Cost of Living in Tennessee


Before you pack your bags and move to Tennessee, it’s essential to gauge the cost of living in the Volunteer State. In this comprehensive breakdown, we’ll explore the various aspects of Tennessee’s cost of living, including housing, utilities, groceries, transportation, healthcare, taxes, and miscellaneous expenses. Here’s the scoop:

Average Cost of Living in Tennessee

Tennessee ranks as one of the top ten most affordable states to live in the United States, making it an attractive destination for many. Based on 2022 data from MERIC, it holds the tenth spot among the cheapest states to reside in. While you could explore even cheaper options like Mississippi, Alabama, or Georgia, Tennessee offers affordability surpassing neighboring states such as Arkansas, Kentucky, South Carolina, North Carolina, and Florida.

So, what is the average cost of living in Tennessee? The annual personal consumption cost is around $42,469, on average, as of 2021 data from the Bureau of Economic Analysis. Now, let’s break down the expected expenses across major categories.

  • Housing and Utilities: Approximately $7,303
  • Health Care: Around $6,946
  • Food and Beverages (non-restaurant): About $3,016
  • Gas and Energy Goods: Around $1,152
  • All Other Personal Expenditures: About $24,051

This breakdown translates to an average monthly expenditure of $3,539 for a resident of Tennessee.

Housing Costs

The median home prices in Tennessee, as of early 2022, are nearly $350,000, approximately 7% less than the national median of $375,000. Moreover, the median monthly rent for a two-bedroom apartment is nearly 12% lower than the national median, which is almost $1,300. Notably, these figures vary across Tennessee cities. For instance, the Nashville metro area is 6% lower than the national average, while Morristown in the northeastern region is a remarkable 31% lower.

For a clearer picture of what to expect, let’s explore typical housing costs from the latest census data in 2021:

  • Median monthly mortgage cost: $1,337
  • Median studio rent: $828
  • One-bedroom rent: $894
  • Two-bedroom rent: $944
  • Three-bedroom rent: $1,087
  • Four-bedroom rent: $1,320
  • Five-bedroom (or more) rent: $1,477
  • Median gross rent: $981

Here’s a sneak peek into the housing market in 10 major Tennessee cities with typical home values from Zillow as of January 2023:

  • Nashville: $420,932
  • Memphis: $225,958
  • Knoxville: $298,064
  • Chattanooga: $261,693
  • Kingsport: $196,912
  • Johnson City: $221,781
  • Jackson: $168,846
  • Morristown: $232,800
  • Cleveland: $250,841
  • Shelbyville: $278,978

Utility Costs in Tennessee

Utility costs, including energy and phone expenses in Tennessee, range from 13% lower than the national average in Kingsport to just 1% higher in Morristown. Maury County, situated south of Nashville, falls in between, with utility costs being 11% lower than the national average. Here’s a glimpse of what you can expect to pay for utilities each month in Tennessee:

  • Electricity: $131
  • Gas: $101
  • Cable & Internet: $121
  • Water: $36


Grocery spending significantly contributes to your cost of living. In Tennessee, the average annual (non-restaurant) food cost per person is around $3,016, which translates to approximately $251 per month. To understand the cost of groceries in various Tennessee cities, the Council for Community and Economic Research ranks grocery costs from lowest to highest in 2022:

  • Knoxville: 89.9
  • Memphis: 91.9
  • Jackson: 93.0
  • Maury County: 93.6
  • Cookeville: 94.1
  • Chattanooga: 96.5
  • Nashville: 97.5
  • Morristown: 98.1


Transportation costs can become significant, particularly for larger families. The annual transportation costs differ depending on family size in Tennessee, as per data from MIT’s Living Wage Calculator in 2023:

  • One adult, no children: $5,477
  • Two working adults, no children: $9,851
  • Two working adults, three children: $15,530

Health Care

Health care costs in Tennessee vary, ranging from about 4% lower than the national average in Chattanooga to 18% lower in Madison County, situated between Nashville and Memphis. For instance, Kingsport falls within the middle range, with health care costs approximately 8% lower than the national average.

