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Guide to Independent Living in Tennessee

Famous for being the heartland of country music and the home of the blues, Tennessee has much more to offer seniors than just its music. The natural beauty of the Great Smoky Mountains, a fascinating culture steeped in history and a pleasant year-round climate are a draw for retirees who take advantage of the state’s lack of income tax and low cost of living. Of the 6.9 million inhabitants, 16.7% are adults aged 65 and older who call The Volunteer State home.

Independent living communities in Tennessee are designed for seniors who are physically active and don’t require assistance to live alone. These communities provide access to medical care when needed, dining and a range of social activities and events so retirees can immerse themselves in the community and mix with their peers.

This guide discusses the cost of independent living throughout Tennessee and compares these costs with those in nearby states and the national average. It also looks at different senior care options accessible to older adults in Tennessee and lists a variety of free and low-cost resources that help seniors remain active and independent in their retirement.

How Much Does Independent Living Cost in Tennessee?

Note: There currently isn’t authoritative data on the average cost of Independent Living Facilities nationwide, so instead, we use the cost of Assisted Living to estimate it. Since the cost of Independent Living is typically 30-40% lower than the cost of Assisted Living, the numbers below were calculated by subtracting 35% from the cost of Assisted Living as reported in the 2021 Genworth Cost of Care Survey.

Retirees in Tennessee pay an average of $2,668 per month for independent living, $257 below the U.S. national average of $2,925. This cost is on par with the $2,607 that seniors pay in North Carolina. Independent living communities in other neighboring states are less expensive than those in Tennessee, with Mississippi, Kentucky and Missouri residents paying $2,275, $2,241 and $1,950, respectively. Seniors in Virginia pay the highest rate in the region with monthly costs of $3,413.




The United States






North Carolina





The Cost of Independent Living in Tennessee’s Top Cities

The price of independent living varies throughout Tennessee. Seniors in Clarksville pay the lowest rate of $2,090 per month, $575 below the costs in the state capital of Nashville. Towards the east, retirees in Knoxville pay $2,485, while those in Kingsport, close to the Virginia border, can expect to spend $2,889. In southwest Tennessee, Memphis independent living communities charge an average of $2,730. The most expensive city in the state is Cleveland in the south, where independent living costs seniors $3,143 per month.













The Cost of Independent Living vs. Other Types of Care

Seniors in Tennessee have access to a range of long-term care options depending on their individual needs. Adult day health care is the cheapest option at $1,733 per month and provides seniors with companionship, meals and activities during the daytime hours. At $2,668, independent living is the next lowest cost care option, while retirees needing slightly more assistance can choose assisted living for $4,105. Homemaker and home health aide services support seniors wishing to remain in their own homes. Those who opt for these types of care pay an average of $4,576 per month. Seniors unable to be cared for at home or in other long-term care environments can receive the assistance they need for $7,148 in a nursing home semiprivate room.


Independent Living


Adult Day Health Care


Assisted Living


Homemaker Services


Home Health Aide


Nursing Home Facility (semiprivate room)

Does Medicare or Medicaid Cover Independent Living in Tennessee?

The short answer is no, Medicaid and Medicare do not cover the cost of living in an independent living community. That being said, those who need help with Activities of Daily Living (ADLs), may be able to take advantage of financial assistance programs in Tennessee to partially or fully cover the cost of care in Assisted Living. For more information about financial assistance for those who need help with ADLs, read our guide to Assisted Living in Tennessee.

For more information about other ways to make Independent Living more affordable, such as retirement funds, the sale of a home, etc, read the section below.

How to Make Independent Living More Affordable in Tennessee

In addition to using their pension and savings, retirees in Tennessee can take advantage of help paying for independent living.

  • Life Insurance: Many life insurance providers let seniors access the value of their policy early to help pay for later-in-life expenses.
  • Reverse Mortgage Loans: Reverse mortgages allow seniors to take out a loan against the equity in their home. This loan can be used to pay for independent living without the need to sell a property beforehand.
  • Annuities: Annuities provide regular payouts over a set period of time to help fund long-term care, including independent living.
  • Long-Term Care Insurance: Although the full cost of independent living is not covered by long-term care insurance, it can be used to lower the cost by funding certain community expenses.

