Moving from California to Tennessee

Fed up with California’s exorbitant tax rates, overheated housing markets, and gridlocked trafc? 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 inux 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 nd employment in major industries such as manufacturing, energy, mining, music, lm production, health care, tourism, manufacturing, and agriculture. Are you tired of California’s droughts and res? 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 terric 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. Tennessee’s economy is ranked 13th in the nation and its scal 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 trafc 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, lm production, health care, tourism, and agriculture. You’ll nd 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, 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.


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 ve 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 lm 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 Smokey 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 fty oldest colleges in the nation. You’ll enjoy the unique Capitol Theatre, built in 1922 in an art deco design where you’ll nd a dinner theater with live soul, jazz, and entertainment, plus a cafe´, 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. rates Maryville schools as #7 out of 100 suburbs with the best public schools in Tennessee. 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 nd 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 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. 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 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, ofce 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. 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’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 cafe´ 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, scientic, 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 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. 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, 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 lm industry, and a huge food scene, you can understand why named Nashville in the Top 10 Cities for Creatives in 2018.

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.


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.

The Best Drives and Eats in Nashville


Beaman Park

If you’re short on time but crave fresh air, cruise out to Beaman Park. Roll down the windows as you snake down curvy, country roads shaded by lush tree cover. With ve miles of trails on 1,700 acres, Beaman Park allows you to lose yourself in nature and still make it to work on time.

Cummins Falls

True adventurers will love Cummins Falls State Park in Cookeville (open every day, 8am-6pm). Visit the overlook or hike down to the gorge/plunge pool, but remember -- this rugged hike is not for the faint of heart! Picnickers should hike rst, eat later.



Known for modern Middle Eastern cuisine, Lyra is a shining star in Cleveland Park’s food scene. The sleek, mid- century aesthetic and innovative plating give Lyra a contemporary feel, while the well-executed dinner menu shows the depth of chef Hrant Arakelian’s traditional style. Locals hit the happy hour (Monday to Saturday, 4-6pm) for the lamb butter fries ($6) or fatteh ($6).


Yes, a trip to Folk does feel like eating fancy pizza in a design magazine. But it’s the exceptional staff and fresh, local produce that keep this gorgeous, McFerrin Park space hoppin’. Not to mention, Folk’s clam pizza is a Nashville institution. Call ahead if you want dinner to be a sure thing or pop in at non-peak times to split a pizza at the bar.

King Market

Take a hard right past the bags of bulk rice and you’ll soon be sipping out of a fresh coconut ($4) in King Market Cafe. The family-run, Thai-Laotian restaurant offers hard-to-nd dishes for extremely reasonable prices. We’re talking sh maw soup with quail eggs for $10.50 and fried pork intestine for $9.50, all 100% worth the drive to Antioch.

Riverside Grillshack

Come for the local, grass-fed beef; stay for the wings. This neighborhood spot slings high-quality burgers for (almost) fast-food prices. Its location within walking distance of Shelby Park means you can kayak on the Cumberland with River Queen Voyages and stop for burgers on the way home. You’re welcome -- we just planned your Saturday.


Walkin’ Nashville

Walkin’ Nashville, an immersive walking tour of Music City, is accessible for the country music novice and engaging for experts. Grammy-nominated music journalist Bill Demain leads guests to country music hot spots (the Ryman Auditorium, the Country Music Hall of Fame) and unofcial landmarks like George Jones’ Possum Holler. It’s a can’t- miss for music nuts.

River Queen Voyages

The rst kayaking company on the Cumberland River, RQV offers a unique opportunity to see Nashville from the water. On one of four different routes (plus a scavenger hunt option), kayakers can paddle right into the heart of Music City, making for a grounding counterbalance to the bright lights of Broadway.


Brainchild of artist Alex Lockwood, North Nashville’s Elephant art gallery is the place to be, especially during the First Saturday Art Crawl, and for good reason: There’s a gallery space in the front, artist studios in the middle, and the retail space in the back, Anteater, features one-of-a-kind art from near and far. Highlights include folk artist Don Shull’s whirligigs and Ghanian cofn maker Paa Joe’s fantasy cofns, which resemble everything from sneakers to cheetahs.

51 Dog Park

Anyone who has spent time in the increasingly walkable Nations neighborhood knows Fifty-First Kitchen. At its on- property dog park, you can enjoy the restaurant’s southern-focused dinner menu, small-bites, and happy hour offerings without worrying about getting home to walk Fido. On occasion, the restaurant even offers a menu featuring simple meals just for dogs.