Here’s a breakdown of Kingsport’s health care costs compared to the national average:

  • General doctor: $95 in Kingsport vs. $117 on average
  • Dentist: $95 in Kingsport vs. $101 on average
  • Eye doctor: $86 in Kingsport vs. $109 on average
  • Advil: $10.36 in Kingsport vs. $9.90 on average
  • Prescription drugs: $471 in Kingsport vs. $470 on average

Child Care

Child care can be a significant expense, regardless of the state you live in. In Tennessee, you may find assistance through programs like Smart Steps. To estimate your child care budget, here are the average monthly child care costs in Tennessee according to 2021 data from

  • Infant Classroom: $1,398
  • Toddler Classroom: $1,099
  • Preschooler Classroom: $899
  • Home-based Family Child Care: $939

Miscellaneous Goods and Services

Miscellaneous costs cover all sorts of things like eating out, buying clothes, having fun, and taking care of yourself. In Tennessee, these expenses can be 15% less than the national average in Cleveland or up to 5% more in Johnson City. But here’s the cool part – Cookeville, right between Nashville and Knoxville, offers these things for about 4% less than the national average.

So, if you’re in Cookeville, you can grab a pizza for just 10 bucks, get a haircut for 17, and score a shirt for 39. To put that in perspective, the average U.S. city might charge you 11 for the pizza, 20 for the haircut, and 31 for the shirt.


One of Tennessee’s notable perks is that it doesn’t have a state income tax. This puts Tennessee in the company of states like Alaska, Florida, Nevada, New Hampshire, Washington, South Dakota, Texas, and Wyoming, all of which also refrain from levying state income taxes on their residents.

However, it’s essential to note that the state has a 7% state sales tax rate or 9.55% when you include the average local rate. This sales tax percentage ranks Tennessee as the highest in the country for total sales tax.

Median Household Income in Tennessee

The median household income in Tennessee is $53,320. To live comfortably in Tennessee, ensure that you can manage your most significant expenses, especially housing costs. Whether you choose to rent or buy, adhere to the 25% rule—never move into a home with a monthly payment exceeding 25% of your monthly take-home pay.

For those planning to buy a home with a mortgage, this 25% limit covers principal, interest, property taxes, home insurance, private mortgage insurance (PMI), and homeowners association (HOA) fees. You can also explore a 15-year fixed-rate conventional loan for a mortgage you can pay off quickly, reducing interest and fees while avoiding prolonged debt.

Most Affordable Cities

If you’re considering a move to Tennessee with budget constraints, you’ll want to choose the right city. The Council for Community and Economic Research’s Cost of Living Index for the second quarter of 2022 highlights the three major cities with the lowest cost of living:

  1. Knoxville: With a cost-of-living index of 84.9, Knoxville stands as the most affordable major Tennessee city. It offers a plethora of experiences, from museums to nightlife and fine dining.
  2. Jackson: With a cost-of-living index of 86.1, Jackson, known as Hub City, sits between Memphis and Nashville, providing access to big-city amenities and a vibrant music scene.
  3. Memphis: Memphis ranks as the third-most affordable city in Tennessee with a cost-of-living index of 87.2. Renowned for its barbecue, it offers a rich culinary scene to explore. Enjoy renowned restaurants like A&R Bar-B-Que and the Bar-B-Q Shop.

In conclusion, Tennessee offers an affordable cost of living, boasting lower-than-average expenses in various categories. With reasonable housing costs, utility rates, and a lack of state income tax, it’s no wonder that many people find the state an attractive place to call home.

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Q : What is the difference between Tennessee vs Florida living?

A : Tennessee generally has a lower cost of living and no state income tax, while Florida offers warm weather and coastal living. The choice of living in Florida vs Tennessee depends on your priorities.

Q : What is the average cost of living in Tennessee?

A : “Whats the cost of living in Tennessee?” Well it is relatively affordable, with Tennessee cost of living 2021 ranking 3-16% lower than the U.S. average. Housing, utilities, groceries, transportation, health care, and miscellaneous expenses are all generally more budget-friendly compared to many other states.

Q : Is it cheaper to live in Tennessee or Florida?

A : Do you want to know if is it cheaper to live in Florida or Tennessee? Well usually it is cheaper to live in Tennessee compared to Florida as Tennessee has a lower cost of living, lower housing costs, and no state income tax, making it an attractive option for those seeking affordability.

Q : What is it like moving to Tennessee from Florida?

A : Living in Tennessee vs Florida can be a significant change. The cost of living is generally lower in Tennessee, and there’s no state income tax, which can be a financial benefit. The lifestyle shift may take some getting used to, but Tennessee’s rich culture, music, and outdoor activities offer a unique experience.

Q : Should I live in Florida or Tennessee?

A : Choose Florida if you prioritize a warm, tropical climate, coastal living, and a vibrant tourism industry. Opt for Tennessee if you prefer a temperate climate with distinct seasons, a lower cost of living, and a rich cultural and musical heritage.

Chris is a Midwest Transplant that has lived in South Florida since 1999. While he likes to remain active and is an avid sports enthusiast, he's become our go-to provider of reviews of any establishment serving food and booze!