Fed up with California’s exorbitant tax rates, overheated housing markets, and gridlocked traffic? Run for the Tennessee hills! With its affordable living costs, favorable tax rates (no tax on ordinary income!), sophisticated cities, charming small towns, and warm Southern hospitality, Tennessee consistently makes the list of top inbound states in the country for a multitude of reasons. You can join the influx and start enjoying everything the state has to offer – from Beale Street’s bustling blues clubs to the remote ridges of the Great Smoky Mountains. But before you abandon the Golden State, there are some things you should know! Peruse our guide of pros and cons, best places to live, moving tips, and more, so you’re well-researched ahead of your Tennessee move.
What You Need to Know Before Moving from California to Tennessee
Who wouldn’t want to visit, let alone live in Tennessee? Beautiful natural surroundings, friendly residents, good schools, and exciting recreational activities are luring Californians to Tennessee. But those aren’t the only reasons Californians are moving to Tennessee. These newcomers are drawn to a cost of living that’s 19% lower than the national average and housing that’s 21% lower. Plus, Tennessee’s overall taxes are some of the lowest in the nation. That’s reason enough to say adios to California and call Tennessee home. In the thriving job market, you’ll find employment in major industries such as manufacturing, energy, mining, music, film production, health care, tourism, manufacturing, and agriculture. Are you tired of California’s droughts and fires? With about 55” of annual rainfall you’ll love lush green Tennessee. And what about all that awesome music? Country, blues, and bluegrass were born in Tennessee. Click ‘Get Quote’ and we’ll send you up to four moving estimates to get you started on your terrific Tennessee adventure. In the meantime, here’s an overview of the state:
Population and Density
You may appreciate a sense of more open space when you move from California to Tennessee. At almost 40 million residents, California is the most populated state in the nation with a density of 246 people per square mile. In Tennessee, with a population of a little over 6.8 million residents, you’ll have much more elbow room at 157 people per square mile.
Quality of Life
Tennessee’s cost of living is the 5th lowest in the country – and more good news – you won’t have to pay state income tax as you did in California. Tennessee is ranked the 26th best state to live in and the 28th for quality of life while California lags way behind at 50th for quality of life. Unfortunately, the violent crime rate is high in some areas, but a real advantage is that Tennessee’s economy is ranked 13th in the nation and its fiscal stability is 5th.
Tennessee stretches 440 miles from the banks of the Mississippi River on its western border to the Great Smoky Mountains in the east. You’ll likely be close to water almost anywhere in the state because Tennessee has over 1300 lakes and reservoirs and 1000 miles of navigable waterways. The Great Smoky Mountains National Park, the most visited national park in the country, covers 800 square miles.
You’ll need to rely on your car to get around, and as in California, metropolitan areas in Tennessee deal with congestion and traffic snarls. But you’ll be happy to know that transportation costs are 101.4% less in a city like Knoxville compared to Los Angeles. If you opt for public transportation, buses and shuttles can get you from place to place in every county, but there’s no rapid transit system. Known as one of the best maintained highways in the nation, Tennessee’s I-40 crosses the state from its western to eastern borders. Freight rail lines are diverse and run throughout the state. Amtrak runs between Chicago and New Orleans via Memphis. Fed Ex’s Super Hub makes Memphis International Airport the busiest cargo airport in the western hemisphere.
With one of the nation’s lowest unemployment rates, Tennessee is ranked #1 for advanced industry job growth by Brookings Institute. Tina Turner once said, “In Tennessee where I grew up, there were animals, farms, wagons, and mules.” That’s still true, but a lot has changed since Ms. Turner was a girl in Tennessee. The Volunteer State is home to nine of the world’s largest companies including FedEx, Dollar General, Amazon, and Eastman Chemical. Cracker Barrel, AutoZone, Community Health Systems, and Vanderbilt University Medical Center are other top employers. Major industries are automotive, manufacturing, energy, mining, music, film production, health care, tourism, and agriculture. You’ll find most employment in Memphis, Nashville, Knoxville, and Chattanooga, the largest cities in the state. Tennessee’s location in the center of the eastern US makes transporting the state’s $1.2 billion food and beverage exports a piece of cake.
You’ll undoubtedly save on overall taxes if you move to Tennessee. According to wallethub.com, California has the 11th highest overall tax burden in the country with a 9.47% overall tax that includes property, income, and sales tax. Compare this to Tennessee which has one of the lowest overall tax burdens in the country. Ranking way down at 48th, Tennessee has a 6.28% overall tax burden.
Tennessee is a conservative state. While Republicans make up just 25% of registered voters in California, they make up 48% of eligible voters in Tennessee.
