Charlotte vs Nashville: Which Is Better for Your Retirement?

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A side-by-side image of Charlotte, North Carolina and Nashville, Tennessee.

13 minute read

What You’ll Gain From Reading This Article: Readers will gain valuable insights into geography, population, climate, cost of living, culture, entertainment, health care, education, and available 55+ communities in Charlotte, North Carolina and Nashville, Tennessee.


Year after year, the southern states attract retirees seeking milder weather, laid-back lifestyles, and the warmth of southern hospitality. Two of the largest Southeastern cities are Nashville, Tennessee and Charlotte, North Carolina. While these cities share pleasant climates, big-city entertainment, and historic charm, each offers unique features.

In Nashville, the world-renowned Music City, active adults can enjoy nightlife, concerts, live events, and festivals. Charlotte also offers plenty to see and do with a more affordable living cost. When comparing a retirement in Charlotte vs Nashville, active adults should think beyond climate, location, and cost of living and into the type of lifestyle they want to live.

Take a closer look at Charlotte vs Nashville to help you decide which city best meets your needs.

The skyline and First Ward Park Fountain in Charlotte, North Carolina.

Both Nashville and Charlotte are located in the Southeastern United States. Contrary to popular belief, neither city is technically located in the “Deep South.” But with Nashville in Middle Tennessee and Charlotte in Central North Carolina, these cities are just over 400 miles apart.

Although Nashville spans 526 square miles, nearly double the 312 square miles of Charlotte, the North Carolina destination has a much larger population. According to the United States Census Bureau, Charlotte has approximately 875,000 residents compared to Nashville’s 689,000.

Both cities are surrounded by other metropolitan areas and suburbs. For Nashville, nearby towns include Franklin, Mt. Juliet, Murfreesboro, Goodlettsville, and Hermitage. Charlotte neighbors smaller cities such as Gastonia, Mooresville, Concord, and Wesley Chapel.

A major river runs adjacent to each city, with the Cumberland River in Nashville and the Catawba River in Charlotte. Thanks to its location near the Appalachian Mountains, Charlotte shares in the region’s hills and abundance of parks and nature.

Charlotte is also much closer to the ocean, about 3.5 hours from the Atlantic Coast. Nashville has its fair share of rolling hills, despite its lack of proximity to mountains. Residents of both areas can enjoy lush forests and ample wildlife.

The downtown cityscape at dusk in Nashville, Tennessee.

Even though these cities are more than 400 miles apart, their similar latitudes on the map lead to similar climates. Both Charlotte and Nashville experience all four seasons with mild winters and minimal snowfall. The four-season weather allows active adults to participate in outdoor activities throughout the year.

According to WeatherSpark, the average high and average low temperatures in the warmer months are identical for both cities. Average highs hit 89 degrees and lows fall to 71 degrees in the summer. The average temperatures in the colder months vary slightly. Nashville has an average low of 32 degrees, and Charlotte has an average low of 34 degrees.

Residents of both cities can expect hot and humid summers, surrounded by weeks of pleasant, milder weather. The warm weather lends itself to outdoor recreation, such as exploring the Little Sugar Creek Greenway in Charlotte or spending a day on J. Percy Priest Lake in Nashville. Boating, fishing, and kayaking are popular outdoor activities in each state, along with walking and biking along trails and greenways.

Although winters can reach below-freezing temperatures in both cities, each location is far enough south to avoid the harsh snowstorms of the north. Nashville only receives an average of 1.7 inches of snow each year. Charlotte typically only receives 2.8 inches.

Since both cities have top-of-the-line international airports, active adults can travel to tropical weather at their leisure. Residents of Charlotte can also drive to the Atlantic Coast within 3.5 hours. Whereas, it’s an eight-hour drive to the Gulf Coast for Nashville residents.

View of the Light Rail and Downtown Charlotte in North Carolina.

When debating Charlotte vs Nashville in the cost of living department, both cities have seen an increase in recent years. As the real estate market has exploded, Nashville has seen the most drastic increase. The median sale price of a home in a 55+ community in the Nashville area is about $510,000. Charlotte’s median sale price of a home in a 55+ community is about $495,000.

While the cost of living is similar in both cities, Nashville tends to see higher expenses than Charlotte. Nashville’s cost of living is 4.7% higher than the national average. Charlotte’s cost of living is 2.5% higher than the national average, according to BestPlaces.

Housing, grocery, utility, and transportation costs are generally slightly higher in Nashville than in Charlotte. Active adults on a budget need to consider these general expenses to determine which city balances affordability with their ideal lifestyle.

