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Disclaimer: Links and mentions of Tennessee retirement communities in this post do not constitute an endorsement. Price ranges, services, and amenities can change — please visit a community’s website for the most up-to-date information. HomeLight always recommends doing your own research to determine which community destination is best for your situation.
According to CNBC, Tennessee is one of the most popular states for older Americans making a move to retire or downsizing as they prepare for retirement. CNBC found that Tennessee is among the most affordable places to retire. One of the primary reasons that Tennessee is so economical is the preferential tax treatment that retirees receive.
For taxes, Tennessee:
- Has no state personal income tax
- Does not tax Social Security
- Has no inheritance tax or estate tax
In addition to low taxes for retirees, Tennessee has low property taxes. While the rate depends on the county, the state’s effective property tax rate is about 0.64%, which translates to about $1,200 per year. That’s about half the national average.
But wait, there’s more! Older adults, 65 and older, also can apply for a property tax freeze which locks in the property tax rate at a base tax amount. The tax advantages make your dollar stretch. Not to mention, Tennessee has the 8th lowest cost of living in the United States.
That financial freedom lets you enjoy the amenities and lifestyle of the best retirement communities in Tennessee.
Last year, more than 19,000 retirees or older Americans migrated to the Volunteer State. This influx of mature residents plays a role in the demand for the best retirement communities in Tennessee for seniors looking for a lifestyle that fits their golden-year goals and financial resources.
Retirees comprise 17% of Tennessee’s total population or about 1,190,000 of the state’s 7 million residents.
In this post, we’ve researched some of the best retirement communities in Tennessee with regard to lifestyle, location, affordability, and safety.
To compile this list, we looked at:
- Location of each community
- Access to quality healthcare
- Nearby desirable amenities and services
- Established and enforced age restrictions (such as 55+ or other)
- Type of retirement community (active adult, independent living)
- Ratings and reviews
- Homebuyer interest
What is a retirement community?
A retirement community is typically a residential housing neighborhood, subdivision, or complex designed for older adults who are active, independent, or — for the most part — able to care for themselves. Many planned retirement communities give mature residents a sense of belonging and offer a way of life. Some communities provide recreational, social, and educational activities and events.
A retirement community is not necessarily exclusively for retired individuals. The stigma that may be perceived by the term “retirement community” does not do justice to what can be available and the lifestyle and benefits of an age-restricted community. Retirement communities with designations such as “55+” are a popular choice for Americans moving to retire, downsizing as they prepare for retirement, or just simplifying their lives.
These communities typically do not provide care services but may be conveniently located near healthcare facilities and other desirable amenities.
Age-restricted communities vs. independent living communities
An age-restricted community requires at least one home resident to be of a determined age. Most of the time, you’ll see an age requirement in 55+ communities. Health care isn’t provided in age-restricted communities.
An independent living community is a senior living community that provides recreational, educational, and social activities to the community members. The community members are healthy, independent adults. It’s common for an independent living community also to be age-restricted. No health care is provided for the community.
What are the most popular retirement cities in Tennessee?
According to the Retire Tennessee Program and the American Association of Retirement Communities, some of the most popular or best cities in Tennessee for retired or older Americans include:
- Fairfield Glade
Why seniors choose Tennessee
There are many reasons why retirement communities in Tennessee are appealing destinations for Americans making a move to retire or to downsize in anticipation of retirement. Some of the most notable include:
- No tax on Social Security benefits or distributions from retirement plans
- One of only a few states that have no personal income tax
- Property tax is low and can be frozen for people 65 and older
- Low taxes cause pensions and IRAs to stretch further
- More than 1,190,000 adults aged 65 and older
- Tennessee is among the lowest in the country for cost of living
- Mild winters and hot summers
- Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Ruby Falls, Burgess Falls State Park
- Dollywood, Grand Ole Opry, Graceland, National Civil Rights Museum
Our picks for some of the best retirement communities in Tennessee
There are a number of outstanding retirement communities in Tennessee. Based on the parameters we listed above, here are some we feel are worth considering:
Del Webb Southern Springs
Phone number: 615-283-9766
Location: Spring Hill, Tennessee
Price range: $583,990 to $703,990
About: 55+ age-restricted community consisting of 800+ homes spread over 300 acres
Ratings and reviews: Based on 62 Google reviews, Del Webb Southern Springs has a 4.4 out of 5.0-star rating. People like the homes and events in the community. Also, residents feel the community is welcoming of new faces. Some people thought the houses were overpriced for the materials used. Reviewers on 55places give the community an average of 4.4 out of 5 stars, with many saying they appreciate the monthly calendar, nearby shopping, and friendly people. There is also a contingent of folks who believe the properties are overpriced compared to other Del Webb communities. However, other reviewers said negative comments about price were unwarranted, citing that prices are in line for the area and reflect high demand.
