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Active adults discover East Tennessee to be one of the best places to retire

In East Tennessee near Knoxville and the foothills of the Great Smoky Mountains, retirees can choose from a number of waterfront or golf course resort communities. Although most of these are not designed exclusively for retirees, a significant portion of buyers are, in fact, retired and relocating to the area from Michigan, Ohio and other mid-western and eastern states. Also, Floridians, many of whom first discovered the mountains and lakes of East Tennessee while vacationing here, are now returning in search of their retirement destination.

In response to this trend, several attractive and affordable new retirement communities are now under construction, designed exclusively for active adults who find this unique area, with its abundance of beautiful lakes and soaring mountains, a great place to live.  Retirees, who in the past might have overlooked Tennessee as a retirement destination, are discovering new 55+ neighborhoods springing up in several cities. 

For example, in Johnson City, in the Tri-Cities region of upper East Tennessee, Princeton Gardens is being built with a collection of Craftsmen style cottages, complemented by a package of amenities tailored for active retirees. And just down the Interstate, in the Knoxville area, the Gateway to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, several new active adult communities are taking shape, with perhaps the most striking being Centennial Bluff in nearby Oak Ridge. Upon completion, this will be a 400 unit complex overlooking beautiful Melton Hill Lake and Centennial Golf Club. Just recently completed and ready for use is a luxurious new sprawling Club House, which will serve as the social and entertainment hub for Centennial Bluff's owners.

Retirees who are considering Chattanooga as their best place to retire, in addition to having a wealth of artistic and entertainment facilities available to them, can explore several nearby lakes and waterways and will find several residential communities from which to choose, including Greenbriar Cove, a new active adult neighborhood situated on a picturesque 100-acre campus with walking trails, several ponds and seventeen acres of wooded nature preserves.

Communities such as these are indicative of the growing popularity of the area as a place to retire as well as recognition of the trend by developers who sense the relative absence of communities for active retirees that has heretofore existed in East Tennessee.  Bruce Matzel, a Pennsylvania developer who selected Oak Ridge as the site for his first retirement lifestyle community in the Southeast, noted that the factors contributing to his decision to locate Centennial Bluff in Oak Ridge are the same as those that make East Tennessee a growing favorite among active adults.  Specifically, he refers to such things as a lower than national average cost of living rate, the absence of a state  income taxes, strong continuing education programs, highly ranked health facilities, employment opportunity and its friendly "down home" attitude that he finds so pervasive in and around Knoxville.

These sentiments are echoed by Loy Johnson, who owns a local real estate firm in nearby Norris, a small village of 1,400 residents just a short drive from Norris Lake and downtown Knoxville.  She notes that, in the past few years, she has seen an increased influx of retirees moving into the area from such states as Pennsylvania, Ohio and Michigan, who have, in many cases, first come as vacationers drawn by the lure of the scenic attractions such as the Smoky Mountains and the many lakes which sprinkle the region.  While this picturesque cottage community does not have a development built exclusively for retirees, there are a number of smaller, more affordable homes and condos, and the absence of traffic and congestion adds to the feeling of safety and security that is a major plus for senior buyers.

In Chattanooga, government officials, including the Chamber of Commerce, have acknowledged the increased financial importance of retirees to the local economy and are quick to point out that several national magazines have cited their city as one of the best places to retire in the U.S.  To capitalize on this fact, they have undertaken a concerted effort to publicize the benefits of retiring here.  In a recent interview, Janell Liles, the Sales Director for Greenbriar Cove, a new retirement community in the suburb of Collegedale, pointed out the emergence of Chattanooga as a retirement destination has been a major influence in the success of attracting new residents from out of state.  According to her, at least half of the sales to date at Greenbriar Cove have been to retirees moving to Chattanooga from such states as Florida and Michigan, who find the moderate climate a pleasant change from the torrid summers and harsh winters of their previous locales.

At Princeton Gardens, a new community for active adults over 55 years old in Johnson City, a university town in Upper East Tennessee, the developers are optimistic that the presence of East Tennessee State University, combined with an excellent hospital system, including the largest VA hospital in the State, and proximity to several lakes and other outdoor attractions will serve to attract retirees in search of their best place to retire.

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