#5. Nashville TN

Thomas McDonald, 32, executive search consultant

How Long I Lived in NYC: 8 years

Where I Moved: Nashville, TN

Why I Left: New York is a city where you work as hard as you party, and in my early 20s, that’s exactly what I wanted. I wanted a place I could prove myself at work and also let go of myself and my responsibilities. The best part about living in NYC is that everybody is there for the same reason. Nobody moves to New York City to become average; everybody is there to become the best at what they do. Once you’ve done that for a few years and you’ve spent as much as you’ve made (because it is on the expensive side of expensive to live there!), you start thinking about your future in the city and what that looks like. I couldn’t foresee a future where I actually had a place that was both nice and large, with a car, a back yard, somewhere for my dog to run off-leash before 9 p.m. … There were many things I wanted that I couldn’t have. Essentially, what Manhattan had to offer in my 20s was not what I wanted in my 30s and beyond. That, and it’s too bloody cold in wintertime and I’d had enough!

Rent and Square Footage in NYC: $2,500 for 500 square feet (including the lead paint)

Rent and Square Footage in Nashville: $1,900 for 1,157 square feet (no lead paint)

Most Pleasant Surprise About Relocating: The fact I don’t miss New York. I thought it’d be a tough transition. Having loved life in an urban city for so long, I was a little concerned about how homesick I’d become and how long it’d take to transition to life in a more rural city. Turns out, I love it here and haven’t missed NYC at all. That surprised me. 

Favorite Thing About Nashville: My favorite thing about Nashville is the friendliness. In my office building, people walk past me in the aisle and say, “excuse me.” There’s plenty of room for four or five people to walk past each other in the hallway but people find it necessary to say excuse me because … well, I don’t know why actually, but I like it! 

Thing I Miss Most About NYC: The stories! With that many people and so many things going on at once, there are stories every day. It could be something simple, like the day I walked onto the subway and there was a Storm Trooper there. Just hanging out like it’s no big deal in the middle of a random Tuesday. 

Advice I’d Give to Someone Else Thinking of Moving Here: I knew what I was looking for and was really diligent with my research, and it paid off. For me, I wanted a city that could offer further professional growth, allow me to drive to work (that’s a big thing for me!), had a real estate market that was growing but still affordable, had an option to party with friends but that has more to offer than simply “getting a drink,” and a place that I could travel back and forth to the UK with relative ease as my family is there (British Airways just started a nonstop route from BNA to LHR — BOOM!). If those are the things you’re looking for, then you should give Nashville a serious look. It’s a great place to be!

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