I've been a resident of Memphis for 3 years, having lived in Brooklyn NY; Madison, WI; suburban Detroit, MI; Atlanta, GA; and Fort Lauderdale FL. Memphis has it's good and bad. Mostly everything in this town is drawn along racial lines - politics, cultural events, etc. Having not experienced this kind of divisiveness before, it's very amazing to observe. I happen to live in the city of Memphis, in a very nice middle to upper-middle class neighborhood. I feel safe here, but I get a little nervous in other parts of town. The Memphis suburbs are supposedly wonderful. Memphis has it's own school system. Some of the schools are pretty good, but most are fair to poor. The County surrounding Memphis has it's own school district. Most of it's schools are exemplary. There are also numerous private schools.
The cost of living in Memphis is very inexpensive. The taxes are very reasonable - sorry to my friends in Tennessee who think they are paying too much in taxes. I've paid 2 to 3 times more in Florida and Michigan. Utility costs are practically free. My monthly water bill in Florida was more than my combined electic, gas, water, sewer bill in Memphis. Tennessee does not have a state income tax. However, I strongly hate the state sales tax on food. That's ridiculous and unfair to the poor.
Memphis has the same poverty rate as Detroit, but, unlike the latter, Memphis has a sizable middle and upper middle class population within the city limits. There is a lot of retail business in the city - you don't have to go to the suburbs to find discount or upscale merchants.
This is also an easy city to get around. However, drivers are notoriously bad. They run red lights, drive recklessly and a lot do not carry insurance. If you bicycle ride, be careful. Sharing of the road is not the rule.
Memphis would not be on my list of the 10 cities in the USA that I would like to live - not even the top 25. If schools are a major issue, I recommend living in the suburbs - COllierville, Bartlett, germantown, Arlington, Lakeland (all in TN), or Southaven, Hernando, Olive Branch (across the state line in Mississippi).