15 Best Places to Retire in Tennessee

Tennessee Retirement feature

The 15 Best Places to Retire in Tennessee on this list will help you narrow down the perfect city to spend your retirement. Retiring to Tennessee means a lower cost of living than the national average, no state or inheritance taxes, and a culturally and geographically diverse location.

Tennessee is divided into three distinct divisions, as indicated by the stars on the state flag. These “Grand Divisions” are East, Middle, and West Tennessee. The divisions not only split the state geographically but culturally and economically as well.

Tennessee is home to breathtaking scenery, live music, and amazing food. No matter what you’re interested in, there’s no shortage of things to do there. It’s also the 11th most visited state in the nation, so you’ll have no lack of visitors.

It also has the second lowest state and local tax burden per capita. Certain taxing jurisdictions in the state have enacted Property Tax Freezes for those 65+ with certain stipulations, and there are 34 cities and 24 counties participating in this program.

Six of the cities are on this list which include Chattanooga, Clarksville, Crossville, La Vergne, Memphis, and Murfreesboro. Of the counties participating in the program, 11 of them contain cities on this list, including Franklin (Winchester), Shelby (Germantown and Memphis), Sevier (Pigeon Forge), Knox (Knoxville), Montgomery (Clarksville), Rutherford (Murfreesboro and La Vergne), Williamson (Franklin), Sumner (Hendersonville), and Davidson (Nashville) Counties are on this list.

Overall, Tennessee is 10.3% under the US average Cost of Living Index and the 8th lowest state for Cost of Living in the nation.

All of the 15 Best Places to Retire in Tennessee have Cost of Living rates below the national average. This list is in order from greatest to least for Cost of Living savings.

Best Places to Retire in Tennessee

1. Crossville

Crossville, TN

Population: 12,268

65+ Population: 19.9%

Cost of Living: -18.3%

Median Household Income: $37,212

Your retirement funds will stretch the farthest in Crossville, with its cost of living at 18.3% lower than the national average. Situated in East Tennessee, Crossville is a small town with a lot of amenities, including a state park, wineries, and even a Buc-ee’s.

Crossville has a decent amount of healthcare options for the size of the town. It features two hospitals, and while they’re not rated well, Knoxville is just an hour away. If you’re a veteran, there are two VA Outpatient Clinics 30-40 minutes away in nearby Cookeville and Harriman.

2. Winchester

Population: 9,546

65+ Population: 20.8%

Cost of Living: -17.4%

Median Household Income: $48,021

Winchester is a small town in southern Tennessee but within easy driving distance to both Chattanooga and Huntsville, Alabama. Home to Arnold Air Force Base, this makes it an excellent spot for veterans to find an outpatient clinic nearby.

Winchester is a great spot for those that enjoy distilleries, history, or being on the water at Tims Ford Lake. Have a competitive streak? Winchester is also home to barbecue and fishing tournaments.

3. Germantown

Population: 41,034

65+ Population: 21.7%

Cost of Living: -16.3%

Median Household Income: $123,387

With the highest median income and one of the highest cost of living savings on this list, this suburb of Memphis is not to be missed. Residents describe this area as clean, safe, and one of the most affluent areas in the Memphis area.

According to Wikipedia, Germantown has one of the lowest crime rates in the state for a city of its size, making it one of the best places to retire in Tennessee. With 27 parks, the city has a park within walking distance for every resident, and the parks and recreation department has been nationally recognized by the Arbor Foundation as a Tree City USA.

4. Memphis

downtown Memphis, Tennessee, USA

Population: 628,127

65+ Population: 13.4%

Cost of Living: -16.1%

Median Household Income: $41,864

The westernmost city in Tennessee sits on the Mississippi River. Memphis is known for blues, barbecue, Graceland, and its role in American history.

If you’re interested in a bigger city experience, Memphis is the second largest city in the state. This provides access to major sports teams, shopping, restaurants, and healthcare. For veterans, you’ll have a VA Medical Center accessible to you.

US News and World Reports think this 2nd largest city in Tennessee is one of the best cities to live and retire in the country. Memphis came in at number 145 on the best places to live in the US and number 130 on the best places to retire.

5. Kingsport

Population: 55,582

65+ Population: 25%

Cost of Living: -13.6%

Median Household Income: $42,066

With one-quarter of the population 65+, it’ll be no struggle finding friends and other retirees to spend time with you in Kingsport. Stretching to the Virginia border, Kingsport was the first member of the AARP Age-Friendly Community Network.

