Cost of living -

7 Things to know and do before moving from California to Tennessee

From the foothills of the Smoky Mountains to the banks of the Mississippi River, the beautiful State of Tennessee offers something unique for everyone. Apart from natural beauty, Tennessee is also famous for its music, lots of employment opportunities, and a relatively affordable housing market by the standards of other US states.

This article covers everything you need to know before moving from California to Tennessee. Read on if you’re thinking about moving to Tennessee and calling the Volunteer State your next home.

Moving to Tennessee from California: Everything to know and do

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1. First steps before moving to Tennessee

Finding a job 

Nashville is one of the top destinations for Californian companies looking to relocate or expand operations. Some of the country’s biggest firms, such as Amazon and Mitsubishi, are planting roots in Nashville and bringing thousands of jobs. 

Vanderbilt University Medical Center is the largest employer in the city. That is not all. HCA Healthcare Inc., the world’s largest healthcare company, also has its headquarters in Nashville, so there is no shortage of employment opportunities in Tennessee.

Getting there 

Transportation from Los Angeles to Nashville

The total driving time from Los Angeles, California, to Nashville, Tennessee is 29 hours and 16 minutes. Nashville is approximately 2,004 miles away from Los Angeles, and there is a time difference of 2 hours, with Nashville being 2 hours ahead. The cost of driving from Los Angeles to Nashville in 2024 is estimated to be $349.91, with a fuel cost of $4.36 per gallon.

The recommended scenic route for driving from California to Tennessee is as follows:

  • Day 1-2: Los Angeles to Bullhead City, Arizona – 600 miles
  • Day 2-3: Bullhead City to Holbrook, Arizona – 450 miles
  • Day 3-4: Holbrook to Albuquerque, New Mexico – 450 miles
  • Day 4-5: Albuquerque to Oklahoma City – 500 miles
  • Day 5-6: Oklahoma City to Little Rock, Arkansas – 440 miles
  • Day 6-7: Little Rock to Nashville – 400 miles

If you prefer to fly from Los Angeles to Nashville, the flight duration is approximately 3 hours and 55 minutes. The cheapest time to fly from Los Angeles to Nashville is usually in August, with ticket prices one way starting from around $200.

For those planning a move from California to Tennessee, you can explore options for long-distance moving companies that offer services to transport your belongings.

Cost of Car and Boat Shipping from California to Tennessee 

If you’re looking to ship a boat from California to Tennessee, you can expect to pay an average cost ranging from $600 to $1,000 for the service. 

On the other hand, when it comes to shipping a car, the average cost for transportation from California to Tennessee typically falls within the range of $1,000 to $1,400, with an estimated transit time of 3-4 days. These cost estimates and transit times should help you plan your car shipping or boat shipping with greater clarity.

Must dos before your arrival

  • Update Your Address: Changing your address is a crucial step when relocating. You can easily set up mail forwarding either online or in person before your move. Remember to update your address with various organizations, including the SSA, DMV, and home services. To ensure you don’t miss any important notifications, refer to our comprehensive change of address checklist, which covers all the places you need to update when moving.
  • Weather Preparedness: Be ready for Tennessee’s diverse weather like cold winters and hot and humid summers. Check local forecasts and pack accordingly, especially if you’re unfamiliar with the region’s climate variations.
  • Apartment Hunting: Plan ahead by researching and scheduling apartment visits before your arrival. This proactive approach will help streamline your housing search process and ensure a smoother transition.

2. Upon your arrival in Tennessee

Must dos right upon your arrival

  • Get familiar with your neighborhood, and make sure to take note of the important emergency numbers. 
  • Locate the essential facilities like the nearest hospital, police station, and fire department for your safety and in case of emergency.
  • It would be convenient to purchase a daily transit pass to save money. The 31-day public transit pass in Nashville is $55.00.

Exchanging your driver’s license

Procedure for new driver’s license and vehicle registration in Tennessee

When moving from California to Tennessee, you must exchange your driver’s license and register your vehicle within 30 days of moving, otherwise you may be fined. To exchange your driver’s license, you can apply in person at your local DMV Office or online by using the Driver’s License Application service.

