I'm Lindsay Ferrier, a Nashville writer with a passion for family travel, exploring Tennessee, and raising kids without losing my mind in the process. This is where I share my discoveries, along with occasional deep thoughts, pop culture tangents and a sprinkling of snark. Want to get in touch? Use the CONTACT form at the top of the page.
May 31, 2022
A couple of months ago, I was at a coffeeshop in L.A. when a man overheard me tell the barista I was visiting from Nashville.
“You’re from Nashville, huh?” he said. “I heard Nashville is really cool. I heard it’s the place to be.”
“It isn’t, though,” I said quickly. “I promise you, it really isn’t.” I leaned in with a confiding air. “Nashville is just okay,” I whispered. The man gulped and stared down at his designer sneakers, looking abashed.
I walked away from that encounter feeling like I’d done an important public service. Maybe, just maybe, I had prevented one Californian from moving to Nashville. And now, I’m going to help you do the same. Share this with every out-of-towner you know who is thinking, talking, singing, or dreaming about moving to Nashville. Especially if they live in California, New York, Texas, Missouri, Illinois, Florida, Nevada, Alabama, or Michigan. They deserve to know what they’re getting into before they arrive here and start bitching on social media about our totally mediocre city and how it doesn’t compare to the glories and wonders of New York/LA/Chicago/Opelika.
Here’s what you need to know about Nashville before you actually move here:
You really haven’t had the full Nashville experience until you’ve laid in a bathtub wearing your bicycle helmet and praying for God to spare you and your family, while the wind roars and the power flickers and a TV meteorologist tells you you’d damn well better be in your safe place. Tornados blow through here all the time and bust shit up and they’re only getting worse — In fact, scientists now believe Tornado Alley has actually moved south to Tennessee, much like the entire state of New York!
Also, please note that you will be expected to help with clean-up after it’s all over. Helping each other after a natural disaster is the Nashville Way™, and you’re going to need to post at least a few pictures of yourself picking up nails and broken glass in someone’s front yard to prove you’re not a complete asshat.
I used to think major flooding only happened to other people in other parts of the world — Then it happened right here in Nashville! If you lived here in 2010, you will never forget the flood that destroyed thousands of homes, killed 31 people, and left entire communities like mine surrounded by water and without power for almost a week. Yeah, that flood was unusual, but flash flooding has been happening here more and more often lately — so if you insist on moving to Middle Tennessee, invest in a good pair of rain boots and check to make sure the property you’re renting or buying didn’t flood in 2010.
Yeah, yeah, we know you drove through ten feet of snow every day when you lived in Montana and that your kids regularly walked to school in blizzard conditions when you lived in New Jersey. But honey, you’re in Nashville now, where a dusting of snow can shut down our city for days.
In these parts, the word ‘snow’ is synonymous with ‘winter vacation’ and when we hear it’s coming, we immediately buy six months worth of groceries, shut down all the schools and businesses, stay off those icy roads, and party at home for the next 1-7 days. You can get on board with our winter ways or go back home to a place where people don’t recognize snow for what it truly is — an order from God to take it easy for a while.
Step outside in Nashville between July 1st and September 10th and it is entirely possible that you will spontaneously combust, leaving nothing but a little pile of ashes topped with a pair of bent spectacles. Combine temps in the high 90s with 1000% humidity and you have Nashville in July and August. Most of us pretty much hibernate during these months, staying inside as much as possible, only doing outdoor activities that include a body of water, and sweating without pause for ten weeks straight. If you’re planning on moving here, go ahead and X out July and August on your calendar as a total loss.
Nashville is known primarily for its rocking downtown, which is filled to overflowing with honky tonk bars and chain restaurants and expensive hotels and drunk tourists and bachelorettes on party buses and, inexplicably, a gigantic Apple store. The one thing you won’t find downtown? Locals. Downtown is pretty much off limits if you live here, unless you can afford to pay $30 for a parking spot and don’t mind being barfed on by a mascara-streaked sorority girl who just broke the heel off her stiletto sandal and can’t figure out how to get back to her Airbnb.
