People Are Fleeing Tennessee. Here’s Where They’re Plotting to Move to

Tennessee, renowned for its music, barbecue, and natural beauty, is experiencing a significant population decline. Recent data from the U.S. Census Bureau reveals a net loss of 18,164 residents who relocated to other states in 2023 – the highest since 2010 when the state saw a loss of 19,887 individuals. The question arises: Why are people departing from Tennessee, and where are they headed?

Why are people leaving Tennessee?

Several factors contribute to this exodus:

  • High cost of living: With a sales tax of 9.55%, elevated property taxes, gas taxes, and utility bills, Tennessee’s cost of living poses challenges for many. Despite the absence of an income tax, meeting basic needs becomes difficult for some residents.
  • Lack of opportunities: Ranking 41st in median household income at $56,071 and having a lower rate of educational attainment (28.5% with a bachelor’s degree or higher), Tennessee’s economy, relying on sectors like tourism and manufacturing, prompts individuals to seek better prospects elsewhere.
  • Political and social issues: Tennessee’s conservative stance clashes with progressive values held by some residents. Controversial laws, crime rates, poverty, and racial inequality drive individuals to seek more diverse and tolerant communities in other states.

Where are people moving to?

U.S. Census Bureau data indicates the top destinations for those leaving Tennessee in 2023:

  • Florida: Drawing 6,892 individuals, Florida stands as the most favored state for out-migrants, offering a warmer climate, lower taxes, and diverse recreational opportunities.
  • Texas: Attracting 4,621 people, Texas ranks second with its booming economy, low cost of living, and diverse culture.
  • Georgia: With 3,489 people moving from Tennessee, Georgia claims the third spot, boasting a vibrant urban scene, rich history, and a growing tech sector.

Other states witnessing a notable influx from Tennessee include North Carolina, California, Virginia, and Colorado.


Tennessee grapples with a demographic challenge as residents seek new horizons. Addressing issues like the high cost of living, limited opportunities, and political and social conflicts is crucial for the state to retain its appeal and population in the future.

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