Both states offer your children a similar quality of public education. While California ranks 26th, Tennessee ranks 28th for overall quality of education and has an 87.9% graduation rate. However, Tennessee offers an outstanding option for higher education. Students who graduate from a Tennessee high school can attend a Tennessee community college at no cost, thanks to the Tennessee Promise Program. After community college, they can choose from over 75 Tennessee colleges or universities including Vanderbilt University, the University of Memphis, and the University of Tennessee.
As a Californian, you’re accustomed to a mild climate with little seasonal variation, but in Tennessee, you can enjoy four distinct seasons. Tennessee is lushly green from spring through early fall – a contrast to California’s frequent droughts and brown hills. In general, Tennessee summers are hot and muggy with an average July high temperature of 92°. January highs hover around 46° with lows of 27°, and 54” of yearly rain. In many areas, snow falls four or five times during the season, but it doesn’t sit on the ground for very long. Sperling’s Best Places assigns Tennessee a comfort index of 56 (US comfort index is 54) based on the total annual days of 70°- 80° temperatures, adding a penalty for excessive humidity. Now hold onto your hat – you’ll encounter the most severe weather such as tornadoes, thunderstorms, and high winds in the western and middle areas of the state.
Things to Do
Majestic mountains, moonshine, museums, and music – Tennessee has something for everyone. Nature lovers can camp, hike, spelunk, or go white water rafting in the majestic Smoky Mountains, and “ooh” and “aah” over the stunning fall colors. California may be famous for its fabulous wines, but Tennessee is famous for its artisanal moonshine, verdant vineyards, and Jack Daniels whiskey. George Dickel and Jack Daniel turned their whiskey enterprise into a rip-roaring business that now exports over $665,000,000 worth of alcohol annually. Memphis is not only The Home of the Blues but the Birthplace of Rock ‘n’ Roll. Music legends Carl Perkins, Tina Turner, and Dolly Parton are just some of the ultra-famous musicians born in Tennessee. In Nashville, the illustrious Grand Ole Opry presents live music on stage every week and runs the longest-running radio broadcast in the nation. Graceland, the International Rock-A-Billy Hall of Fame, nine annual film festivals, hundreds of regional festivals, dozens of theater troupes, Dollywood, the Jack Daniel’s Distillery Tour, and the National Civil Rights Museum honoring Martin Luther King, Jr. are just a handful of the things you can see and do in Tennessee. And when it comes to sports, you can remain loyal to your favorite California teams while rooting on the NBA Memphis Grizzlies, NFL Tennessee Titans, and the NHL. And be sure to bring your clubs – Tennessee has more than 300 golf courses. In Tennessee, you’ll never run out of things to do.
Best Places to Live in Tennessee
Based on population, median home value, median income, unemployment rate, crime, and employment options, the following towns are some of the most desirable places to live in Tennessee:
Maryville, population 28,200
Located 20 miles south of Knoxville in the foothills of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Maryville is renowned for its quality of life. The Arts and Entertainment Channel included Maryville in its “Top 10 Cities to Have it All.” A safe, family-friendly town, the median household income here is $56,270, and the median home value is $195,655. Top employers are Denso, Clayton Homes, Blount Memorial Hospital, and Blount County Schools. Maryville College, associated with the Presbyterian Church, is a private four-year liberal arts college founded in 1819 and is one of the fifty oldest colleges in the nation. You’ll enjoy the unique Capitol Theatre, built in 1922 in an art deco design where you’ll find a dinner theater with live soul, jazz, and entertainment, plus a café, and art gallery. In October, Maryville hosts the annual Foothills Fall Festival that includes music, a juried arts and crafts show, dance teams, food booths, and a Wild West show. Niche.com rates Maryville schools as #7 out of 100 suburbs with the best public schools in Tennessee. Maryville is much safer than the rest of Tennessee and the nation in general. Violent crime is ranked 12.1 whereas the nation’s average is 22.7. If you’re a nature lover, you’ll enjoy hundreds of miles of biking, hiking and horse-riding trails plus options for all kinds of outdoor sports including canoeing, white water rafting, water- and snow-skiing.
Spring Hill, population 34,364
The median household income in Spring Hill is $78,588, and the median home value is $225,800. Located just under 30 miles south of Nashville, Spring Hill has the 6th lowest unemployment and crime rate in Tennessee. You’ll find business is booming in Spring Hill where General Motors, Comprehensive Logistics, Magna, Ryder Logistics, and the City of Spring Hill are major employers. Of the eight public schools, four of them rank 8 – 9 out of 10 according to greatschools.org. Spring Hill residents are into music and festivals, so there’s plenty of entertainment for locals and tourists. The annual Harvey Park Art Walk coordinates with a live music event, and The Spring Hill House Concert Series hosts an array of performers throughout the year. Each fall, the annual Country Ham Festival features live music, games, arts and crafts, monster truck rides, hog calling, and delicious southern food. The largest event of the year is the Spring Hill Pay-it-Forward Festival designed to build strong community bonds between residents, visitors, and local businesses.
