Finding a job after the military often involves both starting a new career and choosing a new location to call home.
We hope to make the task a little less daunting by providing a list of the top cities that not only have strong job markets*, but also provide easy access to military support and services, higher education opportunities, affordable living, rich culture and entertainment options, and (in most cases) pension-friendly local tax laws.
Here's our list of the top 10 cities to find a job after the military.
1. Austin, Texas
Unemployment rate: 6.9%
Why it's so great: Consistently ranked among the best cities for finding jobs and retiring, the state capital has a reputation for being trendy and progressive and is one of the greenest cities in the country. It enjoys a very low unemployment rate, is home to the prominent University of Texas, and Fort Hood is within 60 miles. Also Texas doesn't tax federal pensions.
2. Fayetteville, N.C.
Unemployment rate: 9.3%
Why it's so great: One of two military cities named by Forbes last year as being the best for finding a job (the other is Jacksonville, N.C.) Fayetteville is home to Fort Bragg, one of the largest military complexes in the world. In addition, Fayetteville State University is conveniently within city limits and Pope Air Force Base is just to the north.
3. Jacksonville, N.C.
Unemployment rate: 8.7%
Why it's so great: Named alongside Fayetteville as one of the best cities for finding a job, Jacksonville has a strong job market and is even expanding in some areas. It's home to Camp Lejeune and Marine Corps Air Station New River, the largest Marine force in the world, and offers educational opportunities in the form of several colleges and universities including the University of North Carolina, Wilmington.
Unemployment rate: 7.5%
Why it's so great: The city is full of small to mid-sized manufacturing plants offering jobs in a variety of industries, has an affordable housing market, and is home to Bayor University for cultural and re-education opportunities. In addition Fort Hood is within 50 miles. Texas does not tax federal pensions.
5. Oklahoma City, Okla.
Unemployment rate: 6.2%
Why it's so great: The city has maintained a steady economy in recent years and is known for its vibrant and engaging downtown area. It's home to Tinker Air Force base and has a VA hospital within the city limits, plus the University of Oklahoma is nearby in Norman. However, Oklahoma does tax federal pensions.
6. College Station-Bryan, Texas
Unemployment rate: 6.2%
Why it's so great: The College Station-Bryan metro area boasts an exceptionally low unemployment rate, affordable housing and an overall stable economy. It's also home to Texas A&M University for culture, education and sports opportunities, and Fort Hood is within 90 miles. Like all Texas cities on our list, it doesn't tax federal pensions.
7. Harrisburg-Carlisle, Pa.
Unemployment rate: 7.7%
Why it's so great: The Harrisburg-Carlisle metro has largely avoided the economic ups and downs of recent years and enjoys a solid job base and low unemployment rate. The state capital is home to the U.S. Army War College at Carlisle Barracks as well as a VA medical center within 30 miles. Pennsylvania doesn't tax federal pensions.
8. San Angelo, Texas
Unemployment rate: 6.4%
Why it's so great: The city is considered a commercial, health and cultural hub for the surrounding areas and enjoys a stable economy and low unemployment rate. It's home to Goodfellow Airforce Base for high-quality military amenities and the highly acclaimed Angelo State University. As mentioned earlier, Texas does not tax federal pensions.
9. Madison, Wis.
Unemployment rate: 6.0%
Why it's so great: Boasting the lowest unemployment rate on our list, Madison is home to the culture-rich University of Wisconsin and a VA medical center. Fort McCoy, the only military base in the state, is 90 miles away in Sparta. Wisconsin does not tax federal pensions.
10. Pittsburgh, Pa.
Unemployment rate: 7.9%
Why it's so great: Pittsburgh has a rich industrial history, solid economy and affordable cost of living. It's home to both the University of Pittsburgh and Carnegie Mellon University as well as a VA medical center. The nearest base is 150 miles away at Carlisle Barracks. Pennsylvania does not tax federal pensions.
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*Unemployment rates courtesy of bls.gov and current as of February 2011