For the size of the city, there are some surprising facts that make Kingsport stand out. There are 21 hospitals in the region provided by Ballad Healthcare. The Symphony of the Mountains Orchestra is located here; it’s a previous recipient of both the “Most Walkable City” and “Most American City” and is just 20 miles from the Tri-Cities Airport.

6. Pigeon Forge

Population: 6,378

65+ Population: 15.2%

Cost of Living: -13.4%

Median Household Income: $48,327

Aside from the music and BBQ, one thing that comes to mind when you think of Tennessee is the Great Smoky Mountains. Pigeon Forge is situated between the cities of Sevierville and Gatlinburg at the base of the Smokies. An outdoorsman’s paradise, you get easy access to the mountains with the conveniences of being a tourist hub.

There are decent healthcare options in Pigeon Forge. For veterans, the Dannie A. Carr Veterans Outpatient Clinic is in Sevierville. If you need specialty care, Pigeons Forge is less than an hour from the University of Tennessee Hospital in Knoxville.

7. Knoxville

Knoxville, TN

Population: 192,648 (metro area 869,046)

65+ Population: 13.9%

Cost of Living: -10.2%

Median Household Income: $41,598

Knoxville is the largest city in East Tennessee, and its amenities show for it. While it’s a college town, Knoxville does an excellent job mixing outdoor activities with culture, earning it a spot as one of the best places to retire in Tennessee.

For those looking to get in nature, Knoxville has birding, cycling, hiking, and more! If you’re looking for some culture, Knoxville has a symphony, museums, and so much more.

As home to the University of Tennessee, you’ll find impressive health care options. For veterans, there are also two VA Outpatient Clinics in the city.

US News and World Reports chose Knoxville as one of the best cities to live in and one of the best cities to retire in the United States. It came in at number 33 on the best places to live in the US and number 20 on the best places to retire.

8. Clarksville

Population: 170,957

65+ Population: 8.4%

Cost of Living: -9.7%

Median Household Income: $55,819

Hugging the Kentucky border and just 40 minutes northwest of Nashville sits Clarksville. The city views itself as a road trip town and a place for a quick getaway or as a stop on a long trip.

This charming, riverfront community is not too big or too small, but just right. You’ll find plenty of restaurants, boutiques, breweries, art galleries, and street art in Clarksville.

Golfers will love the six golf courses in Clarksville, including one public, 9-hole course. If disc golf is more your style, there’s also a full course for that as well.

Clarksville is home to several hospitals, including a regional medical facility. For veterans, there is a VA Clinic in the city.

9. Chattanooga

Chattanooga, TN

Population: 182,113

65+ Population: 16.6%

Cost of Living: -6.6%

Median Household Income: $47,165

If you want to experience all four seasons but lean more toward the warm side of things, Chattanooga may be for you. Just north of the Georgia state line, this is the southernmost city on this list and thus has some of the mildest winters.

As with most cities on this list, water is never far away. The Tennessee River carves way along the north side of the city. Outdoor activities abound with three state parks and forests nearby for hiking, biking, water sports, and more.

Chattanooga is also home to Lookout Mountain. This mountain is 2,000 feet above sea level and is home to some of the most breathtaking attractions in the area.

US News and World Reports selected Chattanooga as another one of the best cities to live in and one of the best cities to retire in the United States. It came in at number 59 on the best places to live in the US and number 27 on the best places to retire.

Chattanooga has several hospitals in the area, including a Level I Trauma Center. There are also two VA Outpatient Clinics there.

10. Murfreesboro

Population: 157,519

65+ Population: 9.2%

Cost of Living: -5.5%

Median Household Income: $60,683

Just 34 minutes southeast of Nashville, you’ll find Murfreesboro. If you enjoy being in nature, this city is perfect for you as it sits next to the Stones River and features more than 40 miles of greenway trails.

While this is a college town, this mid-sized city shouldn’t be overlooked. Middle Tennessee State University is located in Murfreesboro and brings exciting sporting events to the region. As with most cities in Tennessee, you can find historical battlefields and monuments here.

If you, your children, or grandkids have special needs, they will love visiting The Miracle Field. This custom-designed, rubberized baseball field is great for wheelchairs and other assistant devices, and children of all abilities can enjoy the sensory stations, ziplines, ramps, and turf.

There are five hospitals in Murfreesboro, and veterans also have access to the city’s VA Medical Center.

11. Franklin

Population: 85,469

65+ Population: 12.7%

Cost of Living: -5.2%

Median Household Income: $100,169

This Nashville suburb is full of Southern charm, character, and history. You’ll find one-of-a-kind boutiques featuring general stores, products made exclusively in Tennessee, antiques, and more! Distilleries, farms, hot air balloon rides, and delicious restaurants help give Franklin its edge as one of the best places to retire in Tennessee.