Noteworthy nearby amenities or attractions:
Del Webb Southern Springs offers the following amenities within its active living community:
- 19,000-square-foot clubhouse
- Fitness center and indoor lap pool
- Resort-style outdoor pool
- Dog park
- Sports courts
Spring Hill is about 30 miles south of Nashville. If residents crave something beyond the Del Webb life, they can jump on Interstate 65 and drive into the Music City, a place teeming with things to do. Nashville is famous for music, and visitors can check out the Grand Ole Opry or the Nashville Sound. Sports fans can check out the Nashville Predators, a pro hockey team. Also, the NFL’s Tennessee Titans play at Nissan Stadium in downtown Nashville.
Del Webb at Lake Providence
Phone number: 615-758-4614
Location: Mount Juliet, Tennessee
Price range: $435,000 to $750,000
About: 55+ age-restricted community consisting of over 1,000 homes
Ratings and reviews: Based on 19 Google reviews, Del Webb at Lake Providence has a 4.5 out of 5.0-star rating. Positive reviews speak to the safety a gated community provides, the beauty of the area, and community activities. Less positive reviewers comment on the price of HOA and other service fees. Reviewers on 55places generally give positive reviews, again earning the community an average of 4.5 out of 5 stars. They comment on the friendliness of the community and landscaping. A few negative reviews cite the cost of the HOA. One reviewer commented that they felt the construction materials were low quality. Overall, reviewers seem happy with the community, its lake, walking trails, and activities. “Plus,” one resident wrote, “I feel safe and the amenities are so nice.”
Noteworthy nearby amenities or attractions:
Del Webb at Lake Providence offers the following amenities and services:
- 24,000 -square-foot clubhouse
- Fitness center and heated indoor pool
- Indoor spa
- Sports courts
- Dance studio
- Outdoor pool
- 13-acre lake stocked with fish for catching
- Walking and biking trails
- Lawn care
- Gates at entrance
Mount Juliet is 17 miles east of Nashville. People from Del Webb at Lake Providence can hop into the city for music and sports. They have a minor league baseball team, the Nashville Sounds, that plays at First Horizon Park. Also, there is an annual INDYCAR race called the Music City Grand Prix. People also visit for the culinary offerings; Nashville is famous for a local dish called hot chicken. For people who enjoy art and architecture, there is the Frist Art Museum, Nashville’s full-scale replica Parthenon, and Ryman Auditorium.
Phone number: 800-383-7600
Location: Fairfield Glade/Crossville, Tennessee
Price range: $80,000 to $1,000,000+
About: No age restriction, master-planned community of more than 5,000 homes nestled among 12,000 acres in the heart of Tennessee
Ratings and reviews: Real Estate Scorecard rates it 73/100, and residents rate it 91/100. The residents like the affordability of the fees and dues, amenities, and curb appeal of the houses. People who gave mixed reviews dislike the location, saying it’s farther away from some places of interest compared to other communities. 55places reviewers give the community an average of 3.8 out of 5 stars. The people who love it love the golf, the weather, and the low cost of living. Those who gave negative reviews cite the board’s perceived unresponsiveness to tenant requests and concerns. Even a resident who posted a mixed review said, “No perfect place to live. Fairfield is pretty close.”
Noteworthy nearby amenities or attractions:
Fairfield Glade is a massive community atop one of the highest rises between the Smoky and Rocky Mountains. The community offers its residents:
- 25 miles of waking, hiking, and biking trails
- 90 holes of championship golf
- 11 lakes
- 2 lakeside beaches
- 2 marinas
- Sports courts
- 4 indoor/outdoor pools
- Wellness centers
Fairfield Glade is a mere six miles from Crossville. In Crossville, residents can enjoy the Golf Capital of Tennessee, the Cumberland Plateau, and the Obed River. Also, Fairfield Glade is about an hour west of Knoxville, home of the University of Tennessee. Residents can enjoy the SEC football extravaganza and spectacle on any fall football Saturday. Fairfield Glade is 90 miles northeast of Chattanooga and 120 miles from Nashville.
Phone number: 888-287-9676
Location: Loudon, Tennessee
Price range: $250,000 to $1,495,000
About: No age restriction, master-planned community in the foothills of the Great Smoky Mountains that sits on 4,800 acres along Tellico Lake
Ratings and reviews: Because of its natural beauty and waterfront property, Real Estate Scorecard rated it among the best neighborhoods in Eastern Tennessee. Ideal Living named Tellico Village one of the best places to live. Despite industry recognition for greatness, 55places contains some mixed reviews but still gives the community an average of 4.2 out of 5 stars. One reviewer commented that he appreciated the low property taxes and cost of living but that the community grew too big. He disliked the wait to use amenities and how similar new homes looked to him. Positive reviewers love the outdoor areas and lakeside amenities.
