After retiring from the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps, or Coast Guard, you might be thinking about a change of scenery. But where should you move? Affordable living, job opportunities, military tax breaks, and availability of Veterans Affairs services are a few of the qualities you may want in a new city. Maybe you have a family and want a place that will fit your family’s needs. No matter what you’re looking for, we have a guide that can help. Below is a list of the best places for military retirement in America. Find your new home today!
- Population: 155,810
- Median Home Price: $462,500
- Veteran Unemployment Rate: 0.4%
- Crime Rate: Safer than 55% of U.S. cities
- Military Bases Near Alexandria: Fort Belvoir, Joint Base Anacostia-Bolling, Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall
If you’re looking for a small city full of charm on the East Coast, Alexandria is the place for you. Located in Virginia, one of the best states for military retirees, the city is close to Washington, DC, making it a haven for military and government jobs. With a veteran population of 9,995, 19 military installations, and 25 VA health facilities within the area, Alexandria is an ideal place for former military members to call home!
Things to Do in Alexandria
There’s always something new to explore in Old Town, which is home to nearly 200 unique restaurants, shops, and museums. Grab a bite to eat at Gadsby’s Tavern—a favorite spot of patrons like George Washington and John Adams—and explore the attached museum. Take a water taxi or a sightseeing cruise along the waterfront. Hike or bike the 18-mile Mount Vernon Trail, which stretches into Arlington. And, of course, being so close to Washington, DC means all that our nation’s capital has to offer is only a Metro station away!
Colorado Springs, CO
- Population: 465,101
- Median Home Price: $281,000
- Veteran Unemployment Rate: 7.3%
- Crime Rate: Safer than 19% of U.S. cities
- Military Bases Near Colorado Springs: Peterson AFB, Fort Carson, Schriever AFB
Why do 53,575 retired military call Colorado Springs their home? Because Colorado Springs is one of the best places for military retirement! Home to one of the highest veteran populations in the U.S., the area offers breathtaking views of the mountains, low unemployment rates, and close proximity to Peterson Air Force Base and other military installations. Though Colorado in general comes with a slightly elevated cost of living, the tuition assistance, property tax exemption, and state-specific tax breaks for pensions make living in the Rocky Mountain State affordable for retired military.
Things to Do in Colorado Springs
Families will love Cheyenne Mountain Zoo and Elitch Gardens, both of which offer military discounts. Spend a day hiking through Garden of the Gods or up Pikes Peak. Play a full 18 at Patty Jewett Golf Course. Bring your appetite to Old Colorado City and sit down for a meal at Mountain Shadows Restaurant. Try local craft beers at Trails End Taproom, the first self-pour taproom in Colorado Springs. Or grab some beer and grub at Bristol Brewing Company, which is housed in an old elementary school.
- Population: 413,651
- Median Home Price: $264,200
- Veteran Unemployment Rate: 4.7%
- Crime Rate: Safer than 3% of U.S. cities
- Military Bases Near Minneapolis: Minneapolis-Saint Paul Joint Air Reserve Station
Harsh 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 major employers like Target, UnitedHealth Group, and Best Buy. Although the city isn’t known for its active military population, it’s home to 16,424 veterans. In addition, two nearby VA hospitals with five-star ratings from the Department of Veterans Affairs help make Minnesota one of the best states for disabled veterans. And did we mention that military pensions and retirement pay aren’t taxed in Minnesota?
Things to Do in Minneapolis
Catch a show at Theater Latté Da. Head over to Northern Brewer to learn how to brew your own beer. Try a brunch spin on Minnesota’s classic wild rice with the Mahnomin Wild Rice Porridge at Hell’s Kitchen. Tailgate with family and friends at Vikings, Twins, and Timberwolves games throughout the year. If you can’t watch the game live, head over to Randle’s! Named after Vikings legend John Randle, locals can catch any game on one of the many TVs while chowing down on cheese curds, burgers, and even sushi!
