christmas during the winter. From big festivals and parades to outdoor activities, shopping, and restaurants, Franklin has so much to offer!

The price to live in Franklin is higher than the national average; however, you’re getting pretty much everything you need. From convenient commutes to excellent school systems, Franklin has it all.

Entertainment & Activities

Some of the best things to do in Franklin are:

  • Lotz House Museum
  • The Factory at Franklin
  • Carnton
  • Franklin Farmers Market
  • The Franklin Theatre
  • Pinkerton Park
  • Winstead Hill Park
  • Gentry Farm
  • SOAR Adventure Tower

3. Germantown

Source: Thomas R Machnitzki / Wikimedia

Located in Shelby County and home to a population of around forty-one thousand, Germantown is considered one of the best places to live in Tennessee. While living in Germantown, you’ll experience various attractions, such as their performing arts center, the Museum of American Culture, and the shopping center.

Known as the hometown of Elvis Presley, the city is known for its history of music. The city is almost home to major corporations such as the FedEx Corporation and AutoZone. Compared to the rest of the United States, Germantown’s cost of living is around nine percent higher, with its unemployment rate hovering around three percent.

If you’re moving to Germantown for work, you won’t be disappointed with the commute as the average commute times tend to hover around twenty to twenty-five minutes.

In addition, Germantown has an excellent school system, with nine public and five private schools, making this a great place to live for families with children.

Entertainment & Activities

Some of the best things to do in Germantown are:

  • Germantown Community Theatre
  • Shelby Farms Park
  • Cameron Brown Park
  • Saddle Creek
  • Memphis Zoo
  • Woodland Discovery Playground
  • Malco Summer Drive-In

4. Collierville

Collierville, TennesseeSource: Thomas R Machnitzki / Wikimedia

Known as Tennessee’s most beautiful and friendly town, Collierville is one of the best places to live in Tennessee. Collierville has created its reputation as having an excellent school system, a safe community, increasing home values, and many amenities for its residents and visitors. This small town has an unmatchable atmosphere with beautiful nature parks and recreational facilities.

Located south of Shelby County, Collierville is only twenty minutes from the Memphis International Airport and thirty minutes from downtown Memphis. With a population of around fifty thousand, this town is something you have seen in a Hallmark movie.

In addition, Collierville has an abundance of outdoor dining, live music, beautiful parks, and plenty of history to make it a desirable place to live.

Entertainment & Activities

Some of the best things to do in Collierville are:

  • Collierville Greenbelt System
  • Peterson Lake Nature Center
  • Main Street Collierville
  • Silver Caboose Restaurant & Soda Fountain
  • Highlander Restaurant & Pub
  • Collierville Farmers Market

5. Nolensville

Nolensville, TennesseeSource: Skye Marthaler / Wikimedia

East of Franklin, you’ll find the charming town of Nolensville, a town with a close-knit community and one of the best places to live in Tennessee. In this town, you’ll find many locally-owned businesses and restaurants to explore.

The residents of the town of Nolensville are friendly and welcoming, making any family who is looking to call Nolensville home to be welcomed with open arms. If you’re looking for a quick errand to run on a Saturday morning, you can stop by the Nolensville Farmers Market, which has fresh produce and vegetables.

In addition, Nolensville had an excellent public school system, a low crime rate, and a safe environment making this an ideal location to settle and raise a family. With a strong and loving community, there’s plenty to enjoy in Nolensville to give you and your family an enjoyable experience.

Entertainment & Activities

Some of the best things to do in Nolensville are:

  • Nolensville Farmers Market
  • Serenity Salt Cave
  • Walden Pumpkin Farm
  • Nashville Zoo at Grassmere
  • Arrington Vineyards
  • Kidz Adventure Center
  • Nolensville Park
  • Pinkerton Park

6. Murfreesboro

Murfreesboro, TennesseeSource: The original uploader was Pollinator at English Wikipedia / Wikimedia

Murfreesboro has been developing a plan with its community to bring a large amount of growth and development into the city, which involves programs, transportation, nature parks, neighborhood development, and economic rejuvenation.

Home to Middle Tennessee University, while living in Murfreesboro, you’ll get comfortable fast with living in a college town. Although Murfreesboro isn’t a big city, you can get most of what you need on Main Street. Main Street has significant events such as Jazz Fest and Friday Night Live.

