When Marc Cohn sang his famous hit “Walking in Memphis”, he credited it entirely to the fascinating city that helped him out of a slump in his music. Home to the Delta Blues and featuring on every Elvis fan’s bucket list, Memphis packs a pleasant punch for plenty of those who visit. It sits on the banks of the Mississippi, its dynamic life keeping pace with the river that has so often been the muse for musicians and writers. Memphis is the Holy Grail for music lovers, particularly those with an inclination to the blues and rock’n’roll. The city’s barbecue culture is to die for, and there’s always something delicious to dig your teeth into around every corner.
It’s not all sights and attractions, as Memphis boasts several neighborhoods that make for the picture-perfect family setting. Naturally, all of this sounds pretty attractive for anyone looking for the next place to call home. Read through our relocation guide about moving to Memphis, Tennessee, and see if residing alongside the ghost of Elvis fits into your budget and lifestyle preferences.
What Should I Know Before Moving To Memphis?
Memphis isn’t a big city just in terms of musical and historical value, but also quite literally. The 2020 population estimate for Memphis comes in at a massive 647,374, making it the second largest city in Tennessee and the largest city sitting on the banks of the rolling Mississippi. It has a population density of 2,040 people per square mile, and stretches across 326 miles in total.
Memphis was home to legends like Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash and B.B. King, and Elvis’ house, Graceland, is a top attraction. Joining Graceland is the infamous Beale Street: the heart of the city and one of America’s most iconic streets. Visiting Beale Street is a must when in Memphis, if not to walk into one of the many nightclubs to catch live music with a beer, then to simply walk around looking at the neon lights. It stretches on for 3 blocks, and is a pulsating blend of jazz, gospel, rock’n’roll and the blues. If like Marc Cohn, you too are looking to get baptized into the gospel of sweet sweet music, Beale Street is your Jordan river.
Memphis is also historically renowned, as it is home to the Lorraine Motel. Hanging on its second-floor balcony is a wreath that marks the spot where Martin Luther King, Jr. fell after he was assassinated. It makes for a sombre background to the dynamism of Beale Street, located just a stone’s throw away. The Lorraine Motel is now home to the National Civil Rights Museum, and appears suspended in time. You can peek into Room 306, the room in which King was staying, left untouched and kept preserved.
Crime Rate In Memphis
All of these attractions makes Memphis seem like a great place to live, since it also has its shaded neighborhoods away from the hustle and sound. But naturally, you also need to look at other factors, namely how safe the city of Memphis is. Per 1,000 residents, 19.5 are likely to be victims of violent crimes (assault, rape, murder), and your chances of being a victim is 1 in 51. Property crime rates are worrying, as nearly 65 out of 1,000 residents can be victims of a burglary, theft or motor vehicle theft. That’s a 1 in 15 chance. However, the Mayor of Memphis has spearheaded several goals to fulfill, two of which are to reduce the rates of property and violent crimes. And thus far, they are both on track.
You can expect summers and winters that make themselves felt when moving to Memphis. The months of May to September see hot weather, with average daily temperatures crossing 80°F. Proximity to the Mississippi river means an addition of humidity, making your days muggy. November to February sees cooler temperatures hovering around the 30s and 40s, and rarely crossing 55°F. You can expect some wind and cloud cover as well. Memphis receives an average of 3 inches of snow annually. This is normally spread out over the winter months.
People with an aversion to rain may find us raining all over their parade, as Memphis experiences a fair bit of rain throughout the year. Precipitation levels peak in the months of April and December, which also means your winter chill is exacerbated by the icy rain. Overall, the weather in Memphis isn’t particularly extreme, but with hot summers, damp winters, occasional showers and frequent cloud cover, it may take some getting used to.
How Expensive Is It To Live In Memphis?
Of course, talking about the weather when moving to Memphis is like making small talk to while away the time. You’d also need to take into consideration a lot of other factors, primarily whether living in Memphis is something you can afford or not. It’s time to crunch some numbers; keep your budget in mind and your calculator at hand.