Documents Needed for Tennessee Driver License and Vehicle Registration

  • TN driver’s license or ID number
  • Mailing address
  • Last 4 digits of your Social Security number (SSN)
  • Payment for driver’s license replacement
  • Current license or certified copy of driving record or other acceptable ID
  • If you are submitting a Motor Vehicle Record (MVR), it must be original and issued no more than 30 days prior to your Tennessee application date.
  • Proof of U.S. citizenship or legal presence.
  • Proof of Tennessee residency with your name and resident address.
  • Vehicle identification number
  • Either the name and address of the lienholder to whom you are making payments OR, in the event of no lienholder, your out-of-state title.
  • Out-of-state license and registration

Setting up a bank account 

When moving to Tennessee from California, it’s essential to establish a local presence by setting up a bank account. This state follows the same procedures and regulations as in other states. Regions Bank has more than 250 branch locations in Tennessee, and it is convenient for every local because it is accessible.

Getting health insurance

Getting health insurance is an excellent way to get peace of mind when it comes to your health. With health insurance, you will not have to worry about spending a ton of money in case of a health-related emergency. Healthcare is regulated by the state in the US and so the state of Tennessee proposes a website to help you with your health insurance search. Simply choose Tennessee as your state and create an account.

3. Best places to live in Tennessee

Best places to live in Tennessee

  • Brentwood: Known for its excellent education system, music scene, and sports, Brentwood is a reputable city with a population of 40,000. It offers outdoor activities in numerous parks and features an airport, although real estate prices have risen recently.
  • Franklin: With 68,500 residents, Franklin is a desirable place to live, offering lower housing costs compared to Brentwood. The area boasts a sound education system, a friendly community, and over 200 eateries.
  • Germantown: With a population of 40,000, Germantown is an affordable option with a strong economy, controlled crime rate, and the state’s highest income. It also boasts a top district school rating.

Best School Districts in Tennessee:

  1. Collierville Schools: Located in Collierville, this top-rated public-school district serves 9,188 students with a 16 to 1 student-teacher ratio.
  2. Maryville City Schools: Situated in Maryville, this district accommodates 5,443 students with a 17 to 1 student-teacher ratio and excels in college preparation, health, and safety.
  3. Williamson County Schools: Ranked as the top public school in Franklin and the 3rd best in Tennessee, this district serves 41,387 students with a 17 to 1 student-teacher ratio.
  4. Alcoa City Schools: A highly rated public school district with 2,134 students and a 17 to 1 student-teacher ratio, known for its dedicated teachers.
  5. Greeneville City Schools: Another highly rated district with 2,940 students, a 15 to 1 student-teacher ratio, and a reputation for being the safest school district in Tennessee.

Why Californians are moving to Tennessee

Did you know that on average, between 50 and 100 people move to Nashville every day! 

Californians are moving to Tennessee because of the high income taxes and the ever-rising cost of living in California. Other reasons include exciting outdoor activities, plenty of job opportunities, and affordable education in the Volunteer State.

Zero state income tax

Did you know that Tennessee has zero state income tax? That means that Californians who end up moving to the Volunteer State end up saving up to 12% of their income, which they’d otherwise have paid in state income tax in The Golden State.

Lower cost of living

Affordability is another reason that made people move from California to Tennessee. Real estate household essentials and daily use items (food, groceries, clothing, etc.) are much cheaper in Tennessee than they are in California.

Los Angeles VS Nashville

Los Angeles, California, is one of the most famous cities in the United States. The city has more than 17 million people, making it the second most populated city. On the other hand, Nashville, Tennessee’s capital, is the most populous city in the state, and the 21st most populous city in the U.S. The consolidated population in Nashville was estimated at 678,448 in 2021.

Setting up home services 

Tennessee Municipal Electric Power Associated is an association of 60 county electric providers and municipalities that provide services to over 2.4 million homes and businesses across Tennessee. 

You can visit their website to find out about the electricity providers available in your county. For gas and water supply, the Tennessee Public Utility Commission can be contacted, or you can visit their website to get information. TPUC is responsible for setting the service standards and rates of privately owned natural gas, telephone, electric, and water utilities.

The best internet providers in Tennessee will have bundling options, various speeds, and multiple package options at reasonable prices.

Should you rent or buy?

Tennessee is renowned for its affordable housing options, especially in suburban areas further from the city. However, in cities like Nashville, the cost of living has seen an increase, particularly in recent years. If you have the ability to save for a few months, purchasing a property can be more economical than renting, ultimately depending on your personal preferences and lifestyle.

