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Blurring the lines between a big city and small town, Nashville has retained much of its charm as it has grown into a much-desired place to both visit and live. The culture, climate, and increasingly cosmopolitan nature of Music City are big draws, and the welcoming community, rich with arts, schools, culture, and food, creates an opportunity for a quality of life many struggle to find elsewhere.

As the nation has spent more time working from home, the opportunity for people in other locations to move away from the city where their employer is based has created even more opportunities for Nashville to be home base. Even now, homebuyers are eager to call Middle Tennessee home regardless of whether it requires a cross-country move and buying a house sight-unseen. The pandemic has sped up relocation plans for many homebuyers and recalibrated the real estate market and homebuying process.

“The pace of our market is brisk, and sometimes homebuyers cannot get here fast enough to see homes in person,” says Zeitlin Sotheby’s International Realty CEO Jessica Averbuch of home buying in Nashville during the pandemic. “Many of our buyers are relocating from other markets, and the shelter-in-place orders made it difficult to get around the country. Our team puts a lot of emphasis on giving clients all of the necessary information virtually so that they can move forward remotely.”

Lower cost of living, higher quality of life, the charm of a small town combined with big-city offerings are on the list of reasons folks are eager to call Nashville home.

Zeitlin Sotheby’s International Realty is a local, forward-thinking real estate firm founded in 1979 by Shirley Zeitlin. “The legacy of innovation is one we have carried forward for more than 40 years,” explains Jessica, who took over the company reins from Shirley in 2016. “With the pandemic, we had to pivot to a virtual approach very quickly, but we had all of the tools and resources to do so. Homebuyers are relying on technology to make their decisions, so our interactive floor plans and Facetime house tours come in handy.” The strong foundation of staying up-to-date on technology trends and keeping their agents informed on virtual options gave Zeitlin Sotheby’s International Realty a leg up during the early months of the pandemic — and these strategies continue to be beneficial today.

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In speaking with Paige Thompson, Vice President of Relocation and Corporate Services for Zeitlin Sotheby’s International Realty, we learn about interactive, online opportunities available to their team of realtors. “Before the pandemic, in conjunction with our marketing team, we created an informational, interactive, online relocation package showcasing the Middle Tennessee area,” she says. “This resource really sets us apart because it provides people unfamiliar with our region [with] a broad overview of all the great things that Nashville and the surrounding areas have to offer. Combined with a deep statistical analysis of the market, this resource has proven to be a great asset for our relocating clients who need to gather a lot of information before they are able to visit.”

We spoke with three new-to-Nashville homeowners who tell us why (and how) they moved to Nashville during a pandemic.

Zeitlin Sotheby International Realty’s interactive floorplans and virtual showings have made it easier to buy a home from anywhere in the world. The real estate firm has worked hard to accommodate homeowners during the pandemic.

Shelly Duckworth

What brought you to Nashville?

Twenty-five years ago, I lived in Nashville and worked as a CPA in the entertainment industry. Then, my family moved all over the Southeast, and I have done a lot of traveling in the past two years. When I came back to Nashville, it felt like being home. In January, I started living here every other week. As soon as my youngest child left for college, I moved here full time.

What was your experience moving during a pandemic?

During the pandemic, the hardest part was being unable to travel back here every other week. It made me realize that I really couldn’t wait to live in Nashville permanently. My house popped up in my inbox, and I knew I had to take a look. My realtor in Raleigh connected me with Melissa Moss at Zeitlin through Sotheby’s International Realty connections. It was the best thing that could have happened. Not only was Melissa fantastic and helpful throughout the buying process, but she has become a good friend, as well. I couldn’t ask for more!

Tell us about your new home! 

Initially, I thought I would end up in a townhouse since I was moving here on my own. I wanted people nearby, but I didn’t want to be in a condo. The house I bought is a single-family home, but it is in a neighborhood of homes built close together. It is the best of both worlds. I couldn’t be happier to be back in a town that I love!

Nashville is home to various styles of architecture and living opportunities — from Downtown apartments to neighborhood communities to farmhouses on acreage. The relocation experts at Zeitlin Sotheby’s International Realty can help you find the perfect place.

