MURFREESBORO, Tenn. (WKRN) — Sometimes it feels like Middle Tennessee has grown overnight, and it’s not just Nashville. According to a SmartAsset study, Murfreesboro’s population went up almost 20% in span of five years.
The financial tech company recently released a list of the fastest-growing cities with populations over 100,000 in the United States. That growth was based on the population difference the U.S. Census reported between 2017 and 2022 for the 344 largest cities.
Several cities around Tennessee made the list, including two that cracked the top 25. Murfreesboro was ranked 16th while Clarksville was ranked 22nd, with their populations growing 19.1% and 15.5%, respectively, between 2017 and 2022.
“For a long time, it felt like everybody that was moving here was kind of from the Midwest, and I think a lot of that had to do with automotive coming to the South and Nissan and whatnot, and all the ancillary businesses associated with automotive, it’s a lot of Midwest people, but the last few years, it’s been a huge migration of Californians. I’ve seen a lot of folks coming from the Chicago, Chicagoland area,” explained real estate broker John Jones.
Jones said people from the West Coast and the Windy City see Murfreesboro as a goldmine for cheaper homes and a lower cost of living. To help with future infrastructure, city leaders agreed on issuing impact fees.
“Governments or municipalities can’t keep up with the growth. It’s just, there’s too much of a burden on our schools, everything, so it’s a way for them to generate revenue without just instantly going to property tax,” Jones told News 2.
Jones also believes quality of life is a big factor, with some people in the Nashville area moving to Murfreesboro to escape the big city hustle.
“I was going to say the drivers,” Rhonda Berry said with a laugh. “It’s, like, pray every day before you leave to go out here that you can make it home safe.”
Berry is from Greenbrier, but she moved to Murfreesboro three years ago to be closer to her children. She said she doesn’t regret that decision.
“I love Murfreesboro better because…we have four sons that live across 840, and my daughter and all my grandchildren, so that makes me love Murfreesboro,” Berry explained.
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Other Volunteer State localities ranked lower on SmartAsset’s list. For example, Knoxville was 106th with a population growth of 4.6% over the five-year period, Chattanooga was 151st with 2.8% growth, “Nashville-Davidson metropolitan government (balance)” was 156th with 2.7% growth, and Memphis was 318th with -4.8% growth, according to the study.
Jones told News 2 he’s surprised North Nashville and Joelton have not seen a major change in population, but only time will tell.