Moving From California To Tennessee – A Detailed Guide

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Moving to Tennessee

Of late, there have been more than a few Californians moving out of the state. The rising taxes over already-inflated prices combined with the recent housing crisis are some of the biggest reasons for what is termed as the ‘Calexodus’.

What’s worth noticing, however, is that a lot of people who move out of California choose Tennessee to be their new home. This isn’t surprising when you take a look at all that this state has to offer. A growing economy, relatively affordable cost of living, a music scene like none other–and all of this packaged in a small-town-meets-metro vibe. Not enough to convince you yet? Keep on reading our guide to moving from California to Tennessee to fall in love with the Volunteer State!


If you are looking to move from California to Tennessee, you’ll have to make peace with giving up the beautiful Cali weather. Since California has only two seasons–wet and dry–it is easy to understand and anticipate changes in the weather.

On average, the temperatures in the summer season are hottest in the month of July, where they are in the higher 80s. On the other hand, the average winter low is around 39°F, making both seasons bearable. When it comes to precipitation, California receives rain between late December and February. However, the rains are not very severe and generally pass in short bouts. Sunny California is also the least snowy state in the country, receiving only about 7.1 inches of snow between January and February.

On the other hand, the weather in Tennessee is a lot more colorful. You get to experience all four seasons in relatively moderate climatic conditions. The winters are cold but not freezing and the summers are warm. You may find slight differences in the average temperatures if you go from the mountains in the east, to the flats in the west. To give you a clearer scale, the average statewide high in the summer is 89°F, while the average low temperature is 67°F.

On the other hand, the winter season in Tennessee sees temperatures ranging from 49°F to 30°F. So, it is safe to say that you will experience different kinds of precipitation as a resident of Tennessee.

Speaking of precipitation, Tennessee is one of the wettest states in the US, according to Bestplaces. It experiences about 53 inches of rain annually which is rather erratically distributed throughout the year. Even the driest month in this area, October sees an average of 3.8 inches of rain. Tennessee is one of the least snowy places in the country as well. You get an average of 4.8 inches of snow annually, with the snowy season being from late November to February.

To tie it with a bow, when you move from California to Tennessee, you move from one area with moderate climate to another area with a moderate climate. This is to say that, climatically, you won’t be facing any severe changes. The only difference is that Tennessee weather is much more colorful and pretty, and it changes shades every season.


Cost Of Living

According to the Bureau of Economic Analysis, the state of California is considerably more expensive to live in than the national average. In fact, it is about 15.4% more expensive. Even if you miss everything about the state, once you move to Tennessee, you will not miss the cost of living. Tennessee, on the other hand, is about 10% less expensive than the national average, making it the state with the 14th-lowest overall cost of living.

See Also: Average Cost of State to State Move

Buying A House

It’s very well known that housing in California is extremely expensive. In fact, it is more than double the national average home price. This is because of a stark deficit in the supply of homes on sale, as well as the fact that it is a seller’s market. This is also one of the many reasons that people are moving to states like Tennessee, where the average price of a house is well below the national average.

However, you might have to pay a little higher than the statewide average if you are looking for a place in Memphis or Nashville since these are the biggest metro areas in the state. To give you a clear idea of the difference in home prices, here is a table compiled from data taken from Zillow:

Median Home Value$758,360$277,805

Renting A House

Because of the difference in the housing markets of both states, the rents in California and Tennessee follow a similar pattern. You’ll notice that the rents in California exceed the national average by a significant amount, while Tennessee is much below it. For the clearest picture possible, here is a table showing rents in both states, based on data taken from BestPlaces:

1 Bedroom2 Bedroom3 Bedroom


As with everything else, the tax burdens in California and Tennessee are poles apart. Not surprisingly, California comes out on top as the more expensive place to live in. Here’s a breakdown and comparison of the sales tax, income tax, and property tax in California and Tennessee, so you know what to expect once you move.

Starting with the income tax, the residents of California have to pay income tax at a rate of 5.36% statewide. On the other hand, the residents of Tennessee don’t have to worry about income tax at all! They only have to file the federal income tax as well as the IT returns on the same.

When it comes to property taxes, the state of California levies an average effective tax rate of 0.73% statewide. On the other hand, Tennessee only requires its residents to pay about 0.64% as their property tax. Of course, these are the base statewide rates. You will have to account for the property taxes that your county and/or city levies. In any case, Tennessee will be much cheaper than California.

Lastly, both of these states are very close in terms of sales taxes. The residents of California have to pay a base sales tax rate of 7.25%. On the other hand, the state of Tennessee charges a flat 7% as the base sales tax. So, Tennessee is still more affordable than California, albeit slightly.



