When families search for a place to settle down, they look for good schools, affordable living and employment opportunities. To help young families find the best towns in Tennessee, NerdWallet examined the data and asked the following questions:
Does the town have good public schools? We compiled scores from GreatSchools.org, an organization that provides a school rating from 1-10, with 10 as the highest score. Higher ratings led to a higher score.
Can you afford to live there? We looked at the cost of homeownership, including the median home value as well as monthly homeowner costs including mortgage payments, real estate taxes, insurance costs, utilities and other bills. Lower costs led to a higher score.
Is the town prosperous? We evaluated the local economy by looking at median household income and income growth over the past decade. Higher median income and strong growth led to a higher score.
The best towns in Tennessee for young families
Collierville has one eye on the past and the other on the future. The town square features antebellum architecture and one-of-a-kind boutiques, antique stores, specialty shops and an old-fashioned gas station. Students in Collierville are on track for a bright future, with a school system that was rated a perfect 10 at GreatSchools. As well, at Collierville High School, 98% of students go on to a four- or two-year college.
2. Spring Hill
Spring Hill has been recognized for its outstanding educational system. GreatSchools rated it 9 out of 10 for its strong standardized-test scores. The schools here also shine beyond academics. Summit High supports an extracurricular program that launched a community service club through the town’s Kiwanis organization.
3. Mt. Juliet
Mt. Juliet is stationed at the crossroads of major interstate highways, and it boasts that it is just a day’s drive to over half of the U.S. population. There is more to Mt. Juliet than its location: it also has one of the lowest tax rates in the state, which helps any family’s bottom line. As home to one of Tennessee’s largest Little League parks, athletic kids will find a place to play and compete at over a dozen baseball and softball fields. Additionally, both parents and children can enjoy fishing and boating at nearby lakes.
Nationally recognized for its historical protection efforts, Franklin is a city that is as grand as its namesake. Home to Nissan North America headquarters and Verizon offices, Franklin provides employment opportunities and boasts a high quality of life for young families. Residents can enjoy Franklin’s Main Street Festival for arts and crafts, or the popular Wine Down Main Street tasting event, which welcomes over 2,000 wine enthusiasts each year.
5. Oak Ridge
Oak Ridge, nicknamed the “Secret City,” was established in 1942 as a key site for WWII’s Manhattan Project. The city still offers a variety of lucrative jobs, and scientific development remains a crucial part of Oak Ridge’s economy and culture. Today, the Department of Energy runs a nuclear research laboratory and performs national security work. Oak Ridge also boasts family recreation at the nearby Great Smoky Mountains National Park.
Brentwood, an affluent suburb of Nashville, is celebrated for the strength of its educational system. With a perfect 10 GreatSchools rating, it is no surprise that students of Brentwood High School have a high graduation rate, at 93.2%. National Merit Scholars are recognized each year, with two winning the scholarship this year. Brentwood is also a hub for outdoorsy families. Its Radnor Lake State Park is the country’s largest designated state wilderness park in a metropolitan area.
Congress has designated Bristol as the Birthplace of Country Music, and the city lives up to its name. Every fall, residents celebrate the city’s heritage with the Bristol Rhythm & Roots Reunion, a music festival held in city’s downtown. The festival, which features at least 150 local and national bands, attracts thousands of visitors every year. Bristol is also home to the Bristol Motor Speedway, a NASCAR track.
Hendersonville High in recent years bolstered its performing arts program with the help of a former student, Taylor Swift, who donated $75,000 to the school. On the weekends, residents can go outside to the northern shore of Old Hickory Lake for hiking, skiing, fishing, boating and more.
9. Johnson City
Johnson City, the birthplace of Mountain Dew soda, now has a growing health care industry and opportunities for family entertainment. There are career opportunities at some of the state’s best medical facilities, including the Johnson City Medical Center, at the heart of Tennessee’s Med-Tech Corridor. When it’s time for fun, Johnson City residents head to the Little Chicago Blues Festival that celebrates the city’s Prohibition-era speakeasies, and the Umoja Unity Festival that highlights the city’s diverse cultural history.
Kingsport was named an All-American City by the National Civic League because of its inclusiveness, diversity and strong civic engagement. Kingsport is the start of the 200-mile Daniel Boone Wilderness Trail, and it hosts a number of family-focused events every year. In July, Kingsport’s skies are dotted with the colorful hot air balloons of Fun Fest, a nine-day family festival that is considered one of the top summer events in the Southeast, with an annual attendance of over 180,000.
The best towns in Tennessee for young families
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|Rank||City||Nearest big city||GreatSchools rating||Median home value||Monthly owner costs||Median household income||Income change 1999-2011||Score|
Our analysis included 59 cities and towns in Tennessee. Only places with populations over 10,000 were included. The score for each location is based on the following data:
- GreatSchools rating. GreatSchools ratings are calculated by averaging the weighted overall rating for each school in the city.
- Median home values for 2011 are from the U.S. Census Bureau’s American Community Survey.
- Monthly homeowner costs for 2011 are from the American Community Survey.
- Median household incomes for 2011 are from the American Community Survey.
- Income changes from 1999 to 2011 are from the U.S. Census Bureau.
Memphis, Tennessee, image via iStock.