Thinking about moving to Memphis? We’ve got your guide to five of the best neighborhoods in the Birthplace of Rock ‘n Roll. From Midtown to Mud Island, Memphis has a neighborhood to suit everyone.
The Cooper-Young District is a small neighborhood in the heart of Midtown, Memphis, covering less than a square mile of the city. It’s known for a funky vibe, with historic houses butting up against rundown apartment buildings and contemporary cafes. Originally founded in 1899, Cooper-Young was on a downward spiral until a group of residents got together in 1976 to create the Cooper-Young Community Association. Today, it’s one of the most vibrant, welcoming spots in the city, home to tons of local businesses and a great variety of residents.
Who Lives Here: Cooper-Young is aptly named, as it is mainly inhabited by young professionals. Only about 28% of the Cooper-Young population has kids, and 77% of residents here are unmarried. Cooper-Young is also one of the most diverse areas in the city, and has a thriving LGBTQ+ community. The neighborhood’s calling card is “Historically Hip,” and the residents reflect that.
Cost of Living: Living in Cooper-Young is pretty affordable, even when compared with the rest of Memphis. The average rent is about $650, which is slightly higher than the city average. The median income is also higher than Memphis’s overall, at just under $50,000.
What to Do: The neighborhood is home to plenty of food and drink options; brunch lovers will fall hard for Stone Soup Cafe, while Hammer & Ale is the perfect place to try local Memphis Brews. They even let you try before you buy! Cooper Street also features Burke’s Books, a hundred-year-old establishment that sells new and used books and is a must-see spot for bookworms. Plus, the midtown location of this small neighborhood gives you easy access to the Overton Square Arts District, and the rest of Memphis’s attractions.
If you visit Cooper-Young in September, you’ll get to enjoy the annual Cooper-Young Festival. Hosted by the Cooper-Young Business Association (CYBA), the Festival has been running for over 30 years, and features a great mix of music, food, and artisan booths to explore.
Harbor Town is a Memphis neighborhood located on Mud Island, just off the northwest tip of the city. Mud Island is actually a peninsula, and the area is known as one of Memphis’s safest neighborhoods. Harbor Town is a relatively “new” Memphis neighborhood; what was originally a sandy strip of land began development in the 1990s, and is now home to beautiful residentia. Folks here enjoy gorgeous water views, a tight-knit community feel, and its lush greenbelt, perfect for walkers, joggers and bikers alike.
Who Lives Here: Harbor Town is one of the more “suburban” style areas of Memphis. It’s location allows for a bit of isolation from the downtown noise, making it a great place for families who want easy access to the city, without the hustle and bustle. Harbor Town is home to one of Memphis’s best private schools, and is more densely populated by families than other Memphis neighborhoods. Harbor Town is also a popular spot for empty-nesters and retirees because of its small-town community feel and gorgeous surroundings.
Cost of Living: Living in Harbor Town is more expensive than other neighborhoods in Memphis, which isn’t surprising given the suburban style of the area. The median income here is about $60,000, which is 57% higher than the city’s average. Similarly, rent in Harbor Town hovers around $1,000 per month, compared with a Memphis average of $648.
What to Do: Food and drink options in Harbor Town may be less abundant than Downtown, but their quality certainly makes up for it! Neighborhood favorites include Tug’s Casual Grill for catching a game, and Paulette’s for a more sophisticated night out. You don’t have to leave the island for groceries, since Miss Cordelia’s Grocery has you covered; the local shop covers the bases for home staples, and also offers locally-made dry goods and craft beers.
Mud Island is also known for the Mud Island River Park, which features a 2,000 ft. long, scaled replica of the southern Mississippi River. You can even take a dip in the “Gulf of Mexico” at the bottom! The park’s amphitheater hosts concerts and shows from June to October, allowing music lovers to enjoy their favorite tunes under the stars. There are also trails for nature lovers, and a museum that celebrates the history and significance of the Mississippi River.
The South Main Arts District is Memphis’s oldest neighborhood, and the historic home of Blues, Rock and Roll, the world’s first modern grocery store, and the Civil Rights Movement. It’s home to upscale boutiques and galleries, and fine dining experiences. South Main is also a nightlife center, with pubs and dance clubs that are often open until 3 or 4 o’clock in the morning.
Who Lives Here: South Main’s population is mostly made up of wealthier millennials and young professionals working downtown. Though there are some families, the neighborhood is mostly geared towards younger singles, especially as a nightlife hub for the city. It’s a great place for anyone who wants to be in the center of the action in Memphis.
