Memphis is one of the most underrated cities in America for tourists and residents, alike. Much more than barbecue and Elvis, Bluff City is a vibrant modern Southern city with tree-lined streets, a plethora of intriguing neighborhoods, bustling nightlife and, yes, great food and music radiate from every corner.
From the blues clubs of Beale Street to the history of the National Civil Rights Museum, the recording booths of Sun Studio to the Peabody ducks' fountain, Memphis residents have a plethora of locales to drink, dine, play, work and live.
But from downtown districts along the Mississippi to the sprawling suburban-style neighborhoods out east and lining the state border, what are Memphis neighborhoods are the hottest for renters right now?
We compared the average rent for a one-bedroom apartment in every Memphis neighborhood on Apartment Guide to prices in those same spots a year ago to determine which neighborhoods experienced the steepest rise in rent over the last 12 months. Here are the top five Memphis neighborhoods where rent has increased the most in the last year.
Situated just southeast of the Memphis city limit in unincorporated Shelby County, Richwood is a planned development off the Bill Morris Parkway (State Highway 385), near the popular suburbs of Germantown and Collierville. The quiet, family-friendly neighborhood mostly contains tree-lined streets of single-family homes interspersed with a smattering of rentals and apartment complexes.
The quaint off-ramp neighborhood features plenty of recreation with small ponds, walking trails, covered pavilions, picnic areas and playgrounds, along with the soccer-friendly Midsouth Park aside Richwood's commercial district.
The commercial district sits in the northern end of the neighborhood, primarily along Winchester and Hacks Cross Roads as they snake around the Parkway, in several contiguous shopping centers anchored by a Walmart, Costco and Burlington.
This suburban-style development has become more in-demand as the population of Memphis stretches its borders, with an eight percent increase in rental prices for an average one-bedroom to $942 a month.
Fun Fact: Former NBA and current Chinese Basketball Association player Jarnell Stokes attended Richwood's Southwind High School before enrolling at the University of Tennessee.
Midtown is a vast district east of downtown containing some of Memphis' most popular neighborhoods, including Snowden, Evergreen, Crosstown, Overton Square, Cooper-Young, Idlewild and Central Gardens.
The Midtown region is home to several of the most well-known sites and landmarks in Memphis, including the Memphis Zoo, Brooks Museum and Memphis College of Art, all within Overton Park, as well as the Liberty Bowl and the former Mid-South Fairgrounds, Rhodes College, The Children's Museum of Memphis and the Central Gardens Arboretum.
Nightlife in the neighborhood centers on Cooper-Young, with popular bars and restaurants like Memphis Made Brewing, Central BBQ, The Beauty Shop, Sweet Grass and Stone Soup Café, and the Overton Square Entertainment District, with trendy spots like Bari Ristorante, 17 Berkshire, Dodici and Local On The Square.
With all its events, things to do and dining and nightlife spots at your doorstep, Midtown is also a popular residential neighborhood. The broad region encompasses a plethora of housing options in a variety of income levels, from the upscale estates of Chickasaw Gardens to the tree-lined “Old House" middle-class homes of Central Gardens to young professional rental units of Cooper-Young and Overton.
The neighborhood is one of Tennessee's most diverse, generally evenly distributed between white and African-American households, with a sizable Asian population, including the large Vietnamese hub along Cleveland Street in Crosstown.
With a little something for everyone, Midtown continues to be a desirable, growing urban enclave just outside of the Central Business District. An average one-bedroom apartment in Midtown runs $1,079 monthly, which represents an 8.45 percent jump from the previous year.
Fun Fact: Playwright Tennessee Williams penned “Cairo, Shanghai, Bombay!," his first publicly performed work, while living at his grandparents' home on Midtown's Snowden Avenue.
The primarily residential area of Southwind is an upscale gated community just off the southeast corner of the Memphis city limits in the unincorporated area of Shelby County, plus adjacent subdivisions like Lakes of Forest Hill, Windyke, Burlington, Pinnacle Point, Ashley Ridge and the aforementioned Richwood, stretching all the way to the Mississippi border.
The most prominent feature of Southwind is the TPC Southwind, a private 18-hole PGA Tour Tournament Players Club member championship golf course designed by Ron Prichard and Fuzzy Zoeller. The course has been the home of the Tour's annual FedEx St. Jude Classic for three decades.
The club sits adjacent to the sprawling world headquarters campus of FedEx, the neighborhood's other most famous occupant. Two other golf courses, Windyke Country Club and Irene Golf Course, also sit nearby within Southwind, as does the Mike Rose Soccer Complex with over a dozen community fields.
The eastern half of the neighborhood consists of principally large-yard upper middle class, single-family homes in suburban-style developments and golf course communities surrounded by small lakes and open green space. The western side features more compact single-family housing along with several larger apartment complexes and rental properties.