We make the best of the situation, but I think it’s kind of sad that we can’t hang out in our own damn downtown. I’m well aware that this is not the case in other big cities. *small voice* Maybe you should think about moving to one of them, instead.
$3530 for a 434 square foot apartment. Let me repeat that for the people in the back. $3530 FOR A 434 SQUARE FOOT APARTMENT.
Here’s the deal — You can move to Nashville and buy a shoebox-sized house in a questionable neighborhood OR you can move to Dubuque and buy an actual mansion for the exact same price. Do you really want to live in our so-so city so badly that you’re willing to spend half a million dollars on a roach-infested hellhole with lead paint and electrical wiring that dates back to 1937?
Assuming your answer is yes (SMDH), I hope you’re ready to 1. pen an emotionally-charged, handwritten letter to the owners about why they should pick you and 2. pay $98,000 over the list price, in cash! You’ll also need to waive the home inspection and handle all repairs yourself, including that pesky black mold in the basement. If you can handle all that, there’s a 1 in 25 chance the home will be yours!
Look, it wasn’t all that long ago that we got our first Trader Joe’s, and a new Chick fil-A opening was major cause for celebration. We most definitely weren’t prepared in any way to be America’s It City and we’re still catching up, but it’s gonna take a hot second and you newcomers need to exercise a little patience in the meantime. No, we don’t have burritos the way you liked them in San Antonio and no, we don’t have a Wegman’s. Or an In-n-Out. Or an IKEA. You can’t pick wild asparagus for dinner here like you did in Michigan and you won’t find anyone in Nashville who can do lowlights/groom your whateverdoodle/paint Disney princesses on your nails like your stylist/groomer/manicurist did back in Orange County. So sorry.
Do you love potholes? Nightmarish traffic? Multiple streets with the same name? A two-hour morning and evening commute? Do you enjoy trying to merge across 4 lanes of traffic at 55 mph in under a quarter of a mile? Do you bliss out at the thought of road construction that never ends? Have you always yearned to share the roads with thousands of drivers who are new to the city and have no idea where they’re going? Do you like finding carpenter nails in your tires every month? Does the thought of getting shot at after accidentally cutting someone off in traffic excite you? Are you ready to have your windshield cracked by dump truck debris? Then you, my friend, will love driving in Nashville!
I don’t really understand the logic behind opening a restaurant or shop and providing absolutely no parking for customers, but that’s exactly what’s happening here now, every single day! Want to try that hot new banh mi place or check out that new celeb-owned hat boutique? Prepare to drive around and around the neighborhood until you score a spot in a loading zone six blocks away… or you could always opt to drop $30 to park in a pay lot. The choice is yours! Welcome to Nashville!
Scared of driving on our godawful roads? Welllll that’s gonna be a problem. Nashville is definitely not a walkable town. Or a bicycle-able town. Or a moped or skateboard or scooter-friendly town (although God knows, people have tried). We don’t have a subway or light rail, either, and Uber rides cost a fortune. Your only other option is the city bus system, which as you can see gets wonderful reviews! Just be aware if you take the bus, you might be waiting for a while — They’re notoriously late. Hey, what did you expect from a city that’s just okay?
A few fun facts about Nashville:
If you’re cool with crime, you’re seriously gonna love it here! If not, well… Invest in some pepper spray.
Come spring, our fair city becomes completely infested with mosquitos, ants, flies, gnats, spiders, and ticks. Soooo many ticks. Yes, you will have to pull a tick off of you with tweezers at least once or twice each summer if you spend any time outdoors and yes, sometimes the tick’s head gets embedded in your skin and yes, it is totally disgusting and no, it is not fun.
