Downtown Cookeville, viewed from Dogwood Park

7 Best Small Towns to Retire in Tennessee in 2024

Tennessee is a landlocked state nestled in the Southeastern region of the United States. It is an ideal state for retirees, home to a unique mix of vibrant music, affordable amenities, scenic mountain views, and a rich heritage. The state hosts various small towns where seniors can enjoy their golden years without the hustle and bustle of urban cities. Whether this is through the riveting tales of Gallatin or the distilleries in Cookeville, each small town has something retirees will adore. Thus, they are Tennessee’s best small towns to retire in 2024.


Overlooking Cookeville, Tennessee
Overlooking Cookeville, Tennessee

As the county seat of Putnam County, Cookeville is a blend of big-city charm with a small-town pace. Retirees here can stay connected with many urban amenities and attractions that make life entertaining. For example, seniors interested in staying active adore the Cummins Falls State Park and Burgess Falls State Park. These parks boast a combined area of over 600 acres with beautiful waterfalls reaching up to 250 feet in elevation, creating the perfect environment for a daily walk.

Retirees looking for a more timid experience can stay in town for the array of cultural and entertainment options abound. For a lesson in history, the Cookeville Depot Museum is the place to be, with exhibits retelling the town’s past. Or, opt for the Cookeville Antique Mall to take a bit of the past home. No matter how one spends the day, the evenings in Cookeville are reserved for the amazing drinking spots. Namely, the Tennessee Legend Distillery and Red Silo Brewing Company offer delicious spirits and a great ambiance for a fun day every day.

Amenities in Cookeville are also abundant, and one will find everything they need within the town’s boundaries. The Cookeville Regional Medical Center provides healthcare services for locals. The town is also well connected via many roadways like the I-40 and SR 111, making traveling easy. Even with all these benefits, Cookeville remains affordable, with a median housing value of $305,000, $15,000 less than the state average.


Buildings along South Main Street (U.S. Route 127) in Crossville, Tennessee. The Palace Theater is on the left
Buildings along South Main Street (U.S. Route 127) in Crossville, Tennessee. The Palace Theater is on the left, By Brian Stansberry - Own work, CC BY 4.0, Wikimedia Commons

Crossville is the county seat of Cumberland County and a fantastic place to settle down. The town of 12,000 is known for its Southern charm and rustic ambiance, palpable through every street. Retirees adore cultural destinations like the Cumberland County Playhouse and Military Memorial Museum, offering everything from stunning performances to historic exhibits. Meanwhile, those interested in the outdoors can head to the Cumberland Mountain State Park. The park features 1,700 acres of pristine wilderness, ideal for camping, hiking, and even golf. End the day with drinks and conversations at Stonehaus Winery; seniors will always enjoy their time in Crossvile.

Those who settle down in Crossville rejoice at various medical facilities, such as the Cumberland Medical Center and Cumberland County Hospital. There is also the Fair Park Senior Center, which hosts regular senior events, activities, and classes that keep the community involved. Even with so much to see and do, Crossville is one of the most affordable towns on this list, with a median housing price of less than $300,000


The historic downtown of Germantown, Tennessee.
The historic downtown of Germantown, Tennessee. Image credit: Thomas R Machnitzki, via Wikimedia Commons.

As the name suggests, Germantown is a suburb established by German emigrants and still flows with history today. The town offers a glimpse into Tennessee’s past through historical landmarks and cultural performances. Those interested can head to Old Germantown near the historic railroad depot. Whether it is the 1868 depot or the 1851 John Gray House, there are plenty of places to delve into the past here. Meanwhile, for a more artistic experience, opt for a show at the Germantown Performing Arts Center or Tennessee Shakespeare Company, which boasts intimate performances of all kinds. While these sites are available year-round, the town comes to life for Oktoberfest, a German celebration in October full of games, music, and drinks.

As a suburb of Memphis, Germantown offers easy access to world-class amenities and services. For example, St. Francis Hospital - Memphis provides healthcare services so seniors can rest easily. The town also has various retirement communities, such as Brookdale and The Village at Germantown, providing a great social circle and care for seniors. These societies are preferred by many retirees as Germantown has a slightly expensive median home value of $495,000


Gallatin, Tennessee: City square fire department
Gallatin, Tennessee: City square fire department, via Carla Sloke /

Another historic destination, Gallatin, is wonderful for retirees to settle down in 2024. The town’s past stems from its establishment in 1802 as the seat of Sumner County. Retirees can delve into this era with a tour of the Rose Mont or Douglass-Clark House. The former is a Greek Revival-style house from 1842, while the latter served as one of the earliest courthouses in the state. If not interested in a tour, one can opt for the Sumner County Museum instead, which boasts 10,000 square feet of exhibit space showcasing everything from prehistoric fossils to homestead life.

