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11 Best Places for Veterans & Retired Military to Live

After retiring from the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps, Space Force, or Coast Guard, you might be thinking about a change of scenery. Affordable living, job opportunities, military pension tax breaks, and availability of Veterans Affairs services are a few of the qualities you may want in a new city. Check out these 11 best places for military retirement in America!

1. Boise, ID

Skyline view of downtown Boise buildings with trees and mountains. Photo by Instagram user @mikebrowngroup.

Photo via @mikebrowngroup

  • Population: 218,677
  • Veteran Population: 34,687
  • Median Home Price: $191,000
  • Unemployment Rate: 4.1%
  • Crime Rate: Safer than 41% of U.S. cities
  • Military Bases Near Boise: Mountain Home AFB

If you’re looking for one of the best mid-sized cities in the nation, Boise is the place for you! Located in southwest Idaho, the City of Trees is overall one of the top cities for retirement. The area offers incredible mountain views, along with quick access to Boise VA Medical Center and three other VA health facilities in the metro. There are also plenty of things to do in Boise! Visit Veterans Memorial Park to honor soldiers who lost their lives in the Vietnam War. Take a tour of the Idaho Military Museum. Explore Lucky Peak State Park and the Idaho Botanical Garden. Or watch the sky fill up with hot air balloons at the annual Spirit of Boise Balloon Classic.

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2. Colorado Springs, CO

View of Colorado Springs from a drone with a hot air balloon. Photo by Instagram user @visitcos.

Photo via @visitcos

Colorado Springs is one of the best places for military retirement! This city has one of the highest veteran populations in the U.S. and is home to the prestigious United States Air Force Academy, as well as Fort Carson, one of the best military bases in the U.S. for families. Though Colorado comes with a slightly elevated cost of living, veteran benefits like tuition assistance and tax exemptions on property and military pensions make living in the Rocky Mountain State more affordable for retired military. There are also tons of things to do in Colorado Springs for military families. Spend the day hiking, biking, or rock climbing at Garden of the Gods. Attend the annual Colorado Springs Veterans Day Parade. Receive a military discount at Cheyenne Mountain Zoo. Or watch people parachute out of the sky at Pikes Peak Regional Airshow.

3. Durham, NC

Cityscape of Durham in the fall. Photo by Instagram user @estlinhaiss.

Photo via @estlinhaiss

  • Population: 251,761
  • Veteran Population: 15,882
  • Median Home Price: $183,900
  • Unemployment Rate: 4.5%
  • Crime Rate: Safer than 4% of U.S. cities
  • Military Bases Near Durham: North Carolina National Guard

Nicknamed “The City of Medicine,” Durham is the perfect place for military veterans skilled in healthcare. This military-friendly city offers thousands of job opportunities in medical and tech fields through employers like Duke University and IBM as part of the Research Triangle. Plus, military retirement pay isn’t taxed in North Carolina, so your dollar stretches even further when retiring in Durham. You can also find fun things to do in Bull City! Tour the 55-acre Sarah P. Duke Gardens. Head down to the American Tobacco Campus, a historic district-turned-entertainment hub for arts, music, food, and more! Take advantage of military discounts at the Museum of Life and Science. Or drive to one of 41 North Carolina State Parks to admire the state’s natural beauty.

4. Fort Wayne, IN

Downtown view of Allen County Courthouse in Fort Wayne. Photo by Instagram user @visitfortwayne.

Photo via @visitfortwayne

  • Population: 260,954
  • Veteran Population: 22,889
  • Median Home Price: $103,100
  • Unemployment Rate: 5.2%
  • Crime Rate: Safer than 25% of U.S. cities
  • Military Bases Near Fort Wayne: Fort Wayne Air National Guard Base

With an extremely low cost of living and a growing job market, Fort Wayne is one of the most affordable cities to live in, making it a great home for retired U.S. military. With key industries in defense, insurance, and medical technology, military veterans looking for work can find jobs with top employers like Parkview Health, Lincoln Financial Group, and BAE Systems. No tax on military retirement pay in Indiana and the nearby Fort Wayne VA Medical Center also make this Hoosier city ideal for veterans. While you’re in Fort Wayne, check out the Veterans National Memorial Shrine & Museum. Participate in Le Tour de Fort, a large group bicycle ride to various pubs to support veterans. Or see permanent collections and traveling exhibits at Fort Wayne Museum of Art, where veterans and their families get free admission.

5. Kansas City, MO

View of downtown Kansas City buildings and skyscrapers. Photo by Instagram user @kansascity.

Photo via @kansascity

  • Population: 471,767
  • Veteran Population: 44,331
  • Median Home Price: $135,900
  • Unemployment Rate: 4.6%
  • Crime Rate: Safer than 2% of U.S. cities
  • Military Bases Near Kansas City: Fort Leavenworth

With Fort Leavenworth just across the Missouri River and about a dozen VA hospitals within 50 miles, Kansas City is one of the best places to live for retired military. The city boasts a low cost of living, and state military benefits ensure your retirement pension isn’t taxed—it’s why Missouri is one of the most affordable states to live in for veterans. There are also plenty of things to do in KCMO! See one of the world’s largest WWI collections at National WWI Museum & Memorial. Explore the iconic shuttlecock sculptures in Donald J. Hall Sculpture Park at The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art. Or chow down on world-famous barbecue meals in the BBQ Capital of the World.