Also, forget about summer sunrise hikes on your local nature trail, unless you want to walk face first into dozens of spider webs, which is every bit as horrifying as it sounds. And then there are the brown recluses — extremely poisonous spiders that will f*!@ you up if they happen to bite you and can be found in pretty much every house in Nashville. Scared? Honestly… You probably should be.
No one who lived in Nashville 11 years ago will forget the spring of 2011. That’s when millions, possibly BILLIONS of cicadas emerged from the ground and made our lives a living hell for the next two months. I’m not exaggerating when I tell you they were everywhere. EVERYWHERE. You couldn’t go outside without stepping on them or batting them away from your face and mouth. *shudder* At night, we could actually hear them coming out of the ground — It sounded like the earth was moving all around us. I swept up bug shells and carcasses around my house all summer, brought in on the shoes of anyone who’d been outside. I’ve never seen anything like it before or since…. but guess what?
So if you move to Nashville now, you’ll have just enough time to settle in before they arrive.
Because we’ve got them, too. Big snakes. Little snakes. Water snakes. Grass snakes. House snakes. Garden snakes. Poisonous snakes. More poisonous snakes. Lots and lots of poisonous snakes. Green snakes. Black snakes. Snaky snakes. All. Kinds. Of. Snakes.
Mountain lions have been seen, photographed and/or videoed in Bellevue, Cool Springs, and Mt. Juliet multiple times over the last few years, creating one seriously contentious debate on my NextDoor feed — and honestly no matter what the TWRA says, I BELIEVE. Those Ring cam pictures don’t lie! So keep a watchful eye out when you’re hiking or walking the dog or cavorting with your kids on the playground, because mountain lions love to kill and eat people, and I’ve heard they’ve developed a real taste for self-tanner. Just sayin’.
A decade ago, Nashville had a pretty average-looking population. Sure, there were always a few young, hopeful country music singers around to spice things up at the bars and gyms, but for the most part, you could run errands in your oldest pair of overalls and no make-up and fit right in with everyone else around you. Now, though? Things have changed. Sweet Jeebus, have things ever changed.
Social media influencers, former reality TV stars, singers, actors, wealthy housewives, and rich young tech executives have infiltrated our city and frankly, I’ve never felt more hideous. I can’t even go to the grocery now without encountering a designer fashion parade of botoxed, contoured, expensively-coiffed skinny bitches slinging their Louis Vuitton bags aside to gingerly pick through Kroger’s organic vegetable options. I skulk around in my ten-dollar Amazon leggings feeling like Quasimodo, when all I wanted to do was use my Lunchables coupon before it expired. Is it any wonder that my supermarket habits are becoming increasingly problematic?
A decade ago, if I passed someone while walking in my neighborhood or on a hiking trail, we both smiled and said hello. Fast food and convenience store cashiers called me ‘baby’ and men always stopped and held the door open if we were both walking through at the same time. Today, things have changed. Most of the people responsible for Nashville’s legendary Southern hospitality have taken the money from the sale of their ridiculously overpriced homes and run — and they took their Southern charm right along with them. I’m trying to get used to the way our new Nashville residents sneer, smirk, or simply look the other way when they encounter a stranger, but it’s going to take some getting used to.
Maybe you’re wondering now why everyone wanted to move here in the first place.
To be completely honest, there was a time not so long ago when Nashville was, indeed, awesome. It had pretty much everything you’d want in a big city, yet it still had a small-town, neighborly feel. We all kind of knew each other or at least knew of each other, and each neighborhood had its own distinct, charming identity. Housing was affordable, traffic was manageable, we had plenty of green space and room to roam, and attitude just wasn’t part of the equation.
Today, though, Nashville is a city that’s grown too much, too fast, and for all the wrong reasons. So much of what made Nashville special is being torn down and replaced with whatever will make developers the most money. We still love our town, but to be honest, it’s hard to even recognize it these days. I keep thinking that at some point, everyone’s going to catch on and leave and we’ll be left to pick up the pieces of an It City that quickly turned into a Shit City.
Don’t say I didn’t warn you.