Each year, thousands of servicemen and women retire from the military. Some are over 55 years old and happy to play out their retirement in comfort; others are looking forward to starting a second career. Either way, there are dozens of affordable cities and towns across the country that offer a high quality of life and plenty of vet-friendly perks. Whether we’re taking Alaska or Alabama, Kansas or Kentucky, you’ll find no shortage of places to settle into civilian life. But which of those rank as the best? Find out as we count down the 20 best places for retired military to live.
20. El Paso, Texas
Whether you like outdoor adventure or history, food or music, El Paso has something for everyone. Its cultural diversity is evident in everything from its architecture to its restaurants, resulting in a richly vibrant city that just so happens to rank as one of the best places for retired military to live in the US.
19. Topeka, Kansas
With a commissary within commuting distance, a VA medical center on the doorstep, a joint-use civil-military airport just three miles away, and the Holley Museum of Military History in the downtown, Topeka is well geared to serve the needs of both existing and retired servicemen and women. Even leaving that aside, it’s a great place to live, with a vibrant culture, some world-class attractions, and enough shops, bars, restaurants, galleries, theatres, and museums to keep you in entertainment for life.
18. Lubbock, Texas
With plenty of high-quality jobs, excellent educational institutes, and a diverse economy, Lubbock is a great place to pursue career growth outside the military. 12000 veterans have already made the city their home, with the result that the existing support network and facilities (including a level-1 trauma center) are well-established.
17. Anchorage, Alaska
As milspousefest.com notes, Anchorage is an excellent option for veterans looking for something a little different. As home to around 40 percent of Alaska’s population, it’s a big, busy city with all the attractions and amenities you’d expect. Where it really comes into its own is in the wealth of outdoor recreation opportunities on offer – if you want to enjoy nature without giving up on the conveniences of the city, this is the place for you. Additional benefits to life in Anchorage include the Alaska VA Healthcare system, a veterans center, no state taxes, and a tiny unemployment rate.
16. Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
Named as one of the best retirement cities by seniorliving.org, Oklahoma City combines the attractions and amenities you’d expect of a modern metropolis with the history and culture of the Wild West. Thanks to an initiative that aims to promote the job market by investing in both existing and new businesses, it’s a great option for veterans who want to pursue career opportunities outside of the military.
15. Minneapolis, Minnesota
Minneapolis isn’t for everyone, and it’s certainly not the place for veterans looking to live out their retirement somewhere small with sea air and plenty of sunshine. But if you’re happy enough to swap tranquility for action and mild winters for harsh ones, it’s a great place to call home. With over 400,000 people, it’s big enough to offer plenty by way of big-city amenities and job opportunities. Just a few of the major businesses to have bases in the city include Best Buy, Target, and UnitedHealth Group. If your working days are behind you, there’s added good news in the fact military pensions aren’t taxed in Minnesota. Home to over 16,000 veterans, the city is well geared to meet the needs of the community, with 2 VA hospitals with five-star ratings from the Department of Veterans Affairs within easy traveling distance.
14. Alexandria, Virginia
Named by alot.com as one of the best states for veterans, Virginia has plenty to offer to retired military personnel, including excellent educational benefits for dependents, outstanding VA healthcare, high incomes, and property tax exemption for veterans on disability. If you’re looking for a small city with both charm and attractions to spare, Alexandria makes an excellent choice. Located close enough to Washington, DC, to benefit from the capital’s score of military and government jobs, it also benefits from 25 VA health care facilities and a very active veteran population of around 10,000.
13. Madison, Wisconsin
Madison isn’t necessarily the cheapest place to live in the country, but the advantages of living here more than outweigh the cost. The range of recreation opportunities on offer is immense, from hiking and biking to ice fishing and skiing. The employment rate is tiny thanks to a strong economy and buoyant agriculture, healthcare, and manufacturing industries. A nearby VA center offers excellent health care.
12. Carlisle, Pennsylvania
Carlisle might be relatively small, but it still has a lot to offer. The historic town features an incredibly charming downtown, a breathtaking position in the lushly forested Cumberland Valley, scores of recreational and cultural attractions (including several championship golf courses, dozens of wineries, and plenty of opportunities for hiking, hunting, and exploring), and a strong economy centered around the service industry. Its military connections come by way of the Carlisle Barracks, the home of one of the oldest and most respected military educational institutions in the country. A VA medical center is an easy 30 minutes drive away. The cost of living is attractively low, and further bolstered by Pennsylvania’s tax exemption for federal pensions.
11. San Antonio, Texas
San Antonio has been a prime tourist destination for years, but it’s also developed something of a reputation as a haven for retired military personnel. Packed with sightseeing, shopping, cultural, and recreational opportunities to enjoy, it’s a rich, varied city that manages to offer a little something for everyone. The city is scatted with bases, affording an excellent network of support and job opportunities. For veterans who want to fully embrace civilian life but aren’t prepared to settle into a life of golf and afternoon naps just yet, the city’s booming cybersecurity, tech, aerospace, healthcare, and bioscience sectors provide superb career opportunities.
10. San Angelo, Texas
In 1867, Fort Concho was established in San Angelo. Since then, the city has maintained its strong military connections via Goodfellow Air Force Base, along with nearby Dyess Air Force Base and Fort Hood. Veterans are well served by both the city-based San Angelo Clinic and the facilities of Big Spring’s VA medical center. Additional benefits include a lovely historic downtown packed with retail outlets, recreational facilities, and restaurants, a healthy business climate, a low cost of living, and the kind of weather that allows residents to enjoy the city and its surroundings all year round.