6. Minneapolis, MN

Minnesota winters aren’t for everyone, but if you’re willing to brave the snow, Minneapolis has tons of perks for veterans! Part of the Twin Cities, Minneapolis offers residents big-city amenities and plenty of job opportunities with many Fortune 500 companies, including Xcel Energy, UnitedHealth Group, and US Bank. And you don’t have to worry about paying taxes on your military retirement pay in Minnesota! Plus, there’s always something to do in Minneapolis. Visit historic Fort Snelling or tour the Minnesota Air National Guard Museum in the twin city of Saint Paul. Or enjoy festivals and events throughout the year, like the Minneapolis Aquatennial, Minnesota State Fair, or The Great Northern.

7. Oklahoma City, OK

  • Population: 620,015
  • Veteran Population: 58,317
  • Median Home Price: $142,700
  • Unemployment Rate: 3.7%
  • Crime Rate: Safer than 6% of U.S. cities
  • Military Bases Near Oklahoma City: Tinker AFB

With great job opportunities, excellent veteran tax benefits in Oklahoma, and affordable housing, it’s easy to see why Oklahoma City is one of the best cities for military retirement. Active and retired military veterans can receive care at one of four VA health clinics. And if you want to become an entrepreneur after retiring, you’ll be happy to learn that OKC is one of the best cities to start a business, with tons of small business resources available to veterans. Looking for things to do in Oklahoma City? Get free admission to Lake Thunderbird State Park and all state parks in OKC to ride horses, canoe, boat, and more. Learn about Oklahoma’s cowboy past at National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum. Or enjoy lush green spaces in the heart of Downtown OKC at Myriad Botanical Gardens.

8. Omaha, NE

Gene Leahy Mall in fall with water and Omaha skyline. Photo by Instagram user @visitomaha.

Photo via @visitomaha

  • Population: 443,072
  • Veteran Population: 32,527
  • Median Home Price: $139,800
  • Unemployment Rate: 3.8%
  • Crime Rate: Safer than 10% of U.S. cities
  • Military Bases Near Omaha: Offutt AFB

A low cost of living, booming job market, and a friendly Midwest attitude make Omaha one of the best cities for veterans to retire. The largest city in Nebraska is home to major employers like Berkshire Hathaway and Union Pacific, as well as many tech startups. Plus, Offutt Air Force Base is just outside of the city limits. Omaha offers several quality VA health facilities within 50 miles. Another perk for veterans in Nebraska is that military retirement pay is exempt from state income tax. Not sure how to spend your free time in Omaha? Head down to the Old Market for fine dining and shopping. Catch the best of college baseball with the NCAA Men’s College World Series at Charles Schwab Field Omaha. And you can’t miss out on the top-rated Henry Doorly Zoo & Aquarium, which offers free admission to military families on Veteran’s Day!

9. San Antonio, TX

Riverwalk cruise in San Antonio passing under a bridge. Photo by Instagram user @goriocruises.

Photo via @goriocruises

If you’re searching for a lively location filled with active and retired military personnel, San Antonio—also known as “Military City USA“—is the place for you! With more than a dozen VA facilities nearby, it’s no surprise that retired military love this city for its healthcare. Veterans needing care can find it at Brooke Army Medical Center, which is the largest military hospital in the U.S. and contains the Department of Defense’s largest Level 1 Trauma Center. You can also make the most of your pension in Texas with no state income tax! Spend the day at famous attractions like The Alamo or San Antonio River Walk. Hike the trails at Denman Estate Park. Immerse yourself in modern art at McNay Art Museum or nature at San Antonio Botanical Garden. Or use your military discount at Six Flags Fiesta Texas or the San Antonio Zoo.

10. San Diego, CA

San Diego waterfront at dusk with boats on the water. Photo by Instagram user @visitsandiego.

Photo via @visitsandiego

With its comfortable climate and beautiful white sand beaches, San Diego is one of the best cities for retirees who love the outdoors! Military retirement is especially convenient in this sunny California city, thanks to the many VA health facilities within an hour of Downtown San Diego and the seven nearby military bases. San Diego is also a major military city with Camp Pendleton consistently being the largest employer in North San Diego County. There are endless things to do here, too! Catch a wave at Coronado Beach. Spend the afternoon with exotic animals at San Diego Zoo. Meet sea turtles at the Birch Aquarium, find community events at Balboa Park, or learn about aviation at San Diego Air & Space Museum, all of which offer military discounts.

11. Virginia Beach, VA

Virginia Beach view from a drone with water and city in view. Photo by Instagram user @jwillyagaze.

Photo via @jwillyagaze

Minimal crime, great schools, high employment, and beautiful coastlines are just a few reasons why military retirees want to settle down in Virginia Beach. Veterans can receive care at one of three VA health facilities in the city. Virginia Beach also has a large military presence, as the area includes Naval Air Station Oceana, one of the world’s largest naval stations. If you’re a military veteran looking for patriotic things, you’re in luck! Locals go all out for the Fourth of July with military demonstrations, live music, and more at the annual Virginia Beach Patriotic Festival. You can also join your neighbors at the annual NAS Oceana Air Show, go hiking at the historic First Landing State Park, or view a private collection of airplanes from WWI and WWII at the Military Aviation Museum.

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Looking to relocate to one of these military-friendly cities? Extra Space Storage has convenient self storage locations across the U.S. to make your transition smoother. Find military storage near you!

Data from AreaVibes and the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs

Military Retirement 11 Best Places to Live in the U.S.

About Mike Beutler

Mike Beutler is a writer and digital content specialist who transitioned to self storage in 2020 after several years in the airline industry. His travels cultivated a passion for exploring cities across the U.S. and abroad and inspired him to learn more about practical insights for urban living. With 14 moves under his belt, both locally and cross-country, he also has a passion for minimalism and organization, and sharing tips to help others make any space feel like home while staying organized.