With their sunny climates, vibrant cities, and abundance of outdoor activities, both Florida and Tennessee are popular places to live and work in the United States. But if you had to choose between the Sunshine State or the Volunteer State as home, how do you decide which is better?

If you’re short on time, here’s a quick answer: Florida generally edges out Tennessee for its warmer weather, beaches, job opportunities, and entertainment, while Tennessee offers lower costs of living, zero state income tax, and more temperate seasons.

In this comprehensive comparison guide, we will analyze essential factors like climate, jobs, housing, cost of living, recreation and more to determine whether Florida or Tennessee is the superior state to put down roots.

Climate and Geography

When it comes to choosing between Florida and Tennessee as a place to live, one of the important factors to consider is the climate and geography of each state. Both states have unique characteristics that may appeal to different people.

Average Temperatures

Florida is known for its warm and tropical climate, with average temperatures ranging from the mid-70s to mid-90s Fahrenheit (24-35 degrees Celsius) throughout the year. The state enjoys plenty of sunshine, making it a popular destination for those seeking a year-round warm weather.

On the other hand, Tennessee experiences a more diverse climate, with hot summers and cold winters. Average temperatures range from the low 30s to low 90s Fahrenheit (0-32 degrees Celsius) depending on the season and location within the state.


Florida is known for its high levels of precipitation, especially during the summer months. The state receives an average of 50-60 inches (127-152 cm) of rainfall annually. This can lead to occasional flooding and high humidity levels.

Tennessee, on the other hand, has a more moderate precipitation level, with an average of 40-55 inches (102-140 cm) of rainfall per year. The state also experiences occasional snowfall during the winter months in some areas.

Geography and Landscapes

Florida is a flat state, characterized by its sandy beaches, marshes, and the Everglades. The state is surrounded by water, with the Atlantic Ocean on one side and the Gulf of Mexico on the other. Tennessee, on the other hand, is known for its diverse geography.

The state is home to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, offering stunning views, hiking trails, and outdoor activities. Tennessee also has a number of rivers and lakes, making it a great destination for fishing and boating enthusiasts.

Jobs and the Economy

Employment Opportunities

Both Florida and Tennessee offer a wide range of employment opportunities for residents. Florida, known for its tourism industry, has a thriving hospitality sector that provides numerous job opportunities in hotels, restaurants, and amusement parks.

Additionally, the state has a strong healthcare industry, with a high demand for healthcare professionals. Tennessee, on the other hand, has a diverse economy with opportunities in manufacturing, technology, and healthcare.

The state is home to major employers such as FedEx, Nissan, and the healthcare giant, HCA. Both states provide ample employment prospects, but it ultimately depends on an individual’s skill set and career goals.

Key Industries

Florida and Tennessee have distinct key industries that contribute to their respective economies. In Florida, tourism plays a significant role, attracting millions of visitors each year. The state’s beautiful beaches, theme parks, and vibrant cities make it a top destination for travelers.

This robust tourism industry creates a multitude of job opportunities in hospitality, entertainment, and retail sectors. Tennessee, on the other hand, has a strong presence in manufacturing and automotive industries.

The state is home to numerous automobile manufacturing plants and has a growing aerospace sector. Additionally, Tennessee has a thriving music industry, with Nashville being widely known as the “Music City.” These key industries contribute to the overall economic growth of each state.

Tax Structure

When it comes to taxes, both Florida and Tennessee have a favorable tax structure for residents. Florida is one of the few states in the U.S. that does not have a state income tax, which can be a significant advantage for individuals looking to keep more of their earnings.

Additionally, the state has a relatively low sales tax rate, making it an attractive option for consumers. Tennessee, on the other hand, also does not have a state income tax, but it does have a sales tax. However, the sales tax rate in Tennessee is lower compared to many other states.

These tax structures can have a significant impact on the overall cost of living and financial well-being of individuals residing in each state.

Housing and Cost of Living

When considering where to live, one of the most important factors to consider is housing and cost of living. Let’s take a look at how Florida and Tennessee compare in terms of home prices, rental costs, and overall affordability.

