Finding an area to call home can be a bit of a chore. What county has the most stress-free atmosphere? The best schools? Where is the closest spot to my work? There are so many questions that need answers before you put any money down. Well, considering that we’re all about finding you that new dream home, the Movoto Real Estate Blog is happy to do whatever we can to help. For all you Tennessee folks out there, or those looking to move to this great state, today’s list is for you. We’ve ranked the top 10 counties in Tennessee, and those winners were: 1. Knox County
2. Williamson County
3. Sumner County
4. Wilson County
5. Rutherford County
6. Blount County
7. Hamilton County
8. Washington County
9. Davidson County
10. Montgomery County
No matter what you’re looking for exactly in an area, at least one of these spots will cater to your needs. If you’re a local and you’re curious where your home ranked, you can scroll down to the bottom of this article to see the top 50 counties that we ranked. If you’re just curious about how we did this ranking, you can read all about it in the very next section.

Our Methodology

Think we did this by our own personal preferences? Nope! It was all math. For this Big Deal List, we first made a list of all the counties in Tennessee, which was a total of 95 counties. Then, we used the U.S. Census five year community survey to collect data in seven important criteria. Those criteria were:
  • Unemployment rate (the lower the better)
  • Median household income (the higher the better)
  • Median rent (the higher the better, to indicate area’s desirability)
  • Median home price (the higher the better, to indicate desirability)
  • Percent of families below the poverty line (the lower the better)
  • High school graduation rate (the higher the better)
  • Average Commute Time (the lower the better)
In short, if locals in an area weren’t stressed about their job or money problems, were more educated, and weren’t struggling to make ends meet, they were more likely to be happy with where they lived. After we had that data, we ranked each county in each category from one to 95, with scores closer to one being better. From there we averaged each county’s rankings into an overall Big Deal Score. The place with the lowest number for that score became our best county. If you’re still not convinced of the greatness of these places, let’s go over each one in a little more detail to see exactly why they ranked where they did.

1. Knox County

Best Counties In Tennessee
Source: Flickr user Knox County Government
You kind of had to know that the home of Knoxville would be our first place finisher in this counties race. Not only is this spot the source of great country music, great BBQ, and some pretty friendly people, it also ranked well in our stat-based criteria. The poverty here was the tenth lowest, the unemployment was the second lowest, and the high school graduation rate was the third highest. In short, locals here don’t have to worry much about education, making ends meet, or finding a job. It also helped that the median household income was over $47,000, which was better than 84 other counties. The average commute time was low, the area showed desirability in its home prices, and really not a single ranking here was outside the top 11. That being said, the pizza at The Tomato Head is probably a pretty big perk to living here, truth be told.

2. Williamson County

Best Counties In Tennessee
Source: Flickr user Lyza
This place was very nearly No. 1. It had the first place ranking in every single category except for one. That meant that the unemployment rate was very low, the poverty rate was almost nonexistent, and the high school graduation rate was nearly 95 percent. The homes were a little more expensive, but the median income of over $91,000 should help locals with that. So why was this place only No. 2? Unfortunately for Williamson County, their commute time was well below the top of the pack. In fact, locals here spent an average of nearly half an hour getting to or from their job. That score was poor enough to keep this county in second. Still, second place isn’t so bad, right? After all, in the county seat of Franklin, you’ve got such great amenities as the The Franklin Theater, the Red Pony Restaurant, and one of the best darn farmers markets you can find anywhere. What’s not to love?

3. Sumner County

Best Counties In Tennessee
Source: Flickr user CJ Sorg
There’s a bit of a gap before we get to our third place zip code, but this place still has a whole lot going for it. Sumner County had great rankings across the board, scoring fourth in low poverty, high income, and house prices that denoted desirability in the area. The great scores didn’t stop there, though. The unemployment was the sixth lowest and the high school graduation rate was very high. Of course, you can’t really measure things like the great food at Campione’s Taste of Chicago, but that was a major perk of the Gallatin area too. Like the second place county on our list, Sumner wasn’t ranked higher due to a long commute time of around 27 minutes. On the bright side, this place also has a beach for families to enjoy, Lock 3. Yes, you heard us right, a beach in Tennessee. You’ll quickly find this county is full of surprises like that.

4. Wilson County

Best Counties In Tennessee
Source: Flickr user Tom
This is a rather spread out county, so you’d expect its commute times to be shorter due to a lack of congestion. However, that’s not the case here. The commute times here ranked 64th at just under a half hour on average. However, that was just about the only bad score Wilson County got. The home prices and rent spoke to how much people want to live here, and it’s pretty obvious why they do. The unemployment was low, the poverty was even lower, and the high school graduation rate was the fifth highest in the state. So if you live here, you won’t be worrying about your own job, your family’s education, or your property value decreasing. Also, if you’ve ever been to Tennessee, you know they have great BBQ. As it turns out, you can get some of the best BBQ around in Lebanon, at Tom’s Blue Moon Bar-B-Que. You’ll have to try it for yourself if you don’t want to take our word on it.

