Taylor Alison Swift was born on December 13, 1989 in . Her father, Scott Kingsley Swift, is a financial adviser. Scott was raised in Pennsylvania and is the descendant of three generations of bank presidents. Her mother, Andrea (n e Finlay), is a homemaker who previously worked as a marketing executive. Andrea spent the first ten years of her life in Singapore, before settling in Texas; her father was an oil rig engineer who worked throughout Southeast Asia. Swift has a younger brother, Austin, who attends the . She and her brother were raised in the faith and attended . She spent the early years of her life on an eleven-acre Christmas tree farm in . She attended preschool and kindergarten at the Alvernia Montessori School, run by nuns, and was later educated at the , a co-ed private school. When Swift was nine years old, the family moved to a rented house in the suburban town of , where she attended West Reading Elementary Center and . Swift summered at her parents' waterfront vacation home in and has described it as the place "where most of my childhood memories were formed."
Swift's family owned several and a and her first hobby was . Her mother first put her in a saddle when she was nine months old and she later competed in horse shows. At the age of nine, Swift became interested in musical theatre. She performed in many Berks Youth Theatre Academy productions and traveled regularly to Broadway for vocal and acting lessons. Swift then turned her attention to country music; 's songs made her "want to just run around the block four times and daydream about everything." She spent her weekends performing at local festivals, fairs, coffeehouses, karaoke contests, garden clubs, Boy Scout meetings and sporting events. At the age of eleven, after many failed attempts, Swift won a local talent competition by singing a rendition of 's "", and was given the opportunity to appear as the opening act for at a amphitheater. This growing ambition began to isolate Swift from her middle school peers.
After watching a episode about , Swift felt sure that she needed to go to Nashville, Tennessee to pursue a music career. At the age of eleven, she traveled with her mother to Nashville for spring break to leave a demo of and karaoke covers with record labels along . She received label rejections and realized that "everyone in that town wanted to do what I wanted to do. So, I kept thinking to myself, I need to figure out a way to be different." At the age of twelve, Swift was shown by a computer repairman how to play three chords on a guitar, inspiring her to write her first song, "Lucky You".She had previously won a national poetry contest with a poem titled "Monster in My Closet" but now began to focus on songwriting. In 2003, Swift and her parents started working with New York-based music manager Dan Dymtrow. With Dymtrow's help, Swift modelled for as part of their "Rising Stars" campaign, had an original song included in a compilation CD and took meetings with major record labels. After performing original songs at an showcase, the eighth-grader was given an artist development deal and began making frequent trips to Nashville with her mother.
When Swift was fourteen, her father transferred to the Nashville office of Merrill Lynch and the family relocated to a lakefront house in . "My parents took all the pressure off by saying, 'We're just moving because we love the area, so don't worry.' They knew nothing about the industry and had no involvement in entertainment, but I was obsessed with it and so they did their research and read up about it to help me in every way they could. They're amazing people." In Tennessee, she attended for her freshman and sophomore years. Later, to accommodate her touring schedule, Swift transferred to the Aaron Academy, a private Christian school which offered homeschooling services. She earned her high school diploma in 2008, having completed her final two years of course work in twelve months.