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The Best Places to Live in The South: An In-Depth Guide

With sunshine, friendly locals, and a booming regional economy, the South offers many great options for people looking for a vibrant place to flourish. Here are our picks for the very best places to live in the South.
With sunshine, friendly locals, and a booming regional economy, the South offers many great options for people looking for a vibrant place to flourish. Here are our picks for the very best places to live in the South.

The South is known for sunshine, soul food, and hospitality. Sound good? A lot of people agree; in a variety of annual rankings of the best places to live in America, the South consistently has more entries than any other region in the United States.

If you’re wondering what, exactly, constitutes the South, the US Census Bureau defines the South as Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Maryland, North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia, the District of Columbia, West Virginia, Alabama, Kentucky, Mississippi, Tennessee, Arkansas, Louisiana, Oklahoma, and Texas.

Given how large the region is, there’s a city or town for everyone.

Atlanta

Atlanta’s having a moment right now, and it’s not just because of the eponymous hit television show. Unique among cities in the South, Atlanta offers the hospitality and culture of the South, along with an economic profile that rivals New York or San Francisco. It’s home to over a dozen Fortune 500 companies, including Delta, Home Depot, and Coca-Cola, and the economy is booming; it has the 10th largest urban economy in the U.S. and the 18th largest in the world.

Alongside those economic advantages, Atlanta also offers a very high quality of life. It enjoys a mild southern climate, and the North Georgia Mountains and the Appalachians are within two hours of the city. In the city, there’s the Beltline walking trail, the Silver Comet biking trail, and Piedmont Park.

Atlanta’s job market is quite healthy, with recent job gains nearly double the national average, according to BestPlaces.net, and projected future job gains about 50% higher than the national average. The median home value in Atlanta is $259,700, and home values have increased by a very healthy 9.7% since 2018.

Austin

Some people consider Austin to be the best place to live in the entire United States, so it had to make this list. The capital of Texas is known around the world for its amazing live music scene, the annual South by Southwest festival, and its large tech/venture capital sector.

It’s so popular that it gains over 50 new residents every day, which is one of the highest rates of in-migration of any city.

Austin’s job market has grown more than twice as fast as the national average over the past year and its unemployment rate is lower than the national average. Future job growth over the next decade is projected to be a staggering 47%.

As you might expect from a city considered to be one of the best places to live in the country, the housing market is quite expensive. The median home value in Austin is $$368,600 and home values there have gone up 6.5% over the past year, so the market is very hot.

Nashville

Sometimes described as the Las Vegas of the South, Music City has a $6.5 billion tourism industry that rivals any city in tourism hotspots in Florida or California. If you like country music, Nashville has the Grand Ole Opry, the Johnny Cash Museum, and the Country Music Hall of Fame, and it has an amazing live music and nightlife scene.

The city’s job market is very strong, with an unemployment rate of only 2.8%, which is significantly lower than the national average. Health care and entrepreneurship are the leading employment fields here, and job growth over the past year has been significantly stronger than the national average. The projections for the next decade see Nashville’s job market growing by 48.3%, compared to a rate of 33.5% for the rest of the country.

Nashville home prices are pretty reasonable for a tourism hotspot, though still more expensive than the national average. The median home value in Nashville is $263,500, and home values have increased by 4.4% since 2018.

Fayetteville

This hidden Arkansas gem is nestled in the picturesque Ozark Mountains and is home to seven Fortune 500 companies, including Walmart. The presence of the business titan has fueled massive growth and investment in the city, which has grown from a small southern town to a regional leader in commerce and tech. The University of Arkansas is also located here, and the city has the walkability and unique retail presence typical of a college town.

The job market in Fayetteville is strong, with an unemployment rate lower than the national average. Job growth over the past year has been slightly lower than the national average, but the projections for the next decade predict a booming job market, with 42.2% growth.

The housing market in Fayetteville is very reasonable, with a median home value of $219,000, which is just about on par with the national average. Housing prices rose 6.7% over the past year, though, so they may not be affordable for long.

Charleston, SC

This history city nicknamed “The Queen of the Lowcountry,” boasts authentic antebellum plantations, regional cuisine that can’t be found anywhere else in the world, and top-tier hotels. Hampton Park is a meticulously designed public green space, and there are jazz clubs, antique shops, and waterfront cafes.

Unemployment here is low, and the job market is projected to outperform the national average over the next decade. Housing prices are somewhat expensive here, with a median home value of $319,100 and home values have gone up by 3.8% over the past year.

If you’re thinking of taking advantage of the warm weather and warm hospitality of the South, your first step should be to connect with an experienced local real estate agent.

Clever Partner Agents are top performers in their markets and whether you’re looking to buy a loft in downtown Nashville, or a Colonial in Charleston, they can guide you toward your ideal outcome. They even offer a Home Buyer Rebate that will put money back in your pocket to offset the expense of buying a home.

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Reuven Shechter

Reuven Shechter is the Outreach Coordinator at Clever Real Estate, the free online service that connects you with top real estate agents to help save on commission. He spreads the word about Clever, disseminating studies to journalists and developing relationships with media outlets. Reuven is passionate about investing in real estate and creating lasting success for families. His writing has been featured in Max Real Estate Exposure, Leverage Marketing, and more.

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