Living in Tennessee is less expensive than it is on average across the U.S. as a whole. According to data from the Bureau of Economic Analysis, goods and services in the state cost 10.1% less than they do on average nationwide. Compared with all other states, Tennessee has the 14th lowest overall cost of living.
In general, living in dense, urban metro areas is more expensive than living in more rural areas. Tennessee is home to 10 metropolitan areas. The most expensive in the state is the Nashville-Davidson--Murfreesboro--Franklin metro area, where the cost of goods and services is 5.1% lower than the national average and 5.0% higher than the statewide average.
Tennessee Housing Costs
Housing is one of the largest components of cost of living. In Tennessee, the typical home is worth $158,600, $46,300 less than the national median home value of $204,900. Across the state, the median price of a home built in 1939 or earlier is $136,100, while the median value of a home built in 2014 or later is $300,000.
The typical renter in Tennessee spends $841 a month on housing, $182 less than the $1,023 national median monthly rent. Monthly rent for a one-bedroom in the state is $686, while the typical rent for a unit with five or more bedrooms is $1,239.
Across the state, 33.7% of occupied homes are rented, less than the 36.2% national average and the 25th highest renter rate of any state.
Tennessee Transportation Costs
Transportation can also be a significant component of cost of living. In Tennessee, 92.3% of commuters drive to work, compared to 85.5% of commuters nationwide. On average, the typical motorist in the state drives 12,261 miles a year. Taking into account average fuel economy and the average cost of gas -- regular fuel cost an average of $1.97 a gallon in Tennessee in mid-2020 -- the average motorist in the state can expect to spend $999 on gas alone in one year.
Other transportation costs, like car insurance premiums, can vary by state. In Tennessee, the average car insurance premium is $1,229, less than the $1,517 national average, according to data from Insure.com. And according to data from the EPI, the average single adult in the state spends $10,142 a year on transportation.
Tennessee Health Care Costs
Out-of-pocket costs and insurance premiums for health care -- assuming at least a basic level of health insurance coverage -- are relatively high in Tennessee. Average health care costs for a single adult in the state total $4,925 per year, compared to the national average of $4,266. For a family of four, average annual health care costs total $14,855 -- $1,905 more than the comparable national average of $12,950.
Tennessee Food Costs
Food is another every day expense that has a significant impact on the overall cost of living in an area. Data from the U.S. Department of Agriculture shows that the cost of food varies from state to state.
In Tennessee, a single adult spends an average of $3,214 on food annually, and a family of four spends $9,282 on average. For context, the nationwide average annual food expenditure is $3,240 for a single adult and $9,354 for a family of four. These estimates are calculated for a nutritionally adequate diet of food purchased at a grocery store for at home preparation.
Tennessee Child Care Costs
For families, child care adds thousands of dollars to overall annual spending. The average annual cost of child care for a 4 year old child in Tennessee is $7,186, well below the national average of $8,903. Similarly, it costs an average of $10,907 to care for a 4 year old child and an 8 year old child per year in Tennessee compared to the national average of $15,853.
Few expenses vary as much from state to state as taxes. Accounting for state and federal income taxes, as well as Social Security contributions and Medicare payroll, the average adult working in Tennessee pays $4,925 annually in taxes -- below the national average of $6,542. The state is one of only nine nationwide that does not levy a tax on wages, which partially explains lower than average tax payments.
Excluding federal taxes and incorporating state and local taxes such as property and sales taxes -- the state and local tax burden in Tennessee is lower than the average across the U.S. as a whole. Per capita state tax collections in Tennessee come out to $2,108 per year, compared to the $3,151 average across all states.
Cost of Living by County or County Equivalent
Just as cost of living varies from state to state, it also varies from place to place within states. In Tennessee, Williamson County, home to the city of Franklin, has the highest overall cost of living for a family of four at $90,953 per year, well above the statewide average of $73,569 per year.
Meanwhile, Greene County is the least expensive place in Tennessee. The average annual cost of living for a family of four in the area is just $63,053, $10,516 less than it is across the state as a whole. Greeneville is the most populous community in Greene County.
Note that monetary figures are rounded to the nearest dollar and calculated differences may not always add up perfectly to the nearest dollar.
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