What makes Tennessee a top retirement spot?

Authored By ahuntergrah

Washington, D.C.-based business and personal finance publisher Kiplinger.com recently ranked Tennessee the fourth-best state to retire, and locals agree. 

The ranking from this month put Tennessee in the top 10 states, and the report cited the state’s low cost of living, low property taxes, low average health care costs, higher average household income, high number of residents 65 years old and older, and wide range of entertainment opportunities. 

“I think Tennessee is finally getting recognized as a retirement spot,” said Ramay Winchester, director of tourism initiatives with the Tennessee Department of Tourist Development. 

Winchester said most retirees seem most interested in Tennessee’s economic benefits, but it’s a two-way street. In return, retirees stabilize Tennessee’s economy, as many bring their small businesses and nest eggs with them. 

“Tourist developments and retiree recruitments have a significant economic impact,” she said. “The folks we’re promoting to are economically stable.”

Winchester also manages Tennessee’s retiree recruitment program, Retire Tennessee, which pairs potential retirees with communities that fit their specific needs and desires.

Retire Tennessee currently has information on 19 counties, but will soon be adding four more to their list.

Information on the website for each county includes specific points of interest and adventuring opportunities, home recommendations, tax information, information on higher education, and other retirees’ testimonies.

Retire Tennessee is one of four similar state retirement recruitment programs in the country. In 2015, Retire Tennessee received interest from more than 8,000 people. 

Chattanooga draws retirees 
Greater Chattanooga Association of Realtors President Nathan Walldorf said the association has seen many retirees come to Chattanooga.

“Chattanooga has just become this beautiful place,” Walldorf said. 

Many out-of-state retirees are coming in from the Northeast, where property taxes and home prices are commonly much higher than in Tennessee.

Extreme weather conditions also pull in many from Florida to escape hurricane insurance and from the North to flee cold weather. 

Local retirees agree that Tennessee, and Chattanooga for that matter, is a great place to retire.

Betsy Alderman, a recent retiree from UTC, where she worked as head of the communications department, put it bluntly: She’s not moving. 

“Chattanooga is my home,” she said. “We are blessed to live in a city with so much to offer.”

Alderman echoed what others said about the low cost of living and mild seasonal weather. She also listed the city’s wide variety of entertainment and its close proximity to Nashville and Atlanta as reasons why she feels so strongly about staying. 

“I think anybody who is retiring should take a good look at Tennessee,” Alderman said.

Alina Hunter-Grah is a contributing writer. She is also currently attending UTC, where she is the news editor for the school newspaper, The University Echo. Alina is also the Chattanooga correspondent for 2nd & Church, a literary magazine based out of Nashville.