Tennessee vs. Georgia: Which Is the Better State to Live In?

Both Tennessee and Georgia are great states with their own benefits. Before deciding which state is best for you, here's a breakdown of both.

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Tennessee vs. Georgia: Which Is the Better State to Live In?

Posted by Gary Ashton on Monday, May 13th, 2024 at 1:28pm.

Is it Better to Live in Georgia vs. Tennessee?

When comparing Tennessee and Georgia, factors like affordability, education, population trends, and job prospects come to mind. Both states have their strengths in different areas, making them unique and appealing to different walks of life. But if you’re considering moving to Tennessee or settling down in Georgia, how do you determine which one is better for you? Stay with us as we uncover the pros and cons of each state. That way, you can make an informed decision based on your priorities and preferences.

Tennessee vs. Georgia Highlights

  • Tennessee is generally more affordable than Georgia, with lower housing costs and no state income tax.
  • Georgia has a faster-growing population and a larger workforce than Tennessee.
  • Georgia offers higher-ranked colleges and universities, and both states have highly-rated public schools.
  • Tennessee boasts the most visited national park in the U.S., while Georgia’s coastline has many beaches.
  • Tennessee has a lower property tax burden, but both states provide tax incentives for retirees.

Cost of Living: Is Tennessee Cheaper Than Georgia?

Overall, the cost of living in Tennessee is lower than in Georgia. This is primarily due to its savings in housing costs and income taxes. However, it’s important to note that where you live in either state could impact its overall affordability. For example, living in Downtown Nashville could be more expensive than living in a rural area of Georgia, even with income tax savings. Therefore, it's essential to consider multiple factors when comparing the cost of living in these two states.

If you live in Tennessee but work in Georgia—for example, the Chattanooga metro area straddles the border, or you might work remotely—you can benefit from Tennessee's lower housing costs, which are roughly 25% below the national average. In comparison, homes in Georgia are approximately 22.5% below the national average. On the other hand, groceries in Tennessee are about 1% more expensive than in Georgia.

One significant advantage of living and working in Tennessee is that there’s no state income tax. This benefit allows residents to keep more of their earnings compared to those residing in Georgia, where the income tax is assessed between 4.99% and 5.49%.

Which State Is Growing Faster?

Georgia is Growing Faster Than Tennessee

Georgia's rapid population growth contrasts with Tennessee's slower growth rate. Since 2000, Georgia’s population has grown by approximately 3 million, while Teennessee’s grew by 1.5 million. Population growth is highly local, however. In Tennessee’s Franklin community, the population has more than doubled since 2000, growing from 41,000 to more than 83,000. During the same span, Hendersonville grew by more than 50%. 

Individuals considering moving to Tennessee should keep in mind that communities like these, two of Nashville’s best suburbs, have seen corresponding rises in real estate prices. 

In 2020, Georgia's total population was approximately 10.7 million, far surpassing Tennessee's roughly 6.9 million. Tennessee's biggest city, Nashville, has a metro population of around 2 million, while Georgia's biggest city, Atlanta, has a metro population of over 5.5 million. However, the population density is different; Nashville itself has a population of around 700,000, while Altlanta has a population of around 500,000.

Although Tennessee has a slower population growth rate, projections indicate both states will continue to see population increases over the coming years.

Things to Do In Tennessee vs Things to Do in Georgia

Cane Creek Falls in Fall Creek Falls State Park, Tennessee

Whether you prefer hiking, fishing, or other outdoor activities, both Tennessee and Georgia offer unique experiences. 

Tennessee is home to the iconic Great Smoky Mountains National Park, which is the most visited national park in the U.S. The park offers breathtaking views and a range of outdoor activities, including hiking, camping, and whitewater rafting. Additionally, the best state parks in Tennessee make the state a nature lover’s paradise. Chattanooga, in particular, is an excellent spot for outdoor recreational activities like rock climbing, caving, hiking, and trout fishing.

On the other hand, Georgia boasts over 60 state parks, including Chattahoochee-Oconee National Forest, where visitors can enjoy beautiful waterfalls, historic sites, and campgrounds. Providence Canyon State Park near the Alabama border is another natural wonder, with miles of hiking trails that lead to multi-colored canyons and other awe-inspiring vistas.

Although both states offer excellent outdoor recreation, they differ in terms of geography. Georgia, for instance, has a coastline on the Atlantic Ocean that is home to beautiful Sea Island. Here, gnarled oak trees and Spanish moss create a picturesque landscape. On the other hand, while it doesn’t have a coast on the ocean, Tennessee’s top beaches have a lot to offer. 

Comparing Tennessee Taxes to Georgia Taxes

Both states offer different tax structures and financial advantages, so it's essential to weigh these factors against your financial circumstances. That way, you can make an informed decision when choosing between Georgia and Tennessee taxes.

Tennessee is one of nine states that does not impose an income tax, providing significant savings for residents. Moreover, Tennessee has a lower overall property tax burden than Georgia, with an average effective tax rate of 0.67% versus Georgia’s 0.95%. Tennessee’s counties with the lowest property taxes provide even further tax relief. Furthermore, the state does not enforce estate or inheritance taxes, offering yet another financial advantage for residents.

On the other hand, Georgia offers tax incentives for retirees, such as tax-free Social Security benefits and deductions for retirement income. In addition, Georgia has a lower sales tax rate of roughly 4% versus Tennessee’s 7%.

Job Markets: Would You Rather Work in Tennessee or Georgia?

Georgia Has a Larger Workforce Than Tennessee

Overall, both Tennessee and Georgia have a lot to offer in terms of job opportunities, and the choice between the two may come down to a specific industry or career goal.

Tennessee’s economy, for its part, is home to a thriving healthcare industry and is also a hub for the automotive industry. Major employers in the state include Blue Cross Blue Shield of Tennessee, Nissan North America, and FedEx. Additionally, Tennessee has been attracting more and more technology companies in recent years, such as Amazon, which has a significant presence in the Nashville area.

Georgia, on the other hand, has a diverse job market with opportunities in industries such as film and television production, logistics and transportation, and manufacturing. The state is home to the world's busiest airport, Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, which is a major hub for Delta Air Lines. Other major employers in Georgia include Coca-Cola, UPS, and Home Depot. Additionally, the state's capital city, Atlanta, has a growing startup scene and is home to prominent tech companies such as NCR Corporation and Mailchimp.

Lastly, Georgia's workforce is 5.2 million, ranking eighth in the nation, while Tennessee’s labor force is 3.3 million, ranking 17th. Georgia’s unemployment rate is only slightly lower at 3.1% versus Tennessee’s 3.2%. 

The Verdict: Which State Is Better?

Deciding between Tennessee and Georgia as the better state for you boils down to your individual priorities and lifestyle preferences. If your goal is to lower your living costs, then Tennessee may be the better choice for you, with standout areas like the Clarksville community being among the most affordable. However, if you value a faster-growing population, Georgia could be the ideal state for your needs. If you're considering other states in the region, you can also compare Tennessee to North Carolina.

Ready to move to the great state of Tennessee? Call The Ashton Real Estate Group of RE/MAX Advantage with Nashville's MLS at (615) 603-3602 to talk with a real estate agent who can help you find your dream Tennessee home.


Gary Ashton

The Ashton Real Estate Group of RE/MAX Advantage

The #1 RE/MAX team in the World!

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