One of the biggest concerns of moving into a new place would be the amount of money you would have to spend every month just on the operational entities. Starting with the state of California, you will end up paying about $145 for basic utilities including electricity, garbage disposal, heating, and water. On the other hand, Tennessee will only cost you $123 on average per month.

The cost of food is something that can make or break your experience of living in any location. Thankfully, as a resident of California who would have to pay around $3,468 on average, moving to Tennessee would mean that this expense would go down to $3,214, according to 24/7 WallStreet. Yes, both these states are almost in line with each other. So, you don’t have to worry a lot about this part at all.

Lastly, when you consider the amount of money you would have to spend on healthcare, Tennessee is actually slightly more expensive than the state of California. To put it in numbers, the state of California will punch around $3,711 out of your pockets, while Tennessee will cost around $4,925. These are costs for insurance premiums and out-of-pocket medical costs. However, regardless of which state you’re in, the healthcare systems are very efficient in both.

Crime Rate

Safety is one of the most important aspects of choosing a place to live in. Unfortunately, if you’re considering moving to Tennessee, you’ll have to deal with higher crime rates. According to NeighborhoodScout, the total crime rate in California is 25.70, while the same in Tennessee is 31.55. The total crime rate is a sum of the property crime and violent crime rates in any area.

Speaking of the violent crime rates, California sees a violent crime rate of 4.40 incidents (per 1,000 residents), which is slightly above the national median of 4. The chances of becoming a victim of violent crimes in California is 1 in 227. Property crimes in the area are also above the national median at 21.30, bringing the chances of becoming a victim of property crimes in California to 1 in 47.

On the other hand, the violent crime rate in Tennessee is 6.70 incidents (per 1,000 residents). This is significantly higher than the national median. This means that the chances of becoming a victim of violent crimes in Tennessee are 1 in 149. Similarly, the property crime rate in Tennessee is 28.84, almost ten points above the national median; the chances of becoming a victim of property crimes in Tennessee rises to 1 in 40.


Economy And Employment Opportunities

It’s no wonder that California is home to a very strong economy. However, Tennessee does not fall behind by a lot. US News ranks the former the tenth place when it comes to the strength of the economy. Tennessee, on the other hand, gets ranked 16th in the country. So, while you might have to make do with an economy that is slightly weaker than the one in California, it’s balanced by the low cost of living.

Talking about the economy in Tennessee, you are welcomed by a very diverse economy that is driven by industries like entertainment, agriculture, automotive, manufacturing, tourism, and healthcare. All of these industries have contributed to the GDP of Tennessee rising to around $421,086 million in 2021.

Here is a table showing the average income per year in the two states with data taken from Payscale:

Average Income Per Year$77,226$62,000

The state of Tennessee is also one to experience consistent growth. The unemployment rate in the area is going down slowly but steadily. As of January 2022, the rate stands at a modest 3.5%. While the average salary is $62,000, you will need to make more than $80,548 to have a salary that is considered ‘good’. You can get yourself a job in this state in one of the many huge employers that call Tennessee home.

Here is a list of the biggest employers in the state:

  • FedEx
  • HCA Healthcare
  • Dolgencorp
  • Dollar General
  • Autozone
  • Cracker Barrel


The overall quality of education in Tennessee is ranked at 33 by US News. When broken down, you will see that PreK-12 education is ranked at 31, and higher education is ranked at 29 across the country. However, the state has employed multiple strategies to improve the quality of education and the future does look bright for Tennessee’s educational infrastructure. Here is a list of the top schools and colleges in Tennessee:


  • Apison Elementary Schools
  • Farragut Elementary School
  • Valor Flagship Academy
  • Martin Luther King Jr. School
  • Ravenwood High School
  • Hume – Fogg High

Colleges & Universities

  • Vanderbilt University
  • Milligan College
  • Rhodes College
  • Tennessee Technological University

Also Read: How to Find a Good School When Moving

Traffic And Transportation

When you compare the public transportation networks in California and Tennessee, you will see that both the states have diverse and largely extensive transportation systems. California has public transportation networks that are extensive but don’t cover every corner of the state. Tennessee, on the other hand, has public transportation in each and every county as well as different services that connect you to these counties.

The public transportation system in Tennessee can easily be divided into two categories: urban and rural. Both the urban and rural transportation systems have fixed-route bus systems. Some areas also have light-rail systems that work in tandem with road-based public transportation in order to cover the entire state.

However, because of the frequency of the public modes of transport and the distance between places, the people of Tennessee will swear on the necessity of a car to move around the state. One more factor that makes owning a vehicle in Tennessee much more integral is the fact that the roads frequently switch from tarmac to gravel, making it much more time-consuming for transportation networks to actually get to different destinations.

