Don’t get me wrong. Nashville is a great place to live or visit. There is so much to do. Between the fabulous live music in over 100 venues, delicious food, beautiful scenery, and tons of attractions, you have a lot to do and see in Music City. You can see a replica of the Greek Parthenon. We have a naked statute in the middle of a roundabout (Musica). You can find ample greenways, hiking trails, and parks. There are a plethora of places to fish, kayak, canoe, swim, and zip-line.
A lot of people are moving here for jobs. New job opportunities are exploding here, especially in healthcare and technology. Vanderbilt University and Medical Center is the largest employer in Nashville. Google and Amazon are opening locations here. Nissan is right outside of Nashville, and Toyota and Bridgestone have their offices here. Start-ups are huge here, too. Even in the recession of 2008, business was still booming here, and the housing market was still hot. Before the Coronavirus hit, the unemployment rate in Nashville was super low.
People come to Music City for the wealth of honky-tonks, the barbeque and hot chicken, and our sports teams. Go Preds! The weather is good, except for the tornados and humidity. Folks are relocating here from Los Angeles, New York, Detroit, and Chicago in record numbers. Some are coming for the low property taxes and no state income tax. Others are coming from the north for a more temperate climate. The sidewalks are full of tourists, bachelorette parties, and drunk college students on the weekends. It’s a drinking town with a music problem.
People are flocking to East Nashville, The Gulch, The Nations, and Germantown…or as I call it, the spokes of Nashville’s gentrification hub. Nashville is full of diversity with people of all races, creeds, and religious backgrounds. For instance, this city has the largest Kurdish population in the United States. Nashville is centrally located, so it’s a short flight or reasonable drive from most of the major cities this side of the Mississippi.
People have these fantasies that they will move to Nashville and have coffee with Nicole Kidman at Starbucks. Or maybe they’ll be on Broadway and see Garth Brooks on stage in one of the honky-tonks. Realistically, it could happen. But more than likely, Nashville might end up being a little bit more “normal” than you envision it to be. Chances are that you’ll walk right by a celebrity and never even notice them. I’ve run into Garth Brooks, Miley Cyrus, Brad Whitford from Aerosmith, John Oates from Hall and Oates, Kelly Keagy from Night Ranger, Mark Slaughter from Slaughter, Ricky Skaggs, Leanne Rimes, Martina McBride, and countless others just walking down the street or sitting a few seats down from me at the Ryman or TPAC. Celebrities often move here for a lot of the same reasons: taxes, schools, a smaller town feel with big city accommodations.
But with growth and gentrification come problems. Just under 100 people move to Nashville every day. EVERY DAY! Nashville is the second-largest city in Tennessee, next to Memphis, and the twenty-third largest city in the U.S. The Nashville-Metro area, which includes 14 counties, has a population of nearly 2 million. A couple of years ago, Forbes called Nashville the seventh fastest-growing city, and it is being called the “It City”. It’s growing faster than we are prepared for it. Traffic and lack of infrastructure have become problematic.
There are other things to consider. While Nashville seems pretty liberal, Tennessee is a red state. There is a church on just about every corner, usually near a liquor store.
Here are my reasons why you should NOT move to Nashville.
1. Rent and Housing
Yikes! Rent has skyrocketed! When I moved to the Vanderbilt/West End area back in 2011, I was paying about $850 for a one-bedroom apartment in a building from the 1960s. I had to move when my lease was up, because the property was sold to a developer that proceeded to knock the building down and build a new, shiny apartment complex. That happened two more times until I moved back into my original location (the new, shiny apartment complex), but now I’m paying twice as much in rent. Even if you move to the suburbs, rent is $1,000 or more for a one-bedroom, and you might be in a sketchy area.
Ten years ago, you could have bought a 1920s bungalow in Sylvan Park for about $220,000. Now, that same house will run you about $400-500,000 and up, and the only thing that’s changed is time and some granite countertops. Or you could buy one of those tall-and-skinny houses that look like saltine cracker boxes and build just as well as one for about $500,000 and up! And I mean up!!
