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Moving from California to Tennessee

Moving from California to Tennessee

One might wonder why someone would be moving out of California, to Tennessee at that. The Golden State has an abundance of sunlight, beaches, parties, and a booming economy with more than one flourishing industry, as well as culture.

And why exactly Tennessee? The Southeastern state is smaller in both territory and population. It lacks the appeal of Hollywood and not to mention that it’s landlocked. But The Volunteer State has major advantages of its own that might surpass those in California, which might turn the idea of moving to Tennessee into a good one.

From California to Tennessee

California and Tennessee are a continent apart, so moving would ensue shipping a car from California to Tennessee.

However, you may want to drive all the way, and that is totally fine. Take the Westward Route: I-40 Through Arkansas, Oklahoma, Texas, New Mexico, and Arizona. Take Interstate 40. It leads directly from Nashville all the way to California, where you’ll merge onto I-15 in Barstow, approximately 115 miles east of downtown Los Angeles.

The total length of this route is 2,004 miles. A significant portion from Oklahoma to Los Angeles follows the original Route 66.

Los Angeles

The distance by car between Nashville and Los Angeles is just over 2,000 miles and would take a total of about 30 hours of driving. This long drive is recommended to be split into several days for maximum safety, so plan your trip in advance and pick a few places to make a stop for a break or for the night. Such popular locations include Little Rock, Oklahoma, Amarillo, Albuquerque, Sedona, or Kingman. All these places have great spots to eat, sleep, and sights to see.

California deserves a little attention

California is a destination that attracts millions of people from around the world. Some go for the beaches, others for Hollywood. And many end up permanently there, and then enter the rich, yet bloated labor market.

California is the second-largest state in the United States and the biggest in the south. The same goes for LA – it is the largest city on the West Coast and a major Pacific harbor. The City of Angels has a population of nearly four million people and lies in the heart of the Los Angeles metropolitan area. The Greater Los Angeles area has a population of 18.7 million.

The natural landscape around is also diverse. L.A. is a major Pacific port, the dessert starts just outside of the city, and the surrounding San Gabriel Mountains reach up to 10,066 ft at Mount San Antonio. 

There is money in California

California has a stunning $3 trillion in Gross Domestic Product. This can be considered a serious income, however, the costs of living in California are one of the highest in the United States. Still, the estimated unemployment rate is around 10.6%.

California is the home of the stunning 57 Fortune 500 companies. The top five in revenue are Chevron, Hewlett-Packard, McKesson, Wells Fargo, and Safeway. They are accompanied by branches of some juggernauts like Apple, Intel, and Google.

There are eight companies in California with more than 100,000 employees – Wells Fargo, The Walt Disney Company, Oracle, Gap, Apple, SYNNEX, PORAC, and Intel. This makes the economy of California diverse and decentralized – there are ample job opportunities in more than one field and not just in Los Angeles and San Francisco.

The largest government employers in the state are Los Angeles County, the Los Angeles Unified School District, and the University of California.

The motion picture is enticing

Think about it, which one is more popular – Los Angeles or Hollywood? The huge sign on the hill is the business card of the whole state. The movie industry has been bringing a huge number of actors from all over the globe since early 20th century.

Los Angeles is home to several major movie studios – Walt Disney Studios, Warner Media, NBC Universal, Sony Pictures, and Viacom CBS.

Higher education is good

The largest university is California State University, with two campuses in Los Angeles and Northridge. California State University, Los Angeles offers 129 bachelor’s degrees, 112 master’s degrees, and 4 doctoral degrees, while California State University Northridge has a total of 38,815 students.

Stanford University is the standard-bearer of Californian higher education. It is a private research university located in the census-designated place of Stanford, California, near the city of Palo Alto. The campus occupies 8,180 acres among the largest in the United States and enrolls over 17,000 students.

California Institute of Technology (Caltech) is one of the most recognizable of all Californian universities today. It provides highly-trained personnel to the aforementioned industries. Other large and prestigious universities are California State University, Los Angeles (CSULA), California State University, Northridge (CSUN), and the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA).

Free time, if you have it

When it comes to spending quality free time, California is certainly heaven. The weather is amazing year around and the state abounds with parks. Plus, you have the sports teams and entertainment venues for live shows all over, which provide unique opportunities for locals and tourists.

