Best Cities for Young Families in Tennessee

Studies
Best Cities for Young Families in Tennessee

For many young couples, buying their first house when they are also starting their family is a daunting prospect.

Even though quality of life matters to all future homeowners, young families may have tighter finances that limit their options. NerdWallet crunched the data for the second year to help consumers find the “Best Cities for Young Families.” Our analysis considers several factors:

  • Home affordability. We looked at median home value and selected monthly homeowner costs to prioritize affordable communities.
  • Prosperity and growth. Looking at current and past family incomes, we calculated the income of residents, as well as the projected long-term growth of each city.
  • Quality of education. We looked at ratings from GreatSchools to find the best schools for young families.
  • Family friendliness. This year, we added a new component to our methodology — the percentage of families with school-age children and the poverty rate for young children. This measure helps determine if an area is not only affordable for families, but if it is also a healthy one for children.

NerdWallet crunched the data for 99 places in Tennessee — cities, towns and census-designated places. Only places with over 5,000 residents were analyzed. To see the full data set, click here.

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Our analysis revealed some trends:

Convenient commutes. While we didn’t include commute times in our calculations, the correlation between shorter commutes and the top cities was high. All but one of our top 10 locations is within a 35-mile commute of a major city.

Medium-size cities are big. The majority of our top places have 7,000 to 11,000 residents, which is about the state median.

Nashville area is No. 1. In our list of best cities for young families, the clear winner is the Nashville metropolitan area, where half of our top 10 is located.     

Best Cities for Young Families in Tennessee

1. Arlington

Arlington tops our list for its high growth in prosperity, as well as for its “family friendliness” score, our newly introduced measure that helped it jump up 20 spots from last year. The town, which saw a 77.4% increase in family income over the past 15 years, also shows a zero rate of poverty for families with young children. As the only place on our list where over 50% of households include kids, Arlington makes an excellent home for parents who commute to the Memphis metro area.

2. Atoka

Atoka is an upper-middle income community with highly rated schools at www.greatschools.org. About a third of families have children in a town where no children under age 5 live in poverty, according to the 2013 U.S. Census Bureau’s American Communities Survey. Atoka is proud of its parks, which include Nancy Lane, Pioneer and Walker. In 2013, the town approved the Atoka Greenway trail, which will allow pedestrian access between the two parks on Walker Parkway.

3. Mount Carmel

Our only top entry near Kingsport, Mount Carmel is not only a good place for young families, it’s also the second-most affordable place in our top 10 with a median home value of $128,400. In this town of just under 6,000, about 30% of residents are families with kids, which is unsurprising given the 9 out of 10 rating it received at GreatSchools. For families looking for weekend adventure, Mount Carmel is just an hour from the 650,000-acre Cherokee National Forest.

4. Spring Hill

With over 30,000 residents, Spring Hill is the most populous community in our top 10. Families living here will find a lot of company: Nearly half, 41.2%, of the city’s population includes families with children. The city — just 35 minutes south of Nashville — is proud of its industrial sector that it balances with its natural beauty.

5. Nolensville

Good schools, economic growth and a family atmosphere — Nolensville has it all. At 45.9%, Nolensville is home to the state’s second-highest percentage of families with children. The city also has one of the highest income-growth rates, which has increased 44.5% in the past 15 years. Nolensville is an ideal location for families with two working parents, as it’s roughly in the middle of Nashville and Murfreesboro — Tennessee’s largest metro areas. However, living here comes with a price: Nolensville has the highest median home value in our top 10.

6. White House

Named for a two-story white lodging house built in 1829, White House, Tennessee, declares that it is “valuing our future, while protecting our heritage.” While the city of 10,000 showcases its history in the local White House Inn Museum, it also invests in future success with its school system that ranks 8 out of 10 on GreatSchools, and an economic development team that has made a targeted effort to increase the city’s retail sector.

7. Lakeland

Lakeland is a community for families looking for quality schools, and who are willing to pay the price. Lakeland rises above the rest of our list with its 10 rating — the only city in our top 10 to earn a perfect score at GreatSchools, but the median home value of $226,200 makes Lakeland one of the more expensive communities in the state. The high home values reflect a trend of prosperity in Lakeland, which has seen its median family incomes rise 58% in the past 15 years. The city of 12,000 maintains a commitment to its green space, and last year it received its ninth consecutive Tree City USA award for planting and preserving trees.

8. Fairview

Fairview is a place for young families looking for a small, yet accessible community. Fairview is minutes from the downtowns in Franklin and Nashville, as well as the Cool Springs retail area. Fairview’s school system is ranked 8 out of 10 at GreatSchools, and it’s home to the 700-acre Bowie Nature Park. And with a median home value of a low $167,500, Fairview is a bargain even with its long list of amenities.