Oklahoma City, OK
- Population: 638,367
- Median Home Price: $137,000
- Veteran Unemployment Rate: 3.8%
- Crime Rate: Safer than 8% of U.S. cities
- Military Bases Near Oklahoma City: Fort Sill, Tinker Air Force Base
As one of the largest cities with low unemployment rates and plenty of job opportunities for veterans, it’s easy to see why OKC is one of best cities for military retirement. The area is home to 42,070 veterans and three VA health facilities. Combine Oklahoma’s excellent tax benefits for retired and disabled veterans with the city’s affordable housing and low cost of living, and it’s no wonder why veterans want to live here!
Things to Do in Oklahoma City
Visit Lake Thunderbird State Park for horseback riding, canoeing, boating, and more. In fact, honorably discharged veterans get free admission to Lake Thunderbird and all other state-owned parks. Enjoy lush green space in the heart of Downtown OKC at Myriad Botanical Gardens, which offers free Sunday Twilight Concert Series and other community events. Learn more about Oklahoma’s cowboy past at National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum. Grab some fried okra and chicken fried steak for dinner at Cattleman’s along the historic Stockyards City Main Street. Don’t forget pecan pie from Pie Junkie for dessert!
- Population: 446,970
- Median Home Price: $165,400
- Veteran Unemployment Rate: 7.7%
- Crime Rate: Safer than 16% of U.S. cities
- Military Bases Near Omaha: Offutt AFB
A low cost of living, a booming local job industry, 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, and Offutt Air Force Base is just outside of the city limits. Omaha has a veteran population of 25,285 and offers five top-rated VA health facilities within 50 miles. Another perk for veterans in Nebraska is military retirement pay is partially exempt from state income tax.
Things to Do in Omaha
Head down to the Old Market for fine dining and shopping. Learn more about Omaha’s Union Pacific roots at Durham Museum. Listen to live music at Midtown Crossing’s Jazz on the Green. Enjoy a juicy steak and a glass of whiskey at The Drover. Take a tour of Nebraska Brewing Company and sample their brews. Catch the best of college baseball with the NCAA Men’s College World Series at TD Ameritrade Park. And you can’t miss out on the top-rated Henry Doorly Zoo & Aquarium, which offers military discounts!
San Antonio, TX
- Population: 1,492,510
- Median Home Price: $171,600
- Veteran Unemployment Rate: 4.1%
- Crime Rate: Safer than 8% of U.S. cities
- Military Bases Near San Antonio: Camp Bullis, Joint Base San Antonio, Martindale Army Airfield, Kelly Field Annex
If you’re searching for a lively location filled with active and retired military personnel, San Antonio (more commonly known as “Military City USA”) is the place for you! With 15 VA facilities within 50 miles and a population of 101,294 veterans, it’s easy to see why this is one of the best places for retired military to live. Veterans needing care can find it at San Antonio Military Medical Center, which is the Department of Defense’s largest medical center. You can also make the most of your pension in Texas with no state income tax!
Things to Do in San Antonio
Spend the day at famous attractions like The Alamo or The San Antonio River Walk. Explore the trails at Denman State Park. Immerse yourself in modern art at McNay Art Museum or nature at San Antonio Botanical Garden. Take advantage of the military discount at Six Flags for a fun day out with the family. Head over to Little Woodrow’s for a drink and turtle racing (That’s right. Turtle racing). Or head over to Los Barrios for an authentic Mexican meal—and remember to ask for extra chimichurri!
San Diego, CA
- Population: 1,406,630
- Median Home Price: $620,500
- Veteran Unemployment Rate: 8.4%
- Crime Rate: Safer than 34% of U.S. cities
- Military Bases Near San Diego: Navy Region Southwest, Naval Base Coronado, Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton
With its comfortable climate and beautiful white sand beaches, San Diego is one of the best cities for retirees from any background! Military retirement is especially convenient in this sunny city with 12 VA health facilities and ten military installations within 50 miles. San Diego is a major military city, too, which is why it’s not only home to 89,257 veterans, but also for 31,554 active military. In fact, Camp Pendleton is consistently the largest employer in North San Diego County.
Things to Do in San Diego
Catch a wave at Coronado Beach or practice your swing at the famous Torrey Pines. Spend the afternoon with exotic animals and beautiful flowers at San Diego Zoo. Meet sea turtles at the Birch Aquarium, explore a historic landmark at Balboa Park, or learn about aviation at the San Diego Air & Space Museum, all of which offer military discounts. And don’t let your seaside location go to waste! Get your fill of seafood and fish at delicious eateries like Point Lomas Seafood or The Fishery.
