As the Sunshine State, Florida has traditionally been a sought-after place for retirement. Tennessee and Georgia, however, have recently become popular retirement locations as well, offering a wealth of lifestyle advantages.
Tennessee and Georgia can be perfect spots for retirement. For example, Georgia has the benefit of a coastline, warmer weather, many Active Adult Communities, and a lower crime rate. In contrast, Tennessee has a lower cost of living, friendly locals, and a vibrant music scene.
This article will take a detailed look at Georgia and Tennessee as retirement location options and will discuss the pros and cons of both so that you can make an informed decision.
Living in Tennessee and Georgia
Before looking at the pros and cons of living in both states, it’s important to get a general understanding of life in the two states. As southern states, both Georgia and Tennessee benefit from southern hospitality and warm weather.
Tennessee is green, wooded, and scenic, with beautiful views from the Smoky Mountains. Although it’s landlocked, the Mississippi River runs through the eastern side of the state, offering plenty of pretty views and entertainment.
It’s also culturally rich, especially when it comes to music. Nashville and Memphis are thriving supporters of the blues, soul, country music, and rock n’ roll.
Georgia is further south and is famous for its delicious peaches. It has a stunning coastline and plenty of natural wonders, like the Okefenokee Swamp and Providence Canyon. The Peach State features the best of southern cooking and many famous museums, including the Hammonds House Museum.
Tennessee vs Georgia: Pros and Cons
Retirement is known as the golden years and the chance for you to enjoy your hard-earned money. Choosing the best location for retirement is therefore vital. Below we will compare the pros and cons of both Tennessee and Georgia to make an informed decision.
Pros of Retiring in Tennessee
Retiring in the Volunteer State comes with many advantages:
- Lowest tax burden: Tennessee offers a lower tax burden than Georgia. In Tennessee, there’s no income tax, while Georgia’s income tax rate is 5.75%. Tennessee taxes dividends and interest at 6%, but it’s still lower overall than Georgia.
- Low cost of living: The Volunteer State offers its residents cheap energy costs and inexpensive housing. The average house costs $231,600 in Tennessee, compared with the national average of $291,700. By contrast, the median home cost in Georgia is $265,000. As the second-lowest state in terms of living costs in the country, Tennessee’s cost of living is currently 12% below the national average. Georgia’s is 7%.
- Offers a rich music and arts scene. If you value a rich art and music scene, Tennessee might be your best bet. Memphis, Nashville, and Chattanooga all have a thriving music culture with plenty of year-round live music.
- Tennessee is an excellent combination of southern hospitality and midwestern friendliness. It’s the perfect option if you’re looking for a welcoming community with warm-hearted and friendly folks. The Volunteer State is just a stone’s throw from the Midwest to be influenced by its culture.
- Tennessee is less populated than Georgia. According to the United States Census Bureau, the Volunteer State is less populated than Georgia, with only 153.9 persons per square mile. In comparison, Georgia has 168.4 people per square mile. If you’re looking for a peaceful retirement “away from it all,” Tennessee is, therefore, more suitable.
Cons of Retiring in Tennessee
Although there are many benefits to retiring in Tennessee, like everything in life, it has some drawbacks:
- High crime rate: Tennessee has one of the country’s highest crime rates and has the most violent crime in the south, which is a definite drawback. According to the FBI’s 2018 Uniform Crime Reporting Program, its crime rate of 623.7 per 100,000 people is far higher than that of Georgia, 326.6 per 100,000 people. Tennessee’s most dangerous city is Memphis, and if you want to avoid crime, it’s best to retire in a small town.
- Landlocked state: Tennessee may be home to the magnificent Smoky Mountains and the meandering Mississippi River, but it lacks a coastline. If your dream is to retire near the ocean, Tennessee can’t offer this. The closest beach to Nashville, for example, is Pensacola, and this is about a seven-hour drive away.
- Tennessee has an inheritance tax. While Tennessee’s inheritance tax is limited in comparison to the rest of the country, Georgia doesn’t tax inheritance at all.
- It has a year-round tornado threat. Although Tennessee is technically not located in Tornado Alley, the state experiences more tornadoes than Georgia. West and Middle Tennessee have the most tornadoes. Since it’s a very treed state, there’s often a lot of damage when a tornado strikes.
Pros of Retiring in Georgia
The Peach State has become increasingly popular for retirement in recent years.
Here are the pros of retiring in Georgia:
- Excellent year-round weather: Georgia is the fifth warmest state in the USA, with an average annual temperature of 64°F (18°C). In Tennessee, the yearly average is only 58.8°F (15°C). Generally speaking, it is warmer than Tennessee and has mild winters with hot summers. In addition, it rarely snows in Georgia, but Tennessee experiences a little snow, especially in the mountainous areas.
- Low sales tax: Compared to Tennessee, whose sales tax is 7%, the sales tax is only 4% in Georgia. This can make a pleasing difference when buying groceries and everyday goods.
- Georgia offers more Active Adult Communities. Active Adult Communities are residential developments for the over 55s and provide a friendly, maintenance-free, and independent lifestyle. According to the Directory of Active Communities, Georgia offers around 90 such developments, while Tennessee has only 47.
- You can live near the ocean. Many folks dream of retiring near the sea, and Georgia offers a beautiful coastline. Locations such as Savannah, Tybee Island, St. Mary’s, and Darien are examples of a peaceful seaside lifestyle.
- Convenient for air travel. Atlanta is one of the world’s main hubs for air travel. If you plan on traveling internationally in your retirement, Georgia offers amazing convenience and prices if you fly out of Atlanta. Located in Tennessee, you would need to travel to an airport hub before your international flight.
Cons of Retiring in Georgia
Georgia is an attractive state in which to retire, but there are a few drawbacks:
- Georgia has higher property taxes than Tennessee. The average effective property tax is 0.87% in Georgia, while property tax in Tennessee averages at 0.64%.
- Coastal towns are prone to extreme weather events. Georgia, as a whole, has an average tornado risk, but the closer you move to the coast, the higher the risk of tropical hurricanes.
- Georgia doesn’t have a thriving cultural scene. It boasts many excellent museums, theatres, and attractions, but it doesn’t have the same thriving cultural and music scene as Tennessee.
- Georgia has a smaller retirement population. In Georgia, the population aged 65 and over is 9.6% compared to Tennessee at 16.5%. This could make meeting like-minded folks and settling into your new community more difficult.
Choosing either Tennessee or Georgia for your retirement is a very personal decision and depends on what’s most important to you.
Tennessee offers retirees a lower cost of living, a rich music scene, and the Smoky Mountains. Drawbacks include the highest crime rate in the country and living in a landlocked state.
Retiring in Georgia gives you the option of living close to the ocean, having constantly great weather, and being near an international airport hub. The disadvantages of retiring in Georgia are the higher living costs compared with Tennessee and the smaller retirement population.
- Yahoo!News: Georgia, Florida, and Tennessee rated best states for retirees
- Kiplinger: 7 States That Are Better Than Florida for Retirement
- Where You Live Matters: What is an Active Adult Community?
- Okefenokee Swamp: About
- Wikipedia: Providence Canyon State Park
- Hammonds House Museum: Visit Us
- Census.gov: United States Census Bureau
- FBI: Uniform Crime Reporting Program
- Wikipedia: Pensacola