9. Seymour

Parents seeking affordable living with a good quality of life will find it in Seymour, a census-designated area. While the median home value of $150,800 makes Seymour the second-most affordable place in our top 10, the area isn’t only a good deal, it’s also a healthy place for kids as demonstrated by its zero rate of poverty for families with children under age 5. And for parents, Seymour’s proximity to Knoxville makes it ideal for those seeking a short commute.

10. Lexington

Lexington is the little city that could. With a population of just 7,751, Lexington is the second-smallest city in our top 10. Residents here will find low housing costs — the city’s median home value of $118,000 is the lowest in our top 10. Despite its affordability, no families with young children live in poverty in Lexington.

Best Cities for Young Families in Tennessee

Rank Name Great Schools ranking Median home value  Family income growth 1999-2013  Median family income 2013 Percentage of families with
at least one child under 18
Young Families Score
1 Arlington 8 $220,800 77.36% $98,616 54.3% 77.59
2 Atoka 9 $171,800 37.89% $85,000 35.5% 72.14
3 Mount Carmel 9 $128,400 31.04% $57,137 32.3% 72.08
4 Spring Hill 9 $195,400 31.50% $82,378 41.2% 71.54
5 Nolensville 9 $285,900 44.45% $104,617 45.9% 70.47
6 White House 8 $173,800 36.06% $75,826 36.8% 70.31
7 Lakeland 10 $226,200 57.97% $101,800 27.5% 69.83
8 Fairview 8 $167,500 49.92% $74,688 27.5% 67.09
9 Seymour CDP 7 $150,800 36.92% $61,946 25.1% 65.70
10 Lexington 8 $118,100 33.54% $55,324 18.3% 65.45
11 Collierville 9 $278,100 34.03% $113,698 37.7% 64.70
12 Franklin 10 $307,800 46.61% $101,790 29.7% 64.53
13 Mount Juliet 9 $198,400 18.81% $74,929 30.5% 64.38
14 Signal Mountain 9 $283,700 29.49% $112,656 28.7% 63.32
15 Soddy-Daisy 6 $129,700 37.27% $56,822 22.1% 62.61
16 Greenbrier 8 $145,400 21.73% $58,750 23.4% 62.47
17 La Vergne 7 $132,200 -0.59% $54,901 30.2% 62.07
18 McKenzie 7 $84,700 23.52% $42,394 14.1% 61.97
19 Collegedale 7 $179,900 27.05% $66,496 23.9% 61.73
20 Clarksville 7 $135,600 28.77% $53,339 24.1% 61.64
21 Germantown 9 $281,300 23.21% $127,803 28.7% 61.54
22 Church Hill 6 $127,800 22.41% $53,154 24.3% 61.35
23 Hendersonville 8 $199,500 29.67% $74,723 26.7% 61.14
24 Kingston 8 $143,300 37.94% $62,042 12.6% 61.10
25 South Cleveland CDP 6 $120,700 36.23% $54,468 21.3% 61.08
26 Smyrna 7 $150,000 21.33% $62,547 24.8% 61.00
27 Bartlett 7 $174,100 20.10% $84,026 26.5% 60.83
28 Portland 5 $128,400 38.08% $56,318 23.7% 60.44
29 Dickson 8 $130,900 5.53% $44,988 22.4% 60.25
30 Lawrenceburg 8 $87,700 18.67% $38,989 14.1% 60.23
31 Greeneville 7 $118,500 41.97% $51,294 17.5% 60.15
32 Oak Ridge 8 $148,400 29.80% $74,101 17.4% 60.14
33 Maryville 7 $187,300 32.01% $64,923 25.3% 59.90
34 Paris 8 $79,400 19.22% $38,458 13.4% 59.84
35 Johnson City 9 $152,500 34.15% $54,972 13.5% 59.73
36 Murfreesboro 8 $176,500 25.75% $66,215 20.6% 59.71
37 Kingsport 8 $134,800 32.00% $53,043 15.6% 59.59
38 Rockwood 5 $86,100 25.72% $40,528 16.7% 59.56
39 Bloomingdale CDP 7 $90,400 8.78% $38,621 17.8% 59.48
40 Milan 6 $92,400 2.15% $39,330 18.2% 58.71
41 Brentwood 10 $487,100 22.67% $145,307 42.1% 58.61
42 Bristol 7 $103,500 22.50% $45,741 14.7% 58.59
43 Martin 9 $121,900 36.48% $52,747 9.6% 58.21
44 Millersville 7 $155,900 22.32% $58,551 15.8% 58.17
45 Oakland 4 $167,600 25.33% $71,172 29.1% 58.01
46 Dyersburg 6 $96,400 21.24% $42,136 19.0% 57.63
47 Henderson 7 $105,600 3.28% $42,250 15.6% 57.58
48 Jefferson City 6 $116,200 28.81% $43,750 17.4% 57.34
49 Jonesborough 6 $153,000 35.75% $59,958 13.0% 57.27
50 Farragut 7 $317,100 22.50% $111,991 30.4% 57.13
51 Morris 6 $110,700 20.91% $40,373 19.8% 56.67