Cost of rent in Tennessee


1-bed apartment

3-bed apartment

Nashville (Outside of Center)



Numbeo (Oct 2023)

Cost of buying a property in Tennessee


Average home price 



Zillow (Oct 2023)

Pros and Cons of Living in Tennessee



  • The State of Tennessee has an affordable cost of living with a meager unemployment rate
  • Tennessee has almost zero income taxes.
  • Tennessee offers the best scholarship programs in the country.
  • Nashville is famous for its legendary music, and Memphis for its delicious food (barbecue).
  • The state has many breathtaking natural landscapes, including more than 900 caves and beautiful autumn foliage.
  • The Volunteer State organizes several fairs and hosts many festivals (such as the CMA Music Festival, Warburg’s Mountain Laurel Festival and the Slawburger Festival).
  • Crowds and urban congestion (especially in Nashville and Memphis) due to rapid population growth.
  • Multiple nuclear power plants.
  • Humid summers.
  • You might have to own a car because the public transport is less established than in California.

Why people regret moving to Tennessee

Tennessee is a great state to live in. The state offers loads of opportunities for employment, recreation, and studies. However, not all people who move to Tennessee are delighted with their decision. Here’s why:

Regret #1

Summers in Tennessee are a big challenge, especially in July and August. The temperature is hot and sticky, and the humidity makes it even worse.

Regret #2

Public transport in Tennessee is not well developed. Most citizens own a car, and, for this reason, the rush-hour traffic can get unbearable at times.

Regret #3

The crime rate in some areas of Tennessee is very high.

Regret #4

Thunderstorms and hurricanes are widespread in Tennessee, especially in the late spring and early fall. Driving in winter is quite challenging due to hail storms and severe lightning.

4. Cost of living in Tennessee

Cost of living in Nashville


Monthly cost

1 bed apt rent outside city center



Numbeo’s grocery list ($70.09 multiplied by 4)



Electricity, heating, cooling, water, garbage


Internet with 60 Mbps


Transit pass



Meal, taxi, movie


Gym membership 




Numbeo (Oct 2023)

Cost of living in Los Angeles


Monthly cost

1 bed apt rent outside city center



Numbeo’s grocery list ($70.56 multiplied by 4)



Electricity, heating, cooling, water, garbage


Internet with 60 Mbps


Transit pass



Meal, taxi, movie


Gym membership 




Numbeo (Sept 2023)

5. The weather in Tennessee

In California, summers are usually warm and dry, and winters are cool and partly cloudy. While the climate of Tennessee is hot with humidity in summers, with an average high temperature of 89°F and an average low of 67°F. Winters in Tennessee are mild, sometimes reaching the freezing point with light snowfall. The average temperature in winter ranges from 49 to 30°F. 

Fall seems to be the favorite season of people residing in Tennessee. It has a breathtaking feel. It’s colorful and vibrant. People visit Tennessee from miles away to experience the memorable fall. Spring in Tennessee is probably the most attractive season because humidity is low, temperatures are mild, and nights are chilly.

6. What to do as a local in Tennessee

Tennessee offers a unique advantage to its residents who own affordable homes, as it allows them to allocate their resources towards various activities. The state is renowned for its vibrant music scene, with live performances occurring in bars, music venues, and honky-tonks, particularly in cities like Memphis and Nashville. 

Additionally, outdoor enthusiasts can relish the scenic landscapes of the region, such as the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, which offers hiking and camping opportunities.

One of the things that locals truly cherish about Tennessee is its culinary heritage. The state is famous for its delectable offerings, including hot chicken, BBQ ribs, and mouthwatering biscuits and gravy

7. Fun facts about Tennessee

Fun Fact #1

The Reelfoot Lake in Obion and Lake counties was created due to severe earthquakes in late 1811 and early 1812.

Fun Fact #2

We all know that Tennessee is famous for its music. Tennessee is the only state with ten states songs written by different lyricists.

Fun Fact #3

In 1807, Kingston was named the state’s capital for one day only. This was because the general assembly met there to fulfill the treaty obligation made with Cherokee.


Moving from California to Tennessee offers diverse opportunities and advantages. The Volunteer State boasts job prospects, affordable housing, and a zero state income tax. However, it’s essential to consider the climate, housing options, and transportation. 

Planning ahead, updating your address, and exchanging your driver’s license are crucial steps. Tennessee’s scenic landscapes and vibrant music scene provide ample local entertainment. While there are aspects to be cautious about, like hot summers and limited public transportation, the move can bring financial relief and a new, culturally rich lifestyle.

Are you moving soon? Discover the best movers for your move to Tennessee.


Widgets Magazine


Widgets Magazine

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Selina Cifelli

The author

Selina is a motivated marketing intern with a keen interest in developing engaging content related to moving experiences and city life. With a passion for fashion and traveling, she brings a fresh perspective to our readers. Her talent for crafting innovative written material effectively positions MovingWaldo as a trusted resource for hassle-free and efficient moves.

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