Lastly, there are a total of six airports in the state, out of which two are international: Memphis International Airport and Nashville International Airport. All of the airports in the state are great for traveling inside the state. However, if you want to get out of the state, you need to use the international airports or the Tri-Cities Regional Airport.

See Also: Moving From Michigan To Tennessee – A Detailed Guide

Best Places To Live In Tennessee


There’s no way that we could start this list without mentioning the ever-famous ‘Music City’. Nashville is the capital of Tennessee and is known for its natural beauty, access to the Cumberland River, and a social scene that will make most cities jealous. Moreover, WalletHub puts the housing market in Nashville as the fourth-highest ranking in the country, making it a great place for new families to settle down in.

Population: 663,750

Median Home Value: $239,000

Monthly Median Rent: $1,100

Annual Median Household Income: $59,828


Brentwood is known as one of the richest ‘small’ cities in the country. It is a quiet and serene suburb that is continuously growing in strength and fame. In fact, buying a house here will put you next to iconic celebrities like Taylor Swift, Keith Urban, Sheryl Crow, or basically anyone trying to get away from the noise and crowds of a big city. It is safe to say that Brentwood is one of the richest suburbs in Nashville so expect your housing and living expenses here to be on the higher end.

Population: 42,407

Median Home Value: $655,400

Monthly Median Rent: $2,085

Annual Median Household Income: $168,688


The city of Franklin is one with a lot of history and it is very evident once you get there. Franklin is named after Benjamin Franklin and is a city that played a huge part in the American Civil War. Nowadays, this city is known for its affordable housing, friendly communities, and great educational opportunities. So, it is one of the best places for families and retirees to settle down in.

The presence of a variety of educational institutions like Williamson College, O’More College of Design, and Williamson Christian College makes Franklin a perfect living spot for young students.

Population: 77,939

Median Home Value: $412,400

Monthly Median Rent: $1,481

Annual Median Household Income: $98,231


Germantown is a suburb in Memphis that is now growing very fast. It is located about fourteen miles away from Downtown Memphis and is home to very affordable housing and a lot of amenities. The economy of the area is driven by retail and commercial sectors, making it much more desirable to young professionals and students. A few specialties of Germantown include Oaklawn Garden, the Germantown Performing Arts Center, and the Germantown Charity Horse Show.

Population: 39,193

Median Home Value: $331,700

Monthly Median Rent: $1,387

Annual Median Household Income: $118,163

Also Read: Moving To Chattanooga TN – Relocation Guide for 2022


Cost Of Moving From California To Tennessee

On average, moving from California to Tennessee would cost you around $5,064. However, depending upon the moving company you choose, and the services that you would require, your entire move might cost you anywhere between $3,550 to $8,700. While choosing a moving company, always make sure to choose ones that are licensed, bonded, and have a solid online presence. Compare and contrast your picks and make sure to inspect reviews and ratings on reliable consumer forums and websites beforehand.

Summing Up

Moving from California to Tennessee is a much bigger adjustment than just the monetary aspect. The weather is different, the job market is different, even the social side of things has a different flavor in this beautiful, multi-terrain state. However, once you do get used to Tennessee, you will find beauty in the small-town-meets-metropolitan-amenities kind of vibe that Tennessee has to offer.

FAQs On Moving From California To Tennessee

Why Are Californians Moving To Tennessee?

A lot of Californians are moving out of the state and moving to Tennessee. This is because of the high cost of living, high taxes, and complicated politics in the Golden State. The cities in Tennessee are rather relaxed and have a lot of amenities that ex-Californians are looking for.

Is It Cheaper To Live In California Or Tennessee?

Without a doubt, Tennessee is much more affordable to live in than California. This is evident after looking at statistics like the cost of living, taxes, cost of housing, and even the cost of utilities in both states.

What Is The Cost Of Living In Tennessee?

According to UpNest, the cost of living in Tennessee in 2021 puts it at the sixth place with the lowest cost of living in the United States of America. The cost of living index, which has the US national average at 100, gives Tennessee a score of 88.7. This means that it is well below average and will prove to be quite affordable for you.


What Is The Best Small Town To Live In Tennessee?

According to multiple sources, the best small town in the state of Tennessee is the city of Franklin. It is located about 20 miles south of Nashville and offers all the amenities that one would look for in a new city to live in.

Written by

Alex Sherr is the founder of My Long Distance Movers, a blog that provides moving information and resources for people who are relocating. He has more than two decades of experience in the moving and relocation industry, and he is passionate about helping people relocate smoothly and efficiently. When he's not writing or blogging, Alex enjoys spending time with his wife and two young children.