I’m Moving to Nashville

Monday, March 29th, 2010

At the end of May or early June, I’ll be moving to Nashville, Tennessee.

I’ve lived in D.C. for 10 years, now. I never intended to be a lifer, so I figure it’s time to get out. My job is portable, so I’m kind of intrigued by the idea of picking up and starting over in a new town. I visited Nashville in December. Seems like a good place for a music buff. I’ll also get a nice little cost of living bump, and from what I can tell, the city seems pretty young; has some art, culture, and restaurants; and looks to be a lot of fun.  Also gives me closer proximity to Mississippi so I can drive down to cover (let’s hope) Cory Maye’s new trial.

I figure I’ll sign a 12-month lease and if I’m not crazy about the town this time next year, I’ll pick another spot. I know quite a few Nashvillians (is that what I’ll be called?) read this blog. So lay it on me. Sing your town’s praises.

Oh, and if you have any leads on housing, let’s hear those, too! My ideal place: A loft. Downtown or in a promising neighborhood. Would love a two-bedroom so I can set up a home office, though after browsing some listings, that might  be a hair more than what I’m looking to pay.

I’m excited about the move. The people I know who have lived in Nashville have only great things to say about the town.

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74 Responses to “I’m Moving to Nashville”

  1. #1 |  Michael Chaney | 

    If you want to live downtown, you can probably get a pretty good deal right now. There are a number of places that overbuilt. Don’t overlook Brentwood or Hendersonville, although I’m not sure what your loft chances are there. Might want to hire an agent to help with the search.

    It’ll be nice to have you in town. I’ve been wanting to see what kind of libertarians we have around here, might be able to get a welcoming party together.

  2. #2 |  Dixon | 

    Four words: Prince’s Hot Chicken Shack. The best example of Nashville’s own “hot chicken”…they even have a “hot chicken” festival each summer. It’s not a traditional hot wing…rather it’s chicken quarters individually skillet-fried then slathered with a spice paste…mild, medium, or hot. It’s then thrown in a paper bag with pickle slices and white bread.

    Don’t take my word for it…the intertubez are filled with praise. Yo La Tengo was so moved they wrote Prince’s a song!

  3. #3 |  Boyd Durkin | 

    I loved the neighborhood and the houses around Vandy.

  4. #4 |  M | 

    Our winter just kicked your ass that bad, eh?

  5. #5 |  Radley Balko | 

    Our winter just kicked your ass that bad, eh?

    Actually, it’s the D.C. summer that I really hate.

    Though Nashville probably won’t be much of an improvement.

  6. #6 |  Matt I. | 

    I hope this means you’ll be able to do some Atlanta speaking events!

  7. #7 |  Dave Krueger | 

    Nashville is cool. Kind of like an isolated pocket of advanced civilization in the midst of shack dwelling hillbilly Bible-thumping moonshiners.

    Just kidding about that last part. Moonshining has largely been replaced with meth labs.

  8. #8 |  pegr | 

    I get to Nashville far more often than DC, so this is good for me!

  9. #9 |  B | 

    Don’t really know Nashville, but I loathe DC, so congratulations on getting the hell out!

  10. #10 |  Peter Ramins | 

    Isn’t D.C. one of the areas of the country where you look at a dollar bill and say “If only I had 40 more, I could get a cup of coffee!”

  11. #11 |  Noah | 

    I’m a Vanderbilt Business student…
    The Mid-town area is nice. Close to downtown, close to Vanderbilt, close to everything (a little pricey though).

  12. #12 |  Rowland | 

    I lived in Nashville for five years. I loved it. The first thing I did when I got there was write a song that went, “I feel like I died and went to Nashville.”
    But moving just in time for summer is dangerous. I used to call summer in Nashville a “Dixie Winter.” It’s the season you wait out. You rarely go outside. So just bear that in mind.
    Otherwise, I’d steer clear of Brentwood/Hendersonville (no offense Michael Chaney). It’s a longer commute than you may want. Look for lofts in The Gulch or the area nearby. And Hillsboro/West End is a great neighborhood. It’s within walking distance to Vandy and Hillsboro Village, which is a great little pocket of restaurants and shops.

  13. #13 |  Jesse | 

    I’ve lived in Nashville and DC. That is a great move, and I’m jealous!

  14. #14 |  MassHole | 

    Congrats Radley. I’ve never been to Nashville, which is lame considering a spent my first 23 years in VA. I’ve only heard great things. I don’t blame you for wanting to leave DC. I could never live in NOVA or DC. Good luck with your move.

  15. #15 |  Kristen | 

    Nope, I’m not jealous of your escape at all. Not at all. Not in the least.