To live downtown or midtown, you need to make at least $50,000 a year unless you plan on having a roommate or you are a Vanderbilt student and your parents pay your rent.
2. Traffic and parking
What used to take a half-an-hour to get from one side of town to another will take you twice as long. You should plan on there being construction somewhere. They are working on I-440 for the next several months. Pretty much most of the city is under some sort of construction, be it roads, hotels, condo, apartments, or other buildings.
Street parking? Good luck with that. Most of the metered spots are hard to come by, and a lot of the free parking is non-existent anymore. Some people park at the stadium if there isn’t an event or game going on there. The courthouse and library are the most reasonable places to park. The parking lots will rip you off. You will pay $25 or more for four hours. Do a garage over a paid lot, but the garages aren’t cheap either. If you park over four hours, you may still pay $25 or more. Even parking at the hotels if you are staying at the hotel is expensive.
You are better off taking an Uber or Lyft. They will run you about $15 each way, but you don’t have to worry about finding parking, and you can enjoy a nice adult beverage without worrying about driving.
If you are looking for a subway or light rail, you won’t find it in this city. There is a bus station downtown, but if you decide to take the bus, give yourself about two hours or more to get where you are going. There are not a lot of buses running, and the run-times between each one may be staggered. The buses may be filled to the brim or empty.
You could take a taxi. They are struggling with the popularity of Lyft and Uber. Make sure you get a quote from them first before you get in. If it sounds too high, they may be jerking you around. (This is strictly my opinion.) If you are calling them to pick you up, you may be shocked when they tell you that it may be an hour before they can get you. I have called in a request, and after an hour, called to check on the ride, and they had dropped the ball so I had to wait even longer for another car.
In my opinion, the best option that we have for transportation is either: using your own car or getting an Uber or Lyft. I rarely have had to wait longer than five minutes for a pick-up.
Lastly, you could opt to rent a bicycle or scooter. There are racks throughout the city with bikes for you to rent. You rent them from one location and can return them to another rack location throughout the city. Scooters are the bane of my existence. You can find them everywhere: sidewalks, bushes, trash cans, in the middle of the road, or even in the Cumberland River. You are supposed to find them in designated areas and return them to other designated areas, but that isn’t being done. You rent them via phone apps. Many people discard them thoughtlessly wherever they please, sometimes blocking walkways and even roads. Don’t be that guy! Also, you are supposed to use them as you would a bicycle: no riding on sidewalks, go with the flow of traffic, obey traffic laws, and ride in the bike lanes. Treat bikes and scooters as if they were cars, not pedestrians.
4. It’s not like the TV shows – “Nashville”
Will you see celebrities? Yes, but leave them alone. Think of them as wild animals. It is okay to look at them, but don’t approach them in the wild. Say “hi”, but don’t hound them for a picture or autograph. They are usually just trying to live their lives, unless they are Kid Rock fighting someone in a Waffle House or bitching about something someone said on “The View” like a middle-aged woman.
It’s not like on the ABC/CMT show “Nashville”. The chances of you waiting in line to get into the Bluebird Café and seeing a celebrity on stage are slim. You will get a good musical experience there and at any of the great writers’ nights in Nashville. If you can’t get into the Bluebird, there are similarly good places to see songwriters. Also, you aren’t going to see someone who has never sung or written a song magically jump on stage and be an overnight success. These “overnight successes” take about ten years and a lot of work to happen.
You aren’t going to see a star in the Pancake Pantry no matter how long the line is. You’ll also see long lines outside of Hattie B’s. While I’m not saying you shouldn’t go to tourist traps like these and Tootsie’s, I am saying that there are equally, if not better, places to go without the lines. If it’s a place that everyone tells you that you should go, you probably shouldn’t, unless you like price-gouging and over-rated places. They are fine, but I’m just saying there are better places and you don’t have to deal with a line.
5. Broadway – drunk tourists and bachelorettes
I won’t lie: you won’t find this much free music anywhere else in the world! Most of them are surviving on tips, so make sure you pony up a few bucks for their tip jugs while you’re in an area honky-tonk. I’m not a country fan, but you don’t have to be to enjoy Music City. On any stage, you might hear country, rock, bluegrass, or blues at any given time. We want to appeal to every taste.
