Top 10 Cities For Military Retirement

best retirement cities militaryIt should be the goal of every city, town and village in the United States of America. To be known as a great place for America's veterans to work, reside and retire in. But some are just kinder to and better for the former members of the armed forces than others. For the some 22 million veterans living in the U.S., according to most recent census data, the choice of where to reside is of course affected by family considerations. But challenges like employment and access to veterans' benefits, among other factors, pull on veterans in unique ways. Taking those special challenges into consideration, the partnership of Military.com and USAA has come up with their list of the "10 Best Cities for Military Retirement."

In putting together the list, a formula was devised among 14 metrics. Among them were the general unemployment rate in addition to the number of veteran-owned businesses. But the factor that received the greatest weight: whether local industries valued the kind of abilities that are honed in the armed forces, such as aviation, engineering and protective skills. In total, some 379 cities were studied, ranging from small ones to major metropolitan areas. While cities like New York have much to offer veterans, the cost of living in them mostly excludes the biggest from the Top 10.

The study is designed for career service members on the verge of retirement, many of whom are in their late 30s and early 40s. But for the thousands who have done short tours of duty before returning to civilian life, the takeaway is still the same, says Ward Carroll, military retiree and editor of Military.com, in an interview with AOL Jobs.

"Even for those with many skills it's no small challenge when you move on to a civilian career," he says.

"But we're talking about proven leaders here," adds June Walbert, a lieutenant colonel in the Army Reserves and financial planner with USAA. "They have unique training. so whatever it would take to woo these veterans, we salute and support."

Below are the 10 top cities along with excerpts from the study.


1. Oklahoma City, Okla.

Population: 1,228,100

Median Home Price: $119,000

Unemployment Rate: 5.2 percent

Federal Pension Taxed: Yes

"Military retirees can take advantage of the excellent amenities offered at the four military bases in the Oklahoma City area, along with a local VA medical center."

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2. Norfolk, Va.

Population: 1,672,800

Median Home Price: $204,700

Unemployment Rate: 7.1 percent

Federal Pension Taxed: Yes

"The Norfolk area also stands out for a significant number of defense contract awards."

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3. Richmond, Va.

Population: 1,243,400

Median Home Price: $195,400

Unemployment Rate: 7.1 percent

Federal Pension Taxed: Yes

"As an added bonus, Richmond boasts a low sales tax, which helps retirees make their dollar go further. The state, however, does tax military pensions."

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4. Austin, Texas

Population: 1,708,100

Median Home Price: $189,600

Unemployment Rate: 6.8 percent

Federal Pension Taxed: No

"The Austin area still ranks as one of the more affordable due to accessible housing and no state tax on military retirement pay."

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5. San Antonio, Texas

Population: 2,091,800

Median Home Price: $151,000

Unemployment Rate: 7.3 percent

Federal Pension Taxed: No

"Though the San Antonio metro area has relatively fewer federal jobs than Austin, it scores even higher for defense contract awards and jobs that are a good fit for military skills."

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6. Madison, Wis.

Population: 564,100

Median Home Price: $223,500

Unemployment Rate: 5.8 percent

Federal Pension Taxed: No

"Madison's rank on the overall top 10 list can be partially attributed to its low unemployment rate and overall affordability with low sales tax, lack of state tax on military retirement pay and lower housing costs."

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7. Philadelphia, Pa.

Population: 3,949,400

Median Home Price: $205,200

Unemployment Rate: 8.2 percent

Federal Pension Taxed: No

"While the area boasts zero state tax on military retirement pay, Philadelphia is generally less affordable than many of the other top places and offers fewer opportunities for the aspiring small business owner given its lower scores in the small business and veteran-owned business categories."

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8. Raleigh, N.C.

Population: 1,144,300

Median Home Price: $177,600

Unemployment Rate: 7.8 percent

Federal Pension Taxed: Partly

"Raleigh stands out for its temperate climate in addition to a very large number of jobs in industries relating to military skills. The area also received top marks for affordability, though there is some taxation on military retirement pay."

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9. Omaha, Neb.

Population: 851,000

Median Home Price: $132,800

Unemployment Rate: 5.1 percent

Federal Pension Taxed: Yes

"Many military contracts are awarded to businesses in Omaha, and former military men and women are likely to find a market that appreciates their skills. In addition, Omaha enjoys one of the lowest unemployment rates on our list at 5.1 percent and scores high when it comes to affordability."

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10. Manchester, N.H.

Population: 402,100

Median Home Price: $229,000

Unemployment Rate: 5.3 percent

Federal Pension Taxed: No

"Manchester outshines many other places in our study with high scores for defense contract awards and an extremely low unemployment rate, though there may be fewer jobs in sectors related to military skills than other cities in the top 10 ranking."

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