If you’re looking for one of the best cities to call home, you’ll want to keep Murfreesboro at the top of your list.

Entertainment & Activities

Some of the best things to do in Murfreesboro are:

  • Stones River National Battlefield
  • Discovery Center at Murfree Spring
  • The Avenue Murfreesboro
  • Barfield Crescent Park
  • Oaklands Mansion
  • AMC Stones River 9
  • Mayday Brewery

7. Oak Ridge

Melton Hill Lake, Oak Ridge, TNSource: Appealbydesign / shutterstock
OakMelton Hill Lake, Oak Ridge, TN

With a history of war and natural beauty, Oak Ridge has become one of the best places to live in Tennessee. Known for its advancement of technology, Oak Ridge is known for its scientific achievements, natural beauty, outdoor activities, and its history.

From gorgeous waterfront views to its unique achievements, Oak Ridge is becoming more popular for those making a home here.

Entertainment & Activities

Some of the best things to do in Oak Ridge are:

  • American Museum of Science and Energy
  • Children’s Museum of Oak Ridge
  • Cinemark Tinseltown Oak Ridge
  • Haw Ridge Park
  • The University of Tennessee Arboretum
  • Oak Ridge Outdoor Pool
  • Oak Ridge Art Center
  • Centennial Golf Course

8. Mount Juliet

Mount Juliet, TennesseeSource: MtJulietEditor96 / Wikimedia
Mount Juliet

Mount Juliet is a Nashville suburb located in Wilson County, some 20 miles east of the state capital.

With a population of 28,400, this town is just the go-to place for anyone looking to start a business. It was named one of the most business-friendly cities in Tennessee by The Beacon Center, a non-profit free-market think tank.

Cost of living in Mount Juliet is average, with homes fetching at $210,400. The residents enjoy fairly high income levels which average $76,000.

The town is nested between the Cumberland River and Percy Priest Lake, a location that has earned it the nickname “The City Between the Lakes”.

Entertainment & Activities

Some of the best things to do in or near Mount Juliet are:

  • Charlie Daniels Park
  • Andrew Jackson’s Hermitage
  • Cedar Creek Sports Center
  • Regal Providence
  • Grand Ole Opry
  • Breeden’s Orchard
  • Mt. Juliet Community Center
  • Lane Motor Museum
  • Mount Juliet Bark Park
  • Long Hunter State Park
  • Aquarium Restaurant

9. Spring Hill

Spring Hill, TennesseeSource: Hal Jespersen at en.wikipedia / Wikimedia
Spring Hill

In this rustic town of Tennessee, you’ll be mesmerized by the beautiful countryside and historic charm. Making the list as one of the best places to live in Tennessee, Spring Hill has everything you need, from local shops to exciting activities.

This thriving community has much to explore with its charming storefronts, southern restaurants, and exciting attractions for people of all ages. While living in Spring Hill, you’ll also be able to learn about the Battle of Spring Hill and the vital part it played in the Civil War.

Entertainment & Activities

Some of the best things to do in Spring Hill are:

  • Fischer Park
  • Rippa Villa
  • Harvey Park
  • Jonathan’s Grille
  • AMC Classic Spring Hill 12
  • The Crossings of Spring Hill
  • Froggy & Jeffros

10. Hendersonville

Hendersonville, TennesseeSource: chiph42 / Flickr

Recognized as the largest city in Sumner County, the city of Hendersonville has a population of about fifty-eight thousand residents. Even with its close distance to Nashville, it boasts plenty of attractions.

If you’re an outdoor enthusiast, you’ll enjoy Veterans Park, where you can access its hiking and biking trails, skate park, baseball fields, and much more. Known as the City by the Lake, many celebrities also own homes on the Lake here, including the late Johnny Cash. 

Hendersonville also has its only brewery called Half Batch Brewing. With so much to offer, it’s no wonder Hendersonville is becoming a popular place to call home.

Entertainment & Activities

Some of the best things to do in Hendersonville are:

  • Historic Rock Castle
  • Rockland Recreation Area
  • The Streets of Indian Lake
  • Regal Streets of Indian Lake
  • Memorial Park
  • Moby Dickys
  • Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum
  • Sanders Ferry Park

11. Maryville

Maryville, TennesseeSource: SeeMidTN.com (aka Brent) / Flickr

Located in East Tennessee, you’ll find the city of Maryville. With a population of around thirty-one thousand, Maryville is famous for its outdoor recreation on the river and hiking through Townsend State Park.

