Known for its storied past, rich musical culture, picture-perfect scenery and mouthwatering barbecue, Tennessee is a destination for the books. But Southern charm isn’t the state’s only selling point. Many visitors end up starting a new chapter of their lives here, where family-friendly qualities abound.
Tennessee, for one, ranks No. 9 on WalletHub’s “Best & Worst States for Jobs” ranking and is especially suitable for working moms, outperforming 37 states in professional opportunities for women. That comes as no surprise, considering Tennessee is home to several of the fastest-growing cities in the U.S. Plus, families’ earnings go a long way: Besides having the fifth lowest cost of living in the nation, Tennessee does not tax wages and salaries.
But some cities in the Volunteer State are more conducive than others to family life. To identify those places, WalletHub’s data team compared 58 cities across 21 key livability indicators. Our data set ranges from housing affordability to quality of school system to unemployment rate. Read on for the full ranking, experts’ take on certain family matters and our detailed methodology.
Best Places to Raise a Family in Tennessee
‘Family Life & Fun’ Rank
‘Education, Health & Safety’ Rank
|4||Spring Hill, TN||68.42||27||3||8||4|
|6||White House, TN||64.67||24||8||10||9|
|10||Mount Juliet, TN||60.66||35||5||14||12|
|12||Oak Ridge, TN||55.87||44||6||12||26|
|18||La Vergne, TN||52.59||15||20||27||21|
|20||Middle Valley, TN||51.43||51||43||15||11|
|23||Johnson City, TN||49.76||18||15||29||30|
|35||East Ridge, TN||43.70||26||45||30||29|
|40||Union City, TN||42.83||12||35||28||51|
|44||Red Bank, TN||40.84||32||37||43||45|
Ask the Experts
Families share a number of common priorities when choosing a new place to call home. With that in mind, we asked a panel of experts in fields such as family studies and public health to share their insight regarding the process of evaluating prospective Tennessee cities on a family’s shortlist. Click on the experts’ profiles below to read their bios and their thoughts on the following key questions:
- What are some tips for young families looking for quality public schools and affordable housing in Tennessee?
- How can local officials in Tennessee make their cities more attractive to young families?
- Looking just within Tennessee, to what degree is child development and a family’s quality of life influenced by the city they live in?
Ask the Experts
To help families find the best Tennessee cities in which to put down roots, WalletHub’s analysts compared a sample of 58 cities in the state across four key dimensions: 1) Family Life & Fun, 2) Education, Health & Safety, 3) Affordability and 4) Socio-economics. Our sample considers only the city proper in each case and excludes cities in the surrounding metro area.
We evaluated the four dimensions using 21 relevant metrics, which are listed below with their corresponding weights. Each metric was graded on a 100-point scale, with a score of 100 representing the most suitable conditions for family life.
Finally, we determined each city’s weighted average across all metrics to calculate its total score, which we then used to rank-order our sample.
Family Life & Fun – Total Points: 25
- Playgrounds per Capita: Full Weight (~4.17 Points)
- Number of Attractions: Full Weight (~4.17 Points)
Note: “Attractions” includes, for instance, museums, theaters and zoos.
- Share of Families with Young Children: Double Weight (~8.33 Points)
Note: “Young Children” includes ages 0 to 17.
- Weather: Full Weight (~4.17 Points)
Note: Based on WalletHub’s “Cities with the Best & Worst Weather” ranking.
- Average Commute Time (in Minutes): Full Weight (~4.17 Points)
Education, Health & Safety – Total Points: 25
- Quality of School System: Full Weight (~2.94 Points)
- High School Graduation Rate: Half Weight (~1.47 Points)
- Air Quality: Full Weight (~2.94 Points)
- Pediatricians per Capita: Full Weight (~2.94 Points)
- Share of Uninsured Children: Full Weight (~2.94 Points)
Note: “Children” includes ages 0 to 17.
- Violent-Crime Rate per Capita: Double Weight (~5.88 Points)
- Property-Crime Rate per Capita: Double Weight (~5.88 Points)
Affordability – Total Points: 25
- Housing Affordability: Full Weight (~12.50 Points)
Note: This metric was calculated as follows: Housing Costs (accounts for both rental and sale prices) / Median Annual Family Income.
- General Affordability: Full Weight (~12.50 Points)
Note: This metric was calculated as follows: Median Annual Family Income / Cost-of-Living Index.
Socio-economics – Total Points: 25
- Separation & Divorce Rate: Full Weight (~3.57 Points)
- Share of Two-Parent Families: Full Weight (~3.57 Points)
- Share of Families Living Below Poverty Level: Full Weight (~3.57 Points)
- Share of Households Receiving Food Stamps: Full Weight (~3.57 Points)
- Unemployment Rate: Full Weight (~3.57 Points)
- Wealth Gap: Full Weight (~3.57 Points)
- Foreclosure Rate: Full Weight (~3.57 Points)
Sources: Data used to create this ranking were collected from the U.S. Census Bureau, Bureau of Labor Statistics, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Environmental Protection Agency, County Health Rankings, Department of Housing and Urban Development, Renwood RealtyTrac, SchoolDigger.com, Yelp, TripAdvisor, AreaVibes and WalletHub research.