The bad part is that Music City draws a lot of people who view the city as a challenge to drink as much alcohol in the shortest amount of time possible. Remember: it’s a marathon, not a sprint. You will see drunken bachelorettes (and bachelors and 50th birthday parties) rolling down the street in packs on pedal taverns, scooters, being pulled by tractors, and walking down the sidewalk and into the street.
Your night won’t be complete until you see that drunk guy being pushed down by a sign or peeing on a wall. And mark seeing a drunken bachelorette puking off your Music City Bingo Card.
Most of the “named places” aren’t actually owned by the people they are named after entirely. Only a few of these places are actually hands-on artist-owned like AJ’s (Alan Jackson) and Redneck Riviera (John Rich). The rest are given name-rights for a percentage of the profits, but don’t really do anything with the bar except make a few appearances. I can’t blame the artists. Who wouldn’t want free money? Some consider their arrangements as a partnership. For instance, Ryman Hospitality Properties is partnered with Blake Shelton for Old Red’s. How involved these artists are with the operation of these bars is questionable. Other places like Layla’s and Robert’s may not be owned by well-known artists, but musicians actually own and operate these bars.
6. Summers – two words: heat and humidity
Do you like to sweat after you take a shower? Are you used to putting deodorant under your boobs and behind your knees? Then, you’ll love summers here. It feels like someone threw a hot, wet blanket over your head when you walk outside June through mid-September. They say it’s not the heat, it’s the humidity. It’s true. When it gets over 80 degrees, it will most likely be 80 to 100 percent humidity on any given day. It’s a nightmare. A hellish, hellish nightmare!
Did I mention the tornados? When is the tornado season? Who knows? We’ve had tornados in January, February, all summer, early fall, and even once at Christmas. Nothing is more festive as unwrapping presents on Christmas morning in your basement or interior hall closet. Rule of thumb: if the sky is green, get inside! I’m serious. The sky looks very weird during a tornado. And tornados don’t care what time of day they hit either. We’ve had them strike at 9 am, mid-afternoon, late-evening, and even 1 am. There are tornado sirens that go off when there is a tornado touchdown, but it might be too late by then.
With summer, come the bugs. We have ladybugs, lightning bugs, and ticks! Tick season lasts from early February until always. I found a tick on me just from driving my car with the windows down. Make sure you invest in some bug repellent if you plan on being outside around dusk. Mosquitoes will make a meal of you. Make sure you have adequate protection for your pets, too, as ticks and fleas are abundant.
And if you plan on moving here next summer, you’ll get to experience the 17-year cicadas. Those ear-piercing, screeching, red-eyed devils are fun! You’ll love trying to outrun them from your house to the car every day.
Our winters are pretty mild. The temperatures usually don’t get too low, and we rarely get much snow anymore. The problem is that when it does snow, the ground is so warm that it melts as soon as it hits the ground. Then, once it gets dark, the melted snow freezes, and you wake up to ice. You wake up to the roads, power lines, and cars being covered in a sheet of ice. Chicago people love to rag on us for not being able to drive on the snowy roads or for TDOT not being able to prep the roads beforehand. Well, we don’t get snow; we get ice. And I don’t care how good of a driver you are in the Windy City, no one can drive well on ice. Maybe you should go back to Chicago then.
9. High sales tax – 9.25%
As we discussed earlier, we don’t currently have a state income tax and our property taxes are low in comparison to other cities. To make up for that, we have an extremely high sales tax. Nashville has one of the highest combined state and local sales taxes in the U.S.
If you don’t have them now, you will. Topography-wise, Nashville is a basin area. Imagine Nashville as a bowl that holds onto moisture and pollen to create a perfect storm of allergy brew. Hay fever, grass and tree pollens, ragweed, along with a temperate climate make any season a living hell for allergy sufferers.
These are just 10 reasons to think of anywhere else to move than Nashville. We’d love for you to visit, but we’re full…bursting at the seams…packed to capacity. Y’all go on home now! Git!