Where Are All the New Residents of Nashville Moving From?

Nashville’s nickname might be “Music City, USA,” but education, government and manufacturing dominate the area’s list of top employers.

In fact, the biggest employer in the Nashville metro area is Vanderbilt University, and the fifth-largest employer is carmaker Nissan. So, as the metro area’s population grew by more than 36,000 people between 2015 and 2016 (according to the latest census figures), not every new resident was pursuing the dream of music stardom.

We can’t say exactly where all those new people are working, but we can give you an idea of where they’re coming from. First, though, a little more context. From 2015 to 2016, the Nashville metro area’s population went from 1,828,961 people to 1,865,298, a growth rate of 2 percent.

Davidson County, where the city of Nashville is located, grew less so at .9 percent from 2015 to 2016, with a total of 684,410 residents. The metro area encompasses surrounding cities that aren’t in Davidson County, so its population is bigger than the county’s.

While some of the growth can be attributed to birth rates and immigration, the big chunk of new residents are movers from within Tennessee and across the U.S.

Enough context. Where are all those people coming from?

Another census study, conducted over five years from 2011-2015, gives us a pretty good answer. Davidson County attracted 46,298 domestic movers during those five years, and the majority, 58 percent, came from out of the state, while the other 42 percent came from within Tennessee.

Let’s get specific. Below are rankings for the top five counties of origin for movers to Davidson County:

Movers outside of Tennessee:

  1. Cook County, IL (Chicago)
  2. Los Angeles County, CA
  3. Fulton County, GA (Atlanta)
  4. Harris County, TX (Houston)
  5. DeKalb County, GA (Decatur and Atlanta)

Movers from Tennessee:

  1. Williamson County
  2. Rutherford County
  3. Sumner County
  4. Wilson County
  5. Shelby County

Above are the top places inside Tennessee that people moved to Davidson County from over the five-year period 2011-2015. Numbers represent the number of movers from that place during the period.

Sources: The Metropolitan Government of Nashville and Davidson County Comprehensive Annual Financial Report, June 30, 2016

U.S. Census Bureau

Elizabeth Whalen