Home Prices

Florida and Tennessee both offer a variety of housing options, ranging from urban apartments to suburban homes. However, there is a notable difference in home prices between the two states. According to the latest data from Zillow, the median home price in Florida is $250,000, while in Tennessee it is $215,000.

This means that homes in Tennessee are generally more affordable compared to Florida.

It’s worth noting that home prices can vary significantly depending on the specific location within each state. For example, cities like Miami and Orlando in Florida tend to have higher home prices compared to cities like Nashville and Chattanooga in Tennessee.

So, it’s important to consider the specific area you are interested in when evaluating home prices.

Rental Costs

For those who prefer renting rather than buying, rental costs are an important aspect to consider. In general, rental costs in both Florida and Tennessee are relatively affordable compared to other states in the US.

According to RentCafe, the average monthly rent for a one-bedroom apartment in Florida is around $1,200, while in Tennessee it is around $1,000. However, it’s important to note that rental costs can vary depending on the city and neighborhood within each state.

Overall Affordability

When it comes to overall affordability, Tennessee has an edge over Florida. The cost of living in Tennessee is generally lower compared to Florida. According to the Council for Community and Economic Research, Tennessee has a lower overall cost of living index compared to Florida.

This index takes into account factors such as housing, transportation, groceries, healthcare, and more. So, if you’re looking for a state with a lower cost of living, Tennessee might be the better choice.

It’s important to note that while these statistics offer a general overview, personal circumstances and preferences should also be taken into consideration when deciding which state is the best to live in.

Factors such as job opportunities, climate, recreational activities, and quality of life should also be weighed when making a decision.

Lifestyle and Recreation

Major Cities and Attractions

Both Florida and Tennessee offer a plethora of major cities and attractions that can cater to diverse lifestyles. In Florida, cities like Miami, Orlando, and Tampa are known for their vibrant nightlife, world-class theme parks, and beautiful beaches.

These cities attract millions of tourists every year and offer a wide range of entertainment options for residents. On the other hand, Tennessee is home to cities like Nashville, Memphis, and Knoxville, which are renowned for their rich music history, delicious Southern cuisine, and vibrant arts scenes.

Whether you prefer the glitz and glamour of Florida or the soulful charm of Tennessee, both states have something unique to offer.

Outdoor Activities

When it comes to outdoor activities, both Florida and Tennessee have plenty to offer. Florida boasts a warm climate and miles of coastline, making it ideal for water sports and beach activities. From snorkeling in the Florida Keys to fishing in the Gulf of Mexico, there are endless opportunities for outdoor enthusiasts to explore.

Tennessee, on the other hand, is known for its stunning natural beauty, with the Great Smoky Mountains National Park being a major highlight. Hiking, camping, and fishing are popular activities in Tennessee, allowing residents to immerse themselves in the beauty of the outdoors.

Whether you’re a beach lover or a mountain enthusiast, both states provide ample opportunities for outdoor adventure.

Food and Culture

Food and culture play a significant role in both Florida and Tennessee. In Florida, you can indulge in fresh seafood, Cuban delicacies, and diverse international cuisine thanks to the state’s multicultural population.

The vibrant cultural scene in cities like Miami and Orlando also offers a wide range of art galleries, museums, and festivals. On the other hand, Tennessee is famous for its Southern comfort food, including mouthwatering barbecues, fried chicken, and homemade biscuits.

The state’s rich musical heritage, especially in Nashville, creates a unique and lively atmosphere with live music venues and music festivals. Whether you have a taste for international flavors or crave the flavors of the South, both states offer a diverse culinary and cultural experience.


Deciding whether Florida or Tennessee is the optimal state to live in depends largely on your priorities. Factors like weather, taxes, costs, activities and more should all weigh into your decision-making process. While both offer alluring advantages, for most Florida narrowly bests Tennessee for its more tropical climate, thriving job market and high-energy urban hubs. But Tennessee also rewards residents with lower costs, moderate seasons and access to big city amenities. Carefully examining your needs will reveal which of these southern heavyweights is the best fit.

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