It’s no secret that people from all over the world are being drawn to my favorite southern belle, this gem-of-a-city, Nashville.
Once a little-known treasure, Nashville now boasts diversity and perks former known only to residents in larger cities like Los Angeles, Chicago and New York.
With the momentum of a steady movement, homebuyers of all ages are coming to the city and buying newly built homes in Nashville’s urban core.
In Davidson County alone, 100,000 new households will emerge in the next 25 years.
Is it possible that a city with southern, small-town vibes actually contains enough perks to satisfy the most sophisticated city-dweller? We think so and here’s seven reasons why.
“What makes the Nashville food scene so exceptional is its fusion between Southern comforts and culinary adventure. Nashville chefs don’t forgo their roots – many in fact source their food locally – rather, they transcend them.” – Toast, November, 2016
From Thai to Southern cuisine, American fare to French, and from Spanish tapas to gourmet vegan, the only trouble you might find with eating in Nashville is deciding on a place for your Sunday brunch or Friday dinner party.
There is no greater example of Nashville’s sense of community than its 1,000 year flood in May of 2010.
Between May 3 and December 31, more than 22,000 people donated 91,000 hours to flood recovery and restoration efforts in more than 1,200 volunteer projects through Hands On Nashville alone.
To put 91,000 hours in perspective – that’s nearly 11 years of time. The city’s incredible spirit of compassion, service, and hope drew national attention, and that spirit continues on today.
Community centers and churches across the state became havens for families who lost homes. Some citizens even took it upon themselves to rent excavation equipment to clear roads, as the county road crews were overwhelmed.
When officials announced the need to conserve water, water usage almost immediately decreased.
A year after the flood, the Community Foundation of Middle Tennessee said it had received $14 million in donations from individuals and events.
3. ART CULTURE
Nashville’s shrines to country music are as interesting as they are engaging – The Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum and The Ryman Auditorium are both excellent places to tour and learn about the musical legends who put Nashville on the map.
On the other side of the cultural pendulum, the Parthenon in Centennial Park hearkens back to Nashville’s previous reputation as “The Athens of the South”, long before the Music City moniker, and The Frist Center for Visual Arts remains Nashville’s favorite example of art deco architecture.
Surrounding these momental acknowledgments to art culture is the very tight-knit community of artists and art supporters who meet for monthly or weekly meetings supporting, displaying and teaching art of every kind.
On Nashville’s 5th Avenue, a majority of the city’s most prominent art galleries participate in a monthly art crawl which they call First Saturday Art Crawl.
Throughout this day, the galleries provide complimentary beverages and tours of the galleries, while Nashville Downtown Partnership provides free shuttle services for the public.
Also on the first Saturday of every month, another twenty venues in the Wedgewood/Houston neighborhood participate in an art and music crawl, bringing together recording studios, music venues, galleries, art studios and pop-up shops.
It’s safe to say that the arts culture is Nashville’s thing.
When I was in Ireland on vacation a couple years ago, I told my new Irish friends that I was from Nashville. I might as well have said I lived in Hollywood or Beverly Hills, because they grinned from ear-to-ear and started dancing a knee-slapping line dance.
Everyone knows Nashville because of country music.
But Nashville isn’t just music city because of country music anymore.
While The Ryman and The Grand Ole Opry will always remain on the top of every tourist’s list, the locals enjoy discovering music at venues like Mercy Lounge, where you can catch a performance of The White Stripes.
Nashville’s rock venue, The Basement, boasts a performance by Metallica in front of 175 people on the band’s 2008 trip to Bonnaroo, and it’s also where Mumford & Sons ended their sold-out, three-night appearance at The Ryman.
Venues like 3rd and Lindsey continue intimate, house-gathering feels with cool acts from local house faves The Wooten Brothers to household names like Sheryl Crow, Ed Sheeran, and Lady Antebellum.
Living in Nashville’s urban core allows residents to effortlessly complete their Friday night rounds: dinner, venue, drinks, crash, repeat.
In addition to the lifestyle benefits of living in the urban core, Nashville has just claimed the third best city in the nation for job markets.
This is largely due to the industrial backbone of the city: Health care. In Nashville, health care is the largest and fastest-growing industry, with 250 health care companies headquartered in the region.
Vanderbilt University, the Hospital Corporation of American (HCA) and Community Health Systems (CHS) employ thousands of residents. Smaller health care startups have taken root here as well, with many business accelerator programs like the Jumpstart Foundry and Healthbox Technologies shepherding their growth.
Employment in the Nashville area grew nearly 20 percent from 2009 to 2015, outpacing the region’s overall population growth of 10 percent in that time period. Talk about a hot job market!
For a cherry-on-top, Tennessee’s tax rates are favorable for relocating and growing businesses and the region’s low cost of living is attractive to future employees.
Maybe students have such a high graduation rate in Nashville because of the fact that there are 25 post-secondary institutions in the area. That’s right: twenty-five.
In fact, Nashville has a better percentage for all postgraduate degrees across the board, including master’s and doctorates. And 60 percent of graduates decide to remain living in Nashville after graduation.
Looks like I’m not the only person who thinks living in Nashville is hard to beat.
USA Today has called Nashville one of the best green urban spaces in America, with over 90 parks and 75 miles of greenway, including 190 miles of trails.
Just a stone’s throw from the Green Hills neighborhood is the beautiful Radnor Lake, a still lake nestled under the canopy of densely-packed trees. A few minutes here and you’ll forget you are mere miles away from the heart of downtown.
A bike ride away from Nashville’s hip neighborhood 12 South is Sevier Park, one of the best green spaces in Nashville. This park offers two different playgrounds as well as covered picnic areas, making it the perfect destination for families.
In addition, Sevier Park also boasts a recently completed community center with a gymnasium, fitness center, and meeting space.
On the artsy Eastside, Shelby Bottoms Greenway provides a beautiful green space of bottomland hardwood forests, open fields, wetlands and streams – all in walking/biking distance from the shops and restaurants of Five Points.
The success stories for these neighborhood transformations are pretty amazing: 12South, East Nashville, Germantown, Sylvan Park. And, the still transforming: Cleveland Park, Eighth Avenue/Melrose, Inglewood, The Nations.
People moving into Nashville have voiced that they want walkable, mixed-use neighborhoods, and Nashville has responded beautifully.
Nashville’s urban core neighborhoods have developed into cozy clusters of artistic houses, safe walking areas, restaurants nestled between shops and salons, woven together by the trees, flowers and shrubbery that have been giving Nashville its beauty glow since the days of its early settlers.
The easy-breezy Nashville urban lifestyle is like that last piece of my grandma’s chocolate pie. If you don’t claim it, someone else will.
So yes, I’ll take that last piece of awesome. Please and thank you.