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Memphis
  • $350   =  non-traditional average 1
  • $581   =  average 2BR ÷ 2, or traditional roommate rent 2
  • $1038   =  average 1BR, rented solo 3
  • (traditional vs. non-traditional roommates)
  • (the rest of the  southeast US)

46% live within a 10-minute walk of a park. 4
Most errands require a car. 5
property crime, steamy summers, ice storms, downed power lines, pollen
cheapest rent, live music, Graceland, barbeque 6
caucasians tread carefully, hipster town, trendy and instagrammable, shots fired, you got shot, hoods, hipsters, thrift stores, cheaper suburbia, white flight, mexican hood, and voodoo village are the largest hoodmap tags 7

SO, roomiematch.com's Memphis roommate rundown:

Memphis offers serious Southern culture at a steep discount. By that we mean compared to living in all the other cities on this list, which would be more or less all similar size and larger as well.

No state income tax. Overall low cost of living.

Memphis is vibing Deep South, and a lot of neighborhoods have a lot of artists contributing highly to their art, but within their own lowest cost of living frameworks. This is a city where it's a lot easier to make that work than one where the average roommate rent is a few to several times what it is in Memphis.

Memphians regularly experience its many historic highs and lows, because some of them are more or less . . . ongoing?

Obviously sky high, properly considered by most as the Home of the Blues. Also home of Graceland, the Birthplace of Rock'n'roll, and American Soul!

Oh and: Buck, crunk, gospel, Memphis blues, Memphis rap, Memphis soul, rock n' roll, rockabilly, and sharecropper country style!

Fantastic local food, plus their "local" barbeque cooked in a pit, low and slow, with either a dry rub or brushed with sauce (wet).

Also there's a lot of golfing.

Any of that related to why Memphis can offer you the lowest cost of living for any city on our list . . . but also gets its own NBA team?

Memphis also has Tennessee's largest African-American population, after playing a major role in the civil rights movement. Memphis now hosts the National Civil Rights Museum at the Lorraine Motel, where Dr. King was assassinated. The hotel where he was shot is now also a showcase for his work.

They've also the largest Pentecostal denomination in the US, while hosting many theological seminaries.

However, many and various city indexes have ranked Memphis #1 on stuff you'd rather not, like: most dangerous, violent crime, overall crime including property, and homicide.

Memphis has also ranked the poorest city in the country in a previous Census, with 1 of 5 people reportedly living in poverty.

It's important to point out that the worst neighborhoods in terms of all types of crime feature both a lot of poverty and a lot of gang-related activity, almost without fail. The neighborhoods of Memphis are no exception to this overall rule.

Very conservatively, and until you're in the know: stay in touristy areas and/or well-populated areas and/or near the University and downtown, keep your valuables out of sight to avoid minor theft, and be aware of pickpocketing.

Not to disrespect your fashion choices, but we wouldn't recommend carrying an obviously expensive purse all over Memphis. If you follow the rules above, it's unlikely you'll suffer from homicide, but otherwise, somebody might try for the purse?

Some roommates might enjoy just driving around, taking in the sights, and think they'd like to "go for a longer drive" someplace new. Understandable, but locals recommend not after dark all by yourself, as you could accidentally go from one of Memphis' nicer neighborhoods to one of its worst super fast. Not last but least because . . . there's not much traffic.

Bottom line: You should be able to experience Memphis safely, but that relies on attention paid to where you are. After dark don't travel with visible valuables, especially left behind in your car, and stay in better populated areas with which you're already familiar after dark.

Everyone should warn new roommates from cooler climates about Memphis' hot and steamy summers, with a double punch of heat plus humidity many find overwhelming.

Driving is preferred to walking almost anywhere that doesn't attract a lot of tourists, and the weather can feel less walkable too, unless you'd like to arrive sweaty. And except for right around downtown possibly during an event, parking is usually free.

Which is helpful, because possibly downtown during an event is the only time you might not need a car, at least for a few hours. Otherwise, you will. There's a bus sometimes, but it might just stop running seemingly at random. It could be a low stress way for you and your roommates to tour the city one day, especially if you'd like to drink but not drive (good for you!) but do confirm your times and routes same day. Locals say otherwise you might get a little stranded.

But along with the no state income tax and overall low cost of living that sound like good news to most incoming roommates, their wages are very low too (particularly minimum wage).

Some say the dream situation might be working remotely, getting paid the higher wages that tend to be typical in most cities Memphis' size or larger . . . then not have to spend as much living right here.