History buffs will love Franklin. The battle of Franklin was in this city, and thus there is a Civil War Museum and several other Battlefield Parks and Monuments.

Franklin is also home to part of Natchez Trace Parkway. This 444-mile national scenic byway traces the Native American’s journey from Natchez, Mississippi, to Nashville, Tennessee, passing through Franklin. You can enjoy Natchez Trace by driving, biking, hiking, horseback riding, or camping.

You’ll also find plenty of water activities in Franklin as the Harpeth River winds through the city. Fishing, paddle boarding, and kayaking are some of the most popular water sports in the area.

MONEY Magazine consistently ranks Franklin as one of the best cities in the country. They chose Franklin as the third best place to live in 2021-2022 and also gave it the number 2 spot for the best place to retire in 2022.

12. Hendersonville

Population: 62,257

65+ Population: 15.7%

Cost of Living: -5%

Median Household Income: $75,146

You’ll never be bored in Hendersonville. This historic Nashville suburb hosts festivals and events all year long and is also home to historic sites, live music, and eclectic restaurants. With its close proximity to Nashville, you’ll enjoy all the perks of a big city with a small-town feel.

Outdoor recreation opportunities abound in Hendersonville as it sits on the edge of Old Hickory Lake. But it’s also home to Bear’s Pay Lake, Bledsoe Creek State Park, and Gallatin Pay Lake. There are four golf courses, a disc golf course, hiking, kayaking, and more!

MONEY Magazine chose Hendersonville as one of its top places to live in 2021-2022. The city came in at number 16 in the country.

13. Nashville

Nashville, TN

Population: 678,851

65+ Population: 12.1%

Cost of Living: -4.8%

Median Household Income: $62,087

As the largest city in Tennessee, Nashville has all the amenities and earns its place as one of the best places to retire in Tennessee. You’ll find state-of-the-art healthcare, loads of local entertainment, eclectic locally sourced and artisanal shops, and it is a foodie’s dream.

Nashville is home to Vanderbilt University Medical Center. It is the number 1 rated hospital in the state and is nationally ranked in 9 specialties and 10 children’s specialties. It’s also high performing in 4 procedures and 16 conditions. US News and World Reports ranked Vanderbilt Medical Center number 20 on the Best Hospitals Honor Roll. For veterans, Nashville is home to the VA Medical Center and 2 VA Outpatient Clinics.

Music City isn’t just for country music fans. Music lovers from all generations will love the diverse live music scene at various venues, from arenas and parks to honky tonks and rooftop bars. You can also find more entertainment at the various dinner theaters, performing arts venues, and even aboard the General Jackson Showboat dinner cruise.

Nashville is known for its local products and restaurants. You’ll find the perfect gift at one of the many quirky boutiques, from handcrafted artisanal products to vintage finds. The city was voted number 7 on Trip Advisor’s list of Best Destinations for Food Lovers in the United States. You’ll find more than just hot chicken in Nashville; it’s also known for BBQ, brunch, and its outdoor dining scene.

US News and World Reports picked Nashville as another Tennessee city rated as one of the best cities to live in and one of the best cities to retire to in the United States. It came in at number 25 on the best places to live in the US and number 23 on the best places to retire. Of the cities in Tennessee, Nashville was voted number 1.

14. La Vergne

Population: 39,091

65+ Population: 7.4%

Cost of Living: -3.6%

Median Household Income: $66,360

La Vergne may have the smallest population of 65+ on this list of the best places to retire in Tennessee, but its location makes it an ideal spot for retirees. It’s a suburb of Nashville and just a 30-minute drive from Murfreesboro. La Vergne has plenty of outdoor activities as J Percey Priest Reservoir makes up its northeast border.

MONEY Magazine voted La Vergne one of its top places to live in 2021-2022. The city came in at number 26 in the country.

15. Tellico Village

Population: 5,314

65+ Population: 75%

Cost of Living: -1.9%

Median Household Income: $77,365

While not age-restricted, Tellico Village is a luxurious adult retirement community. It has the largest population of 65+ residents making up 3/4 of the population. 

Situated on the banks of Lake Tellico (Little Tennessee River) and in the foothills of the Smoky Mountains, Tellico Village is viewed as being secluded yet still accessible. It is just 40 minutes south of Knoxville.

Tellico Village is perfect for active retirees. It features recreational facilities, a wellness center, three championship golf courses, a yacht and country club, and trails for walking and hiking. Plus, it’s a great community for boating and water sports.

Are you considering one of the best places to retire in Tennessee? Which city piques your interest the most?

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