  16. #16 |  Carl Drega | 

    Hmm….. I’m assuming you had to at least consider New Hampshire given the Free State Project. Care to comment why you’re not headed north?

  17. #17 |  DuggleBogey | 

    Speaking as a former DC resident who now lives in the Nashville area, I’d congratulate you on a fine choice.

    Welcome to the area. It’s very Red, but I think you’ll appreciate some of the pragmatic way they approach problems. It’s southern, but not excessively so, especially in the city. For music..well, they got both kinds, country AND western.

  18. #18 |  Eric Olsen | 

    See, the fact that you’re planning on going there makes me nervous for you – probably based solely on faulty assumptions. Because I have a close friend moving there right now, because Nashville’s job market is significantly better than Chicago’s right now. But my fear is that I’d be committing intellectual suicide to follow him. I’m a Christian, so it’s not that. Am I just making up fears?

  19. #19 |  James | 

    My fiancee is a Vandy alum; I visited her a few times while she was still in college. You absolutely MUST go eat at Ken’s Sushi. Must must must.

  20. #20 |  Elliot | 

    I can’t help but think that leaving Washington is a good step, on general principles.

    Hope all goes well for you!

  21. #21 |  Greg N. | 

    BUmmed you didn’t give Gainesville a chance . . .

  22. #22 |  Jeff | 

    I went to school at Vandy, and the one thing I remember about Nashville is how spread out it was. There’s no one neighborhood that has everything – you’ll have to drive or ride the bus a lot. But the upside to that is there are a lot of cool little areas to explore.

    Midtown’s a good area. I hear East End’s grown up a lot since I’ve been there too.

  23. #23 |  Let's Be Free | 

    If you can’t get Jim Moran out, get out of the Jim Moran.

  24. #24 |  JS | 

    ’bout time you got some religion anyway boy!

  25. #25 |  tb | 

    Michael Chaney, Radley & others:

    Count me among the locals interested in a welcoming party.

  26. #26 |  Aunt B. | 

    Honestly, I wouldn’t apartment shop from afar. The dirty secret of the great condo boom is that there are a lot of places folks wish rented for $1,800 a month that are sitting empty. Some one-on-one work might get you a really nice deal just to put bodies in buildings.

    Our public transportation is pretty terrible, so factor in the cost of having a car.

    And don’t overlook the area just north of the capitol. There are some nice new places going in in Germantown and Hope Gardens and that’s not a bad walk to the stadium, if you’re a football fan.

  27. #27 |  Sky | 

    YEW HAW!! Whichever, welcome to the South! Hope you like grits (with cheese is best) chicken & dumplins, bisquits and red eye gravy….I’m makin my own mouth water….

    Congrats on the move!! If you ever get to Tx. I know a great lil Mexican Food restaurant and I’ll hook you up with a free meal.

  28. #28 |  Marc | 

    I moved from the DC area to Nashville about 4.5 years ago.

    My recommendations on housing: forget living downtown or in one of those new places in the Gultch or in midtown. If you live there, you’ll be paying near-DC prices for an inferior experience. Even though those places are walkable to bars and music venues, you won’t be able to walk to everything, and the public transportation here is lousy. Instead, go to an area just a little further out, like Hillsboro village, where you can get a place that actually has a yard for your dogs. East Nashville around five points is also a decent compromise and an “up and coming” area, but it’s also block-by-block, so talk to someone who knows the area. Five Points has a good nightlife too. You might also look around 12 South and the area over toward 8th South. If you trawl Craigslist diligently you might find something affordable around music row.

    A few years back Germantown, just north of downtown, was all the rage, and there were even some lofts being put in in an old Werthan factory (http://www.werthanlofts.com/), but that area always seemed like it combined the affordability of downtown with the walkability of a suburb. And those lofts were having trouble selling when the financial crisis started unfolding, so they may have gone entirely under by now.

    Nashville’s ok, a fun enough city. I think the things I miss most about DC are the walkability/public transportation and the good, medium-priced food. Anyone know a good Italian place where you can eat for $10-$20 in Nashville?

  29. #29 |  Jefferson | 

    Glad to see you getting out of DC. It’s soul crushing for a freedom lover.

  30. #30 |  Whim | 

    And, you’ll find that Tennessee has NO state income tax!

  31. #31 |  Butch | 

    Pretty good beer town, better than DC. Yazoo Brewery being the top dog. Great new brewhouse with taproom.

  32. #32 |  Juice | 

    Radley, the weather in Nashville and DC are very similar, except that in DC when it rains it just showers and in Nashville it storms.