5. Rutherford County

Best Counties In Tennessee
Source: Flickr user Brent Moore
Right smack dab in the middle of the state is a county that you simply can’t overlook. Murfreesboro and the rest of Rutherford County offers locals a lot of perks, and no, we’re not just talking about the gyros at the Opah Greek Grill. By the numbers, this county had a lot going for it, including low unemployment, low poverty, and a high school graduation rate of almost 90 percent. This place’s home prices did indicate desirability, but they were still fairly affordable at only $160,100 on average. Plus, with locals making over $55,000 per year on average, that’s not too far of a reach. Admittedly, the commute times were a bit long, so workers will have to sit in a bit of traffic or drive a little far to get to their jobs. It’s a good thing, then, that this county is so pretty, so you at least will have some nice scenery during your drive.

6. Blount County

Best Counties In Tennessee
Source: Flickr user Joe Shlabotnik
This was one of our slightly smaller counties, at only 85,937 people, but it still packed a pretty big punch in the way of numbers. For starters, this place had the seventh best ranking in high school graduation, so local students here tended to do well in their studies. In general, the rankings here were pretty solid. The poverty was low, the income was fairly high, and the rent was reasonable, but still desirable. The unemployment rate here was a little higher, but still better than 74 other counties on our list. We might also add that the commute time was the 19th lowest, at merely 23 minutes on average. But what is there to do for fun in this peaceful little locale? Why, in Maryville alone there’s music at Two Doors Down, there’s nightlife at Brackins, and there’s even a golf course or two for the more sporty types.

7. Hamilton County

Best Counties In Tennessee
Source: Flickr user Patrick McConahay
Named after our first Secretary of the Treasury, Alexander Hamilton, this county seemed aptly to know what it was doing when it came to money. The home prices here were some of the most affordable on our list, as was the rent, so folks looking for a good deal might want to check out this county. Still, locals didn’t have to pass up on many perks, despite lower housing costs. The commute times were a low 22 minutes on average, the unemployment was fairly low, as was the poverty, and over 86 percent of local students graduated from high school. Even the median household income was well over $46,000 per year. It also helped that this county’s seat was Chattanooga, a large and fairly exciting city to call home. Well, at least we think that food at Urban Stack Burger Lounge and drinks at The Terminal Brewhouse are exciting.

8. Washington County

Best Counties In Tennessee
Source: Flickr user Dan Grogan
This county is sometimes called “The Birthplace Of Tennessee,” given it’s the oldest county in the state. But besides all that history, this place still knows how to be awesome, with perfect pizza at Scratch Brick Oven Foodworks, and the hiking at Buffalo Mountain Park. We will admit that the poverty here was a little higher, but this county still fared better than 69 other counties, so that’s not too bad. The unemployment was the fifth lowest, the rent was affordable, but respectable, and the high school graduation rate was the 11th highest on our list. As an added perk, this place had the fourth shortest average commute times in our whole list, and the shortest commutes in our top 10 at just 20 minutes. That ought to give locals a little something to smile about.

9. Davidson County

Best Counties In Tennessee
Source: Flickr user Student Government
This is easily the biggest county in our top 10, and at a whopping 419,807 locals, this spot puts many others to shame. Plus, this musical county’s seat is none other than Music City, Nashville. We can’t even begin to go over all the great music venues local have right next door, but you have to know that this is an exciting and culturally rich place to live. The numbers also say that this place is pretty wonderful. The high school graduation rate was the 19th highest, the commute times were low, the home prices showed how much locals want to live here, and the income was the 12th highest in our rankings. Even the unemployment here was fairly low. We do have to say that the poverty here was higher than many other places, but it still beat out over half the other counties in the state, which means locals are less likely to be worrying about financial troubles here.

10. Montgomery County

Best Counties In Tennessee
Source: Flickr user Brent Moore
Last, but certainly not least on our counties list is Montgomery County, home to 103,675 wonderful people. Most of these folks seem to reside in Clarksville, which makes sense considering it has Blackhorse Pub & Brewery for late night fun and food, as well as several actually decent sushi places (a rarity in Tennessee). As far as things we can actually count, the numbers here were generally solid. The income was high, the commute times were fairly low, the poverty was fairly low, and the unemployment certainly wasn’t the worst on our list. It was slightly more expensive to live here, but not completely unreasonable. The big selling point here was the second best high school graduation rate. In fact, almost 91 percent of local students graduated from high school here, which is a good sign for their futures and the future of the county.

Easily The 10 Best Of Tennessee

Whether you like peace, quiet, and nature, or if you like big city fun, buzz, and energy, there’s a county in this top 10 that’s sure to knock your socks off. Sure, our top 50 are solid, but these are the places to go if you’re in search of a Tennessee home. And if you do happen to be in that market, Drop us a line, and we’ll see if our house-selling expertise can’t help point you in the right direction. Best Counties In Tennessee