The Los Angeles Lakers are probably the most popular sports team in the state, and one of the most well-known NBA teams in the world.

Other popular sports teams include the Los Angeles Dodgers, the Anaheim Ducks, the NFL’s arch enemies-the Los Angeles Rams and Raiders. Soccer is also gaining popularity. The team of Los Angeles Galaxy has introduced European superstars like David Beckham and Zlatan Ibrahimovic to the local landscape.

Los Angeles is proud of its many exquisite parks, and their view of the Pacific Ocean is the icing on the cake. If you are passionate about outdoor activities and outgoing, then you will love Palisades Park and Tongva Park.

They provide a good choice for activities and are just a stone’s throw from the beach! Other excellent parks, although only a few miles from the beach, include Lake Hollywood Park, El Dorado Park and Nature Center, and Vista Hermosa Nature Park.


The specific combination of climate, sheer size, and population cause The Golden State severe issues. This prompts many people to consider moving from California to Tennessee.

The flourishing economy has the side effect of a highly-bloated labor market. There’s such an abundance of skilled professionals in every single field that many ends up leaving the state and looking for a job elsewhere.

Prices are sky-high – groceries, gasoline, housing prices, and rent are amongst the highest in the US.

When speaking about prices, we can’t miss the taxes. California has a progressive tax system. That simply means making more money will lead to being charged a higher income tax rate. For every extra dollar earned. Real estate taxes aren’t particularly high, however, they are applied on a bloated market, which makes them feel extremely high.

California has the increasing issue of urbanization. This leads to four major problems:

– Heavy traffic

– Pollution

– High crime rates

– Homelessness

Last but not least, California is prone to natural disasters. Droughts, wildfires, landslides, and earthquakes are very, very common.

Howdy, Tennessee!

Why bother moving from California to Tennessee? Well, the Volunteer State has some major advantages on its own. Both states carry a heavy artistic vibe – with California’s movies and Tennessee’s music. The climate is pretty much the same, and the only difference, albeit a huge one, is that Tennessee is landlocked.

nashville TN
The ATT Building is a 188 m, 33-story skyscraper completed in August 1994 and located in Nashville, Tennessee. The structure is designed as an office tower capable of housing 2,000 workers. It is currently the tallest building in the state of Tennessee.

Nashville is the capital and largest city of Tennessee, with a population of nearly 700.000. Because of its key location on the Cumberland River, Nashville became prosperous and important. The city is famous for many things, but music is undoubtedly the most important. ​​Nashville’s metropolitan area has a population of nearly 2 million and consists of 14 counties.

A healthy economy means prosperity for all

Tennessee has a GDP of over 300 billion and a GDP per capita of $55,143. The unemployment rate is estimated to be around 4.5%.

Nashville is proud of the third fastest-growing metropolitan economy in the United States. This is why many Fortune 500 companies have offices here, including Bridgestone Americas, Ernst & Young, Dell, Deloitte, Dollar General, American Hospital Corporation, Nissan North America, Philips, etc.

The largest employers in Tennessee are FedEx Corp, HCA In., CBRL Group Inc., Dollar General, and AutoZone. All of them have more than 50.000 employees, while FedEx and HCA have 230.000 and 191.000 respectively.

Compared to these numbers, the employed in government institutions is a handful. The Largest employers are the US Army, the US Department of Veterans Affairs, and the State of Tennessee.

With such a well-developed public sector, it’s no surprise that there’s an abundance of industries in the state. The best-developed ones are the automotive industry – Nissan has the largest assembly plant in North America. Ford is constructing a large one, too. It will be located near Stanton. Also, General Motors in Spring Hill and Volkswagen in Chattanooga.

Food production and industrial chemicals rank second and third in terms of production. And, of course, agriculture holds its traditional ground. Even to this day, agriculture makes up for $81 billion of the state’s economy.

Education is good

Public primary and secondary education systems are operated by county, city, or special school districts to provide education at the local level. The state enrolls approximately 1 million K–12 students in 137 districts. In 2020, the four-year high school graduation rate was 89.6%.

Considered Athens of the South, Nashville is a popular hub of higher education. The total enrollment in post-secondary education is around 43,000. Vanderbilt University is responsible for a quarter of this number.

Other popular universities are Belmont University, Lipscomb University, and Trevecca Nazarene University.