Collierville, population 48,005
Twenty minutes from Memphis International Airport, Collierville is a town brimming with historic charm. With an unemployment rate of 3.8%, median home value of $278,600, and a median household income of $110,591, Collierville blends modern amenities with its historic appeal. Movoto.com rates Collierville as the 5th safest city in Tennessee and 3rd safest in terms of violent crimes. Eight schools serve about 8,000 students and rank from 7 to 9 according to greatschools.org. Opened in the fall of 2018, the Collierville High School Campus is a state-of-the-art facility that’s Tennessee’s largest public high school. Award-winning parks, office and retail developments, a historic downtown, and beautiful neighborhoods are the result of years of visionary city planning. In 2014, Collierville was named as one of the nation’s ‘Preserve America Communities’ for its continual efforts to conserve the rich history and character of the city. Collierville is home to the FedEx Tech Center, a multimillion-dollar technology arm and software development headquarters for FedEx, with over 2400 employees. Other tops employers are Helena Chemical, MCR Safety, and United Technologies – Carrier Corporation.
Brentwood, population 40,873
Brentwood is located just 12 miles south of Nashville, in Williamson County – the wealthiest and fastest-growing county in the state. Niche.com rates Brentwood as the #1 best place to live in Tennessee. With condo and apartment developments regulated by strict city zoning ordinances, the median home value is high at $555,800. A 2.8% unemployment rate and high paying jobs contribute to a lofty median household income of $148,340. Eleven public schools serve the city, some of which are award-winning. Your family will enjoy the 13 city parks with over 21 trails that cover 75 miles. Impressively, the Brentwood Public Library is among livability.com’s “Top 10 Libraries for Children”. Shop ‘til you drop at a variety of malls, then take a break at Brentwood’s thriving restaurant and café scene. Top employers are Cool Springs Galleria, Williamson County Schools, and Community Health Systems.
Franklin, population 70,625
A suburb with a historic downtown, Franklin is located just south of Nashville. The median home value here is $440,800, while the median household income is $88,961. The largest industries in Franklin include healthcare, social assistance, professional, scientific, and tech services. Franklin is home to Vanderbilt University’s prestigious Williamson Medical Center. The 22 public schools that serve Franklin rate 7 – 9, according to greatschools.org. Historical Walking Tours, The Civil War Home Tour, Franklin Ghost Tours, and Franklin Food Tours are just a few of the activities that keep residents and visitors busy. The Factory offers shopping, dining, galleries, and entertainment planned around 11 renovated depression-era buildings. Working artisans, a farmers’ market, and theater make the center unique. And speaking of unique, don’t miss the 70-mile Masters and Makers Trail that winds through Williamson County’s beautiful countryside. You can watch masters at work and taste their locally made products at breweries, wineries, and distilleries.
Nashville, population 1,794,570
Nashville, the capital of Tennessee, is also the World’s Country Music Capital. Located right in the middle of Tennessee, Music City is a tourism and business mecca. Realestate.usnews.com rates Nashville as the nation’s 11th best place to live and the 7th best place to retire. With a low unemployment rate of 3%, Nashville has a median household income of $63,939 and a median home price of $236.267. Popular neighborhoods are Sulphur Dell, West Church, Music Row, and West Broad. Although there’s talk of a future rapid transit system, 91% of Nashvillites commute by car. Fifty public schools serve Nashville, and, according to greatschools.org, they rate 6 – 10 in quality of education. The Ryman Auditorium and the Grand Ole Opry are hallmarks of the city. Over 1 million visitors a year explore the downtown Country Music Hall of Fame. With over 100 recording studios, a thriving film industry, and a huge food scene, you can understand why SmartAsset.com named Nashville in the Top 10 Cities for Creatives in 2018.
Moving from California to Tennessee Checklist
No doubt about it – an interstate move involves a lot of work and worry. This checklist will help you plan and organize a worry-free cross-country move from California to Tennessee:
First things first:
- Before you do anything else, select the best moving company to meet your needs. We’ve done all the research for you and only work with reputable, experienced cross country moving companies.
- Just click Get Quote, and we’ll provide you with up to four moving estimates.
- Then schedule your in-home or office inspection for an accurate moving cost. Be sure to ask questions about insurance coverage, items they won’t move, and how they’ll handle special items like pianos or oversized furniture.
In your moving folder:
- Keep your signed moving contract, receipts, and other moving-related papers in your folder.
- An 8 ½ x 11 plastic envelope with closing flap works best.
