We’ve written about Tennessee before on the Movoto Real Estate Blog, but one thing we know house hunters are concerned about is an area’s overall affordability. Knowing that, we decided to turn our ranking-making talents toward determining the most affordable places in the Volunteer State.
Despite being a large city, Memphis ended up being the best place to stretch your dollar. There were nine other places that stood out as being particularly cost friendly spots to call home. The top 10 most affordable places in Tennessee are:
1. City of Memphis
2. City of Millington
3. City of Germantown
3. Town of Arlington
5. Town of Collierville
6. City of Lakeland
7. City of Knoxville
8. Town of Farragut
9. City of Bristol
10. City of Manchester
If you’re looking for how places like Nashville or Chattanooga ranked, you can check the bottom of this article for a chart of our full list and rankings. If you’re an explanation of how we got these results, just read on and we’ll discuss our methods in the next section.
How We Created This Ranking
This isn’t our first Big Deal List for affordability, and this was done the same way as the others. First, we made a list of places in Tennessee with more than 10,000 people according to the 2010 U.S. Census, which came out to 56 different places. We then used Census data to rank each place in six different categories:
- Food costs
- Utility costs
- Miscellaneous costs
- Median home price
- Unemployment rank
- Adjusted median income
We gave all 56 places a score from 1 to 56 in each criterion, with one being the best. We averaged those rankings together into one Big Deal Score, and the place with the lowest average was our No. 1.
Let’s look at that city and each place in our top 10 in a little more depth, and we’ll see why these are the best places for those on a tight budget.
Who would have guessed that the largest city on our list would also end up being the No. 1 most affordable place overall? Memphis took home first prize for some very good reasons.
For starters, it was in a six-way tie for the miscellaneous cost of living, utilities costs, and food costs criteria. In the case of the miscellaneous cost of living index, that rank is No. 1. However, other scores here are decent, too.
The adjusted income rank was easily in the top half of the overall rankings, and the median home price was incredibly affordable at $98,300. If you’re looking for an inexpensive place to call home, this is definitely it.
What if you want to do something fun? Not to worry, as Memphis always has a ton of things going on, and many of them are pretty cheap. Memphis in May is a month-long festival featuring music from some pretty big bands, great food, cultural exhibits, and more. Many of the events have a low price tag and some are even free.
From the biggest place on our list to one of the smallest, little Millington came in at No. 2. Don’t let size fool you, though, as this place has plenty to offer.
A thriving community center is a hub of culture for the city, and there are multiple golf courses on which to play. There’s a YMCA water park, and many parks that cost nothing to enjoy. There’s also the yearly Goat Days Festival, an exciting and amusing free event that features local food, rodeo, games, and even goat chariot races.
Millington shares that six-way tie in the utilities costs department, which means it has a very low cost of living across the board. It also offers a fairly low median home price, and a fairly high adjusted income that place 19th overall.
Sometimes the best part of affording a comfortably life is having plenty of money to start with. This is an idea that Germantown really clings to, as its 38,844 resident enjoy the No. 1 adjusted income ranking on our entire list.
The median income here was $96,781, which makes it all the better that the costs of living are quite low in general. The only reason this place didn’t score higher is that the housing prices were pretty high, averaging $250,200.
However, just because people in Germantown make plenty of money doesn’t mean they don’t know how to have inexpensive fun. From cultural festivals to horse-themed events and even wiener dog races, this place gives locals a fun way to unwind without emptying their wallets.
Another of our smaller places, the 11,517 people who live in the town of Arlington are able to enjoy their tie for third place overall. Like Germantown, who shares this spot, this town has a very high adjusted income ranking, as well as decent costs for all utilities. However, also like Germantown, this place has a fairly high home price, ranking No. 47 on our list for that criterion.
This little place is all about community, and it shows in the kind of events they offer. From summer concerts to easter egg hunts, there are plenty of events here for people of all ages. There is even a town-wide festival called Arlington in April, which has free admission. And for the foodies, there’s big portions for small prices at the Off the Hook restaurant.
