Remember that awkward kid in high school who, years later, turned out to be a total heartthrob? Nashville, Tennessee has a similar story. Once considered the capital of country music and belt buckles with a serious mullet infestation, Nashville has since expanded its rhythmic reach to the likes of Justin Timberlake, Steven Tyler, and Jack White, just to name a few (yup, I'm totally name dropping and I feel zero shame about it because, yes, it is that awesome raising kids in Nashville). Obviously music is the heartbeat of the city (they don't call it Music City for nothing) but the streets are sustained by much more than brass guitars and country songs; Nashville is thriving in a way that very few metropolitan areas have since the recession, especially for families.
And why wouldn't it? I may be a bit biased but Nashville is beaming with endless opportunity. It's a place where there's literally something for everyone. In what other city can you find a rock star attending his street's potluck alongside his elderly neighbors, an Australian power couple shopping for records on a Sunday, world-class cuisine, top-notch education, and one of the greatest research and trauma centers in the country, all within blocks of one another?
Yes, I'm bragging, but I'm not the only one who feels the beat that Music City is playing. Once, Forbes (cheesily, but accurately) dubbed Nashville as "Nowville" for it's burgeoning economy, family friendly values, and endless entertainment venues. I know, I know, great minds think alike.
It's no wonder so many young families are flocking to Music City to plant their roots, but just in case you needed more convincing I've compiled a list of the top ten reasons to raise a family here.
Small Businesses Are So Big Here
In 2014, CNN ranked Nashville fifth in a list of the cities that startups thrive in. There's no state tax in Tennessee and the city often offers funding for new startups. In a city full of dreamers, Nashville is making good on its promise to fulfill the dreams of small business owners. You'll find everything from brunch bars, to boutiques, to food trucks where you can not only shop (or eat, or drink) until you drop, but also feel good about supporting the local economy. And the baby boutiques are so adorable that they'll make your ovaries hurt. #ShopLocal is always trending in Nashville.
The Eatin' Is Good Around Here, Y'all
Whether it's decadent home-cooked cuisine or a zen den specializing in a fried chicken and sushi fusion (what. a. time. to. be. alive.), I guarantee that Nashville will never let you go to bed hungry. The good news for families is that there's enough variety around here that even the pickiest of little eaters will be appeased by an array of takes on mac & cheese and chicken tenders, and there's no shortage of coffee bars for the mamas and the papas that need a caffeine fix to function.
You Won't Go Broke Living Here
If you choose to live in the heart of Nashville, or one of its super popular historic suburbs, you're going to fork over a little extra dough than you would if you chose to live just outside of downtown. However, the home prices here are still much more realistic than many other popular regions of the country. The revival of east Nashville has attracted many young families for its affordable prices and surplus of local businesses, and if you look just outside of downtown, you're sure to find something perfect. Aside from housing, Nashville and it's surrounding cousins house a variety of local shops, bars, and restaurants that come financially guilt free.
You Can Actually Find A Job Here, Which, Ya Know, Helps When You Have A Family
It's not just local businesses that are thriving in Music City: The tech, healthcare, and construction industries have also grown immensely in recent years. With the influx of new families requiring affordable housing flooding the city, as well as the renovation and resale of older historic homes, the construction industry never slows down. And with so many top notch hospitals — Vanderbilt, St. Thomas, and Centennial, to name a few — jobs in healthcare are always needed. The tech industry has also seen a recent uptick with the announcement that Google Fiber will plant roots in Nashville as healthcare and communications continue to evolve. Also, the music industry has got an undeniable presence here (obviously), so if that's your field, come on over.
If You Forget To Lock Your Car, You're Probably Fine (But Still Don't, Because Come On)
With any large metropolitan area the risk of crime is higher than it would be outside of city limits, but downtown Nashville it typically a pretty safe place. Many of its nearby suburbs are also ranked as some of the safest cities in not just the state, but the country. Just head south of the city about 20-30 minutes and places like Franklin and Spring Hill offer solitude and easy sleeping at night knowing your loved ones are safe.
There's No Shortage Of Entertainment
If you're looking for music, we've got you covered: Bridgestone Arena, the Ryman Auditorium, the Grand Ole Opry, and Mercy Lounge are just a few (seriously, just a few, like, not even the tip of the iceberg) of the venues where you can see not only larger-than-life rock stars, but also some seriously impressive local talent.
If sports are more your thing? Oh hey, we've got those too. Sure, the Tennessee Titans football team has seen better seasons but the signing of Marcus Mariota promises to improve the team's disposition in the coming years. Also, the Nashville Predators games never get old and trying to scout Carrie Underwood watching her husband play hockey is always exciting even if they game isn't.
In the spring and summer, the Nashville Sounds baseball team takes over the sports entertainment, and Vanderbilt University has almost always got some team in a play off. Also, as previously mentioned, there's a plethora of entertainment potential in many locally owned restaurants, bars, and shops. Basically, if you're bored here, you need to check your pulse.
Progressive, Humble, And Driven Leadership
In 2015, political newbie Megan Barry was elected Mayor of Music City. And while a woman holding such a coveted spot gives me all the warm fuzzies, her plans and progressive ideals are a breath of fresh air in a typically very conservative region (not that there's anything wrong with being conservative, but it helps to have a different opinion to keep our city diversely well-rounded). Barry supports marriage equality, equal pay for equal work, and has already composed a panel to elect a new director of school districts. Nothing to be sad about there.
People Here Are Seriously Friendly
Sure, the locals love it and every time I've traveled out of state and told some stranger on a plane that I'm from the Nashville area, they immediately sing its praises, but we aren't the only ones who think we're kind of awesome: The Huffington Post placed Nashville in the #4 slot for friendliest cities in America in its 2015 poll, citing Nashville as "a city of characters and the vibe downtown is hard to beat." Also, most Southerners have had manners instilled in them since birth, and many of us come from humble beginnings. We truly don't know any strangers around here.
We've Got Some Of The Best Hospitals In The World
Whether your kid is suffering from a stuffy nose or something more serious, Nashville's healthcare systems are a force to be reckoned with. Vanderbilt is consistently ranked at the top of every healthcare statistic, Centennial has got an incredible women's and children's center, and St. Thomas has a string of hospitals that span middle Tennessee and take care of people who are unable to afford proper care. Our hospitals consistently rank among the best and can offer families much needed reassurance during often uncertain circumstances.
THE MUSIC, YOU GUYS
Home to many of the greats of country, rock, and blues music is the heart beat of our city, and here it never stops playing. With countless record stores, recording studios, and vintage venues, Nashville has preserved the sanctity of music and revived the spirit of songwriting. Whether it's an eclectic street corner or a massie stadium, we've got a song playing for everyone.
Images: Courtesy of Heather Crews; Giphy(10); Rick Diamond/Getty Images