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Musicians Struggle to Afford Housing in 'Music City' Nashville

Sarah Mikhitarian

Nashville is known as Music City, but many homes on both the for-sale and rental market remain out of reach for musicians and singers. In the entire Nashville metro area, musicians could afford the monthly mortgage payment in about three-quarters of ZIP codes, thanks to low mortgage interest rates. But the typical musician could afford rent in just five of the Nashville metro area ZIP codes.

Using the median salary for a musician or singer in Nashville, and the median home value and median rent in each Nashville metro ZIP code, we calculated the percentage of income a musician or singer looking to live on their salary alone would have to spend on housing in each area. Using the rule of thumb that no more than 30% of income should go toward housing, we came up with a list of ZIP codes where musicians or singers looking to live on their salary alone were priced out. We also compared that to two other major sectors of employment in Nashville – healthcare (registered nurses) and tech (software developers).

Share of salary needed to cover the typical…

Type of home payment Employed individual Musician Registered nurse Software developer
Monthly mortgage payment 31.4% 28.1% 21.0% 13.7%
Rent payment 47.2% 42.2% 31.6% 20.6%

On the whole, musicians and singers are better off than the typical employed Nashvillian. They could afford the monthly mortgage payment on the median home for the metro, while the typical employed Nashvillian could not. Mortgage interest rates have remained near historically low levels, making the monthly payment more affordable. Of course, the down payment on a home is increasingly a huge hurdle for buyers across the board-and musicians are no exception. A 20% down payment on the median-valued home in Nashville is more than an entire year's salary for the typical musician.

While the typical monthly mortgage payment may be within reach, the typical monthly rent payment is largely unaffordable with a musician's and registered nurse's salary.

While the affordability of the Nashville metro area might look pretty grim for individuals, especially for musicians who come from all over for their big break, it's worth noting that many people ultimately live with at least one other person, such as a spouse, partner or roommate. In many instances, there is more than one income-earner in a household, which helps to ease some of these affordability concerns and puts more homes within reach.

Here are the ZIP codes where musicians are priced out. The monthly mortgage payment associated with the median-valued home in all other ZIP codes in the Nashville metro area fall under the 30% threshold for people earning the typical income for all three professions. In some cases, the typical mortgage payment is unaffordable even for the majority of registered nurses and software developers, who tend to have higher salaries.

Areas where a typical mortgage payment is unaffordable for musicians and singers

ZIP Code Primary City/Town/Neighborhood Musician/Singer Registered Nurse Software Developer
37027 Brentwood No No No
37046 College Grove No No Yes
37064 Franklin No No Yes
37067 Franklin No No Yes
37069 Franklin No No Yes
37075 Hendersonville No Yes Yes
37085 Lascassas No Yes Yes
37118 Milton No Yes Yes
37122 Mount Juliet No Yes Yes
37135 Nolensville No No Yes
37174 Spring Hill No Yes Yes
37179 Thompsons Station No Yes Yes
37201 Nashville (Riverfront) No Yes Yes
37203 Nashville (The Gulch) No No Yes
37204 Nashville (Melrose) No No Yes
37205 Nashville (Belle Meade) No No No
37206 Nashville (East Nashville) No Yes Yes
37209 Nashville (Sylvan Park) No Yes Yes
37212 Nashville (Hillsboro West End) No No Yes
37215 Nashville (Forest Hills) No No No
37216 Nashville (Inglewood) No Yes Yes
32719 Nashville (Arts District) No Yes Yes
32220 Nashville (Oak Hill) No No Yes
32221 Nashville (Bellevue) No Yes Yes

Rent affordability is much more challenging.  Here are the zip codes where the median rent in the ZIP code is affordable for a musician or singer. All other ZIP codes are considered unaffordable for musicians and singers.

Where can musicians and singers afford rent?

Zip Code City/Town/Neighborhood Musician/Singer Registered Nurse Software Developer
37033 Centerville Yes Yes Yes
37098 Lyles Yes Yes Yes
37137 Nunnelly Yes Yes Yes
37181 Vanleer Yes Yes Yes
38474 Mount Pleasant Yes Yes Yes

*Musicians and singers may be able to afford rent in 38547 – South Carthage, 38560 – Elmwood, and 38563 – Gordonville but Zillow does not have enough rent data from those zips to definitively reach that conclusion



Zillow analyzed salary and income data for various occupations from the U.S. Census Bureau, American Community Survey, 2017 microdata, made available by IPUMS USA, University of Minnesota, www.ipums.org. We projected salaries and incomes forward to Q1 2019 using the Bureau of Labor Statistics' Employment Cost Index. To calculate mortgage affordability, we first calculate the mortgage payment for the median-valued home in a metropolitan area using the metro-level Zillow Home Value Index (ZHVI) for Q1 2019. Then, we consider what portion of the monthly median salary or income goes towards this monthly mortgage payment. We calculate rent affordability similarly to mortgage affordability; however, we use the Zillow Rent Index, which tracks the monthly median rent.

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