Housing prices in Nashville have more than doubled over the past 10 years, driven by the arrival of almost 400,000 new residents.
That population boom, along with inflation of everything from food to gasoline prices, is hitting long-term residents hardest. Soaring home prices have driven many locals further from the city center, where there are few reliable options for public transportation, forcing them to contend with rising gas prices.
“I love that Nashville is growing, but so many people are coming here to the point that I can’t afford to put my kids in daycare,” said Tianna Martin, a 23-year-old mother of two who can no longer afford a good house in town.
Many Nashville residents have discussed how much they are cutting back their spending or taking on more work in face of rising prices, according to the publication, with nearly all of them re-evaluating their budgets to determine what is a necessity and what isn’t. Some have gone as far as to leave town altogether.
The price of utilities has far exceeded the national average every year since 2009, and the surging population has even pushed up the price of daycare.
The median home-sale prices in Nashville reached a record of $423,105 at the end of March, compared with a nationwide median of $337,560. The average rent reached $1,802 a month in April, up 19 percent from a year earlier.
To compensate for the higher prices, residents like Martin, who works as a Waffle House cook, have given up and opted for more affordable options outside of the city. Recently, she moved from a $1,300 per month, two-bedroom apartment to a three-bedroom home in Sumner County, 30 minutes outside Nashville, for $1,400 a month. She says living in the city is “just not worth it.”
Economists and city leaders cite the main culprit as the population surge, according to the publication. Nashville is one of several midsize American cities that have seen an influx of new residents in recent years, from either surrounding areas in search of jobs or larger cities in search of a more affordable location. This has had a direct impact on the cost of housing and utilities over time, one that has only driven prices up as more people come in.
Pre-pandemic inflation in the census region consisting of Tennessee, Kentucky, Mississippi and Alabama was only 1 percent in February 2020, the lowest in the country at the time, but that region has since seen the second-largest acceleration by Census division, according to an analysis of Bureau of Labor Statistics data conducted by the Economic Innovation Group, a public-policy think tank.
According to the Bureau of Economic Analysis, utility prices in the Nashville area have exceeded the national average every year from 2009 to 2020. There is no government-reported inflation rate for Nashville, but the inflation rate for the South overall stood at 8.8 percent as of April, above the national average of 8.3 percent.
[The Wall Street Journal] — James Bell