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Should our county join the Retire Tennessee program?

Staff Report • Jul 15, 2013 at 10:09 AM

Officials with the state Department of Economic and Community Development announced last week that two more counties joined Retire Tennessee, a program that attempts to lure retirees to the state.ECD Commissioner Bill Hagerty said Hamblen and Rhea counties are the latest to join. There are now 16 of the state’s 95 counties participating in the program. Other Retire Tennessee communities include Cumberland, Franklin, Hamilton, Hardin, Henry, Jefferson, Loudon, Maury, Putnam, Roane, Robertson, Warren and White counties.Sullivan County is the only community in Northeast Tennessee to participate in the program. According to the state’s website, the Retire Tennessee program “promotes Tennessee as a great place for retirees to call home.” Hagerty told the Associated Press that Tennessee has the lowest cost of living in the Southeast and second-lowest in the nation. He said low property taxes and a strong health care system make the state a desirable location for retired people.Earlier this year, a report released by Bankrate found Tennessee topping its list of the 10 most retiree-friendly states, which equally weighted cost of living, taxes, access to health care, crime rates and climate.Florida did not crack the top 10, despite having warm weather and affordable state and local taxes. Researchers say Florida’s high cost of living and crime rate dropped the Sunshine State to 19th place.Meanwhile, Tennessee boasts the second-lowest cost of living in the country. Chris Kahn, an analyst for Bankrate, says Tennessee’s low tax burden and adequate access to medical care makes it ideal for retirees living on fixed incomes. The only drawback, Kahn says, is Tennessee has one of the country’s highest crime rates.We want to hear from you. Should Washington County join the state’s Retire Tennessee program? Send your comments to Mailbag, P.O. Box 1717, Johnson City, TN 37605-1717, or mailbag@johnsoncitypress.com.Please include your name, telephone number and address for verification. We will print your responses on the Opinion pages in the coming weeks.

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