I hear this question from most of my out-of-town buyers at some point during our search. Our market is booming, and it can seem strange, – even to those anxious to come here – that Nashville is so in-demand. The fact that the demand has been going strong for roughly seven years and shows no sign of abating seems incredible, until you look at the underlying causes for Nashville’s popularity and its recent resurgence.
In April of 1998, Nashville was hit by two tornados. Over 300 homes were significantly damaged or destroyed in East Nashville, and the downtown area suffered major damage as well. Insurance money poured into the city over the next couple years, and bolstered the efforts already begun by then-mayor Phil Bredesen to revitalize the downtown area. As East Nashville transformed itself into a quirky, walkable community of hipsters and artists, downtown became an economic powerhouse, featuring a new Arena and a rehabilitated Ryman Auditorium. Over the years, more major developments like high rise condominiums, a new convention center, the Schermerhorn Symphony, and the Ascend Amphitheater took form in the newly burgeoning city center. By the mid-2000s, Nashville’s downtown area had transformed itself into a desirable tourist destination, featuring a plethora of live music, dining, and night life hot spots.
During that same period, other areas were changing as well. North of downtown, developers were renovating in Germantown, sparking a seemingly-overnight transformation into one of the city’s premier walkable neighborhoods featuring some of the our finest restaurants. Midtown, sandwiched between the honky tonks of Broadway and the recording studios of Music Row, saw significant changes and growth too. What used to be old industrial rail yards became Nashville’s hottest new area – The Gulch. High rise condos next to fine dining, dance bars and historical treasures like the Station Inn drew people interested in urban walkable living.
It’s that interest that fuels Nashville’s growth, along with a couple of happy accidents and changing attitudes. In 2006, Nashville gained 2,280 new downtown residents. That number has steadily increased, with 12,402 new downtown residents projected for the 2017 season. Many of these new residents come from more mature, large market cities like Los Angeles, San Diego and San Francisco. We see large number of Chicagoans and New Yorkers moving here too. What makes us so attractive to large market natives? Affordability and walkability.
Nashville’s cost of living consistently ranks among the lowest in comparable cities across the nation. Combine affordable housing, no state income tax and a low unemployment rate (4.6% in 2015) with a mild and pleasant climate. Add an organic and thriving music scene, a growing number of walkable communities, and a change in attitudes trending toward the locally owned, locally sourced businesses Nashville has embraced for decades, and you have a desirable place to live.
56 percent of millennials and 46 percent of baby boomers want to live in walkable, mixed use neighborhoods. The same trends driving the success of Uber and Lyft are driving the Nashville boom. While anything can change, those trends seem to be driven by changing attitudes about our climate and lifestyle choices that support sustainable growth. For these reasons, I suspect we’ll be seeing growth here for a long time to come. We hope you’ll join us!