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Permanent Leave: Finding the Best Place to Retire for a Military Vet

Category: Best Retirement Towns and States

By John Durfee
I’ve still got a decade or two before I can retire but my father, also a veteran, is about ready to. Where my family lives is very important to me, and I don’t want to leave this decision to fate. With the help of my daughter, I did some research to find the best places to retire for military in that fit my father and me as veterans. This article will share what we found out about our top 3 locations.

Our Criteria
There are a few things in particular that I am looking for in a retirement location. First and foremost…
I’d like it to be near a V.A. hospital. The rest of the aspects on my list are more just for perks. For one, I don’t want to be the only old guy in town. A town with an substantial over 60 community would be great. Second, I’d like to be near a college or community college for the stage shows they often put on, and so I can take a class to pick up pottery or something on a whim. I’d like to go to a place where my retirement pension won’t be taxed. And lastly, I’d like to be near some sort of military base so I can shop at the PX. Here are a few places that I found, I’ll limit it to my three favorites.

  1. Wilmington, NC

    First we looked at Wilmington, North Carolina. There’s a VA hospital right in town, Camp Legeune is just to the north, and it’s a lively port town with plenty of fun events. Dad’s pension won’t be taxed but since I started later than him, mine would be. The downfall here is the weather. It gets hot and sticky in the summer and freezing in the winter. This is no good for a person with any type of arthritis.

  1. Glendora, CA

    Glendora lies in sunny southern California in the San Gabriel Valley district. It’s about a half hour from L.A. and about twenty minutes from the Long Beach VA hospital. Just down the street is Citrus Community College that offers classes to people of all ages and puts on Broadway-caliber stage performances. About 45 minutes to the south is Marine Corps Camp Pendleton with everything I could need from a military base. The weather here is really great, especially for somebody with arthritis. It is warm and dry but not too extreme in either direction. The main downfall is the significant tax in California that would nip thousands of dollars a year off my pension.
  1. Waco, TX

    The big winner is little Waco, Texas. Approximately 100 miles south of Dallas, Waco is home to Baylor University, which offers plenty of entertainment, artistic and sports alike. There’s an senior community in town with a VA hospital right down the street and a PX approximately 45 minutes away (along with a number of clinics and additional medical centers) in Fort Hood. Best of all, Texas doesn’t tax your pension, since there is no state income tax. My dad agrees that’s the best place and that’s where he’s headed soon. That’s probably where I’ll end up joining him before long as well!

The transition into one’s golden years is both physically and emotionally taxing. As a veteran of war, I can feel all those years of P.T. and combat taking their toll on my knees, wrists, ankles, back and… heck, everywhere. So I am looking forward to relaxing and taking it easy, knowing I have done my homework in site selection.

For further reference:
Best Places for Military Retirement. Don’t miss the comments!
USAA’s Best Places for Military Retirement

What do you think? Use the Comments section below to share your thoughts about the best, or the worst, places for a military retirement. And thanks John, for sharing your research with your fellow Topretirements members!

Operation Freedom War veteran John Durfee is employed at Airsplat, the nation’s largest retailer of Airsoft Guns and Airsoft Pistols.

Posted by John Brady on May 18th, 2011


  1. Thank you for revealing your research to us other Vets. I am one also and was very interested in your results. I love the way you wrote it up the reasons behind the results. That helps tremendously as each individual will have different requirements.

    by AJ White — May 19, 2011

  2. I agree with your choice of Texas as I myself retired here in San Antonio Texas in 1997 after 21 years of service to our country. San Antonio should also be considered as a very attractive choice as San Antonio (Military City USA) is home to 3 major Military Bases, Randolph AFB, Fort Sam Houston, and Lackland AFB. The military Hospital (Brooks Army Medical Center) at Fort Sam Houston is one of three Level 1 Trauma Care centers here in San Antonio, and there is a VA Hospital (Audie Murphy) also here in SA. Cost of living is low, maybe even lower than it is in Waco/Ft. Hood area. There are several major colleges as well as many community colleges in the area. Weather is just like Waco, hot and a bit more humid due to our close proximity to the Gulf Coast, making winters very mild. Even though San Antonio is the 10th largest city in the USA, it takes great strides in maintaining a small town feeling. Local attractions include the River Walk (down town SA), Sea World, 6 Flags Fiesta Texas Theme Park and a dozen or so golf courses both municipal and private. I recommend you revisit your research and take a look at San Antonio. 😀

    by SFC Robert Palmer (Ret) — May 19, 2011

  3. Can someone tell me anything about the Pensacola and/or Panama City areas? My husband is leaning towards these locations to move to and I like the area around Clarksvill, TN-with Fort Campbell, KY just across the state line. We are not interested in college activities as much as taxes, aviation and health care. I can tell you we are getting tired of the winters in the U.P. of Michigan, even though it has many other assets.

    by Carol J Lyon — May 19, 2011

  4. Did you happen to look at the Richmond, VA area? You have so many Military bases it is ridiculous. Also, the ocean, D.C. and plenty of colleges. D.C is a short 2 hours and the ocean is less than 1 hour…
    Just wanted to ask if you had researched the area. My wife and I are getting medically retired in a few months and have started to check out the area. My wife works for DECA and that is one of her top choices (FT Lee). We also both have vacationed in VA Beach together, as well as on our own, and fell in love with the area years ago.
    Good luck with your career and your retirement…you and your family deserve it.

    by Jim B — August 3, 2011

  5. My husband and I have lived in the beautiful lowcountry of South Carolina, just outside Charleston for 16 years. Both sets of our parents live here as well. There is an active combined Naval and Air Weapons station near by so we have many military retirees. There are 26 golf courses in Charleston County, georgeous beaches and affordable county parks with tons of amenities! We also have wonderful restaurants, including Husk named Bon Appetit’s #1 American restaurant for 2011, and theater and music abound.

    We are fortunate to have a low property-tax rate as well as some of the lowest gas prices in the nation. Best of all, you don’t have to shovel heat!

    To find out more about are area type into your browser:

    by Jenn Maher — August 25, 2011

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