Nashville’s Daily Influx: What Draws People to Music City
Over the past three decades, Nashville, Tennessee, famed for its association with country music, has witnessed a substantial influx of newcomers relocating from pricier cities. Jeff Hite, Chief Economic Development Officer of the Nashville Area Chamber of Commerce, highlights the diverse reasons driving individuals to move, ranging from job prospects to seeking an improved quality of life and the lure of a lower cost of living, accentuated by the absence of state income tax.
Despite its musical renown, Nashville boasts robust industries beyond entertainment, including healthcare, manufacturing, and technology, attracting a diverse employment base. Census data compiled by the Nashville Area Chamber of Commerce’s Research Center for 2022 revealed a notable surge in the Nashville metropolitan area, welcoming approximately 35,624 individuals, equivalent to around 98 new residents daily, marking an 81% population growth since 1990, with over two million inhabitants residing in the Nashville metropolitan area in 2022.
Jeff Hite notes a parallel migration trend between residents and companies, with people relocating from dense, costly, and heavily regulated areas that mirror the regions where companies express interest in relocating. Nashville secured a position among the top ten “homebuyer migration destinations” in a recent Redfin report. Notably, Los Angeles, Chicago, San Francisco, San Diego, and New York were the prominent origin cities for prospective transplants, according to search data from August 2023 to October 2023.
According to Tom Turner, President and CEO of the Nashville Downtown Partnership, the city’s primary tourism district has witnessed a substantial increase in residents over the past two decades. From around 1,900 residents inhabiting downtown Nashville’s 2.4 square miles in 2003, Turner projects a burgeoning downtown population reaching roughly 23,000 residents within the coming years. Survey data from the Nashville Downtown Partnership highlights that 43% of downtown residents moved from out of state, enticed by the area’s central location.
Despite experiencing remarkable growth, Nashville grapples with concerns surrounding affordability and quality of life. A Redfin analysis reported that as of August 2023, a family needed an income of $124,095 annually to afford a median-priced home valued at $455,000 in the Nashville area, representing a 19% year-over-year increase. This stands almost $10,000 higher than the income required to purchase a median-priced U.S. home, valued at approximately $420,000 during the same period.
Jeff Hite stresses the Chamber’s focus on fostering “high skill, high wage jobs” as a countermeasure against the cost of living and affordability challenges in Nashville, amidst the expansion or relocation of more companies to the city. A Vanderbilt University poll from April 2023 revealed that 47% of Nashville residents believe the city’s growth is negatively impacting their day-to-day lives, with nearly 80% expressing concern about the city’s rapid population growth. These sentiments were more pronounced among individuals earning less than $45,000 per year.
According to Turner, rising housing prices and extended commutes are undeniable issues, but the perception of affordability varies. While long-standing residents might have profound concerns, transplants from high-cost markets may perceive Nashville as “very affordable.”