Free Independent Living Resources for Seniors in Tennessee

Tennessee seniors have access to support and assistance from a range of free services to help them maintain their independence and improve their quality of life.

Tennessee Commission on Aging and Disability(615) 741-2056The Tennessee Commission on Aging and Disability is committed to protecting the interests of older adults living in the state. This government agency runs a range of programs to provide information and support on senior issues, such as nutrition, health, long-term care, transportation assistance and Medicare access. Seniors aged 65 and older can join Stay Active and Independent for Life (SAIL) classes at various locations throughout Tennessee, which can help them improve strength, fitness and balance. The commission also acts as a long-term care ombudsman.
Tennessee Department of Veterans Services(615) 741-2345Tennessee seniors who have actively served in the U.S. military can access free advice and support from the Tennessee Department of Veterans Services. It provides information, advice and assistance in claiming state and federal benefits, such as VA Aid and Attendance and burial benefits. The office also helps veterans obtain discounts at recreational facilities, including state parks and camping grounds.
Area Agencies on Aging in Tennessee(866) 836-6678 (toll-free)For free help and advice on long-term care decisions, financing options and local support services, Tennessee seniors can contact their regional Area Agency on Aging. These nine offices offer support to older adults and those living with disabilities through a range of programs, including senior centers, legal assistance, Medicaid counseling and nutrition services. Seniors can call the toll-free number to be connected automatically to the nearest AAA office.
Tennessee State Health Insurance Assistance Program (SHIP) and SMPSHIP: (877) 801-0044SMP: (866) 836-7677The Tennessee State Health Insurance Assistance Program (SHIP) offers seniors free, impartial advice and counseling on Medicare insurance options. Provided by the Tennessee Commission on Aging and Disability, SHIP is available to all Medicare beneficiaries and their caregivers. The SMP program is designed to help prevent Medicare and Medicaid fraud by educating seniors on ways to identify insurance fraud and abuse.
Supplemental Security Income Program(800) 772-1213Seniors aged 65 and older with limited incomes may be eligible to apply for Supplemental Security Income (SSI). The Social Security Administration’s SSI program provides a monthly cash payout to low-income seniors in Tennessee. Eligible adults can use this money to help cover the cost of food, clothing and accommodation expenses, including those for independent living and other long-term care options.

COVID-19 Rules and Restrictions for Tennessee Independent Living Communities

The following rules and guidelines were obtained from, as well as other state-level government sites. Among others, these rules apply to independent living communities and assisted living facilities.

This data has been most recently updated on 2/15/2022, but keep in mind that COVID-19 is a rapidly evolving crisis, so all of the below information can change at any time. For additional questions and up-to-date information, you can contact your loved one’s senior living facility or your local Area Agency on Aging.

Visiting Loved Ones

Can I visit my relative in person if he/she wants emotional support from me?Yes (Conditions Apply)
Can I visit my relative in person for end-of-life compassion care?Yes
Will my loved one be required to self-quarantine after I visit him or her?No
Do I need to wear PPE and/or a cloth mask if I do visit my relative in person?Yes
Are Hairdressers and other non-medical contractors still allowed in senior living facilities?Yes
Does the state recommend or require that senior living facilities assist families with setting up virtual visit alternatives? Yes
Are visitors being screened for elevated temperatures?Yes
Are visitors being asked questions about health, travel, and potential virus contact?Yes

Outings and Group Activities

Are residents allowed to leave the facility for non-medical reasons?Yes
Are residents of senior living facilities who leave and return required to self-quarantine?No (Conditions Apply)
Are senior living facilities required to cancel all group outings?No
Are residents still eating together in the dining hall?Yes (Conditions Apply)
Are facilities still allowed to host group activities within the community?Yes (Conditions Apply)

Safety Measures for Staff & Contractors

Are staff members and contractors being screened for elevated temperatures?Yes
Are staff members and contractors being tested for Coronavirus? Yes (Conditions Apply)
Are staff members and contractors being asked questions about health, travel, and potential virus contact?Yes

Safety Measures for Residents

Are staff members required to regularly screen residents for coronavirus symptoms?Yes
Are residents relied on to screen themselves and self-report potential coronavirus symptoms?No
Are staff members required to take residents’ temperatures?Yes
Are residents being tested for coronavirus?Yes (Conditions Apply)
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