Kentucky Or Tennessee To Retire?

If you are looking forward to settling down, then you really can’t go wrong with Kentucky or Tennessee, but which one is better for retirement?

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If you are looking forward to settling down, then you really can’t go wrong with Kentucky or Tennessee, but which one is better for retirement?

If you want to retire somewhere as cheaply as possible, Kentucky is going to be a better option, but it will lack diversity and you will have to pay income tax and sales tax. Whereas Tennessee has a higher cost of living, but there are no income taxes in the state.

Whether your retirement is right around the corner or still a ways away, it is hard not to get excited about the idea of finally settling down. However, retirement seems to be getting more expensive as the years go by, which is forcing many individuals to have to put it off for another year or two to get adequate savings. This is encouraging many aspiring retirees to look at states such as Kentucky and Tennessee as great options to settle down in, as they are both fantastic locations for retirement given that they are so much more affordable than traditional hotspots. With that being said, Kentucky and Tennessee each have their own defining characteristics that make them good contenders for retirees, but you should understand what these are before committing to either option off the cuff.

After decades of living in both Kentucky and Tennessee, I have been able to properly evaluate the positive and negative attributes of these two states. My time as a resident in Kentucky and Tennessee has taught me that both of these locations are great for retirement - depending on what your peak interests and priorities are.

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Retirement: Kentucky Or Tennessee

If you have a feeling that retirement just can’t come soon enough, trust us, you are not alone. The one thing that we all look forward to after many years of hard work is the ability to finally sit back and relax - without the stress and hassles of work.

One thing that many retirees are finding challenging is that retirement seems to be getting pushed back further and further for so many people - with rent prices soaring and traditional hotspots like Florida and Hawaii becoming far too expensive. While this certainly may be the case, you should not give up hope on retiring on time (or even early) thanks to amazing places like Kentucky and Tenessee.

In recent years, we have been seeing locations like these become ever more popular selections among retirees. They are far more affordable than most places around the country and they offer a lot of amazing qualities to their residents as well.

While both Kentucky and Tennessee are great places for retirement, you will find that one will likely suit you better than the other. Before you commit to any one of these amazing locations, you should consider what kind of specific qualities you want your ideal retirement destination to have. At the end of the day, you only get to retire once, so you might as well pick the best possible place that you can! To help you understand this further, we are going to take a closer look at Kentucky and Tennessee for retirement in more detail.


If you could use some good ol’ southern hospitality in your life, Kentucky has got you covered. The Blue Grass State is a fantastic place to live out the rest of your life in comfort and solitude.

Retirees have been subtly flocking to Kentucky in droves, as it seems to have a lot of hype among people looking to settle down. This state has got something for everyone and the best thing about it is that it is very affordable - even for retirees with a modest budget. Let’s dive into some of the pros and cons of the Blue Grass State.

Low Cost Of Living

Kentucky’s best retirement feature is hands down the low cost of living. The Blue Grass State has a roughly 20% lower cost of living than the national average for the United States - with a current score of 83.6.

In fact, Kentucky is ranked as one of the most affordable places to live in the entire country, as you can buy a home for just $160,000, which is nearly half of what the national average is. This can be especially attainable for retirees coming from out of state who have a property to sell, as this will make your transition incredibly easy. So, if you want to retire and never pay rent or an expensive mortgage again in your life, Kentucky is the place to do it.

Affordable housing is by far the key feature that Kentucky has going for it, but you will also find that other costs such as groceries, utilities, and transportation are also well below the national average.


When most people think of their retirement, they imagine moving somewhere that has nice weather. While you won’t find too many palm trees and beaches in Kentucky, you will certainly be graced with a pleasant climate.

The Blue Grass State does get pretty chilly during the winter but aside from that, the climate is pretty mild and stable.

You can expect the summers to be pretty scorching (so be sure to have your air conditioner working), but other than that fall and spring are lovely times of year in Kentucky.

