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retirement

Why Chattanooga, Tenn., Is a Great Place to Retire

Tennessee's fourth largest city is in the midst of a massive revival.

Population: 173,778

Nearby large cities: Atlanta; Nashville

What $300,000 will buy: 2-bedroom, 2-bath downtown condo with views of the Ten­nessee River

Berke says the number of people who live downtown has doubled since he took office in 2013. Many of those newcomers include retirees who want to live in a walkable city that also offers lots of outdoor recreation. There are more than 50 trailheads within a half hour of downtown, says Shelda Rees, of the Chat­tanooga Convention and Visitors Bureau. “You can be on a hiking trail and in 15 minutes be in a five-star restaurant.”

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Tennessee has no income tax or estate tax and is phasing out its tax on dividends. Be prepared to pay steep sales taxes, though: The combined state and county rate is 9.25%.

The median home price in downtown Chattanooga is about $212,000, according to the Greater Chattanooga Board of Realtors. Close-in neighborhoods that are popular with retirees include the Southside historic district, a haven for artists and trendy restaurants, and the Northshore, home to two large city parks and a wide selection of restored single-family bungalows. Homes in Signal Mountain, a nearby suburban com­munity that overlooks Chattanooga, are available for $300,000 and up. The median property tax in Hamilton County, where Chattanooga is located, is $1,408.

 

Health care is available through the Erlanger Health System, which has five hospitals based in Chattanooga. Other local hospitals include CHI Memorial and Parkridge Medical Center, near downtown.

Atlanta is an hour and a half away, so you’re not far from Emory University’s extensive health care system and Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport. (Chattanooga’s Metropolitan Airport provides nonstop service to Atlanta and eight other cities.) Retirees can also find plenty of specialists at the Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville, which is about two hours away. While you’re there, you can visit the Grand Ole Opry, although you can find plenty of great entertainment—country or otherwise—without leaving home.

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