3 Brutally Honest Reasons Not to Live in Tennessee, According to a Local

downtown gatlinburg aerial

Tennessee is great, but there are downsides to living here. Pictured: Downtown Gatlinburg (photo by Kosoff/shutterstock.com)

While Tennessee can be a great place for some, there are a few downsides, says a local

I know what it’s like to move to and from Tennessee. I am not a Tennessee native, but I have lived here for several years minus a brief out-of-state stint for work. Though I love my adopted home state of 30+ years, I concede that it’s not for everybody. In this article, we will discuss why some people may be better off just visiting, rather than moving to, the greatest state in the land of the free.

While there are a lot of reasons to move to Tennessee, there are also some reasons why you shouldn’t. The fabulously wealthy, for example, can do better. Also, among the reasons not to move to Tennessee are the bad drivers. Finally, you don’t want to take something special and make it mundane.  

The Knotty Pines Creekside Chalets
While many wealthy families have vacation homes in Tennessee, few opt to make Tennessee their full-time residence (photo by Marie Graichen/TheSmokies.com)

1. If you’re wealthy, you can do better 

First, if so, could I interest you in giving me a grant? No? Ok.

Tennessee is a lot of things and has been a lot of things in its history. There was a time in fact, when the nation’s elite found the mountains to be exotic. The wealthy from Charleston would summer in the cooler mountains. From Elkmont to the Voorhies estate, the nation’s wealthy view the mountains as a destination. It was a place where they could acquire vast tracts of land and build a paradise surrounded by natural beauty. Think of Biltmore, ever heard of it?

But today? If you’re a member of the uber-wealthy, I’m going to need you to set your sights a little higher. For instance, you want a cabin in the mountains that you can visit? Sure. But those of us on the ground, living the day-to-day lives here need a little more inspiration for our lottery ticket dreams. Win $750 million and get a place in Turtletown? Or maybe just all of Ducktown? Nah. That’s fall on the French Riveria and luge lessons in Rangoon time. 

Somebody needs to tell the Richies to leave the Smokies and Myrtle Beach and even Gulf Shores to us. They need to go live someplace expensive that we never could … like the moon or Nashville. “But I like the simple life. I like peace and the mountains.” TOUGH! We need you to dream big so we can dream big. It’s the least you could do. Take one for the team, and go live someplace more awesome, warmer and less rainy, than here.  

Also, would a grant be that out of line? I would be willing to write very nice things about you in return. 

i-40 in knoxville tn
Knoxville certainly has its share of bad drivers (Rosemarie Mosteller/shutterstock.com)

2. We’re bad drivers, maybe you heard

A dubiously sourced “scientific” study says Tennessee drivers are among the worst in the Nation. Memphis, Knoxville, Chattanooga and Clarksville – yeah, Clarksville – all rank in the top 20 worst-driving cities in America. Read more about it here. And while I do find the conclusions of the study dubious, I also know that a disproportionate amount of Tennessee drivers overestimate their abilities. 

For example? I believe in my soul that I’m an excellent driver even though I once backed over a basketball goal. The goal had been there for years, it hadn’t moved. But one day I backed up and forgot anything else existed in the world. Also, even though it was 30 years ago, my stepdad still reminds me of the brick mailbox at the end of his driveway. So, I learned my lesson, right? Nope. This morning, I backed right into my daughter’s car. Smacked the front-end square on, basketball goal style. In fairness, I was distracted by my son trying to chop down a tree with a $3 plastic shovel. 

Someone once told me that all Tennessee men believe they can be football coaches or professional drivers. By the way, have I ever told you about my secret plan for a backfield featuring three athletic quarterbacks? Game changer.

Horses grazing in Cades Cove
Believe it or not, a person can get tired of visiting Cades Cove despite its splendor (photo by Morgan Overholt/TheSmokies.com)

3. You’ll take the mountains for granted 

As someone who has lived in a pretty great place for nearly 35 years, I know as well as anybody. It’s certainly easy to take your home for granted. We live a 20 to 30-minute drive from a spot to which millions of people travel worldwide each year. But when we plan our vacations do we plan them for Tennessee? No. We go somewhere else, driving past people coming from those places to visit our places. It’s human nature for the extraordinary to become mundane when it’s part of our everyday lives. Things like splendor and wonder and grandeur work better in small doses. 

When I was a kid our friends and relatives would come down from Indiana in the summers. Invariably, they’d want to visit the Cove. It seemed like every weekend, that’s where we’d be tooling around the Cove. I’d get tired of it if you could imagine that. Especially the back half where it’s mostly woods and the sweeping vista views are fewer. In other words, nap time for me. We want and crave the different, the new.

I’ve been blessed to have lived in a few different places and have visited dozens more. Have I ever dreamed of a different life, maybe near the beach or a townhouse in some vibrant city? Sure. The sliding doors and roads not taken. If you’re a functioning human with an imagination, you have to think about it. But I’ve also learned that there is wonder and splendor and grandeur where you find it.

Do you want to move to Tennessee? Hey, come on. There’s room and there’s a place for you. You are surely welcome. But consider this. Find the wonder where you are and just keep visiting the Smokies. Then you get the best of both worlds. Me? I’ll be over here buying lottery tickets by day. And at night dreaming of line-ups for Johnaroo, the Bonnaroo-style music festival I’ll build with my Mega-Millions on my estate in the French Riviera. You’re all welcome to attend. 


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