9. Columbus, Ohio
Columbus is a city on the rise, with a booming downtown, a flourishing economy, and an ever-expanding range of initiatives that have plowed millions into expanding and revitalizing the city’s job and property markets. The unemployment rate is low, with plentiful job opportunities in healthcare, tech, government, education, and insurance. Among the many cultural attractions include the National Veterans Memorial and Museum – the first center of its kind in the US dedicated to veterans from all branches of the military. With excellent job prospects, low living costs, and superb recreation on offer, it’s little wonder over 40,000 veterans have already decided to make Columbus their home.
8. Colorado Springs, Colorado
Ranked by Extra Space Storage as one of the best places for military retirement in the US, Colorado Springs has a huge veteran population of 52,575. Considering the perks of living here, it’s not hard to see why so many have decided to call it home. With a huge network of military institutions located around the city (including Fort Carson, Peterson Air Force Base, and Schreiver Air Force Base), there are endless possibilities for commissaries and support. The employment sector is driven by the defense industry, with the result that job opportunities in weapons development, aircraft and electronic equipment are almost unlimited. Healthcare-wise, the city boasts an outpatient clinic for veterans, along with easy access to the VA medical center in Denver. From a recreation perspective, it couldn’t be better positioned – as home to numerous sports clubs, the U.S. Olympic Training Center, and some of the most breathtaking surroundings in the state, keeping active isn’t a problem. Despite Colorado’s high cost of living, the range of perks for retirees (including tax breaks for pensions, property tax exemption, and educational assistance) more than compensate.
7. Jacksonville, Florida
Thanks to low taxes, an affordable cost of living, gorgeous weather, and equally gorgeous scenery, Florida has a reputation as one of the best states for retirees in the US. Jacksonville doesn’t buck the trend. Its mild climate is hard to fault, allowing year-round opportunities for fun and recreation. For veterans who aren’t quite ready to slip into full retirement, the booming fintech industry offers plenty of exciting job opportunities. The recently opened Hans-Mill Corporation factory has also helped boost the city’s manufacturing segment. Just under 80,000 veterans already call the city home – considering its perks, it’s not hard to see why.
6. Corpus Christi, Texas
Over the past 5 years, Corpus Christi has received around $40 billion in new investment, resulting in a huge revitalization of the economy and a similarly huge influx of jobs to the area. Its reputation as a commercial and educational hub isn’t underserved, and neither is its status as one of Texas’ hottest cultural destinations. The wining and dining opportunities are legendary, as are the retail options. Combined with a large veteran population of over 25,000, a low cost of living, and great healthcare facilities, it’s understandable why it ranks as one of the country’s best places for veterans.
5. St. Augustine, Florida
As pocketsense.com highlights, St. Augustine, Florida offers the same glorious weather and beach lifestyle as Florida’s most popular retirement town, Sarasota, but at a much more attractive price point. The average price for a two-bedroom home in the town is just $76,000 – a substantial $46,000 less than the equivalent in Sarasota. As an additional cost-benefit, Florida has some of the lowest taxes in the country. The town itself is small but dynamic, with excellent retail and dining opportunities and a fascinating historical district. The healthcare is excellent, with Jacksonville’s Mayo Center an easy 45-minute drive away.
4. Laredo, Texas
Named by Forbes as one of the 10 most affordable places for veterans to live in the US, Laredo has a low unemployment rate, a very affordable cost of living, and a median home value of just $113,500 – 20.5% lower than the Texas average. If you’re living on a fixed military pension, it’s a great place to help your dollar stretch further.
3. Tulsa, Oklahoma
Over the past couple of decades, Tulsa has shaken off its reputation as a staid, somewhat boring destination to emerge as a vibrant, dynamic city with a huge amount to offer. From trendy eateries to funky breweries, independent stores to world-class museums, there’s a little something for everyone in Oklahoma’s second-largest city. Its commercial and retail segments have recently become the focus of a new revitalization strategy, bringing new job opportunities and investment into the city. Unemployment is low, salaries are excellent, and the standard of living is high…. little wonder, then, that almost 25,000 veterans have already decided to make it their home.
2. Cheyenne, Wyoming
Located just 90 minutes from Denver in the Rocky Mountains, Cheyenne combine the rugged scenery of the west with the charms of the city. Small but vibrant, it offers a ton of benefits to veterans, including a low cost of living, no state income tax, and low property taxes. The economy is booming, with plenty of job opportunities in the areas of transportation, tourism, agriculture, and industry. The weather is pleasant, with 327 days of sunshine each year. Additional benefits include excellent health care at a VA medical center and a large community of both active and retired military personnel.
1. Fayetteville, North Carolina
Liveability has named Fayetteville as one of the 10 best cities for veterans. It’s hard to disagree with their logic. As home to the giant military complex Fort Bragg, the city has a military history that stretches all the way back to the Revolutionary War. Pope Air Force Base and Camp Lejeune are also conveniently close, giving veterans plenty of options for commissary. Each year, the city hosts the two-week-long Heroes Homecoming in celebration of Vietnam Veterans, along with a 31-day Salute to Soldiers event. Many businesses offer significant discounts to veterans, bringing the already low cost of living down even further. If all of that wasn’t enough to attract you, the city’s outstanding range of recreation opportunities (including 20 golf courses and a diverse range of bars, eateries, and shops) just might.