Whether you currently live in Tennessee or are looking for the perfect place to call home, retiring in Tennessee can be a great option. “The Volunteers State” is a diverse and vibrant state that boasts a strong real estate market, low cost of living, and a variety of activities to keep you busy all year round.
Before you rush to move, it’s important to weigh the pros and cons of retiring in Tennessee.
Pros and Cons of Retiring in Tennessee
When you start to think about retiring and where you want to spend your time, you should consider a retiree-friendly state, one that has good weather, transportation, healthcare, and a good tax structure. You should also consider what activities and social scenes are available – after all, you won’t be working anymore, so you’ll need something to fill your time with.
Tennessee offers many of these conditions with a slow-paced lifestyle that can be appealing to retirees who want to take it easy after the hustle of work. Those looking to retire in Tennessee will find high-quality living with reasonable home values, steady growth in cities, and natural beauty unique to the state.
As a bonus to retirees, Tennessee boasts the Retire Tennessee Program which is a state government initiative that provides amenities and resources for retirees in both urban and rural counties to help newcomers feel welcome and find the right community for them.
The Pros of Retiring in Tennessee
Known for its music and blue mountains, Tennessee offers many benefits for those looking to retire in the state, including many financial benefits.
1. Low cost of living
Tennessee has one of the lowest costs of living in the United States, at 10% lower than the national average. Everything from housing, groceries, and healthcare have lower costs in Tennessee than in other states, even in big cities like Knoxville, which has the lowest cost of living. The average house price in Tennessee in 2023 is around $291,000 with an average of 17% lower than the national average.
Many cities and towns offer low-cost housing options, which attract a large number of retirees. Johnson City, for example, is one of the most popular towns in Tennessee to retire in; 27% of the population is 60 years or older, making it an excellent choice for finding new friends and communities to spend your time in.
2. Taxes in Tennessee
As you retire, it’s important to consider where your money is going to go, including how much you will pay in taxes. Taxes can eat up a big portion of your income, especially if you’re in a fixed-income situation.
Luckily, Tennessee is one of the most tax-friendly states in the nation, as Tennessee does not charge income tax. This means that your retirement savings and social security won’t be taxed at a state level as well as any withdrawals. Any public and private pension incomes are not taxed. If you do end up working, wages are also not taxed at the state level, but you will still have to pay federal taxes on any income.
The state also offers lower property tax rates, with an average effective property tax rate of 0.56%, although there are several counties in the 0.40% range.
3. Inexpensive real estate
Retirement often means moving to a new house, either from needing to downsize or from simply wanting a change of space. Buying a new house, though, especially in today’s market, is expensive and eats into your retirement savings.
Despite high home prices around the country, Tennessee still remains relatively affordable and has some of the best home prices. The average house price in Tennessee in 2023 is currently around $291,000, while the average home price in America in 2022 was $392,000.
Some homes in the larger cities, such as Nashville and its surrounding areas, will still be more expensive, towards the national average, but there are plenty of places in Tennessee where retirees can find excellent houses on a budget or for a low cost.
4. Natural beauty
Along with the many financial benefits that come with retiring in Tennessee, the state has some of the most beautiful scenery in the country and has several national parks to explore, including the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. If you are an outdoors person or just a person who appreciates nature, Tennessee has a lot of beauty and stunning scenery no matter the season.
During the fall, there’s plenty of peak foliage that is reminiscent of New England, with gorgeous colors throughout its many forests. In the summer, you can explore the many parks and trails found throughout the mountains. If mountains aren’t your thing, Tennessee has plenty of other landscapes to entertain and relax among.
5. Lively cities & culture
Even if you aren’t into hiking or waterfall hunting, there are plenty of big cities in Tennessee to keep you busy in your retirement. From Nashville’s famous Grand Ole Opry to Memphis’s Graceland, Tennessee has some of the best creative arts scenes. Each city has galleries, museums, and historical sites, along with dining options to delight the foodie retiree.
Beyond having a wide variety of activities to keep you busy in retirement, Tennessee is known for its hospitality and southern charm. Its culture showcases friendly people who help welcome you to their state with smiles as you walk through town, making you feel right at home.
Cons of Retiring in Tennessee
Although Tennessee is one of the best states to retire in, there are a few drawbacks to consider before deciding to call it home.
1. Inconsistent healthcare access
Healthcare across America has struggled since the COVID-19 pandemic, with long wait times to get appointments and even having to travel further to see a doctor as clinics shut down.
Tennessee is no exception, especially in rural areas that may have limited resources for hospitals and doctors. If you or your partner need fast access to healthcare, especially as you age, consider retiring closer to a city in Tennessee to ensure you get the care you need.
2. Severe weather
The weather may not be the first thought that comes to mind when considering where to retire, but it plays an important factor in your quality of life. If you’re tired of shoveling snow or find yourself on the opposite end needing a break from the heat, it’s important to find somewhere that will meet your expectations.
Tennessee, while technically having all four seasons, faces severe weather conditions, including hot, humid, and long summers with strong thunderstorms that have the potential for tornadoes. The bright side is that the winters in Tennessee tend to be on the milder side, with only occasional snow and early springs.
3. High crime rates
Tennessee has the fourth highest violent crime rate in the US as of 2023, with a property crime rate of 22.84 per 1,000 residents. However, many of these crimes are concentrated in specific areas of major cities. Although, these rates are relatively low when compared to similar cities.
There are many safe cities in Tennessee, such as Gibson, Enville, and Cottage Grove. When deciding where to move to, understanding the crime rate and where it’s concentrated is important to any retiree, no matter which state they want to call home.
4. Lack of public transportation
Public transportation can be an important factor as you get older; you may not be up to driving everywhere or simply want to have the convenience of walking to where you want to go. Like many states in the United States, there is a lack of public transportation in most towns in Tennessee, although major cities do have some form of transportation system.
With few options for public transportation, people have to rely on their cars to go places, which can cause heavy traffic congestion, especially in big cities. Nashville, for example, ranks 19th among the most congested roads in the United States.
If you are used to a city that has a good transportation system and aren’t used to driving everywhere, Tennessee may not be the right fit.
The Pros and Cons of Retiring Tennessee – Should You Move?
Retiring in Tennessee has many pros and cons. If you want a slower pace of life set amongst the backdrop of stunning mountains or love country music and southern charm, Tennessee is a great option for retirement. Financially speaking, it can save you thousands in retirement with its low cost of living, lack of income taxes, and affordable housing. You won’t have to worry about your retirement savings going too quickly, and you can enjoy relaxing and meeting new people among a strong community of other retirees.
Of course, living in Tennessee may not be suitable for everyone, especially if you’re not fond of humid weather or living in a landlocked state. Often, the many benefits of retiring in the state outweigh any negatives. If you are interested in getting started on saving for retirement in Tennessee, SouthEast Bank offers a variety of retirement accounts that fit your needs and dreams. Contact us or visit us at a local branch to learn more about the pros and cons of retiring in Tennessee.
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Information contained in this blog is for educational and informational purposes only. Nothing contained in this blog should be construed as legal or tax advice. An attorney or tax advisor should be consulted for advice on specific issues.