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The allure of Tennessee: Why Floridians are trading their sandy beaches for a quieter life

Nov 1, 2023, 04:54 IST
Business Insider
Knoxville, TennesseeBruce Yuanyue Bi/Getty Images
  • Tennessee is becoming a popular state-to-state moving route.
  • Floridians, Texans, and Californians in particular are relocating there for a slower pace of life.

Lindsey Moore, a mom of three and a dental technician who posts about her life on TikTok @lindseyswagmom, recently extolled the virtues of her new home state: Tennessee.

Moore, who said on the platform that she had moved from Florida, listed "neighborhood block parties," "good soil and gardens," "seasons," "community," "snow," "waterfalls," and "mountains" as some of the reasons she and her family love the Volunteer State, according to an April 10 video.

Moore, who didn't immediately respond to a request to elaborate on her move, is one of a growing cohort of people moving from bigger states — Florida, but also California and Texas — to Tennessee. (Tennessee has 7 million people to Florida's 22 million, Texas' 30 million, and California's 39 million.)

It may be small, but it's mighty appealing: Between July 2021 and July 2022, more than 225,000 people moved into Tennessee, according to census data that tracks state-to-state migration. While more populous states like New York and Pennsylvania technically attracted larger numbers of movers, 225,000 is considered a significant influx in light of Tennessee's relatively small total population.

Movers and their real-estate agents describe the state as quieter and friendlier. They also say their money goes farther in Tennessee than in the more expensive communities they left behind. Its three largest cities — Knoxville, Nashville, and Memphis — continuously rank among the top places to live in the US. Software giant Oracle, Meta's Facebook, and Amazon have all opened offices in the state, hoping to cash in on the tax-friendly environment and a growing pool of talented workers. The number of high-paying jobs— such as positions at tech companies — is growing, and home prices remain below the national average. In short, movers can get more for less.


"We don't have a state income tax. We have four seasons," said real-estate agent Rachael Wedekind, who is based in Knoxville, the gateway to the Great Smoky Mountains. Relocators, she added, "want something that feels like a little bit more of a small town."

Floridians who move to Tennessee are looking for a simpler lifestyle

Most of the 225,000 people who moved to Tennessee between 2021 and 2022 came from Florida: over 25,000 people traded Sunshine State beaches for Tennessee mountains during that period, according to census data.

Knoxville realtor Jamie Foreman chalked it up to "our lower cost of living, lower cost to purchase a home, and the economics here."

Movers from the Miami, Orlando, and Tampa areas, in particular, were among the top out-of-state home shoppers in Memphis and Knoxville between July and October of 2023, Realtor.com data shows.

The allure of some Tennessee cities is not only rooted in the cheaper cost of homes but also a down-to-earth way of life that is becoming less attainable in Florida as wealthier people move south, Florida real-estate agent Holly Meyer Lucas told Insider earlier this month. She said many Floridians are packing up for places like Knoxville, Tennessee; Greenville, South Carolina; and Huntsville, Alabama, which she collectively calls "the Villes."


Floridians are eyeing places where, for example, there isn't a months-long waiting list for daycare spots for their children, Meyer Lucas said.

"The people that are leaving Florida are those that hold these infrastructure jobs — where they can copy and paste their job and move it someplace else — like nurses, teachers, cops … Those jobs are in high demand in growing areas," Meyer Lucas said. "People are moving to simpler places because the places that they're leaving are becoming very, very complicated."

Texans and Californians make up a considerable chunk of newcomers

Californians make up the next-biggest batch of the new Tennesseans: 22,000 people made that move between July 2021 and July 2022. Real-estate agents said they're motivated to leave behind crowds and a high cost of living, too.

Michael Tyler, a 69 year old who recently chose Tennessee over a famous retirement community in Florida when moving from Sacramento, told Insider in February that the Golden State was too crowded and too expensive. He and his wife sold their 1,200-square-foot condo for $415,000 and spent less — $400,000 on a 2,700-square-foot house with four bedrooms — in the eastern Tennessee town of Jonesborough.

Wedekind, the Knoxville real-estate agent, said about 25% to 30% of her out-of-state customers right now are from California and Texas, the latter being a similarly sized state that has grown in popularity and price in recent years.


In the third quarter, people from the Dallas-Fort Worth metro area in Texas were among the top out-of-state shoppers browsing homes in Knoxville and Memphis, Realtor.com data shows.

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