Cost of Living: The rent here is higher than average, at about $1,100 per month. The median income in South Main is almost $70,000, making South Main’s inhabitants some of the wealthiest in the city. Luckily, the urban location means less driving time to work, so we can hope the residents of South Main get to save on gas.
What to Do: South Main is the city’s “main” spot for cultural and dining experiences. Restaurants of every kind dot the 1-square mile neighborhood. The nightlife is always bumping in South Main, with dance clubs and live music every night of the week. For true music lovers, Main Street is also the home of the Blues Hall of Fame.
South Main also hosts Trolley Night on the last Friday of every month. Started in 2000, on Trolley Night, the galleries and shops of the Arts District stay open late. Many offer drinks and baked goods to visitors, and live musicians make the streets come alive with the sound of rhythm and blues.
Not all of Memphis’s history is proud, and South Main is no exception. This area of the city is the place where Martin Luther King, Jr. was shot and killed on April 4th, 1964. However, Memphis embraces all the parts of its history. As such, the hotel from which the lone gunman shot MLK has been converted into the National Civil Rights Museum, which is a must-see for visitors to the city.
East Memphis is a larger Memphis District, comprised of smaller communities. Here, you’ll find 1950’s style ranch homes along tree-lined streets. The community is adjacent to Shelby Farms Park, offering plenty of wide-open space, but is still central enough to offer easy access to downtown work and activities.
Who Lives Here: East Memphis is home to middle- and upper-class families. The great public and private schools here make the area an attractive place for folks with kids. There’s a wide mix of political views here, but the majority of residents identify as conservative.
Cost of Living: Living in East Memphis is more expensive than other areas of the city. The residential style of the neighborhood means that most of the residents here are homeowners. The average house in East Memphis is valued at $326,126, and those that do rent will be paying around $700 per month.
What to Do: East Memphis, like the other neighborhoods we’ve covered, has its own unique attractions for everyone. If you love the outdoors, you’ll enjoy walking through the Memphis Botanical Gardens. For a more robust outdoors experience, head over to Shelby Farms, an 843 acre park in the heart of Memphis. The park features trails for biking, hiking and horseback riding, along with play areas for kids, a golf course and paintball arena, and even spots to fish! Plus, you might be lucky enough to spot the farm’s very own herd of American Bison as they roam the grounds.
Looking for the best of Memphis theater? You’ll need to stop by Theater Memphis in East Memphis. Shows run year round in this historic theater, featuring everything from Disney musicals to classic comedies and tragedies. Theater Memphis has 2 stages; a larger, classic stage for main shows, and a black box theater for an intimate viewing experience.
There’s no shortage of dining opportunities in East Memphis, either. One of the area’s most famous restaurants is Hog & Hominy, a fusion restaurant that joins classic Italian Cuisine with rustic Southern roots. The food at Hog & Hominy has been lauded by such publications as Food and Wine Magazine, Southern Living and Bon Appetit.
Looking for a cheaper side of Memphis? Binghampton is well-known for its low-cost living, and is home to many lower-income families and young professionals looking for an affordable urban experience.
Who Lives Here: Mostly lower-income families, many of whom have lived in the area for generations, along with a new infusion of young post-grads who need an affordable place to call home. Binghamton is also famous for breaking down race barriers; the close-knit community embraces people of all backgrounds.
Cost of Living: The average rent in Binghampton is only $550 a month, placing it at one of the most affordable neighborhoods in Memphis. Income in Binghampton is on part for Memphis, resting around $38,000 per year. This makes Binghampton a great place for young people getting started in their careers.
What to Do: Activities in Binghampton center around the historic Broad Avenue Arts District. The street is host to a variety of locally-owned shops, making for a unique shopping experience. If you’re looking for a place to eat, why not visit one of Elvis Presley’s favorite pizza shops? Since 1977, Broadway Pizza has been serving up pies so great that the King was a frequent visitor.
If you want to get involved with the community, stop by Carita’s Village. The Village was originally opened to help break down race and ethnicity barriers. Today, it’s where the Binghampton community comes together to break bread and connect. Carita’s Village features a cafe in its lower level, along with a music/library/game area especially for kids. It’s also where you’ll find Centro Cultural, a local non-profit promoting cultural awareness and acceptance through theatre and arts workshops.
Living in Memphis
No matter your income or family size, Memphis has a neighborhood that’s right for you! This historic town is always welcoming new residents with open arms. If you’re thinking about moving to Memphis, and need a Memphis moving quote, give us a call at (901) 486-6897.