Being in the military often involves moving around a lot. Whether you’re retiring, considering retiring early or looking to settle down after service, deciding where to make your forever home can be daunting.
Not only do factors like cost of living and employment rates factor in, but you’ll also want to make sure there are many resources for veterans available.
Luckily, there are plenty of affordable, veteran-friendly cities that have a lot to offer, both those who work after service and those who are retiring.
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San Antonio, Texas
San Antonio is very veteran-friendly; 16.7% of Bexar County citizens are connected to the military, and 11% are veterans.
There are also good resources for veterans. Brooke Army Medical Center, for example, is the Department of Defense’s largest health care facility and caters specifically to active service members, veterans, and their families.
Nearby attractions like the San Antonio Zoo or Six Flags also offer military discounts.
Raleigh, North Carolina
Raleigh is also an ideal city for veterans to settle down or retire in. The city reported a low 2.8% unemployment rate for veterans last year and boasts a plethora of veteran-owned businesses.
A Veterans Affairs Hospital (VA) in Raleigh also offers primary and urgent care. The VA has high patient satisfaction rates regarding scheduling availability, with 87% of veteran patients saying they can get appointments when needed for routine care.
Virginia Beach, Virginia
For veterans looking to live or retire in a coastal environment, look no further than Virginia Beach. The veteran unemployment rate is a mere 1.7%, and the city is home to more than 63,000 veterans. There is a VA in Virginia Beach and several nearby locations.
A few bases are nearby, notably the Naval Air Station Oceana. Virginia Beach is also home to the Military Aviation Museum, which features vintage aircraft, historical structures, and activities for all ages.
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Dayton is a great place for veterans to settle down or retire without breaking the bank. Housing costs 18% less than the national average, and the veteran unemployment rate in Ohio is only 2.2%.
There are roughly 7,400 veterans in Dayton, accounting for 6.8% of the total population. Consequently, plenty of veteran resources exist, like the local VA or Montgomery County’s Veterans Service Office. The city also hosts an annual Veterans Day Parade and Resource Fair.
Durham, North Carolina
Another North Carolina city ideal for veterans is Durham, just 25 miles northwest of Raleigh. As mentioned earlier, North Carolina is a great state in general for veterans, whether they plan to settle down or retire.
Durham has its own VA center and is home to COIN, or the Center of Innovation to Accelerate Discovery and Practice Transformation (ADAPT).
This center and program focus on veteran health care and wellness, specifically independence and sustainable health.
Veterans may also consider retiring or relocating to Boise, Idaho. The city has a high veteran population of over 34,000, low crime and unemployment rates, and affordable home prices.
Amenities and resources for veterans include a local VA center, a Medical Foster Home program for veterans, and the local Idaho State Veterans Cemetery. The Mountain Home and Air Force Base are also in Boise.
Colorado Springs, Colorado
For veterans and their families looking to enjoy nature in a welcoming community, consider Colorado Springs, the home of the United States Air Force Academy.
Nearly 95,000 veterans live in the city, and several military bases are nearby, including Fort Carson and the Peterson and Schriever Space Force Bases.
Other amenities and activities include the nearby VA center, the annual Veterans Day Parade, and plenty of local businesses and places offering military discounts.
Tampa provides a warm and welcoming place for veterans to retire or spend their lives after service. Florida boasts a very low veteran unemployment rate of just 1.5%, and Tampa itself is home to more than 21,000 veterans.
Nearby is the Tampa VA center, which celebrated 100 years of women’s health care. It’s also home to the MacDill Air Force Base and many veteran-owned businesses.
For those looking to retire or live in the 49th state, consider Anchorage. Just under 26,000 veterans live there, and 57.5% are employed. A local VA office also hosts the annual Veterans Day Ceremony.
You can find ample veteran discounts both at local businesses and government institutions. For example, the Alaska Railroad gives veterans a 20% discount, disabled veterans receive one free Alaska State Park Camping Pass, and more.
Nebraska, in general, is a wonderful place for veterans to retire, and Omaha is a particularly good hometown.
More than 32,000 veterans call Omaha home, and its median home price is just under $140,000. Additionally, military retirement pay is tax-exempt in Nebraska.
There's a large VA Medical Center in Omaha with various general and specialty patient services, including audiology and speech, LGBTQ+ and minority-specific care, TBI treatment, mental health services, and homeless assistance.
Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
Oklahoma City welcomes and supports veterans, whether they’re coming to settle down or retire. The veteran unemployment rate is just 2.1%, and more than 58,000 veterans are in the city.
The cost of living is relatively low, and the median home price was $24,000 in September, according to Realtor.com.
The local VA center recently hosted a motorcycle ride aimed to raise awareness for veterans struggling with addiction and mental health.
Harrisburg, the capital of Pennsylvania, is a wonderful place for veterans wanting to find a supportive community of local veterans and non-veterans alike.
The nearby Harrisburg University offers courses for active-duty service members and veterans, including bachelor's degrees in cybersecurity, management, IT, and nursing.
The local Harrisburg VA center offers support groups specialized counseling, including transitional counseling and referrals for addiction, suicide prevention, rehab programs, employment programs, and more.
Additionally, a village of tiny homes in Harrisburg will provide temporary housing, and a community for homeless veterans is being built.
Grand Forks, North Dakota
Grand Forks is a great city for veterans, especially those who wish to pursue further employment. The unemployment rate in the state is 0.7%, which is incredibly low.
Veterans make up 6.2% of the population. The state also offers disabled veterans a property tax exemption of up to $150,000.
Grand Forks has a VA that offers primary care, mental health services, and lab tests. The Veterans Memorial Park honors veterans from all service branches and educates visitors about military history.
Hot Springs, South Dakota
South Dakota also boasts a low veteran unemployment rate of 1.2%. The town of Hot Springs, though, is nicknamed “The Veteran’s Town.” Local resources include a VA hospital and the South Dakota State Veterans Home.
Housing is cheap, with homes costing an average of $130,000 and rent at an average of $756 per month. Furthermore, veterans make up 17.9% of the city’s population.
Austin is another great city for veterans to settle down or retire in. The city has several veteran-specific programs and initiatives and aims to employ veterans in local government jobs, mainly through internships. The military also declared Austin a five-star employer in 2007.
There is also a local military support group for those preparing for deployment, during service, and upon return. The VA offers various services, including mental health care, homeless support, and the nearby Camp Mabry Army Base.
Whether you’re looking to settle into a city as a new veteran or planning to retire, there are great cities around the country that have active and supportive veteran communities.
Whether you’re looking for resources and support, local military bases and memorials, or you're a retiree who wants to avoid wasting money and save on the cost of living, there is a city that can meet your specific needs.