It’s so appropriate that the Volunteer State has droves of people knocking down its door to move in.
Known for being super fun and friendly to people of all ages, Tennessee is also very affordable. In fact, there’s no state income tax, leaving all kinds of extra funds for rent. Where do we sign up?
Average rent prices in Tennessee
Even with some higher-end and trendy neighborhoods sprinkled throughout, Tennessee’s rent price still averages significantly lower than many other states, where it’s not unusual at all to drop two or three thousand bucks a month on a one-bedroom (*cough* California and Massachusetts *cough*).
Although Tennessee on the whole has seen a monthly rent increase of 5.12 percent in the last year, the average one-bedroom still runs $1,307.
The cheapest cities in Tennessee for renters
Fortunately for budget-conscious renters, the cities on this list fall well below the state average. Take a look at the 10 cheapest places to live in Tennessee, based on one-bedroom rent prices.
- Average 1-BR rent price: $918
- Average rent change in the past year: 5.84%
Just less than an hour northeast of Nashville lies Clarksville, a sprawling community that has seen tremendous growth in recent years. Golf enthusiasts flock to the area to enjoy two public courses, Swan Lake Golf Course and Mason Rudolph Golf Course (named for the former PGA golfer who grew up in Clarksville).
Since middle Tennessee is one of the most picturesque areas of the country, locals also enjoy the breathtaking natural beauty of the region via sites like Clarksville Greenway and Dunbar Cave State Park. It’s not all communing with nature, however — stop by Old Glory Distilling Co. and sample the tasting menu, if that sort of thing is your jam.
- Average 1-BR rent price: $908
- Average rent change in the past year: -5.88%
Sevierville is a shining example of a best-of-both-worlds scenario. Located in East Tennessee, just outside Knoxville, the city is also barely north of majestic Great Smoky Mountains National Park.
No matter what industry you’re in, it’s an easy commute from Sevierville, and it certainly doesn’t hurt that rent prices declined last year by nearly 6 percent. It also has some pretty cool attractions, including the Tennessee Museum of Aviation and NASCAR SpeedPark, among others.
- Average 1-BR rent price: $896
- Average rent change in the past year: -0.27%
Next on our list of the cheapest places to live in Tennessee is one that’s barely in the state. Seriously, if a strong wind picks you up, you might just blow into Virginia, that’s how close Kingsport is to the line! It’s also barely a stone’s throw from Kentucky, to boot.
Kingsport is an outdoorsman’s dream, with close proximity to five state parks, six lakes and as the starting point for the historic 200-mile Daniel Boone Wilderness Trail. Locals also love their festivals, particularly the nine-day summertime Fun Fest.
Source: Rent.com / Camellia Trace
- Average 1-BR rent price: $870
- Average rent change in the past year: 1.83%
Almost smack in between the respective musical meccas of Memphis and Nashville lies Jackson, TN. In this heart of the Americana Music Triangle is where many famous musicians got their performance starts, including none other than Elvis Presley.
Not surprisingly, downtown Jackson has a bumping nightlife with everything from legit performers to DJs and brewpubs. Whatever your musical speed, Jackson has it in droves. Live near it all for a pretty reasonable rate in this super city, one of the cheapest places to live in Tennessee!
- Average 1-BR rent price: $831
- Average rent change in the past year: -12.61%
The next city on our list is Cleveland, which experienced the biggest dip in rent prices over the last year at nearly 13 percent. Roughly 30 minutes east of Chattanooga, the only problem with living in Cleveland is that you’ll probably never do all the things you want to.
The city prides itself on adventuring, especially rafting, ziplining and horseback riding, to name a few. There’s also plenty of shopping and historic sites to take in, so plan your rental days here carefully and with tons of fun in mind. Cleveland is also the home of Lee University.
- Average 1-BR rent price: $691
- Average rent change in the past year: 5.95%
The city of Bristol spans two states, with the northern half on the Virginia side of the border. Fortunately, the Tennessee portion has plenty to brag about and is probably best known as the site of Bristol Motor Speedway.
Not surprisingly, there are campgrounds galore for people who make the sojourn to regular races, as well as others who want to take in the area. There’s plenty of non-motorsports entertainment to take in, so don’t be discouraged by the presence of this sometimes dominating genre
4. Church Hill
Source: Rent.com / Stoneybrook Townhomes
- Average 1-BR rent price: $672
- Average rent change in the past year: -4.05%
Situated in northeast Tennessee, just shy of the Virginia border, Church Hill is a short jaunt from the larger city of Kingsport, making it a very commutable option, indeed. With less than 7,000 residents, Church Hill offers city living with a small-town feel, a decidedly hard balance to strike.
It also boasts a low crime rate and low cost of living, but recent growth indicates that the price point will reverse course and start to rise pretty soon. For the moment though, it’s still near the top of our list of cheapest places to live in Tennessee.
3. Johnson City
- Average 1-BR rent price: $660
- Average rent change in the past year: -9.31%
It’s a great time to rent in Johnson City since rates are down more than 9 percent compared with this time last year. Found in east Tennessee, Johnson City is bursting with parks dedicated to boating, mountain biking, hiking and climbing.
The presence of East Tennessee State University helps bring rental rates down quite a bit, but make sure you’re OK with living in a potentially student-filled complex before signing on the dotted line.
- Average 1-BR rent price: $510
- Average rent change in the past year: 0.00%
You definitely won’t break the bank in Dayton, which lies just north of Chattanooga. It’s known particularly for the giant bass in Chickamauga Lake, making it a fisherman’s paradise and the site of many tournaments.
The city also prides itself on a whimsical downtown area, filled with charming eateries, shopping and brewpubs.
Source: Rent.com / Raines East
- Average 1-BR rent price: $470
- Average rent change in the past year: 0.00%
Not too far east of Memphis is the city of Bolivar, so named for a famous South American revolutionary. With an average rate of less than $500 per month for a one-bedroom rental, Bolivar is certainly the cheapest city in Tennessee by a significant margin.
A quiet hamlet by day, Bolivar nonetheless knows how to have a good time, regularly putting on events on the city’s beloved square. Area residents also enjoy locally-owned restaurants and shopping that rival anything found in the “big” city.
The 25 cheapest places to live in Tennessee
If the city you’re eyeing didn’t make the top 10, don’t fret! There are plenty more cheap places to live in Tennessee. Check out the rest of the top 25 here.
Rent prices are based on a rolling weighted average from Apartment Guide and Rent.com’s multifamily rental property inventory of one-bedroom apartments. We pulled our data in December 2020, and it goes back for one year. Our team uses a weighted average formula that more accurately represents price availability for each individual unit type and reduces the influence of seasonality on rent prices in specific markets.
We excluded cities with insufficient inventory from this report.
The rent information included in this article is used for illustrative purposes only. The data contained herein do not constitute financial advice or a pricing guarantee for any apartment.