No. 4

Franklin, Tennessee

Just 21 miles south of Nashville, Franklin is bursting with culture, Southern charm, and hospitality. Founded in 1799, Franklin has preserved its history through its beautiful Main Street—listed on the National Register of Historic Places—and a number of Civil War–era homes.

But don’t get stuck in the past: Franklin has mastered the art of blending the traditional with the modern, offering plenty of jobs and amenities within its city limits. While you’ll see few chain stores as you stroll through Franklin’s picturesque downtown, just minutes away is the CoolSprings Galleria, a major regional shopping center. Several health care–related companies are located in town, including Community Health Systems, Optum, and Healthways. You’ll also find Nissan’s North American headquarters here, along with outposts for other big companies such as Verizon and Mars Petcare—all of which help keep unemployment low and job forecasts sunny.

Denise Mitchell, a chemist at Mars, has lived in Franklin since 2005 and says the presence of so many businesses helps keep property taxes low. More important, the city offers excellent schools—something her two teenagers have benefited from. Her 17-year-old daughter is a senior in the Franklin High School’s International Baccalaureate program, while her 16-year-old son has received a number of specialized services to help manage dyslexia. “The schools are incredible,” says Mitchell. “If there’s something a kid wants to do, they will find a way to provide it.”

Mitchell adds that the cultural scene in Franklin has exploded in the past decade. “When I first moved here, I’d go to Nashville to do something fun on the weekends. Now I almost always stay in Franklin,” she says. The music scene is a big draw—you can find live performances every night of the week at local bars and restaurants, while the renovated Franklin Theatre draws major acts and even served as the filming site for a number of concerts on the TV show Nashville. The Pilgrimage Music Festival, a new annual event that began in 2015, celebrates the area’s culture and cuisine while attracting stars like Justin Timberlake. —Ismat Sarah Mangla

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