    I lived in Nashville for 7 years before moving to DC. I never thought I’d miss Nashville, but I do. DC sucks balls and Nashville kicks DC’s ass.

    It’s simply a better place to live in all respects.

  33. #33 |  Juice | 

    Oh and they have Yazoo!

  34. #34 |  Juice | 

    Skip Ken’s Sushi and go to Samurai Sushi on Elliston Place. Some of the best sushi ever and I’m not exaggerating.

    Also go to Las Palmas (often).

  35. #35 |  johnl | 

    Marc is right. Nashville is not the city. You will need a car to get most places. Since you are already driving, move out far enough from the center of town to a dog friendly space. It’s not like DC where that will mean moving an hour out.

  36. #36 |  Juice | 

    You need a car in DC too, except that you can’t park it anywhere.

  37. #37 |  Jeremy | 

    Tennessee is more draconian on Drug Policy than Washington DC is at this point with less access to the political discourse. I’m a little surprised you’re not moving to Colorado.

  38. #38 |  Tom | 

    Actually given what you do, I can’t see how you could do it anywhere but DC. Once you’re outside of the beltway, you’ll be irrelevant to the policy makers. If you ever want to cause change, you have to be in DC.

  39. #39 |  Juice | 

    Oh hey, I almost forgot, If you like independent films, go to the Belmont Theater in Hillsboro Village. We used to live down the street from that and I really miss it now.

    What I missed was sitting in an old theater sipping a really stiff Jack and Coke and watching some Thai horror or Bollywood movie.

  40. #40 |  expat | 

    I left Nashville about 5 years ago. No, the summers aren’t going to be much improvement over DC. Otherwise, congrats on the move! I hope you like it there.

    If i was moving back, I’d probably be looking at the East End neighborhoods. They were just starting on the regeneration cycle when I left. Nice houses & duplexes, most with yards. Rents were all pretty reasonable. I liked living in Sylvan Park. Hillsboro Village was a bit too studenty for me… and i was a student at the time.

    BBQ — you have to try Hog Heaven just beside Centennial Park. Don’t let the charming cinderblock exterior fool you.

    Music — only ever been to a bad gig there once in 5 years. The Station Inn is a must.

    Outdoors — SE TN and NW GA are great, especially in the Fall. If you’re headed to MS and not in a rush to get there, the Natchez Trace Parkway is a beautiful route to get there. Just be mindful of the cyclists.

  41. #41 |  Roger Abramson | 

    “Actually given what you do, I can’t see how you could do it anywhere but DC. Once you’re outside of the beltway, you’ll be irrelevant to the policy makers. If you ever want to cause change, you have to be in DC.”

    Dunno…a lot to be said for actually living among the folks who elect the people who go to DC.

    Welcome to Nashville, Radley.


  42. #42 |  Franklin Harris | 

    I used to visit my college roommate in Nashville when he was in grad school there, and he had an apartment on 24th Ave., a block down from the Ronald McDonald House. Nice neighborhood within walking distance of all of the restaurants and bars on 21st, and also close to the Belcourt Theater. Nashville’s nightlife is mostly on 21st and Broadway. 21st Ave. is for rich Vandy students, and Broadway is a tourist trap. If on Broadway, try not to pass out in Printer’s Alley.

  43. #43 |  Joe | 

    Unless you are getting a screaming deal, why go with a 12 month lease? You can probably do a six, with an option to go six more.

  44. #44 |  dmoynihan | 

    I go once a year, for the Tenn Book Festival on the Capitol. Like the city, and congrats on the move!

  45. #45 |  Downtown Dweller | 

    Nighlife is everywhere now, not just Broadway and 21st. It’s also in the Gulch and in East Nashville and Elliston Place to name a few. 21st Ave is way more diverse than Vandy rich kids. Broadway is not a tourist trap. It’s the “go to” place for a night out amongst real Nashvillians. Also, Printer’s Alley is not on Broadway. It’s an actually alley of bars several blocks away from Broadway.

  46. #46 |  CharlesWT | 

    I’m moving to Nashville, Tennessee,
    I’m sick and tired of Washington, D.C…

  47. #47 |  Michael Chaney | 

    Otherwise, I’d steer clear of Brentwood/Hendersonville (no offense Michael Chaney). It’s a longer commute than you may want.

    You’re acting like Radley has a job to drive to. One of the greatest parts of working from home is living wherever you want without worrying about the drive to work.

  48. #48 |  Juice | 

    expat, Hog Heaven kinda sucks. If you want BBQ, there are plenty of better places, even chains like Bar B Cutie. But Jack’s downtown is a sure bet.

