Sewanee : Tennessee


What It Is Like to Retire in Sewanee

Sewanee is a small town in south-central Tennessee, on the Cumberland Plateau between Nashville and Chattanooga, and offers scenic vistas of nearby valleys as sits at an elevation of 1,920 feet.  It is best known as home to The University of the South, or more commonly called “Sewanee”.  The population of Sewanee is a little over 2,000, most of whom are college students, which accounts for the median age of  just 21.  The university owns most of the town and the 13,000 acres surrounding it, which is normally referred to as “The Domain". Picture of Businesses along US 41 in the public domain courtesy of Wikipedia and Brian Stansberry.


Where to Retire in Sewanee and Home Prices

Most of the residents of Sewanee live in college dormitories.  According to Zillow, the median home value was $255,900 in late 2019.


What Is Special about Sewanee

Sewanee is a special place with the natural beauty of its location and the unique Oxford-style architecture of the college campus.  The University of the South hosts seminars, lectures, performing artists and exhibits throughout the year with many, but not all, open to residents.  There are also university sporting events to attend, with Sewanee hosting football games in a stadium that is the oldest one in the south.  The town does have some small shops and a few restaurants along with a great campus bookstore, all within the very walkable community.


What Is Not Special about Sewanee

If you are not interested in living in a college town, this would not be a good fit, as the university is the town.  Although there are a few restaurants and small shops, for real shopping you need to go elsewhere.  Because of the smallness of the community, special events such as Parents’ Weekend and Commencement can be a challenge in getting around. If you aren’t part of the university, it’s a good time to get off the mountain.


Who Will Like Retirement in Sewanee

Retirees would enjoy living here who want a very walkable community in a small and vibrant college town, and like being around the younger crowd everywhere they go.   


Local Economy Is Driven by

The economy is, of course, driven by education and the University of the South.


Climate and Physical Environment

The average January temperature  in Sewanee is 38 degrees. July’s average temperature is 72 degrees.  Not a lot, but snow does occur on the mountain.


Restaurants & Cultural Scene

The University of the South offers lectures, music, religion, and art exhibits.  The town also has a movie theater and a golf course.  There are community festivals during the Fourth of July and Christmas.   One of the biggest events is "The Festival of Lessons and Carols", a service that has been held in the university’s All Saints’ Chapel each December for the last 50 years. It is attened by most of the campus and people from all over the area. The Sewanee Summer Music Center provides concerts on campus for five weeks each summer.  The  Sewanee village also hosts festivals during the summer and winter holidays.



The crime rate in Sewanee is below the national average with almost all of the crimes related to theft.


Medical Facilities

Sewanee does have a medical center -Southern Tennessee- is on campus. The nearest hospital is 13 miles away in Winchester.



A small airport in Sewanee is owned by  Franklin County, the closest large airport is in Chattanooga, 60 miles away.


Valuable Links

University of the South

Sewanee News

Franklin County


What people are saying about Sewanee

A bit of an odd choice
College towns are great places to retire, given that they offer a host of learning and entertainment options (college athletics, concerts). They also tend to inspire the kinds of services appealing to college age students and their parents (when they visit), such as movie theaters, restaurants, shops and the like. Sewanee, which I visited six years ago with my then high school senior son, is just too small and remote to lure much of anything except a couple thousand students. (My son wound up in Lexington, VA, at Washington & Lee, a small town but with a lot more going for it than Sewanee.) Sewanee\'s local nine-hole golf course, which was recently renovated (excellent reviews), is about as good as it gets for retiree action not related to the school. Forget restaurant choices; we found very few. Real estate costs, especially just outside town in the rolling countryside, are likely to be very cheap, but if you are looking for college towns that provide what college towns should for retired folks, you can do way better than Sewanee (although I must say that University of the South was among the best looking of the dozen or so campuses we visited).
Posted by hotcguy on November 10, 2013

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