Outdoor Recreation & Entertainment

One thing that a lot of people do not realize when they pass through Kentucky is that the state has some great natural landscapes and parks. If you like to explore the great outdoors, you will love visiting Kentucky’s:

  • Mammoth Cave National Park
  • Cumberland Gap National Historic Park

In addition, you can enjoy plenty of entertainment when living in the Blue Grass State. There is some decent nightlife and fun activities going on in urban areas such as Louisville. And if you love horse races, then you will certainly have a great time at the Kentucky Derby.

Income/Sales Tax & Cultural Diversity

While there are so many great things about retiring in Kentucky, you should know that this state does have a relatively high income tax.

If you are not planning on working and having an income in the state, then you should not be overly concerned about this drawback. However, if you still plan on keeping your nose to the grindstone after officially retiring, you should keep this in mind.

Another drawback of retiring in Kentucky is that you will have to pay a sales tax on goods and services. This can be a real drag to a lot of retirees that are moving to Kentucky from a state that did not have a sales tax, as this can certainly add up when you calculate your annual expenses.

Lastly, Kentucky can lack some cultural diversity. If you are used to having diversity be present in your life, Kentucky can become a little one-sided. You will meet plenty of lovely folk around just about everywhere you go, but nonetheless, this is another factor to keep in mind.


In recent years, there has been a huge spike in the number of retirees moving over to Tennessee - and for good reason! There is plenty to do in this great state and you can do it without breaking the bank.

Tennessee has got some amazing people, rich natural landscapes, and it has a lot of cultural identities. In fact, it is the birthplace of country music. So, if you are a fan, you are going to feel right at home in no time. Let’s break down the pros and cons of Tennessee.

No Income Taxes

If there is one thing that retirees love about moving to Tennessee, it’s that you do not have to pay income taxes.

If you are retired for good and do not plan on working again, then this may not be the most appealing feature to you. However, many retirees still like to have a source of additional income - either for financial security or simply because they love their job. Whatever the reason, you can enjoy keeping Uncle Sam out of your paycheck in Tennessee.

This is particularly nice for retirees that are moving from states that usually do have income taxes, as this factor alone can be more than enough reason to settle down here.

Outdoordoor Recreation & Entertainment

It’s easy to forget that Tennessee is actually one of the outdoor capitals of the United States. While most people commonly associate our nation’s natural hotspots with places such as Yellowstone and Yosemite National Park, the most visited national park in the entire country is right here in Tennessee - Great Smokey Mountain National Park.

In addition, Tennessee also has just under 4,000 caves for you to explore. So, if you are into spelunking and escaping into nature, this is a great place to do it.

However, if you like to spend more of your time in the city to enjoy some nightlife and socialization, no problem! Tennessee’s capital city, Nashville, is widely considered to be one of the live music capitals of the world, which is why it is often referred to as ‘Music City’.

Many retirees still enjoy getting out and about to have a good night on the town and there are few places better for it than Nashville.


Tennessee has got a very pleasant climate, which can best be described as mild and balanced.

The climate is technically considered to be subtropical - with a moderate amount of humidity. However, you can expect it to cool down a fair bit during the winter. Although the temperature will stay comfortable even during the coldest times of the year.

Summers on the other hand can be quite hot. During the peak of summer, the average temperature will increase dramatically and will be around 90 degrees Fahrenheit. It is during this time of year that the humidity levels tend to go up quite a bit as well.

With that being said, Tennessee also has a nice representation of all four seasons. The winters will be chilly, the springtime is lovely, summers are hot, and autumn stays cool - but not too cold.

Reasonable Cost Of Living

In comparison to Kentucky, Tennessee really can’t compete as far as the cost of living goes.

However, that is not to say that the cost of living in this state is by any means bad. The overall cost of living for Tennessee is still well below the national average, as it received a score of 87.6, which makes it still over 12% less.

One of the best aspects of living in this state is that you can buy a home for an average cost of $231,000. While this is still considerably more than what you would pay in Kentucky, you will still be paying at least $60,000 below the national average cost for a home.

Other living costs such as groceries, utilities, and transportation will more or less hover just below the national average. So, you can expect the cost of living to be very balanced overall.

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