    And how can I forget Caesar’s? It’s a little hole in the wall off White Bridge Road that has pretty decent Italian food at very decent prices. But make sure to go on the weekend because periodically the very large chef/owner will come out from the kitchen and sing Elvis tunes (and do a pretty good job of it).

  49. #49 |  Juice | 

    Damn, Franklin, the Belcourt! How could I call it the Belmont. I went there like 100 times. Stupid me.

  50. #50 |  Juice | 

    I’m sorry for all the posts, but a loft? Huh?

    In Nashville, you can rent a (nice) 2/3 bedroom house with a 1/4 acre yard in Green Hills for the same rent as a crappy basement apartment in Adams-Morgan.

  51. #51 |  Franklin Harris | 

    “Also, Printer’s Alley is not on Broadway. It’s an actually alley of bars several blocks away from Broadway.”

    It’s like three blocks north.

  52. #52 |  adam | 

    Don’t speed in and around Nashville. I live in Knoxville and I get a ticket almost every time I go to Nashville. The State Highway Patrol “headquarters” is in Cookeville, so that maybe a factor.

  53. #53 |  mike | 

    I live in Nashville. Here are my recommendations for neighborhoods (in no particular order):

    1. Midtown
    2. Hillsboro Villiage / Vandy
    3. Gulch
    4. 12th South

    There are lots of lofts in the Gulch area (close to downtown, short distance from 12th South) that was overdeveloped, and I imagine there are lots of people looking to rent places there. One of the best bluegrass joints in the country is in the Gulch -Station Inn. Hillsboro Villiage is nice, as there are some good restaurants, coffee-shops, etc. in a small area close to Vandy. I live in 12th South, and it’s an awesome neighborhood about 3 miles from downtown with mixed residential / businesses (a few restaurants, a couple of bars, coffee shop, etc.), but no real lofts and fewer rentals in general (maybe check out a development called 12th and Paris). Midtown is about a mile from downtown and has some lofts and rentals and has lots of places to walk to.

  54. #54 |  Brett C | 

    Hey Marc,
    Try MAFIAoZA’S. I am partial, since I am the chef there. We also have a liberty on the rocks group that meets there the 3rd Thursday of the month. 2 for 1’s are extended for them. Come on out.

    My vote is for 12South.

  55. #55 |  Chad | 

    I’m a commercial real estate agent that focuses exclusively on neighborhoods around downtown Nashville. I live in a very trendy neighborhood called East Nashville and highly recommend it, but feel free to contact me before your next visit and I’ll tell you everything that you need to know.

    Glad to hear you’re coming down!


  56. #56 |  Andrew Williams | 

    King Crimson’ s been known to hang out and rehearse there. Who knows–you might spot Adrian Belew and Robert Fripp in a bar downtown, drinking some killer margaritas.

  57. #57 |  Robert | 

    If your heart isn’t set on Nashville, I’d recommend Asheville NC. Being up at 2 to 3 thousand feet, the summers are much better and the music scene is one of the best.

  58. #58 |  Bronwyn | 

    You’ll be within reasonable road-trip distance from Louisville! Hooray!!

  59. #59 |  Stewart Vardaman | 

    I have a few relatives there. My sister calls it “Jesusland.” :( I’m from MS, but I don’t like the south. If I had to move back, I’d take Nashville over Atlanta, and I like big cities.

    Enjoy the Vandy Candy!

  60. #60 |  Pinandpuller | 

    I deliver pizza from over on Elliston Place. There are plenty of nice condos in the West End Ave area. There’s also an old factory that got turned into lofts on Rosa L Parks Blvd. It’s beautiful. I suppose it depends on how close you want to live to the projects.

  61. #61 |  Kolohe | 

    Good Luck!

  62. #62 |  KBCraig | 

    I second the call for New Hampshire. You were just in Nashua, which is really “Boston North”, but I think you’d enjoy life in Manchester. The “bad neighborhoods”, where rent is cheap, are a dream compared to even the best neighborhoods in DC.

    Or Concord. Or Keene. Or Portsmouth. Or, hell, even Berlin (super cheap housing, broadband easily available, but no easy access to Manchester-Boston airport).

    Nashville summers are going to be better than DC, simply because you’re in the hills with some elevation, instead of an unihabitable swamp. The highway construction is bad, though.

  63. #63 |  230therapy | 

    While you’re down there, head on over to Rangemaster in Memphis, TN and take some courses with Tom Givens.

  64. #64 |  Mark | 

    This just more confirmation that Nashville is becoming the center of all things up and coming…great news, Radley.

