Best Places for Retired Military

Category: Best Retirement Towns and States

December 7 — Harrisburg, PA; Syracuse, NY; and Waco, TX are not used to being selected as “best places to retire”. Yet these towns were among the top 10 on a new list of best places for retired military personnel from USAA and Military.com. The USAA lists provide a perfect illustration of why choosing a place to retire based on criteria that make sense for you is better than relying on any random list.

Retired military personnel share many common retirement needs. Many of them, particularly officers or senior noncoms, will get a substantial pension. Moving to a state where that pension won’t be taxed could be worth thousands of dollars a year. Likewise, retired soldiers, sailors, airmen, and marines can take advantage of military hospitals and PXs- if they are close enough.

USAA is a financial services company that primarily serves military personnel and their families. Military.com is a website serving military personnel.
Here are their top 10:
1. Waco, TX
2. Oklahoma City, OK
3. Austin/Round Rock, TX
4. College Station/Bryan, TX
5. Harrisburg/Carlisle, PA
6. San Angelo, TX
7. Madison, WI
8. Pittsburgh, PA
9. New Orleans.Metairie/Kenner, LA
10. Syracuse, NY

One of the best things about the USAA list was its criteria for selection – all extremely important for retired military personnel. Those factors included unemployment rate, taxation of military pensions, number of colleges, proximity of VA hospital and military installation, and median home price. Another nice feature of the list was that it provided different lists for Military, Large, Medium, and Small Metros. For example, San Angelo, TX was rated #1 in the Small Metro list, and Oklahoma City was #1 in the Large Metro.

What do you think?
Please share your comments below.

Posted by John Brady on December 7th, 2010

19 Comments »

  1. Thank you for posting this survey. As a retired military individual on my second career, this survey is highly appreciated. In approximately four years I will be retiring for the FINAL time. I have appreciated the insights and information your posting, updates, and other resources have provided. But providing this unique survey orientied around military retirees is greatly appreciated.

    Military retirees are a unique segment of the retirement community as a whole. We seek the commradary of other military retirees, we are a hardy self suffience group, who take care of our own. We also seek, desire, and need the privilages we have earned.

    This survey meets and address this unique group. Please continue to keep us in mind as you continue to provide informational and other resources to retirees.

    by Kyle Wright — December 8, 2010

  2. Although the quantative criteria you’ve listed here are important, other standards — softer, more aesthetic measurements — can also strike a cord and play a major part in bringing military personnel to a community. At Shenandoah, a 55+ community in Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley, a goodly number of residents are retired military officers and their wives. They say they were immediately drawn by 120-acre Lake Frederick and the surrounding Blue Ridge and Allegheny mountains. Why? These features reminded them of the majestic mountains and lakes of Bavaria, where many had spent years of military service! Of course it helps that a commissary is a pleasant 50-minute drive from the community, but it’s notable that fond memories are sparked by the spectacular Shenandoah countryside where, not so incidentally, major Civil War and Revolutionary War battles were fought and are commemorated.

    by Jan Sedaka — December 8, 2010

  3. Senior service members are among the people grappling with the dilemma of finding the right retirement community. And as retirement gets closer the choices get narrower. It’s good to know that the communities for retired personnel is getting better now with good reviews. It’s more than sharing a few war stories and setting up a tee time or a surf session.

    by best retirement communities — December 9, 2010

  4. MY WIFE AND I HAVE BEEN RESEARCHING FOR A FEW YEARS. TRYING TO NARROW DOWN THE CHOICES. WE HAVE LIVED IN MEXIFORNIA FOR 30 YRS. IT HAS LOST IT’S CHARM. IT IS TIME TO GO. WE WANT TO FIND A GOOD COMBINATION OF FACTORS, INCLUDING MILITARY BENEFITS. WE HAVE DECIDED TO DO THE RV SEARCH, WITH OUR DATA BASE OF INFO. OUR PLANS ARE TO VISIT THE WESTERN PARTS AND HEAD EAST. YOUR DATA ON POSSIBLE PLACES IN TEXAS, WITH MILITARY OPTIONS, WAS DEEPLY APPRECIATED. AS A NATIVE TEXAN, YOUR LETTER MIGHT BE A HIT, THAT I SHOULD JUST GO HOME.