Noteworthy nearby amenities or attractions:
Tellico Village has beautiful views of the Great Smoky Mountains and Tellico Lake. It also provides many amenities to its residents. Those include:
- 27,000 square-foot wellness center
- Sports courts
- Three championship golf course
- Yacht club
- Three marinas
- Walking and hiking trails
Tellico Village is 45 miles from the Great Smoky Mountain National Park entrance. In addition, Loudon is 31 miles southwest of Knoxville, a great place to retire in its own right. In Knoxville, people can visit Neyland Stadium at the University of Tennessee. Or check out the Knoxville Museum of Art. Knoxville’s World’s Fair Park is also the last U.S. location to host a world fair. For outdoorsy folks, there is the House Mountain State Natural Area.
Phone number: 423-884-3020
Location: Vonore, Tennessee
Price range: $300,000 to $2,750,000
About: No age restriction, this community is close to the Smokies in the rolling foothills of Eastern Tennessee and sits along the shores of Tellico Lake
Ratings and reviews: Real Estate Scorecard rates it 76/100, and residents rate it 93/100. The residents overwhelmingly like the curb appeal, Rarity Bay’s closeness to the place of interest, and amenities. The few mixed reviews questioned developer credibility and membership fees. 55places reviewers give the community an average 5-star rating, with many saying they love the lakeside community and amenities. Likewise, reviewers at PCR appreciate the lakeside community and the natural beauty of the Smoky Mountains.
Noteworthy nearby amenities or attractions:
If someone doesn’t want to leave Rarity Bay, there probably wouldn’t be a need. This vast 960-acre, 1,600-home community has tons of amenities. The amenities include:
- Lakeside living with skiing, boating, fishing, and kayaking
- Country club
- Recreation center
- Sports courts
- Swimming pool
- Equestrian center
- 150-acre championship golf course
- Community garden
Rarity Bay is a short 45-minute drive from Knoxville and everything the city offers, including sports, art, and a state park. It’s also about 90 minutes away from Chattanooga. There a person could enjoy the lazy flow of the Tennessee River Park. Or check out Lookout Mountain and Ruby Falls. Chattanooga is home to the Tennessee aquarium and a vibrant arts district. Rarity Bay is in the foothills of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park for nature lovers.
How can I find a retirement community near me?
There are many other retirement communities in Tennessee. One way to see your options is to search the internet with phrases such as “retirement communities near me” or “55 and older communities near me.” It also wouldn’t hurt to try searching up the “best retirement communities in Tennessee.” Check ratings, reviews, and comments posted on the Better Business Bureau, Google Reviews, and industry websites.
Another way to find a quality retirement community near you is to consult a top real estate agent in your area. An experienced agent who knows your market can provide valuable insights into community characteristics such as crime rates, affordability, home construction quality, and the reputation of the governing association.
10 questions to ask before you buy a home in a retirement community
Here are 10 important questions to ask before you commit to purchasing a home when deciding on the best retirement community in Tennessee.
1. Will I own the home, or is this a lease community?
This may seem like it would be obvious. Still, when it comes to retirement communities, different options might be suitable for you. When considering whether you want to own or lease, it’s essential to identify all the costs of living in the community. Some factors might include tax considerations, homeowner’s association dues, and the cost of maintenance. Some retirement or 55+ communities only offer lease agreements.
2. What are the community rules?
Most active adult communities have a set of rules that residents must follow. These might include:
- Children and grandchildren restrictions
- Pets (limits on how many, allowable breeds and sizes)
- Parking (number of cars, limits on RVs, boats)
- Guests or visitors (numbers, length of time, etc.)
- Exterior paint colors
- Dress codes in public areas
- Lawn maintenance enforcement
- Renting (limitations or restrictions)
- Renovation/improvement restrictions
- Noise (daytime and nighttime decibel allowances)
3. What are your new neighbors like?
Having good neighbors plays a considerable role in your quality of life, especially when you retire. Before you buy, learn about what life is like in the neighborhood. If possible, attend some of the community events and get to know some of the people living there.
4. What plans are there for the adjacent property?
This is a fundamental question for newly-constructed retirement communities because this is supposed to be a place where you can relax. Suppose you move into your dream community surrounded by beautiful unspoiled nature. It could be a tragedy of epic proportions if one day you came home and saw a construction crew breaking ground for a new strip mall. The peaceful placidity of nature might soon be replaced by the asphalt annoyance of urban sprawl.
5. What type of assessments have been made?
Assessments can be common for any community development. Still, seniors living on a fixed income must budget carefully. They also need to pay for necessities first and shop wisely. Unknown assessments can wreak havoc on your plan.
6. Is the community financially sound?
You will want to know if the developer and association are on solid financial ground before you commit. After all, you want stability and consistency in your community. If there is turnover in the ownership, maintenance, amenities, and the quality of life may dip.
