Nashville is known as the country music capital of the world. The four largest record labels in the world, Sony, Universal, EMI and Warner, all have major presences there. It is also home to the world’s premier country music venue, the Grand Ole Opry.
But Nashville is much more than just a music city. It’s also home to a multitude of Fortune 500 companies including Dell, Dollar General, UBS and Tractor Supply. But the city’s largest industry is healthcare. Led by Hospital Corporation of America, which has its headquarters there, the Nashville area has an estimated $30 billion per year healthcare industry. This employs over 200,000 people, in good, high wage jobs.
But the city’s economy is also a stew of contradictions. One of the more remarkable economic stories in Nashville’s recent history has been its near total immunity to the housing crisis of 2007. Throughout the years immediately after the crash, the Nashville area’s housing prices hardly budged. It was only in 2011 and 2012 that they finally dipped a bit. But the total loss to average home values was only about 15 percent, remarkable when compared to areas in Florida and California, where some areas flirted with 75 percent losses and hundreds of thousands of dollars wiped off the average homeowner’s net worth.
What’s even more astounding has been the incredible skyward trajectory of prices since 2012. The median home price has nearly doubled and shows no sign of slowing. This has been a huge boon to the city’s upper middle class homeowners, who not only tended not to lose their homes in the 2007 crisis, unlike millions of homeowners elsewhere in the country, but then benefited from a near doubling of their equity shortly thereafter.
However, this same dynamic has proven disastrous for the lower, non-property-owning classes. The soaring housing prices have driven up rents in the city to over $1,600 for a one-bedroom apartment. Considering that Tennessee, as a whole, has relatively low wages, this has driven Nashville bankruptcy rates through the roof, routinely placing it and the state of Tennessee in the top 5 places in the U.S. with the most bankruptcies.
Even with its relatively low unemployment rate of 4.1 percent, lower than that of Tennessee, at 5.3 percent, Nashville still has a large number of residents living paycheck to paycheck or worse.
With so many Nashville residents facing hardship, it’s no wonder that many of them turn to Chapter 7 as a means of exiting from the crushing burden of unmanageable debt. But Chapter 7 is often the worst choice. For many Nashville residents, debt settlement can provide many of the same benefits as Chapter 7 without the extreme costs.
Why should Nashville residents avoid bankruptcy?
Many people go into bankruptcy, especially when they’re young, without carefully considering the costs. Bankruptcy is a life-altering event that should never be taken lightly. While, in some cases, it will be the most appropriate option, it should always be avoided when possible.
The main reasons to avoid bankruptcy are that it makes getting any mortgage, auto loan or credit cards nearly impossible for seven to ten years after the filing. While some people may conclude that living without those things is endurable or even desirable, the consequences should be carefully considered. For example, if someone in their mid to late twenties is considering bankruptcy, they should realize that there will be almost no way that they will be able to obtain a house suitable for raising a family, for at least the next seven to ten years. For a 28 year old woman, that could mean that by the time she exits bankruptcy, she may well be past her prime child-bearing years. Such considerations won’t just have an impact for the next decade. They’ll affect that person for the remainder of her life.
Another serious issue will be the inability to get auto loans. Some people are excellent mechanics and can reap the benefits of driving old jalopies because they know they’ll be able to fix them cheaply whenever a fuel injector goes bad or an alternator dies. On the contrary, most people are well advised to seek a reliable car, even if it means paying a little more. Without access to funds to purchase a reliable car or any car at all, job prospects and income levels can be severely affected, even for those living in urban areas. The inability to reliably commute can eliminate 99 percent or more of the viable job prospects one has in a given area. This is something that, at a minimum, should be considered and planned for if bankruptcy is being seriously considered.
Finally, in the case where a bankruptcy has a business element to it, the creditors who are now legally barred from collecting what they’re owed may be family, friends, business partners and local business leaders. For many who declare bankruptcy, the prospect of running into people who they previously owed tens of thousands to and legally stiffed, every time they go to the grocery store, the gas station or the golf course, proves to be too much. The embarrassment and sense of shame that non-paying debtors feel is very real and should be considered before bankruptcy is initiated.
Debt settlement can avoid all of these issues while allowing people to become debt free in a matter of months.