Cost of Living In Memphis
According to PayScale, the cost of living in Memphis is around 17% lower than the national average! Numbeo’s rates say that a family of four owning their own house will have an estimated monthly cost of around $2,904, while a single person in their own house will have to spend around $834. When in Memphis, you’re also paying the Tennessee Hall Tax: the state’s 6% investment income tax. However, Tennessee is slated to become a no income tax state from January 2021. There’s still the sales tax rate which is 7%, as well as the property tax. These can impact your cost of living.
Groceries in Memphis cost 9% lower than the national average, making the prospect of living in Memphis even better. Prep for a few days’ worth of breakfast goes as follows: $1.77 for a gallon of milk, $3 for a loaf of bread, and $1.65 for a carton of eggs. Throw in a bunch of bananas for $3.06 and you’re good to go. Of course, you need gas for that grocery run, which comes in at $2.33 a gallon.
Another great reason why Memphis is ideal to call home is its healthcare, which is 15% lower than the national average. A visit to the GP costs $93.88, while a visit to the vet costs $44.62.
Buying A House
Zillow puts the median home value of houses in Memphis at $105,596, predicted to rise by 8.8% in the following year. And according to Payscale, the median home price of a house in Memphis is $228,326. Keep in mind that buying a house in the more glitzier neighborhoods of Memphis will cost more than this.
Renting A House
Considering that the cost of living in Memphis is reasonably affordable, it is only natural that the average rent follows suit. The average monthly rent in Memphis is $825, which increased by 5% since last year. This calculation applies to the average apartment size in Memphis, which is around 910 square feet. But keep in mind that your rent rates will greatly vary depending on what type of apartment or house you have in mind, and which neighborhood of Memphis it is in.
According to more of RentCafe.com’s calculations, 72% of the apartments in Memphis range between $500 and $1,000 per month for rent. A good 42% of the households in Memphis are renter-occupied and no wonder; these affordable rates are lower than the national averages.
If you’re living in Memphis, you’ll be paying around $173 a month on your energy bill, and $184.44 a month on your phone bill. More than 60 MBPS of internet will cost around $79.45. Your water bill can be anywhere from $15 to $30, depending on your usage and the neighborhood you live in.
Memphis Economy And Employment Opportunities
Once you’ve moved to Memphis, you need to keep that cash flow going so you can pay all the bills and have some cash to spare; the nightlife is practically irresistible! Memphis has an unemployment rate of 5.6%, slightly higher than the national average of 3.7%. 41.3% of businesses in Memphis are in the service industry, followed by retail trade at 23.1%.
FedEx, Nike and Technicolor are three of the biggest employers in Memphis, and those in the education sector have the Shelby County Schools to try their hand at. St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital is one of the biggest employers in the medical industry.
People in the medical profession are among the highest paid in Memphis, and this includes dentistry! Medical managers get paid $102,070 average annual wages, but trumping them are Chief Executives, with a whooping $158,280 annually. People with management occupations earn $101,490 as average annual salaries. The median household income in Memphis is $52,790.
Memphis places an emphasis on its schooling systems, ensuring that families have plenty of options for their school and college going kids. The primary and secondary levels are served by the Shelby County’s Unified Schools District, the largest school district in Tennessee. The curricula includes things that go beyond books and studies, like arts, foreign language, music and advancement placement courses for college credit. There are 18 public school districts, over 100 private schools, and over 14 colleges and universities.
Tennessee also gives families the option to home-school their children via the Tennessee Home School Law. They can choose one of three methods, independently, church-related or via accredited online programs to do so.
Getting Around Memphis
For a city this large with these many people, you can rest assured that there’s plenty of ways to get around. From buses and cars, to cycles and vintage trams, every corner of Memphis is connected in one way or the other.
