Social Security

10 Best Cities to Retire in Tennessee in 2021

Retirees are drawn to Tennessee for its low cost of living and tax friendliness.

Stephanie Faris

Published March 10th, 2021

Table of Contents

Key Takeaways

  • Tennessee is a state filled with mountains, lakes, and rivers, but it also has plenty of big-city living.
  • The state’s cities are filled with attractions and entertainment, as well as access to healthcare.
  • Although there’s no state income tax, you will pay a higher sales tax rate than other areas of the country.

Retirees are drawn to Tennessee for its low cost of living and tax friendliness. Even the best places to retire in Tennessee will have a high sales tax, but the low housing prices can make up for that.

But one of the best things about Tennessee retirement is its climate. You’ll get mild winters while still enjoying all four seasons. There are also plenty of lakes, mountains, and historical landmarks to keep you busy. Here are our 10 favorite retirement communities in Tennessee.

Chattanooga

Chattanooga

  • CITY POPULATION: 182,799
  • SHARE OF POPULATION 65+: 16.6%
  • COST OF LIVING FOR RETIREES: 3% below the national average
  • PER CAPITA INCOME FOR POPULATION: $30,592
  • TAX RATING FOR RETIREES: Tax Friendly

When you ask is Tennessee a good place to retire, Chattanooga is one of the cities to think of first. Both Chattanooga and the nearby mountain community of Signal Mountain have plenty of walking trails and outdoor activities. You’ll also have access to all the amenities you’d get with big-city living, including plenty of restaurants and shops.

Franklin

Franklin

  • CITY POPULATION: 83,097
  • SHARE OF POPULATION 65+: 12.9%
  • COST OF LIVING FOR RETIREES: 3% below the national average
  • PER CAPITA INCOME FOR POPULATION: $48,318
  • TAX RATING FOR RETIREES: Tax Friendly

History and suburban life make Franklin one of the best cities to retire in Tennessee. Just 20 miles south of downtown Nashville, Franklin is perhaps best known as the site of two Civil War battles: 1863’s Battle of Franklin and the Battle of Franklin in 1864. You’ll find plenty of historic attractions, mixed with more dining and shopping options than you’ll find anywhere in Tennessee.

Pigeon Forge

Pigeon Forge

  • CITY POPULATION: 6,266
  • SHARE OF POPULATION 65+: 21.9%
  • COST OF LIVING FOR RETIREES: 2% below the national average
  • PER CAPITA INCOME FOR POPULATION: $20,478
  • TAX RATING FOR RETIREES: Tax Friendly

It would be impossible to talk about the best retirement communities in Tennessee without mentioning the Smoky Mountains. Pigeon Forge is a neighboring tourist area with easy access to the mountains and ski slopes of Gatlinburg. You’ll get beautiful views, as well as all the shopping and dining options that draw tourists to the town.

Nashville

Nashville

  • CITY POPULATION: 670,820
  • SHARE OF POPULATION 65+: 11.7%
  • COST OF LIVING FOR RETIREES: 3% below the national average
  • PER CAPITA INCOME FOR POPULATION: $35,243
  • TAX RATING FOR RETIREES: Tax Friendly

Costs in Nashville have been rising, but it’s still affordable compared to other big cities. If you like downtown living, Nashville could be one of the best places to retire in Tennessee. You’ll get plenty of shopping and restaurants around downtown, with your pick of live music venues in the famed Broadway area.

Crossville

  • COUNTY POPULATION: 11,779
  • SHARE OF POPULATION 65+: 21.6%
  • COST OF LIVING FOR RETIREES: 18% below the national average
  • PER CAPITA INCOME FOR POPULATION: $22,592
  • TAX RATING FOR RETIREES: Tax Friendly

Golfers looking for the best small cities to retire should definitely take a peek at Crossville. The town is home to multiple golf courses, including Stonehenge, the top-rated golf course in the state. The high 65-plus population and low cost of living make it a great choice for any retiree.

Knoxville

Knoxville

  • CITY POPULATION: 187,603
  • SHARE OF POPULATION 65+: 13.6%
  • COST OF LIVING FOR RETIREES: 18% below the national average
  • PER CAPITA INCOME FOR POPULATION: $26,340
  • TAX RATING FOR RETIREES: Tax Friendly

Another city that’s an example of why is Tennessee a good state to retire in is Knoxville. You’ll have a short, one-hour drive to the Smokies combined with access to many of the amenities you’d get in a big city. The Tennessee River is a large part of Knoxville living, giving you waterfront dining and plenty of recreational activities.

Germantown

Germantown

  • CITY POPULATION: 39,225
  • SHARE OF POPULATION 65+: 21.5%
  • COST OF LIVING FOR RETIREES: 9% above the national average
  • PER CAPITA INCOME FOR POPULATION: $60,956
  • TAX RATING FOR RETIREES: Tax Friendly

This upscale community on the outskirts of Memphis has a good reason to be on the list of where to retire in Tennessee. The town is known for its 1868 railroad depot and easy access to famous downtown Memphis hotspots like Beale Street. But the city itself has a suburban feel and a high 65-plus population, making it great for retirees.

Winchester

  • CITY POPULATION: 8,982
  • SHARE OF POPULATION 65+: 20.6%
  • COST OF LIVING FOR RETIREES: 11% below the national average
  • PER CAPITA INCOME FOR POPULATION: $33,349
  • TAX RATING FOR RETIREES: Tax Friendly

If you’re looking for one of the best small towns in Tennessee to retire, Winchester should be on your list. Tims Ford Lake makes it perfect for fishing and boating enthusiasts. You’ll also be just a short drive from Chattanooga, Nashville, and Huntsville, Alabama.

Kingsport

Kingsport

  • CITY POPULATION: 54,127
  • SHARE OF POPULATION 65+: 23.3%
  • COST OF LIVING FOR RETIREES: 2% below the national average
  • PER CAPITA INCOME FOR POPULATION: $30,740
  • TAX RATING FOR RETIREES: Tax Friendly

If you’re looking at which city has the best weather in Tennessee, Kingsport would be close to the top of the list. You’ll get slightly colder winters in Kingsport, but the summers are milder than other areas of the state. The cost of living and high 65-plus population make it an all-around great place for retiring.

Collierville

  • CITY POPULATION: 51,040
  • SHARE OF POPULATION 65+: 13.7%
  • COST OF LIVING FOR RETIREES: 3% above the national average
  • PER CAPITA INCOME FOR POPULATION: $49,951
  • TAX RATING FOR RETIREES: Tax Friendly

When you’re looking at any list of the best places to retire in Tennessee 2020 and 2021, another top West Tennessee city is Collierville. Just a 20-minute drive from Memphis, Collierville has all the amenities of suburban living, along with a charming downtown area and plenty of shopping and dining.

Bottom Line

Looking at the best places to live in Tennessee, 2020 and 2021 lists are similar. Some of the cities on this list are growing, but they all retain their tax friendliness and Southern charm. But your individual needs are different than anyone else’s. Retirable can help connect you with a plan that will ensure you’re prepared to fully enjoy retired life.

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Author

Stephanie Faris

Stephanie Faris has written about finance for entrepreneurs and marketing firms since 2013. She spent nearly a year as a writer for a credit card processing service and has written about finance for numerous marketing firms and entrepreneurs. Her work has appeared on Money Under 30, The Motley Fool, MoneyGeek, E-commerce Insiders, and GoBankingRates.

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