Your moving checklist:
- Create a list of every little thing you need to do to move from California to your new place in Tennessee.
- Delegate jobs to the members of your family. Post the list where everyone can see it.
Purge your household:
- Your interstate move cost depends on the weight of your belongings.
- Think of all the stuff you have stashed in closets, drawers, and the garage that you never use.
- Schedule a garage sale, donate things to charities, take stuff to consignment, and give things to neighbors, friends, and family.
Turn on Tennessee services:
- Ask your Tennessee realtor for a list of services you’ll need in your new home or office.
- A month before your move, schedule turn-on of the services and utilities before your arrival.
Turn off California services:
- Schedule the turn-off of your California services and utilities, but be sure to coordinate with the new homeowner or renter so they won’t be without services when they move in.
- This list can include everything from cable to utilities, but don’t forget to cancel services such as water delivery, homeowners’ insurance, your gym membership, magazines, and newspapers.
Change your address:
- Go to usps.com to change your address.
- You can even print a handy voter registration form since you’ll need to register to vote in Tennessee.
Change your online delivery services address:
- Update your address on Amazon, Netflix, Zappos and other online services that deliver directly to your home.
Provide one month’s notice:
- Give your gardener, housekeeper, pool person, and other employees a minimum of one month’s notice that you’ll be moving.
- Remember, they need to find replacement work. A note of appreciation for your employees’ service would be thoughtful.
Schedule home cleaning:
- The ideal time to have your home cleaned is immediately after the moving crew has left.
- The new residents, just like you, will appreciate moving into a clean space.
Flying to Tennessee?
- If you’re flying to Tennessee, book your flight as far in advance as possible to get the best rates.
Driving to Tennessee?
- If you’ll be driving to Tennessee, have your vehicles serviced several weeks before your move.
- Plan your route to make sure you arrive before your moving van does.
- Talk with your auto insurance rep to ask about transferring your vehicle insurance to Tennessee.
- Register your vehicle and obtain your driver’s license within 30 days of arriving in Tennessee.
Check festivals and weather:
- Check the state’s festivals calendar to see what’s happening where you’re planning to move. Masses of people attending a festival can impact the logistics of your move.
- Check the long-term weather report before you move. If storms or tornado alerts are in the forecast, prepare your family, pets, and vehicle accordingly.
Packing and Inventory:
- Even if you’re planning a comprehensive move where your moving company will pack all your belongings, there may be some very valuable or special items you’ll want to pack on your own. Your mover will inventory all your items for a comprehensive move.
- If you are packing yourself or completing a DIY move, be sure to inventory all your belongings. Photos are a great way to capture the condition of furniture, antiques, art, and valuables.
- Gather all the packing materials you’ll need if you’re packing up your household on your own. Boxes with lids, bubble wrap, packing paper, tape, and permanent markers are indispensable items.
- Start packing a little bit each day. Packing is a heck of a lot of work, and you’ll want to stay on top of it, so you won’t be panicked and stressed right before your move.
- If you are putting items in storage, don’t store things in plastic trash bags. They hold in moisture and will likely cause mold.
- Your moving company can provide ‘storage in transit’ if you need to store items during your move.
- If you are moving your appliances, make sure they’re dry inside so mold won’t develop during the move.
Scarf it up:
- Eat up all the food in your pantry, fridge, and cupboards.
- Remember, the less you move, the less you’ll pay in moving costs.
- Say goodbye to family and friends.
- Be sure to give them your new contact information.
Children & Pets:
- Schedule a play date for younger children on moving day so they can stay safe and have some fun.
- Moving is stressful for pets. Seeing their house torn apart by big burly guys is upsetting.
- Your front door will be open all day, and you’ll be super busy. This combination is a perfect recipe for pets and kids to escape.
- Make sure they’re in a safe place on moving day. The best option is pet daycare.
Valuables and essentials:
- Certain things shouldn’t go on the moving truck. Your passport, prescriptions, and valuable documents such as health records and your real estate closing documents should stay with you.
- You’ll also need basics around moving day such as moist wipes, hand sanitizer, toilet paper, your cosmetics, some snacks, and clean water.
- Create an ‘essentials’ box and label it clearly so that it doesn’t accidentally get stashed onto the moving truck.
- If you’re driving to Tennessee, you may want to lock your essentials box in your car on moving day.
- If you’re flying, you can pack a small carry on with your essentials. Be sure to label it too!
On moving day:
- Be ready! Be organized!
- Provide clean water and snacks for your movers. They’ll be working hard, and thoughtful, healthy snacks will help them stay energized.
Hopefully, this guide from Great Guys Moving makes your transition from California to Tennessee a smooth one. Remember, get your free California to Tennessee moving quotes by clicking “Get Quote” now.