Each state also has different tax rates to consider. Tennessee has no state income tax, which reduces tax burdens for retirees. However, Tennessee does have a base state sales tax rate of 7%, which increases to 9.25% in Nashville.

The sales tax in Charlotte is 7.25%, an increase from the base state sales tax rate of 4.75% in North Carolina. Retirees should also know that North Carolina applies a state income tax of 4.75%. However, retired residents of both TN and NC can seek additional tax breaks with the guidance of a trusted financial advisor.

Closeup on a guitar player in a country band.

What To Do in Nashville

Nashville carries the proud titles of both Music City and the Country Music Capital of the World. Broadway Street and the surrounding downtown area is packed with bars, restaurants, and performance venues that showcase live music every day. It’s a world-class nightlife scene.

While country music is prominent in Nashville, the city is home to many more genres of music playing at the dozens of venues that call Nashville home. Some of the most well-known theaters in Nashville include the Ryman Auditorium and the Grand Ole Opry.

The timeless Grand Ole Opry Theater is located next to the Opry Mills Mall, a massive shopping complex that could easily take a whole day to explore. Additional shopping in the area includes the upscale Green Hills Mall as well as downtown shopping districts like The Gulch. Popular attractions in Nashville include the Frist Art Museum, the Parthenon, the Country Music Hall of Fame, and the Nashville Zoo at Grassmere.

Nashville also contains many sizable greenspaces and parks for residents looking to get outside. Explore Percy Warner Park, Shelby Bottoms Nature Center & Greenway, and nearby J. Percy Priest Lake for aquatic fun.

What To Do in Charlotte

Charlotte is nicknamed the Queen City because it was named after Queen Charlotte, the wife of the English King George III. Founded in 1768, Charlotte is an old city full of history. The city’s storied past can be explored in nearby museums, including The Charlotte Museum of History and the Levine Museum of the New South. More modern installations can be found in institutions like the Bechtler Museum of Modern Art, the NASCAR Hall of Fame, and the Mint Museum Uptown.

Several stadiums and sports venues call Charlotte home, like Bank of America Stadium (home of the NFL’s Carolina Panthers) and Truist Field (home of minor league baseball’s Charlotte Knights). Like Nashville, Charlotte also contains multiple performing arts theaters and musical venues, such as the Carolina Theatre, the Belk Theater at Blumenthal Performing Arts Center, and the Neighborhood Theatre.

Many parks and greenspaces dot the city, and the nearby Catawba River, Mountain Island Lake, and Lake Norman offer easy outdoor getaways throughout the year. Within 90 minutes, residents can also escape to the nearby Appalachian Mountains and its scenic hiking trails. For locals looking to find entertainment indoors, there are several hip shopping centers in the heart of Downtown Charlotte, like Epicentre, Atherton Mill, and SouthPark Mall.

Sign for Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville, Tennessee.
Image provided via Joseph Hendrickson / Shutterstock.com

When considering Charlotte vs Nashville, residents can expect highly reviewed hospitals and medical centers that offer a wide range of services.

Nashville is home to TriStar Centennial Medical Center, Ascension St. Thomas Hospital, and the award-winning Vanderbilt University Medical Center. Vanderbilt also includes the Ingram Cancer Center for world-class cancer treatments and care.

In Charlotte, top options for health care include Novant Health Presbytarian Medical Center and Atrium Health Carolinas Medical Center, voted the best hospital in the region by U.S. News & World Report. Atrium Health Levine Center Institute is one of many cancer treatment centers in the city.

There’s also an assortment of large colleges in both cities, Nashville has Belmont University, Vanderbilt University, and Lipscomb University. Charlotte has the University of North Carolina, Queens University, and Johnson C. Smith University.

Cresswind Charlotte

Mid $400ks – High $600ks

Exterior view of the clubhouse at Cresswind Charlotte in Charlotte, North Carolina.

Cresswind Charlotte, which sits on 370 scenic acres of North Carolina woodlands, offers active adults a quiet retreat from the city just 30 minutes east of Downtown Charlotte. The 55+ community, which began construction in 2016, will consist of 850 single-family homes in total. Cresswind Charlotte boasts a resort-style lifestyle and world-class amenities, such as an 18,000-square-foot clubhouse and a social calendar coordinated by a full-time lifestyle activities director.

The Vineyards on Lake Wylie

Low $400ks – Mid $1Ms

The docks and the walkway at The Vineyards on Lake Wylie, a 55+ community in Charlotte, North Carolina.

Located just 15 minutes from Downtown Charlotte, The Vineyards on Lake Wylie also impresses as one of the largest lakefront communities within reach of the city, with 430 single-family and attached homes. Residents can take full advantage of the lakefront lifestyle with abundant amenities, such as the community’s docks on Lake Wylie. Designed for first-floor living, the floor plans boast desirable features like open-concept layouts.