- Population: 704,352
- Median Home Price: $501,500
- Veteran Unemployment Rate: 9.3%
- Crime Rate: Safer than 9% of U.S. cities
- Military Bases Near Seattle: Naval Station Everett, Joint Base Lewis-McChord
Looking to live in a city where there’s no personal income tax? You’re in luck with Washington! It’s one of the many reasons why Seattle is an excellent place for military retirement. Currently home to 30,861 veterans and 11 VA health facilities, this Pacific Northwest city consistently ranks as a top location for job outlook and overall quality of life. With Starbucks, Amazon, Microsoft, and Costco headquartered in the city, there are endless employment opportunities. Seattle has also pledged to end veteran homelessness.
Things to Do in Seattle
Stroll through the famous Pike Place Market, where you can grab fresh produce from local farmers and find one-of-a-kind art. Indulge in chicken and waffles or biscuits and sage gravy at Skillet in Capitol Hill. Participate in a traditional Japanese tea ceremony at Seattle Japanese Garden. Head over to the Olympic Sculpture Park for the best view of the Space Needle! Utilize your military discount with tickets to a Mariners game. Or get out of the city and spend a weekend camping at Mount Rainier National Park.
- Population: 377,165
- Median Home Price: $214,500
- Veteran Unemployment Rate: 11.2%
- Crime Rate: Safer than 24% of U.S. cities
- Military Bases Near Tampa: MacDill AFB
The Sunshine State is a retirement haven in general, thanks to its warm weather, beautiful beaches, lush golf courses, and no state income tax. In fact, Florida is considered the best state for military retirees, which is why so many veterans choose it over other states. Tampa in particular is one of the more popular areas for retired military. No tax on military pension, 19 VA facilities within 50 miles, and close proximity to MacDill Air Force Base have led to 23,505 veterans laying roots in Tampa.
Things to Do in Tampa
Play 18 holes at Rocky Point Golf Course or Copperhead Course at Palm Harbor. Use your military discount for a day of family fun at Busch Gardens. Catch a Broadway show at Straz Center. Get your fill of Cuban-Spanish cuisine at the original Columbia Restaurant location in Ybor City. Learn more about WWII at the SS American Victory Ship & Museum. Drive your own speedboat around Tampa Bay to spot dolphins, manatees, sea turtles, and more with Speed Boat Adventures. Of course, you can always hop in the car and make a two-hour trip to Orlando to utilize military discounts at SeaWorld and Disney World.
Virginia Beach, VA
- Population: 452,602
- Median Home Price: $232,800
- Veteran Unemployment Rate: 6.1%
- Crime Rate: Safer than 53% of U.S. cities
- Military Bases Near Virginia Beach: Naval Air Station Oceana, Naval Station Norfolk, Joint Expeditionary Base Little Creek-Fort Story, Joint Base Langley-Eustis
Extremely low crime rates, greats schools, availability of jobs, and a beautiful coastline are just a few reasons why military retirees love to settle in Virginia Beach. With a veteran population of 59,266, five VA health facilities within 50 miles, and several military installations in the area, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that Virginia Beach is one of the best places for military retirement. On top of that, local residents love to go all out for the Fourth of July with military demonstrations, live music, and more at the annual Virginia Beach Patriotic Festival.
Things to Do in Virginia Beach
Join your neighbors at the annual NAS Oceana Air Show. Discover great restaurants and family-friendly activities along the Virginia Beach Oceanfront. Go hiking at the historic First Landing State Park. Spend a day with the stingrays at Virginia Aquarium & Marine Science Center. Grab some seafood at Waterman’s (and don’t forget to order an Orange Crush). And be sure to visit Cape Henry Lighthouse!
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Home price values from Zillow Research. Crime rates from AreaVibes.com. Population data from U.S. Census Bureau. Unemployment rates, military and veteran populations, military installations, and VA health facilities for large cities and medium cities from Military Times. State income and military tax information from Military Benefits.