Another place that’s all about community, Collierville has plenty of events for families as well as unmarried folks. There are special holiday celebrations in the winter and a fishing rodeo for kids in the summer. There’s even a Fourth of July celebration complete with music and fireworks. All of this is definitely affordable and sometimes even free of cost for locals.
The data also speaks to this place’s affordability. The adjusted income placed third on our overall list at $79,825, which helped make up for the high house prices.The utility prices are wallet-friendly, especially the miscellaneous cost of living, which shared the No. 1 spot with several others places.
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Keeping to the smalltown feel, the little city of Lakeland and its 12,420 locals picked up the No. 6 ranking on our overall list. The adjusted income rank here was No. 10, plus the utilities, food, and miscellaneous living costs all ranked low for those criteria. The home prices were quite high, but, compared to the cost of living, it all balanced out well.
Thrillseekers will be happy to know that this little place still offers plenty to keep the blood pumping. Paintball Park has fairly low prices and gives friends a chance to bond in a high-energy environment while keeping active. For those who want something a little more laid back, there are also hiking trails and lovely parks which can be enjoyed for the low cost of absolutely nothing.
The city of Knoxville was another big city with big savings. The cost of food here was low, placing third for that criterion. Delicious eateries like The French Market, which has very decent prices, only back up that number.
This place also had a decent miscellaneous cost of living, ranking 54th, and a low median home price that ranked 18th. One of the big draws of Knoxville was the unemployment rate, which was tied for fourth best at only 6.3 percent.
Stats aside, this place is a great one to live in for other reasons, such as year-round festivals, many of them free. Plus, if you’re looking for some culture, there are multiple community theaters that put on shows for cheap at different times during the year.
This 20,676 person town isn’t just affordable, it’s also a pretty fun place to live. There are at least five different parks to relax in, art festivals in the summer, cultural exhibits, and much more depending on what suits your unique interests.
Beyond activities, this place offers tons of ways to save. The adjusted income ranking is pretty high to begin with at No. 4, which just makes the No. 3 cost of food and No. 7 miscellaneous cost of food even more affordable. Also, if you’re worried about getting a job to afford this great lifestyle, this place is good for that too, with 93.7 percent of the population being employed.
Even though Bristol is “the birthplace of country music,” that doesn’t mean it costs an arm and a leg to live there. In fact, the median home price ranks No. 10, with a low price tag of $99,000.
Those worried about employment will be pleased to see that the unemployment rate here was only 7.1 percent. This place didn’t have any really bad scores across the board, which easily placed it at No. 9.
Other factors that are great for spendthrifts have to do with the music scene. There are multiple inexpensive or free music festivals throughout the year, and there are different museums and attractions dedicated to this place’s country music roots. For something a little higher octane, there’s also the famous Bristol Motor Speedway, which has some less expensive events during different times in the year.
Manchester, home to 10,102 people, has good prices for all sorts of living expenses. The food cost ranked seventh, and the miscellaneous cost of living rank was a low 17th. Utilities costs were also not very expensive, and the unemployment rate was only 9.1 percent.
The main area in which Manchester showed off its affordability was in the median home price, which ranked 14th at only $101,600.
Music lovers will be happy to know that this place is home to the Bonnaroo Music festival, which attracts tens of thousands of people from all over the world, but the penny savers might not enjoy its high price tag. Instead, cheap fun can be found at the local recreation center, one of the numerous parks, or one of the many free family fun days.
Who’s The King And Who’s…Not
When it comes to affordability, it’s pretty obvious that Memphis reigns supreme. What about the places with a little bit of a higher price tag, though?
The least affordable place on our list was Bartlett, which had a high adjusted income, but the second highest cost of living and the highest food cost ranking overall. Lawrenceburg also showed it was for those with bigger pockets, with high-priced utilities and a high unemployment rate of 11.3 percent. While Cleveland had a fairly low unemployment rate, it also had high cost of utilities and food, making it our third least affordable place to call home.
Our top 10 of Tennessee’s most affordable spots showed there’s still a way to live happy, comfortable, and affordable lives in the state of Agriculture and Commerce.
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