52 Knoxville 7 $117,000 29.43% $48,807 10.7% 56.59
53 Loudon 5 $118,800 15.91% $45,682 22.9% 56.56
54 Gallatin 6 $159,000 34.77% $56,469 17.7% 56.31
55 Winchester 5 $100,500 5.84% $43,587 16.0% 56.12
56 Middle Valley CDP 5 $158,200 12.64% $64,875 24.8% 56.07
57 Fayetteville 7 $94,200 33.79% $43,452 12.5% 56.06
58 Manchester 7 $106,900 24.93% $47,978 13.7% 56.01
59 Dayton 6 $123,800 24.44% $41,250 14.1% 55.77
60 Harriman 6 $85,400 38.70% $43,260 14.2% 55.55
61 Sweetwater 5 $105,100 28.80% $45,426 15.2% 55.39
62 Lenoir City 7 $120,000 15.14% $38,528 16.7% 55.35
63 Millington 5 $132,900 33.57% $59,433 16.7% 55.32
64 Pigeon Forge 7 $169,400 53.31% $52,898 11.0% 55.26
65 Lewisburg 6 $93,000 10.56% $42,284 11.6% 55.12
66 Tullahoma 6 $122,200 28.66% $51,203 14.1% 54.98
67 Crossville 7 $138,700 5.77% $35,124 15.4% 54.80
68 Alcoa 7 $119,800 4.31% $46,244 12.4% 54.40
69 Elizabethton 6 $108,500 22.69% $40,895 15.8% 54.39
70 Sparta 7 $104,400 32.59% $43,835 7.8% 53.97
71 Savannah 6 $91,000 7.97% $32,143 10.0% 53.89
72 Harrison CDP 4 $137,600 18.29% $65,545 20.8% 53.84
73 Lebanon 7 $167,600 15.61% $52,135 16.6% 53.73
74 East Ridge 4 $116,900 15.83% $50,800 14.1% 53.44
75 Athens 6 $124,100 12.69% $44,583 17.4% 53.36
76 Union City 5 $91,600 5.74% $43,076 12.6% 52.94
77 Cleveland 6 $153,300 13.76% $45,676 17.3% 52.57
78 Goodlettsville 6 $179,500 18.01% $63,914 15.7% 52.56
79 Clinton 6 $128,100 16.15% $50,061 11.0% 52.11
80 Springfield 5 $129,300 14.94% $48,297 15.8% 51.83
81 Jackson 4 $115,100 22.60% $50,171 15.5% 51.62
82 Columbia 5 $115,000 2.67% $43,967 14.8% 51.42
83 Cookeville 7 $158,600 7.44% $42,572 12.0% 51.14
84 McMinnville 5 $93,200 15.59% $37,865 14.8% 50.79
85 Chattanooga 4 $138,100 22.19% $50,488 12.9% 49.08
86 Shelbyville 4 $96,200 -12.11% $32,048 19.2% 48.88
87 La Follette 3 $85,900 27.64% $30,934 16.1% 48.45
88 Humboldt 4 $76,000 8.33% $35,580 8.2% 48.33
89 Red Bank 5 $122,700 3.27% $43,060 14.3% 48.28
90 Bolivar 3 $86,400 25.39% $44,260 9.4% 47.91
91 Pulaski 5 $91,000 -4.75% $35,451 9.7% 47.19
92 Brownsville 3 $92,100 6.52% $35,986 11.5% 46.78
93 Sevierville 5 $167,200 11.03% $42,162 14.3% 46.60
94 Memphis 3 $95,900 14.65% $43,301 10.8% 45.74
95 Green Hill CDP N/A $181,300 18.31% $78,804 19.0% 45.40
96 Newport 5 $89,400 7.81% $28,884 8.7% 43.27
97 Ripley 4 $86,500 -15.44% $28,906 10.2% 41.88
98 Covington 4 $99,500 -3.23% $31,171 6.2% 41.12
99 Fairfield Glade CDP N/A $219,200 34.89% $61,968 2.2% 39.84

Methodology

All data are from the 2013 U.S. Census Bureau’s American Communities Survey. Our methodology took into account four factors:

Home affordability. Home affordability, 30% of the final score, was calculated by averaging index scores for median home value and median selected monthly owner costs. The lower the costs, the higher the score.

Growth and prosperity. Growth and prosperity make up 20% of the final score. The two metrics involved were growth in family income from 1999 to 2013, and the median family income in 2013. Both were weighted equally and positively.

Family friendliness. To measure if an area is a good one for families, which is 30% of our final score, we looked at the percentage of married couples with at least one child under 18, and the percentage of families in poverty with at least one child under age 5. The percentage of families with at least one child was 70% of the score, while the percentage of families in poverty was 30% of the score.

Educational quality. Using data from GreatSchools, every place was assigned a ranking from 1 to 10 for the quality of schools. The education score is 20% of the final score.


Nashville, Tennessee, skyline via Shutterstock.