There is no secret that Nashville is the most expensive real-estate town in Tennessee, and you would be right to ask yourself: Is Nashville expensive in general?
With its higher living costs, high cost of housing, and relatively high cost of vacationing in the city, Nashville is expensive to live in by comparison to many other US cities and certainly to the rest of Tennessee. However, all can be put in perspective if you consider the cosmopolitan environment, the tourist attractions, and other possible advantages such as the weather.
So, is Nashville expensive to visit and live in? While Nashville can appear expensive, its actual cost of living is lower than the national average, and the number of unique things it has to offer make it worth the tourist expenses, too.
Nashville is known as the “music city” with many country music stars living and working there. It is also home to many universities and has a reproduction of the Parthenon, which allows it to bear the name of “Athens of the South.” Whether you’re interested in history, music, or trendy shops and restaurants, there is something for every taste if you visit Nashville. There are aspects according to which Nashville is an expensive city, but also areas where it’s less expensive than other American cities.
How Expensive is Nashville for Real Estate?
If you’re looking to live in Nashville, you will find it the most expensive in Tennessee. As Nashville has become more popular with tourists, so has the real estate climbed up. As a result, buying a home in Nashville now costs a whopping average of $745,800 in the most sought-after neighborhoods of Green Hills and Forest Hills.
However, compared to the national average, the median home price is $316,117, which puts Nashville at 9% lower than the national average.
For Tennessee-born house buyers, Nashville can be considered expensive if you compare it to the much cheaper Rockwood or Lewisburg towns, where the median home price is a tiny $81,100! Furthermore, people of Tennessee are proud to live in more grounded, rural areas with excellent quality of life and relatively low unemployment rates. Thus, there is quite a gap between Nashville and smaller towns in the state.
Nashville Cost of Living: How Much Does It Cost to Live Comfortably in Nashville?
In recent years, Nashville’s cost of living has increased gradually, with a 15% increase from 2018 to 2019. Why is Nashville so expensive? The answer lies in the city’s popularity with country music fans, especially after the hit TV show Nashville.
According to the Tennessean, the average cost of living “comfortably” in Nashville is around $80,548 per year, while GoBankingRates.com estimated that residents should earn $70,150 per year in 2018 to be comfortable. Compared to that, the median personal income in Nashville is only $49,981.
The national average cost of living in the United States is actually higher:
- Energy bills in Nashville are c. $150.73/month – 10% lower than the national average;
- Food and grocery prices are 3% lower than the national average;
- Healthcare costs are 18% lower than the national average.
You could conclude that whether Nashville is expensive to live in is a very subjective matter. If you are currently living there and looking to buy a home or just to get by, you will notice a rise in living costs. However, for out-of-town or out-of-state visitors looking to settle in Nashville, it’s most likely they’ll be excited by lower prices than elsewhere.
How Expensive is Nashville to Visit?
As a tourist, there are many attractions in Nashville. From Music Square and Music Row downtown, to the Country Music Hall of Fame and the Grand Ole Opry, Nashville is an essential pilgrimage destination for country music fans. Beyond the music heritage, you also have stunning architectural sights such as the Parthenon, former American President Andrew Jackson’s home the Hermitage, or the Tennessee State Capitol. But how expensive is it to come to Nashville on holiday?
- Accommodation costs of c. $158 for a typical double room
- Food costs of $33 per day
- Entertainment expenses of $22 per day
- Alcohol costs of c. $12 per day.
There are many factors to consider, from your own budget to the type of activities you will be interested in doing. Moreover, keep in mind that transportation costs can be a lot higher if you drive yourself and look for a parking garage (reports are of those being very expensive). They can also be high if you are taking taxis, compared to the much lower cost of using public transport.
What is the Best Time to Visit Nashville?
The best time of year to visit Nashville is between April and October, as the warm summer weather boosts the city’s music life. However, visiting in the winter can be cheaper, and you are likely to find discounts on plane tickets and hotels. November to March mark the official “off-season” period.
Visiting in the spring is great because temperatures will be higher (generally in the low 70s), but there is less humidity than you’ll find in the heat of summer. You may even encounter thunderstorms if you visit in July!
There are many key events to consider if you are planning a visit to Nashville over the warmer months:
- Rock’n’Roll Nashville Marathon – usually held in April, this running festival combines racing with music, from a 10k to marathon distance;
- Nashville Comedy Festival – also an April event, the comedy festival runs for a week and comedians perform at different venues throughout the city;
- Country Music Festival – without a doubt, a massive headline event for the city, it takes place every June and showcases the best in country music from the United States and the world. The famous Country Music Association hosts it, and over 400 artists attend, hosting an autograph signing and “meet and greet,” and, of course, playing concerts!
- Bluegrass Nights at the Ryman – a June/July series of concerts, the Bluegrass Nights celebrate Nashville as the birthplace of this type of music. Hosted by the iconic Ryman Auditorium, the shows are preceded by free outdoor concerts on the Ryman Plaza featuring regional bluegrass bands;
- AmericanaFest – this is a bit more of a melting-pot reunion of everything Americana in the world of music. There are six days of seminars and panels, as well as concerts, with a focus on getting industry professionals to network as well;
- Music City Food and Wine Festival – in September, this festival brings together chefs, wine enthusiasts, spirits connoisseurs, and more, in a multi-cultural celebration of Tennessee food and drink.
What is the Average Income in Nashville?
A 2019 study by Business Insider found that the median income per person in Nashville was around $60,030 (some have it lower, as GoBankingRates.com indicated just under $50,000 above). Interestingly, however, there is also an indication of “what it takes to be considered rich in Nashville” – that would be an income of more than $120,060.
This is still a lot lower than places like New York City, where you’d need to be earning $143,794 to be considered well-off, but also consider the fact that the top 1% earners in Nashville make $308,834 a year, while in New York, they make $517,557!
What is it Like to Live in Nashville?
The average age of Nashville residents is relatively young and younger than the Tennessee state average. It is also a city filled with students as it is home to two prestigious universities: Belmont and Vanderbilt. Families tend to live further towards the suburbs, such as Mt. Juliet, Brentwood, and Hendersonville.
While Nashville is part of the Bible Belt, only 60% of its residents claim a religious affiliation – mostly Baptist.
Living in Nashville means you will have a vast array of attractions and events on your doorstep and fantastic food and drinks.
Conclusion – Is Nashville Expensive?
Nashville is a city full of artists, beyond the country music fame that has attracted tourists to it for decades. The metropolitan area is considered a growing job market, with lots of start-ups and independent businesses opening up every year and a blossoming entertainment scene. Nashville is also ranked highly by US News reports as a place to live – it is considered #15 best place to live in the US and #8 best place to retire.
However, the continuous growth in Nashville’s economy and its tourism boom has led to many central parts of the city becoming expensive for real estate and visitors: from the cost of food to accommodation and transportation. Even so, Nashville is more affordable than many cities in the US and benefits from the fact that Tennessee doesn’t tax wages, allowing you to keep more of your money earned if you live there. While you may be thinking Nashville is expensive, there are many more places in the US that beat it!