how to retire well in Tennessee

If you’re a golden-ager and the siren song of Graceland calls your name, you might want to know how to retire well in Tennessee. The state might be home to Elvis, but you’ll still need to do your research before deciding if you’ll become a resident retiree. There are many considerations, but here are a few suggestions to help make your decision easier.

How to Retire Well in Tennessee with the Cost of Living

According to the US Census Bureau, Tennessee’s senior citizen population (65 years and over) sits at 16.6 percent. Mild winters mean the silver fox set can enjoy the mountains, lakes, and rivers year-round, while big-city attractions and amenities offer a complementary experience. Cities like Chattanooga, Franklin, and Nashville rank high for their good-sized senior communities, lower cost of living, and fixed-income friendly tax rates.

By the numbers, Tennessee has the sixth-lowest cost-of-living in the United States. The average rent on a 2-bedroom apartment is $854, with the usual upticks in larger urban centers. Other costs like utility bills and healthcare come in close to the national average. If you’re looking for another financial silver lining, the state has no personal income tax, pension tax, or property taxes. However, there is a sales tax of 4 percent on food and food ingredients and 7 percent on all other tangible property. The good news is that prescription medication is tax-free.

How to Retire Well in Tennessee & Where

The median income for the Volunteer State sits at $53,320 (per capita $29,859). Depending on where one plans to retire, this figure may move up or down. If a retiree is working with a more modest nest egg, they may enjoy a smaller center like Pigeon Forge. With a per capita income of $20,478, this town is a preferred retirement destination for seniors who want a comparable monthly amount. And they would not be alone; over 20 percent of Pigeon’s 6,000 population are retired individuals.

Another Shangri La for the Elder Set might be the City of Crossville. It abounds with golf courses, a thriving retirement community, and a reasonable per capita income of $22,592. Seniors who need to stretch a dollar might appreciate that they don’t have to compete with six-figure salaries when buying the basics. Over 11,000 live here.

For those who like a more urban center, Knoxville might be the place for them. Over 187,000 live in this city, and 13 percent of them are senior citizens. With the Tennessee River running through it, there are endless opportunities for waterfront dining and recreational options that would be hard to find elsewhere. The per capita income is $26,430, which is marginally higher than some communities, but the city’s charms might be hard to ignore.


If you’re hoping to follow the sun south but still want four seasons, Tennessee has lots to recommend it on the financial front. The low cost of living, affordable tax rates, and access to high-quality healthcare make this state a strong contender on anyone’s retirement wish list.

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