Maryville has plenty of college-town amenities, mountains, national parks, and a developing downtown area. The unemployment sits at around four percent, with job growth increasing.

If you’re looking for a place that gives you that small-town feel, Maryville is one of the best places to call home.

Entertainment & Activities

Some of the best things to do in or near Maryville are:

  • AMC Classic Foothills 12
  • Parkway Drive-In Theatre
  • Dollywood
  • Sandy Springs Park
  • Capitol Theatre
  • Titanic Museum Attraction
  • The Island in Pigeon Forge
  • RainForest Adventures Zoo

12. Bartlett

BartlettSource: Thomas R Machnitzki (thomas@machnitzki.com) / Wikimedia

Located in Shelby County is the city of Bartlett, a historic community that has plenty of attractions such as the Bartlett Museum and the Performing Arts Center. Bartlett has landed itself as one of the best places to live in Tennessee.

Bartlett has an endless amount of outdoor activities to participate in, such as hiking, biking, fishing, golfing, and swimming. Compared to the rest of the United States, Bartlett’s cost of living is lower than the national average.

With its entertainment options, cultural interests, and cost of living, Bartlett continued to be one of the best places to live in Tennessee.

Entertainment & Activities

Some of the best things to do in or near Bartlett are:

  • Memphis Zoo
  • Bowlero Bartlett
  • Shelby Farms Park
  • Memphis Mojo Cafe
  • Woodland Discovery Playground

13. Smyrna

Smyrna, TennesseeSource: Skye Marthaler / Wikimedia

With a population of around forty-eight thousand and just south of Nashville, Smyrna is a vibrant city with plenty to offer its residents. With venturing around the city, you’ll come across Edgar Evins State Park, shopping, restaurants, and many entertainment options.

If you’re a family considering moving to Smyrna and having children, you’ll find comfort knowing that Smyrna has some of the best schools and universities. The cost of living in Smyrna is only a smidge higher than the national average, making this an affordable city to call home.

Entertainment & Activities

Some of the best things to do in or near Smyrna are:

  • Smyrna Public Library
  • Adventure Outdoors
  • Georgia Aquarium
  • Tolleson Park
  • Morgan Falls Overlook Park
  • Round1 Bowling and Amusement

14. Johnson City

Johnson City, TennesseeSource: Ajohns90 / Wikimedia
Johnson City

With a population of around sixty-nine thousand, Johnson City continues to thrive as one of the best places to live in Tennessee. Local residents love exploring the outdoors, including Buffalo Mountain Park and Winged Deer Park. 

With its thriving economy, beautiful views, and diverse activities, many people are choosing to call Johnson City home. Compared to the rest of the United States, Johnson City’s cost of living is around eighteen percent lower than the national average. Making this a desirable and affordable city to raise a family.

Entertainment & Activities

Some of the best things to do in Johnson City are:

  • Tweetsie Trail
  • Capone’s Bar
  • Winged Deer Park
  • Founders Park
  • Boone Lake
  • Cafe Lola
  • Southern Craft BBQ

15. Kingsport

Kingsport, TennesseeSource: tim-johnson / Flickr

Rounding off our list as one of the best places to live in Tennessee is the city of Kingsport. This recreational city has a population of just over fifty-four thousand and offers suburban living and plenty of amenities.

If you talk to the residents here, they’ll tell you they love to explore the outdoor parks, excellent shopping centers, and local attractions. With a perfect school system and outstanding healthcare, it’s no wonder families are beginning to settle here.

If you’re looking for that small city feel with an affordable cost of living, recreational activities, and diverse economy, Kingsport is a great place to call home.

Entertainment & Activities

Some of the best things to do in Kingsport are:

  • Bays Mountain Park and Planetarium
  • Kingsport Carousel & Park
  • The LampLight Theatre
  • Netherland Inn Museum
  • Escape Room Kingsport
  • Kingsport Farmers Market


15 Best Places to Live in Tennessee:

  • Brentwood
  • Franklin
  • Germantown
  • Collierville
  • Nolensville
  • Murfreesboro
  • Oak Ridge
  • Mount Juliet
  • Spring Hill
  • Hendersonville
  • Maryville
  • Bartlett
  • Smyrna
  • Johnson City
  • Kingsport