7. Is the community able to keep up with future growth?
Is there sufficient infrastructure in place, wise planning, and expandable space? All baby boomers will be over 65 by 2030, the prime retirement age. That means more people are looking into retirement communities. As these communities expand and grow, they must keep pace.
8. Is there a reserve fund for maintenance?
Also known as a sinking fund, this is a financial safety net for covering significant unexpected future expenses incurred at the community level, such as repairing the roof of the clubhouse or sports center after being hit with storm damage. While some communities might maintain reserve funds for these expenses, others may expect residents to raise funds as HOA members.
9. What other projects belong to this developer?
Research the builder of your home and the larger community, and ask for references. How long has the developer been in business? Do they have a successful track record with similar communities in other locations? Have property values in their other communities increased at a satisfactory rate, or has the company allowed its previous investments to decline?
10. Is the governing association easy to work with?
You will want a community board with a proven track record of working together and finding solutions. Suppose you discover a dysfunctional board led by power-hungry or inept individuals. In that case, it may cause tremendous angst and harm the unity of the entire community. Ask several different residents. Check with your real estate agent. Find out if the board and its members are competent, effective, and civil. One free resource to research your association or HOA is communityassociations.net.
Check out the community around the community
Vetting the retirement community with the 10 questions above will help you uncover crucial insights into what life might be like within the boundaries of those neighborhoods. Still, you will want to look beyond the front gates.
To truly identify the best retirement community, you should also research the history, reputation, culture, and amenities available in the surrounding host city or town. Find out what the area offers to improve or enhance your retirement years.
- How far away are the nearest hospital and other medical facilities?
- What are the safety and crime rates of the surrounding cities or towns?
- How easy is it to access major highways and commuting routes?
- Is it located directly on a busy, noisy highway?
- Are various conveniences nearby, such as restaurants, banks, or grocery stores?
- Is there a dog park or groomer nearby?
- Is there a bus route or commuter rail that serves the area?
- Are there nearby churches or places of worship that fit your beliefs?
- Are there undesirable businesses or manufacturing facilities nearby?
- Is it near enough to an airport for convenience, or too close with excessive noise?
- Are there connecting bike paths or walking/hiking trails?
- What type of outdoor activities are available?
Q&A: More tips about the best retirement communities in Tennessee
What is the largest retirement community in Tennessee?
Fairfield Glade is the largest retirement community in Tennessee, with more than 5,000 homes. Almost 65% of the population is 65 years or older. The next largest is Tellico Village, with around 3,400 homes.
How much does it cost to live in a retirement community in Tennessee?
On average, living in a retirement community in Tennessee would cost less because of the preferable tax break for older adults and the low cost of living. Tennessee has no income or property tax, the 2nd lowest state and local tax burden. It is 10.3% cheaper than the average cost of living nationwide.
What is the 80/20 rule in some retirement communities?
The Fair Housing Act exempts three types of housing for older persons from liability for familial status discrimination. That exemption is sometimes called the 80/20 rule.
The 80/20 rule stipulates that at least 80% of units have to be occupied by at least one person 55 or older. The other 20% of the units may be available for people of any age, at the community’s discretion.
Also, the community must publish and follow policies that show their intent to operate as a 55 or older community. And, the community has to follow Housing and Urban Development’s requirements for verifying the resident’s ages.
Typically, children under 18 cannot live in an age-restricted community. Adult children (18 and over) can live within an age-restricted community if there is at least one parent in the house that is 55 or over.
When should I visit a prospective retirement community?
To get the most transparent picture of how you might connect with a retirement community, it’s best to visit at different times of the year. You may love an area you visited on vacation in the fall, but that does not mean you will like it in the winter. Remember, you are making long-term retirement plans, so multiple visits are worth the time and investment. It’s also valuable to consider several different retirement locations and compare the benefits and drawbacks.
Are there real estate agents that specialize in helping seniors?
Yes. Agents can receive a specialty certification from The National Association of Realtors to become a Seniors Real Estate Specialist or SRES. An SRES agent will be well-versed in the areas of retirement, downsizing, and more. See our post: Should You Hire an Agent Who Is a Seniors Real Estate Specialist?
Conclusion: Best Retirement Communities in Tennessee
Tennessee is a popular place to retire. Its beautiful foothills and mountains, outdoor life, excellent tax policies, and exciting cities are a few reasons why many people are heading to the Volunteer State. Other reasons for older adults moving to this southeastern state include decent weather and an affordable cost of living.
As you transition to the next chapter in your life, it can be helpful to have an experienced real estate agent lead the way.
HomeLight’s free Agent Match platform can connect with an SRES or top-performing agent who can help you downsize or guide you in your search for a great retirement community in Tennessee.
Header Image Source: (Johnny Such / Unsplash)