“Retire Tennessee is not merely a PR tool. There’s a lot
of work and commitment in this program. Retire Tennessee
ensures that there is an economic commitment and plan for
economic development in place for each of our communities.
The Tennessee Department of Economic and Community
Development recognizes retirement development as an
economic engine that is growing dramatically and initiated
the Retire Tennessee program. It’s not just as easy as a community stating that they want to attract retirees. In order for
a community to qualify for this retiree attraction program,
it must meet several requirements, including broad-based
community support and a resolution by the local governing body.
Each community must meet their TN Three Star compliance
for the current fiscal year and have retiree recruitment as a
component in the three-star, five-year strategic plan.
Ramay Winchester of Retire Tennessee said, “Retire
Tennessee is not merely a PR tool. There’s a lot of work and
commitment in this program. Retire Tennessee ensures that
there is an economic commitment and plan for economic
development in place for each of our communities. We only
sell the highest quality of life in our towns.”
“The number one reason people relocate to Tennessee is
that property taxes are significantly lower than other states,”
commented Winchester. Tennessee has no state property tax;
property taxes are locally determined and collected. For example,
a homeowner in Loudon County, TN, would pay $1.59 per $100
valuation of the home. There are no state personal income taxes
in Tennessee, and the average cost of living is 10 percent lower
than the national average, including low utility costs.
Winchester indicated that the mild four-season climate
draws a significant number of retirees. Cool mountain breezes
and verdant valleys and lakes attract a great number of ‘
halfbacks,’ those who moved further south, but decided they
wanted to move halfway back to their original home. Many
discover that a year-round warm/hot climate was not what
they were looking for and decide to give Tennessee a try.
Currently, there are 11 communities who participate in
the Retire Tennessee program: Hardin, Henry, Cumberland,
Lincoln, Putnam, Roberston, Greene, Hamilton, Jefferson,
Sullivan and Loudon counties.
Located on the southern border of Tennessee, Mississippi
and Alabama, Hardin County is known for its historic small
towns, including Savannah, TN. After traveling around the
world looking for a retirement spot, Jean and George Gunn
wanted to retire near water for recreation, and, in an area that
was not only economically viable, but friendly.
“We wanted an area that had, within a reasonable driving
distance, good medical and educational opportunities. Of
course, we needed a reasonable cost of living area that we
could enjoy a comfortable retirement on very limited income.
More importantly, we wanted an area where we could make a
contribution to the community,” said Gunn.
“Walking through Savannah was short of nothing but
spectacular. Main Street was busy, the shops, quaint, and the
most friendly people we had ever met during our extensive
CLOCKWISE FROM TOP LEFT: © ISTOCKPHOTO.COM/STACEY PUTMAN; © ISTOCKPHOTO.COM/STACEY PUTMAN; © ISTOCKPHOTO.COM/JULIA NICHOLS; © ISTOCKPHOTO.COM/LAWRENCE SAWYER