Amiable Murfreesboro, Tennessee Beckons to Retirees with its Friendly Folks, Mellow Pace and Quiet Country Charm
Cost of Living: Above the National Average
Friendly Murfreesboro (population 128,000) is 35 miles southeast of Nashville in central Tennesse and is a thriving city that has been named as a great place to live by several national publications. It started out in 1811 and was named after Hardy Murfee, a Revolutionary War hero. The one-time capital of Tennessee, Murfreesboro is today home to Middle Tennessee State University (population 25,000 students) but not overwhelmed by it. The city boasts enough cultural outlets and recreational venues to keep most retirees happy.
The cost of living is 10% above the national average. The population is on the young-ish side, with 28% of residents age 45 or better, and the city is racially diverse. Even with the University being here, this is a conservative place. It has grown by 180% within the last decade or two.
The median home price is $235,000, and housing stock offers something for everyone. There are leafy, attractive neighborhoods in nearly all parts of town, although northern areas tend to have nicer homes. Apartments are also plentiful, too.
Tennessee is somewhat of a mixed bag when it comes to taxes and retirement. The state has no personal income tax, but it does have a 5% tax on stock dividends and bond interest income (the first $1,250 is exempt for single filers and the first $2,500 is exempt for married filers). This tax will, though, be phased out by 2022. People who are age 65 or better and who earn less than $37,000 per year ($68,000 for married people) do not pay the tax on dividends and bond interest. Social Security, IRAs and retirement income are not taxed.
Real estate is assessed at 25% of fair market value. There is no homestead exemption, but a property tax relief program for seniors, the disabled and veterans exists. Under this program, depending on income, the first $23,000 of a property's market value is exempt from taxation (for veterans, the amount exempt is $100,000). The annual taxes on a $235,000 Murfreesboro home are approximately $1,645. The state sales tax is high at 7%, with another percentage or two tacked on in Murfreesboro.
Technically, Murfreesboro is a Nashville exurb. Despite its quick growth, it still has quiet country charm with plenty of parks and greenways. Much of life revolves around church and related activities, and residents are a welcoming bunch. The city has a good selection of cafes and restaurants, and the Saturday farmers' market receives rave reviews. Music festivals, an arts center and top-notch cultural offerings from Middle Tennessee University ensure that there is always something to do.
Thanks in part to its location along Interstate 24, Murfreesboro has also grown into a regional shopping hub with three large shopping malls. National retailers include Talbots, Dillard's, Target, Home Depot, Bed Bath and Beyond, two Wal-Marts and many more.
Downtown's Public Square, with its distinctive architecture and antebellum courthouse, draws all sorts of folks. Daily walking tours are offered for those interested in the area's history. Cannonsburgh, a reconstructed, living history Southern village, gives history buffs even more to savor. Beyond town boundaries, rolling hills and scenic lakes greet anyone seeking a pleasant country weekend or just a relaxing afternoon outing.
The St. Clair Senior Center is open to those Murfreesboro residents who are age 60 or better. There are recreational activities, classes and activities (card games, quilting bees and dancing to name just a few), as well as programs such as visitation and delivery of meals to those who cannot leave their homes. The Center coordinates with a variety of local agencies and is the main resource for anyone needing services catering to the mature demographic.
St. Thomas Rutherford Hospital is a 286-bed private, not-for-profit facility. It is accredited by the Joint Commission and is award-winning for orthopedic surgery. Medicare patients are accepted. Another two medical facilities are within 25 miles, and Nashville has at least three more hospitals.
The public bus system is named Rover and offers fixed route service. The city also has a curb to curb mini van service.
Daily summer high temperatures are in the mid- to low-90s, and winter temperatures usually top out in the mid-40s. On average, the area receives 42 inches of rain and three to four inches of snow each year. On the comfort index, a combination of temperature and humidity, Murfreesboro comes in below the national average.
A Murfreesboro retirement does have some drawbacks. The crime rate is slightly above the national average, but residents say that the city feels safe and most crime happens in certain areas that can be avoided. Urban sprawl is evident on city outskirts, and traffic congestion has increased as more people have discovered the area. The tornado risk is 135% higher than the national average. In fact, the outskirts of the city were struck by a EF4 tornado in April, 2009, and two people were killed.
Despite these issues, Murfreesboro continues to grow. Its welcoming spirit, friendly folks and mellow lifestyle are just a few reasons why. Overall, Murfreesboro receives high marks as a place for retirees to call home.
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