Imagine Nashville undertook an unprecedented level of community research including 1:1 interviews, weeklong online community conversations, and survey research. Every effort was made to engage young people and older adults alike, often under-represented populations, and residents in every neighborhood and ZIP code in the city.

The research reveals clear insights into what Nashvillians want and need to feel like they belong here. Explore and download the dashboards below featuring data by neighborhood and various other categories. Ultimately, in partnership with the Community Foundation of Middle Tennessee, all of the data will be available on an open-access platform for anyone to access.

Key Research Highlights

Key Research Highlights

  • Nashvillians say 65% of things are positive in Nashville and 57% of adults see their quality of life getting better in the future.
  • Yet, the research raises several red flags about whether the city’s amenities are equitably shared with residents and whether priorities and focus are on the right things. For example, 72% of Nashvillians see “a growing divide between rich and poor” and 72% believe “leaders in Nashville are investing too much money in the wrong things” rather than “the people that live here.”
  • While the strong sense of community and feeling of belonging is seen as a major differentiator for Nashville, there are significant differences in belonging vs. feeling included in the benefits of the city (39% strongly agree + 38% somewhat agree they belong; 22% feel they don’t belong).
  • In particular, some key constituencies feel particularly left behind, including 57% of low-income families as well Older Nashvillians (65+), Black people and the LGBTQ+ community. People with lower educational attainment and those who feel they are not in an ideal neighborhood also feel left behind.
  • The positives of living in Nashville are largely driven by all the good restaurants and  shopping/entertainment, by having good parks and green space, and by being a creative gathering space for music and artists. Unfortunately, these are not the most important or impactful drivers of quality of life for more Nashvillians.
  • The things that are most impactful on quality of life, by contrast, are the very things Nashville is NOT doing well:
    • Traffic/congestion/it’s hard to get around (49% selected as Top 3 most “negative impact on your  life”)
    • Lack of affordable housing/housing shortage/high cost of living (38%)
    • Too much growth/growth not well managed (35%)
    • Lack of public transportation (33%)
    • High cost of living (32%)
  • Currently, a majority of Nashvillians believe growth is making things worse (only 29% of adults and 35% of youth feel growth is making things better). That said, 71% of Nashvillians agree that growth brings mostly benefits and advantages if it is more carefully managed.
  • Neighborhoods are another big issue in Nashville, and Nashvillians see the future success of the city being built on a network of strong neighborhoods rather than just a strong city center. With that in mind, about four in ten (38%) of Nashvillians feel they live in an “ideal neighborhood,” 10% feel they live in “one of the worst” neighborhoods, and 52% feel their neighborhood is somewhat “in between.”
  • To make a neighborhood great, there are several key components Nashvilllians feel need to be in every neighborhood:
    • Grocery stores (84% rate as “absolutely essential/very Important”)
    • Parks and green spaces (84%)
    • Sidewalks and lighting (78%)
    • Range of housing options/price points (73%) – of note, nearly half say affordable housing is an absolute essential in their ideal neighborhood.
  • Specific to transit, our research showed widespread public support for investing in public transit with 74% of Nashvillians strongly agreeing. In comparison to similarly sized cities, support for investing in public transit is much higher in Nashville (74% vs. 19% strongly agreeing).
  • When it comes to housing, Nashvilllians clearly associate housing attainability as a driver of affordability more broadly. Lack of affordable housing was not only a top concern of most neighborhoods around the city, but more fundamentally, the majority of Nashvillians feel it is most important to have more variety of housing options and pricing in all neighborhoods (52%). To that end, most Nashvillians prioritize solutions that increase incentives for private developers to get them to build more affordable options.
  • A supermajority of Nashviillians (90%) agree investment in public education is a top priority. Better recruitment, compensation and training for teachers and a focus on early childhood education, in particular, rise to the top of the list of “to do’s.”

Link Here To Final Release

Survey Methodology

Several components contributed to the Imagine Nashville survey research and the 10,000+ community respondents in 100 days. Most notably, a blend of survey methodologies were deployed including online, phone, and in person conversations — even mobilizing field teams to reach into key communities and constituencies. In addition, there were dedicated efforts to engage specific Nashville populations between August and November 2023:

  • Young people (in partnership with the Civic Design Center and Vanderbilt University),
  • Often under-represented populations (in partnership with The Equity Alliance), and
  • Residents in every neighborhood and ZIP code in the city (in partnership with dozens of community partners)

Importantly, a portion of the interviews were conducted by means of rigorous scientific research methodologies which allow more accurate and precise statistical representation of the city and its people. Data reported in this news release come from this portion of the survey and are described here. For this portion of the research, phone and online interviews were completed with a large and representative sample of 1150 Nashvillians 18 and older which were designed to match key demographic characteristics of the city according to the U.S. Census based on age, gender, geography, and race/ethnicity. To lend greater insight and accuracy, an oversample of Black/African-American (n=75) and Hispanic/Latino (n=75) was included. This portion of the research was conducted August 19 to September 5, 2023. 

In a hypothetical case of a probability sample size of 1150, the margin of error would be +/- 3% at the 95% confidence level.