The Martins

What brought you to Nashville?

We moved to Nashville for my husband’s new job — he is a neuroradiologist at Vanderbilt. We moved from Mountain View, CA, where he was doing his fellowship at Stanford. Prior to that, we were in Boston for his residency, so we are very glad to be settling down in one place.

What was your experience moving during a pandemic?

It was stressful! We drove from California to Tennessee — incidentally, through some of the hotspot states at the time. We rented an RV to minimize contact with other people, and it also made it kind of like a summer vacation; but moving is tough no matter what, especially long-distance. Layering a pandemic on top of it made it even more of a challenge.

Our realtor, Caroline Rigsby, and her team were just great. I’d been in touch with her for several months before we moved, and she was very patient with us. For instance, we found a home we liked from afar, and she met my mom and aunt at the house so they could take a look, but we weren’t comfortable making any major decisions until we got there to see it in person. We ended up not going with that home because it didn’t quite fit our needs, and we’re glad Caroline didn’t pressure us to make any decisions from California! The home we ended up buying went on the market about two days before we arrived in Nashville; we saw it from the road, and Caroline was able to set up a showing the day after we arrived.

Caroline was extremely responsive throughout the whole process, answering all of our first-time buyer questions. She also gave us recommendations for a lender who met our needs, a great general contractor, and several other professionals we’ll be in touch with as needed.

Tell us about your home! 

The home we ended up purchasing fits our needs perfectly. It’s a quick and easy commute to Dann’s job and has plenty of space for me to have a home office. The previous owners took meticulous care of the house and made some great updates that were very appealing to us. The house is in a beautiful neighborhood, and right near the Richland Creek Greenway, which is wonderful for us as we have a dog and enjoy being outside. It’s also incredibly convenient to my mom’s house and not far from other family.

Those moving from bigger cities appreciate having room to grow in Nashville. This Green Hills home offers interior and exterior space for entertaining and comfortable living.

RELATED: The Most Important Questions to Ask a Realtor Before You Move

The Williams*

What brought you to Nashville?

My husband’s company, AllianceBernstein, recently moved their headquarters from New York City down to Nashville, and that was the main reason we started considering the move down here. He started his career with the company in the New York office but had voluntarily transferred over to the London office back 2016. We were there for four years, and while we loved living in the UK, we knew we wanted to come back to the US at some point to raise a family.

We were deciding between moving back to the New York/Connecticut area and Nashville. While the New York City area is what we would both consider home, Nashville’s small-city aspects were definitely intriguing to us. The affordability, short commute times, access to the outdoors and entertainment options all led us to choose Nashville.

What was your experience moving during a pandemic?

The coordination of the move was very difficult because things were so up in the air after March (especially with flights being canceled). Now that we’re here, the main difficulties we’ve run into are meeting new people and taking advantage of things in our new city. We’re looking forward to getting settled, but overall it’s definitely been a slower process because of the pandemic.

Our realtor, Murphie Clem, has been absolutely wonderful in helping us to coordinate a quick home purchase. She was on top of every detail throughout the whole process. It was great to be connected with someone who has a child of the same age who could understand our needs. She’s been our go-to resource for so much beyond just the house.

Tell us about your home! 

It is a five-bedroom, 4,500-square-foot home located in Brentwood’s Traditions neighborhood. We haven’t moved in yet, but we’re excited to soon! This will be our first house after living in small apartments for 13 years, so we’re very excited to finally have some space.

Williamson County homes often are accompanied by more land and natural surroundings. Here, in Franklin, the lush green landscape surrounds the homes.

If you or someone you know is looking to relocate to Nashville, contact Zeitlin to learn more about how they are adapting their services to accommodate homebuyers around the world. And explore Zeitlin’s many virtual offerings on their website, zeitlin.com.

This article is sponsored by Zeitlin Sotheby’s International Realty. All photos are provided by Zeitlin Sotheby’s International Realty and do not belong to the homeowners featured in the article.

*Names were changed for privacy protection.