The rest of the Memphis roommate lowdown:

  • Memphis is Tennessee's second largest city after Nashville, and the largest city on the Mississippi River, near the Arkansas and Mississippi borders.
  • Home to about 650,000 in the city, with a greater metro area of about 1.3 million
  • home to Crichton College, Christian Brothers University, Le Moyne-Owen College, Rhodes College, Memphis State University, and the University of Tennessee
  • frequent weather changes in winter, occasionally involving ice storms and freezing rain and downed power lines, lot of rain throughout the whole year
  • lots of farmland nearby
  • Spring = a lot of pollen = your roommates who suffer from airborne allergies will probably need to stock up on their medication
  • Barbeque spaghetti is regular pasta but topped with smoked pork and BBQ sauce, sometimes with onions and/or peppers
  • largest local employer is FedEx, who maintain a hub at the airport



After you're settled down, you and your roommates should experience Memphis':

  • House of Mews: "Feline adoption agency & Cat Lovers Gift Shop." It's the country's first and oldest no-kill cat shelter. It's kind of like an apartment, cats roam freely, you can sit and play with them. You can buy some cat supplies or cat merch to support them.
  • Graceland: There's a Jungle Room
  • Silky O'Sullivan's: Goats are drinking beer, right on Beale Street. There's a tower. Lager-loving goats amble up. They don't fall down . . . because they're goats. Also you can feed them!
  • Beale Street: Memphis claims this row of bars and clubs with live music as the "Home of the Blues." At night it's closed to cars but "drinks to go" windows open.
  • Blues Hall of Fame Museum: A "Memphis gem for both serious blues fans and casual visitors," this museum has 10 galleries of hard-to-find album covers, unique art, tour jackets, and costumes. And of course plenty of interactive displays featuring the stories and music of inductees.
  • Sun Studio: Claims to be the "Birthplace of Rock'n'roll." Definitely where many musical legends recorded, including Elvis, Johnny Cash, Howlin' Wolf, Al Green, B.B. King, Roy Orbison, Sam Cooke, Otis Redding, Aretha Franklin, and Tina Turner. You and your roommates can take a tour during the day for $15.
  • Stax Museum of American Soul Music: Museum opens in a Mississippi Delta church circa 1906 (reassembled inside the museum), moving on through period recording equipment and studios, floor to ceiling cases of famous records, the Express Yourself dance floor, and Isaac Hayes' custom Cadillac Eldorado with 24-carat exterior trim and white fur carpeting.
  • Ballet Memphis or Opera Memphis
  • Memphis Zoo: Ranked one of the best zoos in the country. One of only four US zoos with giant pandas. More than 3500 animals, including their critically endangered Conservation Six: African elephants, African penguins, Dusky Gopher frogs, Grauer's (Eastern Lowland) gorillas, Louisiana pine snakes, and Sumatran tigers.
  • Memphis Botanic Garden: Over 96 acres, including 30 specialty gardens, an Arboretum, and a Sculpture Collection including pottery and metalwork.
  • Memphis in May International Festival: All month long! Local music, air show, fireworks display, a marathon run, the Memphis Symphony Orchestra playing at sunset and the World Championship Barbecue Cooking Contest! Hundreds of teams competing, over $100,000 in prizes.
  • Carnival Memphis: Member krewes and private societies similar to New Orleans, but for Memphis?
  • Metal Museum: Actually NOT music! Working foundry on site. That means metalwork and metal-smithing. Also classes and about 3000 items in a master metalsmith museum!
  • Burke's Books: One of the oldest indies in the country, since 1875. The store has changed over the years, and is now mostly used books < $10. They specialize in "the best of the old, the latest of the new, and hard to find collectibles."
  • Brussel's Bonsai Nursery: 15 minutes outside Memphis (Mississippi) is the country's largest bonsai nursery. The showroom is like a forest of miniature trees. You don't have to buy anything, but if you and your roommates would like to bonsai there's a starter kit.


Here's the city of Memphis' official .gov for new residents, including household services and utilities, city hall, local culture, neighborhoods, and city council.





Notes

1.   The non-traditional roommate rent average for this city we've experienced over the last 3 years. We can't predict future rental availability, because we're neither in control of any rental market nor psychic, sorry!

But in most cities most of the time, the recent and relatively recent past are the best predictors.


2.   This idea came from smartasset.com's ranking of what a roommate saves you in 50 cities. They ranked where roommates will save you the most money, based on the average cost of a 1BR as opposed to a 2BR ÷ 2. Unsurprisingly, the more expensive the city, the more you can save, but the savings are significant in all larger metros. So we got the data for the rest of our cities from Zumper too.

This is really the minimum you could save, as you could live with more than one roommate, split more services, share food or other supplies, etc. More sharing tends to lead to more savings too, as per our roommate roadmap.

As per the rest of the description at the top of this page, we're calling this "traditional" roommate rent.


3.   From zumper.com.


4.   Directly quoted from the Trust for Public Land's parkland rating system.

"The ParkScore index awards each city up to 100 points for acreage based on the average of two equally weighted measures: median park size and parkland as a percentage of city area. Factoring park acreage into each city’s ParkScore rating helps account for the importance of larger “destination parks” that serve many users who live farther than ten minutes’ walking distance."

While each city's rundown already includes their individual ParkScore, nature lovers might like to see all roommate cities ranked for parkland.


5.   Directly quoted from Walk Score's Cities and Neighborhoods Ranking. They've ranked "more than 2,800 cities and over 10,000 neighborhoods so you can find a walkable home or apartment."

While each city's rundown already includes their individual Walk Score, dedicated pedestrians might like to see all roommate cities ranked for walkability.


6.   From various lists here on our own best roommate cities.


7.   From hoodmaps.com: a collaborative map where residents use tags describing social situations you're likely to find. Other users can thumb up or down, so the largest tags have been thumbed up the most.