    by DAVE HUCKABEE — December 9, 2010

  5. This is something my wife and I often discuss since I’m nearing retirement. We’d love to be near NY, where our sons and grandkids live. Deciding which state would’ve been easier had things remained the same.

    by Crazy C. — December 9, 2010

  6. Crazy C.,

    What’re you looking for exactly? Urban type of retirement? Small town? There are lots of options if you’re looking for a retirement place near NY.

    by Arthur — December 14, 2010

  7. Great info…as others have posted, Mexifornia is no longer the gardenspot it once was, and I plan to take my pensions and relocate out of state. Texas is looking promising. I can probably sell my California home and pay cash for twice the real estate in ten years.

    by Major Mike — December 15, 2010

  8. Arthur: Small town. Probably within PA. We’re now looking at Hershey or Lebanon. Just let us know if you have other communities in mind. Searching online makes it easier though we’d value referrals from friends and people living near the area. Thanks.

    by Crazy C. — December 16, 2010

  9. I’m 4 years away from retiring in the military. My wife and I were looking at some houses in Ocala,Florida. Not sure because of the hurricane and weather. Anyone located in any of the Texas places mentioned on this article can tell me how much are the 3 bds/2 br are going for? Thanks.

    by Frankie S. — December 19, 2010

  10. Why do you only consider locations in the USA. I packed my bags and left America the day after my final day of government work and headed for the Land of Smiles – Thailand. Happily retired in Khon Kaen, Thailand and really enjoy reading about all the issues in America.

    by Khon Kaen — December 20, 2010

  11. I’ve seen many “retirement lists” for diverse folks looking for a good place to retire to *for them!*
    I don’t think I’ve ever seen such a listing for retired Federal government folks. Is there such a list?

    by Rich Kissel — December 20, 2010

  12. crazy c: Try Alden Place. It’s in Lebanon county. You can read a couple of reviews from users at City-Data.com and this site.

    khon kaen: Thailand sounds fun. Others, including me, would love to consider retiring abroad but it isn’t always an easy decision to make.

    rich kissel: So do I, I’ve never seen such list. But do check out myfederalretirement.com if you need anything related to the topic.

    by Arthur — December 21, 2010

  13. Khon Kaen: Thailand is a great place. Stayed there for 30 days and was in Bankok, Chian Mia but I most stayed in PATTAYA. The place is a party city but Just want a place that isn’t in the middle of a party city. I’m also considering the Caribbean as well.

    by Frankie S — December 21, 2010

  14. Arthur,

    Thanks. We’ve been looking at 55+ communities near golf areas. Alden Place is worth a look. I’ll talk it over with my wife though.

    by Crazy C. — December 27, 2010

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  16. After looking through your list of the top ten military retirement cities is there any designated military retrement communities. I didn’t find any military retirement communities in your top ten cities. Please e-mail me if you have any info.

    by Van Whiddon — February 26, 2011

  17. Van, There are some suggestions that might answer your question in the Forum post on this topic
    http://www.topretirements.com/forum/t1562/Best_communities_for_retired_military.html

    by John Brady — March 2, 2011

  18. There are two distinct types of military retirees. They are those who have done their 20 and are generally 40-65 years of age and then there are the truly retired over 65. I am in the second group and looking for a retirement location. All of which sets the stage for my point/suggestion.

    State taxes obviously play a roll in deciding where to retire. Our current thought is to retire on the east coast somewhere from Delaware to South
    Carolina. Consequently I have computed the state taxes for each of the included states and none of my results match up with the various charts I have
    been able to find. It would be a great service to the truly retired military if the states could be ranked by total tax burden for that segment of the
    population. The question of the best economical relocation becomes evermore important as Congress continues to chip away at promised benefits.

    I should add that your website is very informative. The “Find a Community” feature is especially useful. Thank you for your efforts.

    by Greg — March 4, 2011

  19. :smile: I enjoyed reading the comments and smiled inwardly at the mention of retirement areas that I had considered in my research. Wilmington is a lovely artsy town on the coast, San Antonio and Lackland are a military hub of my youth with many fond memories. I wonder why veterans have not considered the active retirement communities that many are residing in…many are in great locals?

    by Judy Rehfeld — June 6, 2011

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