While Gallatin’s past may be its selling point, the town is also an abode for outdoor enthusiasts. The Bledsoe Creek State Park is a great example of this, featuring 160 acres of pristine wilderness to explore. Whether this is hiking along the various trails or camping in one of 50 campsites, retirees can have a blast under the sun. Moreover, as more than 17% of Gallatin’s population is over the age of 65, there is always someone like-minded to spend time with.


Sign for the Smoky Mountain Harley Davidson located on the Tail of the Dragon trail in the Appalachian Mountains of Maryville, Tennessee
Sign for the Smoky Mountain Harley Davidson located on the Tail of the Dragon trail in the Appalachian Mountains of Maryville, Tennessee. Editorial credit: ehrlif /

Maryville is another destination where retirees can get away from the urban hustle and bustle while still having access to the benefits. As the county seat of Blount County, the town is home to state-of-the-art services in all fields. Healthcare, for example, is covered by the large Blount Memorial Hospital, which boasts an advanced emergency room with trained staff. Similarly, the town has an athletic center, storage area, and plenty of grocery stores, such as Food City, to cover all day-to-day needs. Moreover, Parkview Senior Living and MorningView Village are ideal for accommodation, emergency care, daily meals, and wellness activities. Thanks to these benefits, senior citizens make up more than 18% of the local population, so retirees will feel at home.

While the communities may feel laid-back, Maryville itself is a hub of youthful energy, perfect for a vibrant retirement. The local Maryville College brings in tons of students, so eateries, bars, and events are commonplace. Seniors who want to join the fun can stop by popular spots like Mr. Gatti’s Pizza and Bluetick Tavern for a fun evening of food and drinks. Or, they can attend one of the many events in town, such as the the Smoky Mountain Nationals in May or the weekly Battleship Bingo.


Buildings along the courthouse square in Waynesboro, Tennessee
Buildings along the courthouse square in Waynesboro, Tennessee, By Brian Stansberry - Own work, CC BY 4.0, Wikimedia Commons

Waynesboro beckons retirees from all over the state with its affordable environment and outdoor scenery. The town rests along the Green River, boasting plenty of outdoor parks and areas. Thus, seniors can head out to one of many spots, such as the Eagle Creek Wildlife Management Area, Bonnie Blue Farm, or Crazy Horse Recreational Park. The Eagle Creek WMA is among the most popular, boasting 22,000 acres for hiking, camping, and hunting small game. Those not into hunting can opt for the Crazy Horse Recreational Park, a treasure trove of outdoor enjoyment. Visitors can choose from camping under the stars, renting out a log cabin for a weekend stay, or canoeing in the Buffalo River to take in the verdant surroundings.

Back in town, the community of 2,500 is always ready to welcome people with a smile. To this end, retirees will surely enjoy their days, even if it is a quick run to the local Dollar General for some home supplies. In addition, Waynesboro retirees can stay healthy thanks to the Wayne Medical Center for medical concerns and the Waynesboro Sportsplex with plenty of sporting classes and activities. The town also has an affordable median housing value of $161,000, which is half the state average.


Fall landscape at Bays Mountain Lake in Kingsport, Tennessee.
Fall landscape at Bays Mountain Lake in Kingsport, Tennessee.

Kingsport, home to 55,000 residents, is a haven for retirees. Resting along the Holston River, it is part of the Tri-Cities region of Tennessee and Virginia, with no shortage of creature comforts. Seniors interested in sports or swimming can enjoy a safe experience at the Kingsport Aquatic Center. This facility boasts a year-round indoor heated pool and outdoor park, which is a blast even if you are alone. Similarly, for a fun evening out in town, one can visit the Marquee Cinemas or Warpath Bowling Lanes. From bowling with friends to watching a movie, there is no end to the possibilities.

Ode to its array of activities, Kingsport has become a hub for senior citizens, and nearly 25% of locals fall in this category. Amenities also follow, and the town has two hospitals as well as 120 sworn police officers, ensuring a safe and secure environment. Along with this, retirees in Kingsport can buy their dream home, as the median housing value is a reasonable $240,000

Whether looking to get away from the world in Tennessee’s mountains or enjoy urban amenities in a small community, these towns have it all. Natural sights, cultural attractions, and historic landmarks all come together to create an environment that always has something new to offer. Moreover, many towns boast advanced healthcare, easy transportation, and affordable housing for a comfortable retirement in The Volunteer State.

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