Sun City Carolina Lakes

High $300ks – Low $1Ms

Exterior view of the clubhouse at Sun City Carolina Lakes in Indian Land, South Carolina.

With 3,160 single-family and attached homes, Sun City Carolina Lakes is the largest 55+ community in the Fort Mills-Charlotte area, just 25 miles south of Charlotte. The resort-style Del Webb community offers a low-maintenance lifestyle, world-class amenities, sought-after floor plans, and a full social calendar with more than 150 clubs, organizations, and activities.

Trilogy Lake Norman

Mid $500ks – Low $1Ms

A water feature beside the community sign for Trilogy Lake Norman in Denver, North Carolina.

Trilogy Lake Norman includes 1,100 single-family homes and a non-stop calendar of events and activities thanks to a full-time lifestyle director. Residents find themselves within a 30-minute drive of downtown Charlotte, so they can easily visit the city. There are many floor plans across multiple home collections, ensuring interested homebuyers can find the right home at Trilogy Lake Norman.

Del Webb Lake Providence

Low $400ks – High $800ks

A garden pathway on the grounds of Del Webb Lake Providence in Mt. Juliet, Tennessee.

Del Webb Lake Providence in Mt. Juliet offers thoughtfully designed homes and low-maintenance lifestyles, all within 20 minutes of Downtown Nashville. The gated 55+ community consists of 1,029 single-family and attached homes and enjoys a location adjacent to a 15-acre lake. Residents enjoy dozens of clubs and activities as well as resort-style amenities such as a 24,000-square-foot clubhouse, a state-of-the-art fitness center, and 5 miles of scenic walking and biking trails.

StoneBridge

Low $300ks – Low $500ks

A water feature in front of a community building at StoneBridge in Lebanon, Tennessee.

Just 20 miles east of Nashville in Lebanon, StoneBridge is an active lifestyle community with 800 single-family and attached homes. Homeowners enjoy a low-maintenance lifestyle thanks to a homeowners’ association (HOA) that covers exterior home maintenance and lawn care. Amenities at StoneBridge include a clubhouse and an outdoor pool with a whirlpool spa.

The Preserve at Belle Pointe

High $300ks – High $400ks

A sketch of The Preserve at Belle Pointe in Lebanon, Tennessee.

The Preserve at Belle Pointe is an up-and-coming 55+ community just 35 minutes outside Nashville. Construction began in 2021, and the community plans to offer active adults the opportunity to own one of 1,000 brand-new single-family or attached homes. The Preserve at Belle Pointe will feature sought-after amenities like a clubhouse, a fitness center, and a resort-style pool.

Parkhaven

Low $500ks – High $600ks

The community sign for Parkhaven in Hermitage, Tennessee.

The exclusive 55+ community of Parkhaven began construction in 2020 and will consist of 110 single-family homes upon completion. Residents of Parkhaven will enjoy a low-maintenance lifestyle and amenities to keep homeowners entertained when they’re not out exploring Nashville. Active adults searching for a brand-new home in a smaller, quieter neighborhood within 20 minutes of the heart of Nashville will find plenty of opportunities at Parkhaven.

When weighing Charlotte vs Nashville, it ultimately boils down to individual preferences. One effective way to decide is to tour some of the 55+ communities in each city to gauge which resonates with you the most. Many individuals find a sense of belonging in certain locales, making it worthwhile to experience the ambiance of each city firsthand.

At 55places, our extensive network of seasoned real estate professionals spans the nation, specializing in 55+ communities. We’re dedicated to assisting you in discovering your ideal home as you embark on this new chapter of life. Reach out to us today, and we’ll connect you with a local real estate agent who can guide you to the perfect community in your chosen city!

Discover what’s next.

To learn more information or connect with a real estate expert, contact us today.

Can you spot the $207,744 difference between these identical homes?

Financing is the difference!

Get the details in The 62+ Loan Homebuyers Guide.

55places Mortgage is a joint venture between Mutual of Omaha Mortgage and 55places.com.
Details here.

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A side-by-side image of Charlotte, North Carolina and Nashville, Tennessee.

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About 55places

We’re changing the way people 55 and older are searching for their perfect next place. With a national network of hand-selected real estate experts, plus comprehensive information, unbiased content, and on-the-go insight about thousands of communities across the country, we’re a trusted resource paving the way from here to home. Whether you’re interested in a low-maintenance single-level residence, an active lifestyle or age-qualified community, an intimate enclave, or anything in between, we can help you make your next move the best one yet.

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