    I live 12th south area and could not recommend it more. Two great coffeeships. Great food. Everybody has a dog. Late night stop at Mafiozas for a last whiskey and drunken pizza at the bar is a regular for me. People in the neighborhood are both cool and unassuming about it, unlike certain East Nashie folks. That being said, East Nashville is fun as hell. Three Crow bar in East is darts and beer and helluva fun for a bender. In my opinion, though, stick close to 12th and hit up old Melrose billiards for the tobacco infused clothing and two dollar Pabst. That place is awesome. Oh, and Jack White lives up the road. Gotta mean something, right?

    If I had the cash, Id get a loft in the Icon in the Gulch. Only for their rooftop pool. That’s the ticket in summer. Wait. Better yet, meet someone who has a place there and invite yourself over all the time.
    And everything here is close. I work close to downtown and can get to the studio in 12 minutes in the morning. It’s so long because of rush hour… Hillsboro village is close. Midtown is close. Brentwood is far. Don’t move there. You’ll never know what Nashville really is unless you live in town.
    Awesome. What a cool post to read this morning. And for music..well, the good music scene here, (read not country nor Christian) is rich and diverse. It’s going to be the American center for cool music in five years. Trust me.

  65. #65 |  Mark | 

    Hmm..and as far as I know, koro, at least a documented case, hadn’t been seen round these parts for years. Unlike DC..

    So there’s that.

  66. #66 |  Phelps | 

    We’d love to have you here in Texas (get in now, so you don’t have to immigrate and naturalize when we secede) but I also like Nashville… but I liked Memphis a little more. Which it always good for starting a nice little flamewar.

  67. #67 |  Marc | 

    Brett C,

    Forgot about Mafiaoza’s. That’s a good one. I normally get the pizza, though.

  68. #68 |  Kid Handsome | 

    Dude, I love Nashville. I’m jealous. I have many friends there and I think you’ll find that once you get used to it, it’s everything you’re hoping it will be. Plus – there is no substitute for the women there. An 8 in the south is a 10 if she travels to D.C.

  69. #69 |  John Smith | 

    Nashville is ok to visit not so hot to live. If I were out of the metro area in the less civilized parts it would be far better. I have a buddy who moved up here after his wife was put in a coma at a captain D’s robbery a few years back. He came from Miami and hates it. Drives him nuts that everything closes at 2100 unless you are down town. Food is alright rather overpriced for the taste. They have a good chinese buffet at a Restaurant called the CHINA PAN in Antioch. Unless you really enjoy a liberal PROGRESSIVE environment Nashville is probably not the best choice to live in. Which is one reason why I am gone…

  70. #70 |  Iced Borscht | 

    For all things music, shoot an e-mail over to Mark Montgomery when you get to town. He’s an old friend of yours truly and a major mover and shaker in Nashville music.

    Web site:


  71. #71 |  CJJScout | 

    I freaking love that town. Had my bachelor’s party there and gonna spend a night there later this month for another one. Had some friends that went to Vandy law and we used to visit them all the time. Oh, days gone by…

  72. #72 |  nashvilletech | 

    #64 / #28 / #53 nailed it. I live between Belmont and 12th South. I walk to the Frothy Monkey for coffee daily, meet friends at Mafiaozas and 12th South Taproom for lunch, dinner, drinks, and always enjoy a cheap cab ride home from downtown or midtown if I’ve had a beer or two.

    12th South is all sidewalks so its easy to walk where you need to go. A quick trip to Green Hills will get you to any major stores you need to visit. Drive two miles and your on Music Row. We’re also surrounded by three colleges in this area (Belmont / Lipscomb / Vandy) so you get the campus vibe which is alway fun.

    I seriously feel like I live in the movie Old School.


  73. #73 |  lostSoul | 

    I hate it here, and want out very badly. It will be tough to get out as Nashville is full of stray animals and three cats wandered into my life . I’m bonded now since they are virtually the only friends I have. It’s a great town if you love to be drunk a lot and are invited to the party. I’m miserable and wouldn’t recommend it here for older women. A horrible mean little town; it’s not nicknamed “Nastyville” for nuthin.

  74. #74 |  sabbysabs | 

    I also want to move to nashville..im from baltimore and have lived in nc and sc and ny..im not liking sc..its really boring..largely there isnt a music scene here..i want to move to a place where i can here music..see local acts..and at the same time be able to go to an update mall. Malls in nashville have tiffany and co. and sephora..there is nothing like that here in columbia. its so far behind other places. Im also applying for grad school there at belmont for teaching. What do u guys think? By the way im not a fan of dc either