Knoxville or Nashville: which Tennessee city is right for you?

Nashville and Knoxville, two of Tennessee’s major cities, are completely different when it comes to livability. While Knoxville is home to the University of Tennessee’s main campus, this town of more than 186,000 is smaller and considered a college town. Nashville, Tennessee’s capital, is much larger, with a population at almost 700,000 residents. It’s known for its strong state government community and thriving music industry where you’re likely to encounter celebrities at one of the many music venues in the city. Though Knoxville has great shopping and entertainment options, it’s a bit more lowkey than Nashville, where there seems to be something to do all hours of the day.

If you’re thinking about moving to Tennessee and trying to decide between Nashville or Knoxville, think of it like this: If you’re a music fan looking for a city with a vibrant nightlife, plenty of culture and history, plenty of shopping and entertainment, Nashville is the city for you.

If you’re looking for a smaller city with a strong sense of community yet still a place where there are shopping and entertainment options, along with continuing education options, and you love college football, then Knoxville is most likely a better fit.

As far as active adult communities, the Knoxville area has six communities, where Nashville has 15. To help you with your decision, we’ve picked three from each city to highlight.


Fairfield Glade - Crossville

Below $100k - High $900s

This master-planned community is on 12,000 acres in Crossville, about an hour from Knoxville. While Fairfield Glade has no explicit age-restriction, this sought-after community earned the prestigious 2015 Seal of Approval from the American Association of Retirement Communities. This community has around 7,000 condos, attached home, and single-family options.

Since this community is so large, residents here have access to multiple amenity centers, the largest of which is the Fairfield Glade Community Center. There is a fully equipped art studio, library, and catering kitchen. To stay in shape, the community center is also home to a fitness center as well as a gymnasium. Residents can even work up a sweat in their very own indoor basketball and tennis courts. There are also five championship golf courses, 11 fishing lakes, a mall, a medical center, and an equestrian facility.

Rarity Bay - Vonore

Low $100s - Mid 3Ms

Less than an hour away from Knoxville in Vonore, Tennessee is Rarity Bay, a community with 1,600 condos and single-family homes  Located on a 960-acre peninsula with views of the Smoky Mountains, community puts a new meaning to country club living with access to a 15,650-acre lake, world-class amenities, and a championship golf course.

The amenities offered within the gates of Rarity Bay are some of the best in the area. While many of these require memberships, the activity center is open to all residents and offers a comfortable atmosphere with plenty of tables and chairs for meetings and card games. There's also a golf course, fitness center, and a swimming and tennis club. Tellico Lake offers more than a picturesque lakeside backdrop with fishing, boating, sailing, and more water-related activities throughout the year.


The Cloister at St. Henry - Nashville

Low $200s - Mid $200s

The Cloister at St. Henry is a 55+ community that features 240 single-level duplex homes that are offered on a resale basis. These homes offer two or three bedrooms, two or three bathrooms, and an attached garage. Larger units with three bedrooms include a two-car garage while homes with two bedrooms include a one-car garage. These homes range from approximately 1,250 to 1,400 square feet in size. 

At the heart of The Cloister at St. Henry is a community clubhouse where residents come together year-round for social and recreational events. Inside the clubhouse, the meeting room, kitchen, and dance area are favorite places for residents to gather for parties. Residents can relax with a book in the library or join a game in the card room. Getting in touch with nature is easy for residents because amenities continue outdoors with a walking trail and sidewalks. The heated outdoor pool is the perfect place to swim laps or socialize with neighbors poolside.

Del Webb Lake Providence - Mt. Juliet

Mid $200s - High $500s

This gated community 17 miles outside of Nashville offers a resort lifestyle with 1,029 attached and single-family homes centered around a large clubhouse overlooking a 15-acre lake. Del Webb homes feature nine-foot ceilings, oak cabinets, GE appliances, and a two-car garage. Many of the homes include some of the latest sought-after design features that include open floor plans, upgraded kitchens, and ample outdoor living space.

The heart of Del Webb Lake Providence is a 24,000 square-foot recreation center that overlooks a beautiful lake. The lake is stocked with fish and includes a canoe and kayak launch. The amenity center includes amenities such as an indoor and outdoor pool, state-of-the-art fitness center, indoor walking track, ballroom, aerobics studio, and hobby and craft studios. Fitness enthusiasts have access to five miles of walking or biking trails plus tennis, pickleball, bocce, and basketball courts. An outdoor amphitheater and event lawn allows for large gatherings and evening concerts under the stars. There is also a ballroom, lending library, and card room as well.

Reid Hill Commons - Franklin

Low $300s - High $300s

Located just 30 minutes south of Nashville, Reid Hill Commons is an active adult community that offers single-story cottage homes with step-less entries and low-maintenance exteriors. This community has 101 cottage homes that are attached duplexes, a few homes have been built as single-family homes. These thoughtfully designed homes offer approximately 1,564 to 1,976 square feet of living space with two bedrooms, two bathrooms, and an attached garage. Some homes even have a flex room that can be utilized as a den or office.

With chores like mowing the lawn taken care of, Reid Hill Commons truly displays low-maintenance living. Throughout Reid Hill Commons there are paved sidewalks and a walking trail that leads up to a picnic pavilion. Not only do these outdoor amenities promote a fit and healthy lifestyle, but the covered picnic area is also the perfect place to host neighborhood barbecues and family parties.