Southwind has become an increasingly popular neighborhood for both commuters into downtown Memphis and local FedEx corporate employees, pushing rental prices up 8.63 percent from last year to an average of $1,029 for a one-bedroom unit. But change is coming to the district as the Reserve Annexation Zone community of 36,000 is preparing to be annexed into the city of Memphis at the end of 2019.
Fun Fact: The Nonconnah Creek, which runs through Southwind, is named for the Choctaw or Chickasaw language word for seer or prophet.
First, let's get this out of the way: Mud Island is not an island. It's a peninsula, connected to the mainland at Mud Island Road. But the misnomer does not diminish its standing as one of Memphis' most attractive and enticing neighborhoods. In reality, Mud Island is actually the story of three distinct districts.
At the center of the peninsula is the neighborhood of Harbor Town, an affluent planned “Traditional Neighborhood Development" community filled with new urbanist-style townhomes, luxury condos and apartment complexes offering Mississippi River views over Greenbelt Park.
Many of Mud Island's beloved businesses can be found in Harbor Town Square, including the River Inn boutique hotel, Miss Cordelia's Grocery, the Nail Bar beauty shop and wine bar, coffee spot Café Eclectic Highland, and a selection of restaurants and pubs including Paulette's, Terrace and Tugs Casual Grill.
The area north of Harbor Town is similar to the central village, albeit with a little less formality and affluence. The comfortable neighborhood offers rows of densely-packed single-family homes on the harborside, with large apartment communities closer to the river. Along the waterway, the four-mile Greenbelt Park runs the length of the peninsula along the Mississippi.
The lower third of Mud Island, south of I-40 and the Hernando de Soto Bridge, is the most well-known portion of the peninsula, Mud Island River Park, also known as Mississippi River Park. The 52-acre park offers recreation like riverside bike trails, pedal boat rental, rafting, a river walk and a large open green space, along with the 18-gallery Mississippi River Museum, an indoor and an outdoor cafe, a marina and yacht club, a (future) aquarium and a 5,000-seat outdoor amphitheater all accessible via a half-mile sky bridge that connects Mud Island to downtown via elevated walkway or the Suspension Railway monorail.
The resort-style community is one of the most eclectic, upscale places to reside in Memphis, complete with its own giant urban park. Despite all these attractions and amenities, the rent for an average one-bedroom apartment comes in at just $1,220 monthly. However, as remodeling and modernizing comes to the park and more people enter the residential market, that figure has risen 11.25 percent over the last year.
Fun Fact: The Mississippi River Park on Mud Island features a half-mile long, full scale geographic model of the lower Mississippi River from confluence with the Ohio River in Illinois to the delta in Louisiana, with river water flowing southward into a replica Gulf of Mexico, which had previously served as a waterpark named Bud Boogie Beach.
On the south end of Midtown, adjacent to the trendy Cooper-Young and Overton Square entertainment districts, is the gorgeous tree-lined neighborhood of Central Gardens. Central Gardens was originally the estates of wealthy middle-class cotton boomer Solomon Rozelle and Judge William Roland. Upon their deaths in late the 19th century, the estates were divvied up to occupy a community of elegant mansions, Queen Anne cottages and upscale bungalow-style houses.
Today, the neighborhood sits on the backbone of the Rozelle and Roland estates, creating an “Old House Neighborhood," created from single estates, which was named one of North America's best by This Old House.
The 83-block urban garden suburb, just two miles from downtown, features rows of stately Tudor Revival, Neoclassical and Mediterranean Revival homes with wide front porches and bay windows along tree-lined streets, and is a certified urban arboretum restored and maintained by the Central Gardens Association since 1967.
The Central Gardens Home and Garden Tour, attended by nearly 2,000 people, has allowed a peek into the neighborhood and the stories behind the homes — including the two original estates — for the last half-century.
Several rental units also dot the canopied neighborhood, including a number of low- and mid-rise apartment buildings on the north end along Union Avenue (U.S. Highway 64), which is also the commercial corridor of the neighborhood proper, and along Central Avenue to the south, along with the membership-only University Club of Memphis social and dining club.
To live among the trees and greenery of Central Gardens requires a bit of a payout. In fact, the demand for this quaint, yet convenient neighborhood has increased greatly, with more than a 20 percent rise in rental prices year-to-year — the steepest hike in the Mid-South — to an average of $1,222 for a one-bedroom unit.
Fun Fact: Central Gardens is a designated “Level 3" arboretum, one of the nation's few urban arboreta not confined to a botanical garden or park. The arboretum, with 90 different species of trees, some more than eight decades old, snakes around the existing neighborhood amid the houses and active streets.
We looked at all neighborhoods in Memphis with sufficient available inventory on Apartment Guide and Rent.com and compared the average price from September 2018 to September 2019 to find the neighborhoods with the highest percentage increase in one-bedroom apartment prices.
The current rent information included in this article is based on September 2019 multifamily rental property inventory on Apartment Guide and Rent.com and is used for illustrative purposes only. The data contained herein do not constitute financial advice or a pricing guarantee for any apartment.