I know, I know. I go on and on about how amazing Nashville is, where to get good coffee here, the best vegan food, and our local free activities. But, there are some reasons that Nashville is not the best place to move. So, before you up and move to Nashville, I wanted you to know that we’ve certainly got our issues.
Last I heard, there are over 100 people moving to Nashville every single day. Now, it’s probably a higher number. Along with that major change, there are new restaurants, businesses, apartment buildings, and offices popping up everywhere. Let’s just say that coming home from Peace Corps cold turkey was a tad rough on my senses!
Without further ado, here are five reasons people should think twice before making the move to Music City.
1 // traffic
This point alone should convince some of y’all that this may not be the place for you. Traffic is awful. I know some of you reading this post are from areas of the world where you consider your traffic bad, but here is the Nashvillian problem: we have no reliable public transport.
In larger cities like Chicago and New York, there is a subway or public transportation alternative. Here, the local government has debated for years about creating a light rail or commuter train. It still hasn’t passed, and I honestly don’t expect it to anytime soon. Until then, traffic will only get worse!
To put things into perspective, I’ll use my mom’s commute as an example. She’s been at her job since I was one year old, so she’s seen quite the change in her own day-to-day from Nashville’s rising popularity. When she started at her job, her commute reflected the distance: 30 minutes. Over time, it grew to 45 minutes, then an hour, and now it can take her as long as two.
In addition, Nashville drivers aren’t the best. Many people that now live here came from places where public transit was their main mode of transportation. Now that they must drive to get anywhere, their skills are a little rusty, and it shows during rush hour. Before you move to Nashville, think about this major aspect of your daily life!
And, if you still decide to come here, please learn to drive before you do so. I’m not kidding. It’s obvious that some don’t before they come, and have to learn how to merge into some of the most crowded interstates imaginable. Yikes.
2 // affordability
It is officially impossible to associate the word “affordable” with Nashville. Thanks to increasing tourism and an influx of new residents, the cost of living has skyrocketed relative to five years ago.
Earlier this summer, I was visiting a friend in New York City. Obviously, NYC is notorious for how expensive it is to live there. Buying a cup of coffee and going out to eat there is now either equal to or only slightly more expensive than doing so in Nashville.
Also, most of the apartment complexes now being frequented by Nashville’s new residents cost the same as a studio in Manhattan. We’re reaching the $2800-$3500 per month range now. To a Nashville native that was here before The Pharmacy and all the restaurants on Eastland, that is insane.
Around this time last year, a local news outlet reported that the median living wage in Nashville is $75,000. It’s safe to say that many, if not most longtime residents of Music City make less. Way less.
Almost every parking lot is a paid lot. Some coffee shops want $5 for a medium regular drink. Restaurants charge about $15-$20 for an entree. Property taxes have tripled. Longtime residents were pushed out by transplants when rent skyrocketed. Oh, and everyone has at least one neighbor that runs an Airbnb.
Y’all know I love Airbnb. But, when rental companies with no office or presence in Nashville buy up houses just to rent them on Airbnb to loud, drunk tourists every weekend, it makes our cost of living unfathomable, and our quality of life much lower than it used to be.
Think about this before you move to Nashville relative to your income!
3 // overcrowding
This goes back to the influx of new residents and increasing tourism. Are either of these bad things? Not necessarily. Nashville has always been a famous city. Its fame has only continued to rise, which is great for locals in the tourism industry and our local economy. It’s also telling of the city’s appeal that people from all around the world want to move here.
However, here is the problem: we’re running out of room.
Part of the reason traffic is so bad, is that we don’t have enough space on our interstates for everyone to get to work between the hours of 7am and 9am. The housing market is so competitive because we don’t have enough real estate to meet demand. Those two aspects just scrape the surface of how crowded Nashville is now.
4 // housing market
This alone could keep interested people from moving here. Our housing market is a mess right now!
Developers are slapping up houses on tiny lots in historic neighborhoods, and sometimes, they aren’t structurally sound. Imagine paying upwards of $400,000 for a house only to find out that you need to pay an engineer to consult on and even repair structural damage to your home, all because a contractor rushed to make a deadline.
Unfortunately, this is a common issue in neighborhoods like mine, Inglewood.
As of right now, high demand and less supply means that our housing is expensive, sometimes small, and highly competitive.
5 // changes in local culture
This is a key difference I’ve noticed as a Nashville native. Our city’s culture is completely different than it was when I was growing up, in high school, and even in college.
The Southern Hospitality aspect of being in a city in Tennessee has slowly disappeared. Because most people, in my neighborhood especially, are transplants, the service aspect is totally different.
One of my best friends from childhood put it this way when we caught up last night: “Nashville’s losing its country.”
I find this to be absolutely true. Am I a huge fan of country music? Not particularly. But, I did appreciate the Southern culture of Nashville that is slowly being lost.
I mention this because I know many people consider a move to Nashville because they like Southern culture, regardless of where they’re from originally. You won’t necessarily find that in the city as much, but you will on its outskirts.
Also, going to lower Broad downtown is now more dangerous than it used to be.
Petty theft has increased, especially pickpocketing. I never would have considered Nashville to have a pickpocketing issue similar to Western European cities, but it does now. Please be careful and attentive of your belongings on lower Broad!
When people from a plethora of regional cultures move to Nashville, it also makes us even more of a melting pot. All of that being said, this change is both positive and negative.
As a native, the changes do make me sad at times, and I do miss Nashville for what it used to be. After all, it’s difficult to see a place you thought you knew become unrecognizable.
Now that I’ve said my piece, should you move to Nashville? That’s up to you. The great things about Nashville are obvious: history, music, food, coffee, murals, museums, and architecture, among so many others. However, there are also reasons not to move here, from affordability to traffic.
I hope my perspective of living here after traveling to other cities helps you make the best decision for your budget and interests!
*Cover photo by Tanner Boriack. Thanks, Tanner!