Memphis Area Transit Authority (MATA)
Buses: The Memphis Area Transit Authority (MATA), Memphis’ public transportation provider, has 33 bus routes that run through Memphis from sunrise to sunset. We recommend checking out their official website to understand the routes and chart out your journey through the city. Their green buses cover three main routes, passing the main sights of the city like Beale Street, Sun Studio and the Mississippi river. A one-way ticket is $1, and $3.50 for a one day pass. You can also get 3 day passes for $9 and 7 day passes for $16. Every bus has bike racks.
Trolleys: The MATA has also renovated antique trolleys, and you can hop aboard these to admire the woodwork, the hand-carved corbels and the lighting fixtures while you ride through the city. You can ride these vintage trolleys on Main Street, alongside modern trolleys that also run down the Riverfront and Madison line. Base fares start at a dollar per ride, and you can also purchase daily passes for $3.50.
Please Note: Public transportation shuts down in the night in Memphis. Don’t rely on it to get home, and be prepared with the Uber or Lyft app downloaded on your phone.
It’s a little hard to flag down taxis in Memphis, which is why you’re better off downloading apps like Uber and Lyft.
With over 60 miles of designated bike paths, Memphis is one of the best cities for those who love commuting by bikes. The routes often lead away from the crowded main roads, yet can connect you to different spots in the city.
Best Neighborhoods In Memphis
Great public schools, a good environment for a family and just a smidge of nightlife for the weekends when the babysitter is over: this describes Germantown. According to Zillow, the home value for the middle price tier in Germantown is $379,115, and is predicted to see a 7.8% rise over the next year. There are several high-tech companies headquartered in Germantown, and the region is known to be one where residents earn high incomes, making it an attraction to young professionals.
Germantown has a merge of large, spaced out homes and several gorgeous homes stacked close together, with limited green space for each. Sure, this means an absence of a garden or a backyard, but it saves you the hassle of outdoor maintenance.
With highly rated public schools and a low crime rate, Hernando gives you that classic small town feel. This is partly due to it being located on the edge of the Memphis metro area, which also guarantees connectivity to Memphis’s other locations. You won’t find many fancy boutiques or streets made for bar hopping here, but you sure will see plenty of green open spaces. This makes for a good environment for those starting a family, and those reaching retirement.
The typical home value of houses in Hernando, taking the middle price tier, is $246,760. Zillow predicts a 7.9% increase over the course of the next year.
Located to have prime access to several commute routes through Memphis, home to pleasant houses, stores and restaurants, and real estate hotspot, Arlington is a rising auburn in Memphis. Its median home value is $236,800.
It offers a small-town feel, yet is equipped with several fast food restaurants and a full-sized Kroger supermarket. Do some yoga or simply while away time people-spotting at the historic Arlington Square, or go wandering through the parks. Young professionals will find some peaceful solitude from the constant buzz of the main metro Memphis, while those starting families will find a great spot to lay down roots.
Also See: 5 Best Moving Companies In Memphis
Is Memphis A Good Place To Live In?
If you’re the type of person who fares better in the secluded company of nature than the hustle of people, Memphis may not be the place for you. Home to several iconic spots, you can always expect the air to be a-buzz with activity in Memphis. It thankfully has its share of homely neighborhoods that make it perfect for a family, and the several things to do ensure that there’s always something to fill up those weekends with activity. But in our opinion, the city’s vibrance exists to be experienced, not to be shunned.
Walking around the city may not be the best, and those heading home late (whether from the club or the office) will have to depend on services like Lyft, or drive their own cars. The low price of gasoline takes care of this inconvenience, and the overall affordability of the cost of living in Memphis is also appealing. But those with chronic illnesses may want to think of the weather that awaits, since no low prices or good neighborhoods can counter the mugginess of the summers or the icy sleet of the winter.
Apart from these natural factors, Memphis is home to a vibrant culture of mixed ethnicity, and has a Mayor aiming to reduce crime rates and improve the city’s growth overall. All of these outweigh the negatives for us, making Memphis a good city to live in. Tempted? Look up some good moving companies with our help to obtain a few quotes, gauging how much the move to Memphis will cost you.
See also: Best Cross Country Movers in the U.S.