Well, it’s the weather and the climate.
If you don’t consider the last week or so, said Gladys Frankfort.
“It’s not too hot and not too cold,” she said.
Frankfort, 84, is originally from Cumberland Maryland and moved to Florida, where she lived for 30 years. She retired at the age of 65.
“But the reason we moved to Tennessee is because my daughter moved here,” Frankfort said. “And, this area is more like our home in Cumberland. It’s got all the mountains, the trees, but is not as cold as Cumberland.”
And, as soon as Frankfort gives one reason she retired in Tennessee, she remembers another one.
“And there’s a lot to do with the [Tennessee] Aquarium and the zoo and the theaters,” she said. “And, all my people are here, including grandchildren and great-grandchildren … I’m glad I came to Tennessee. I have a great social life.”
Also, she added, Tennessee is centrally located, which for Frankfort is another good reason to live in The Volunteer State.
And, of course, there’s Tennessee’s income tax. There isn’t any.
According to the TopRetirements.com website, Southern states in general are the most popular for retirees, with Tennessee No. 1. The website recently listed its Top 10. The company based its rankings on seven criteria, including such categories as economic issues, climate and health care costs.
More specifically, the factors included: income tax, taxation of Social Security, taxation of pensions, property taxes, the cost of living, health care insurance, and climate. But other factors also affect the choice of retirement locations, such as being close to family and friends, sales tax, inheritance and estate taxes, crime, recreation, transportation, health care, education — including colleges, cultural resources, natural disasters, and just plain feeling comfortable and feeling like they fit in.
With Tennessee No. 1, the rest of the states, in order from No. 2 to No. 10, include: Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Oklahoma, Georgia and Nevada. Two other Southern states, Kentucky and South Carolina, just missed the cut as No. 11 and No. 12.
While talking about the best places to retire. Other sites also have listed the worst places to retire. No. 1 on this list is Connecticut, followed by Illinois, Rhode Island, Vermont, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Minnesota, New York, Maine and Wisconsin.
“I love retirement,” said Rosemary Laroe. She has lived in Tennessee since 1989 — first in Paris, by a lake — but in Cleveland since 2002. Her daughter lives in Hixson. She originally moved from Decatur, Ill.
“I’m 89 years old. I retired a long time ago. … But other family are now also retiring and moving to Tennessee.”
Although, living on the lake and being near family were Laroe’s two main reasons for retiring in Tennessee, she can see why others have picked the state for their retirement years as well.
“It’s the weather,” Laroe said. “Not right now, but it’s usually better than what it’s like in Illinois.”
And Aubrey Lackie agrees wholeheartedly.
“I’ll tell you what,” he said, “you can’t beat the weather. Not too hot in the summer and not too cold in the winter.”
He moved to Cleveland in 1987 from Southeastern Missouri to buy a Sonic restaurant here. He had a choice between a Sonic in Little Rock, Ark., and Cleveland, and picked Cleveland. He retired in 2004 and then also decided to stay here for his retirement.
“We own our home and we have great friends here,” he explained. Plus, he and his family were familiar with the Cleveland because of frequent trips for bowling tournaments his son was in. “And I didn’t want any part of Florida. I have been there and I didn’t like it.”
And, he added, the first thing he did when he retired was to join the Senior Activity Center. In fact, he retired on Sept. 30, 2004, and signed up at the center on Oct. 1.
“And, I’m so glad I did,” he said emphatically. “They’re the greatest people.”
And, after finishing lunch at the Senior Activity Center, they all went off to play Canasta, or puzzles or even pool.
Retirement is busy for this trio — especially here in Tennessee.