The Music of Tennessee

The state of Tennessee is basically the cradle of modern American music. And it all started in the cities of Nashville, Memphis, and Bristol.

Nashville, Music City USA

Nashville is credited for the creation of Nashville sound, a slick pop-country musical genre that was a smash in the 1950s. But things go way back in time, back to 1892, when the Ryman Auditorium was officially opened. In time, this venue turned into a music icon and was home to Grand Ole Opry from 1943-1974 and The Johnny Cash Show from 1969-1971.

Nashville is also the home of the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum!

Nashville’s nickname

There’s a curious story of how Nashville got this prestigious nickname. In 1873, a cappella ensemble called the Fisk Jubilee Singers was touring Europe. This was a historic event on its own, due to the fact that this was the first group of former slaves to tour Europe after the Civil War. During their time in London, they performed “Steal Away to Jesus” and “Go Down, Moses” for Queen Victoria. Her Royal Majesty was so impressed by their singing voices that she asked if these young men weren’t from the Music City of the United States.

They returned to Europe in the following year for a lengthy tour between 1875 and 1878m where they raised $150,000 for the university.

Memphis blues

Going back to early 20-century Memphis, we can find the roots of blues music. Credit goes to W. C. Handy, who wrote the first commercially-successful song St. Louis Blues in 1912. Legend says he did in a bar on Beale Street.

Famous musicians from Tennessee

The driving force behind all these historical music events is equally significant figures. Tennessee born and bred, the likes of Aretha Franklin, Dolly Parton, Tina Turner, and Isaac Hayes have paved the way to contemporary superstars like Lisa Marie Presley, Kelsea Ballerini, and most-famously Miley Cyrus, daughter of renowned musician Billy Ray Cyrus.

Disadvantages of living in Tennessee

Tennessee has several disadvantages to consider before taking the long trip from California.  Still, they don’t take away from the Volunteer State’s charm, just add salt to it.

The summers can be brutal when you start living in Tennessee – the summer months can be very hot and humid. If you’re moving from LA, then you’re used to the exceptional heat (90° are very common), but you’d certainly miss the Pacific. Be sure to carry a lot of water with you everywhere you go.

The severe weather in Tennessee – technically you’re out of Tornado Alley, but you’re just next to it, so be prepared for an occasional one. Cold fronts from the north often collide with warm and humid fronts from the south, which results in storms with a lot of hail and lightning.

Other cons include:

  • High crime rates in some areas
  • Nashville and Memphis are growing at rapid rates, which leads to increased traffic and urbanization
  • There are multiple nuclear power plants scattered around the state (still, don’t expect a Chernobyl scenario)

Moving From California to Tennessee

The easiest way to get the differences between California and Tennessee is to draw a comparison between their respective capitals – Los Angeles and Nashville.

The economic giant LA and the booming Nashville share a rather similar median income. However, LA is by far more expensive than Music City. The prices of transportation and food and groceries are higher. The average housing price is more than 60% higher in Los Angeles, which is understandable, but isn’t justified with all of the city’s cons – traffic and commute time (which is over half an hour on average), the aforementioned higher prices, and the unemployment rate (yes, that story of the disillusioned struggling young actor might be true). The local government has taken action against the pollution but is far from solving it.

Why should you pick Nashville? With a similar income, you can find a far cheaper home. The unemployment rate is just 4.5% which is lower than the estimated national rate. Commute time, while still high, is about 24 minutes. But is vastly cheaper than that in LA and California in general.

But probably the biggest advantage of Tennessee over California is the taxation and the majority of those that are moving out are due to it. California’s progressive tax system, as mentioned above, taxes you more as you earn more, while there’s no income tax in Tennessee. Is your goal to make as much money as you can? Is your goal to make as much money as you can? If yes, Tennessee won’t take any of it. The lack of progressive taxation also makes property taxes reasonable. Tennessee is one of the lowest 10 states in the nation!

To wrap it up

Still not convinced about moving from California to Tennessee? Did we mention Tennessee’s fine barbeque or whiskey? Or the Great Smoky Mountains? The fairs, the festivals?

California is an amazing place and as such draws people from all over the world on a daily basis. But if you don’t want to live up with its growing issues and if you’re not afraid to take the long ride to Nashville or Memphis, then consider an option to move to Tennessee!


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