The Best Places For Military To Retire
Retirement is a door that an average of 10,000 people in the United States open every day. As a long-standing active duty service member of the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard or Space Force, your retirement journey may be right around the corner. The question is: What will be on the other side of that door when you finally hang up your military service uniform? In other words, in what state will you live out your golden years? This article will help us get a better understanding of the best places for military members to retire by referencing relevant information and statistics that may affect our decision.
Military veterans who are preparing for retirement are in an enviable position. Many people in the civilian population arent wondering where they can retire, but if they have the means to retire at all. Indeed, just over half of non-retirees expect to have enough money to enter retirement once they reach that age, according to a Gallup survey. This compares to 80% of current retirees who do have the financial resources to maintain their standard of living.
Thanks to the Military Retirement Fund, full Social Security benefits, money building in your 401 and making consistent contributions to your savings accounts and investments, financial stability isnt a question for you.
- Veteran population
- State tax environment
Best Veterans Benefits In All 50 States
What are the best veteran benefits across all states and territories in the United States? All states have certain benefits in common, but some offer better options than others.
What follows is a list of some of the best veteran benefits offered in an individual statenot all the benefits as they are too lengthy to include here, but those that specifically benefit veterans who have retired or separated from the military.
Some states seem more generous than others and in some locations the best veteran benefits in that particular state may be restricted to disabled vets or other groups within the veteran community.
Veteran benefits are subject to change and while all information in this article is accurate at press time, its good to check with your local state government official site, state-level Division of Veterans Affairs, Department of Veterans Affairs, etc. for the most current submission information, qualifications, etc.
Fort Hood: Austin Texas
Fort Hood is about one hour north of Austin, Texas. It’s a popular location for military retirees because it contains the only VA Medical Center in the area. Living here gives you access not only to Austin, but also other great Texas cities like Dallas, San Antonio, and Houston.
Texas is one of the best places for military retirees to live it has no state tax on military pay, and a relatively low cost of living, which makes it a great place to maximize your military pension. The Austin area also offers numerous federal jobs and defense contract positions. Read more about the Fort Hood area here.
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Best States For Veterans With Disability
If youre a disabled veteran, you understand the unique challenges that come with daily living. You may have been injured in combat or suffered from an illness during service. Regardless of how your disability came about, it can be challenging to move around and function in everyday life. Thats why choosing a state with resources for veterans with disabilities is essential. There is no one-size-fits-all solution when it comes to finding a place that makes sense for you, but here are some states that could be suitable options.
Grand Forks Afb: Grand Forks North Dakota
You may be surprised to learn that Grand Forks public schools are some of the best in the nation. Families who settle here after retiring from the military can be confident that their children will have great educational opportunities. They can even attend the University of North Dakota in town.
The Grand Forks area has a healthy low unemployment rate of 3.1% and a cost of living nearly 6% below the national average. Military retirees and their families will have access to several VA medical clinics.
Grand Forks is located a stone’s throw away from the Minnesota border, with easy access to plenty of family-friendly outdoor activities.
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Arnold Palmer Professional Athletes With Military Service
Although his claim to fame happened decades ago, ardent golfers of any age know the name Arnold Palmer. He won 62 PGA tour titles from 1955 to 1973, making him one of the top five golfers of all time. But before he became a golf superstar, Palmer served with the U.S. Coast Guard for four years. After losing his college friend and roommate to a car accident, Palmer enlisted in the service as a way to give back to his community and save lives. He served from 1951 to 1954 as a lifeguard at Cape May, N.J., and as a photographer at Cleveland East Pierhead Lighthouse in Cleveland, Ohio. Palmer heavily credits his time with the Coast Guard as one of the main influences in his upbringing. In a conversation with Coast Guard historian Richard A. Stephenson, Palmer shared, Im very proud of the fact that I was in the Coast Guard The knowledge that I gained, the maturity that I gained in the Coast Guard made me a better person. The military isnt just about restrictions, its a learning experience, and its very important that young people have that opportunity to learn and to know themselves a little better. I think the military helps put that in the right perspective.
Things To Do In Tampa
Play 18 holes at Rocky Point Golf Course or Copperhead Course at Palm Harbor. Use your military discount for a day of family fun at Busch Gardens. Catch a Broadway show at Straz Center. Get your fill of Cuban-Spanish cuisine at the original Columbia Restaurant location in Ybor City. Learn more about WWII at the SS American Victory Ship & Museum. Drive your own speedboat around Tampa Bay to spot dolphins, manatees, sea turtles, and more with Speed Boat Adventures. Of course, you can always hop in the car and make a two-hour trip to Orlando to utilize military discounts at SeaWorld and Disney World.
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States That Don’t Tax Military Retirement Pay
Given the list above, that means there are 36 states that don’t tax military retirement pay. In some cases, it’s because the state doesn’t have an income tax. However, in other places, it’s because the state specifically exempts military pensions from tax or provides a tax credit for it.
Here’s a list of states that don’t tax military retirement pay:
How We Developed Our List Of The Best States For Veterans
VA Claims Insider used five key qualitative and quantitative measures to calculate the Best Overall States for Veterans, including Veteran Property Tax Exemptions, Veteran Income Tax Waivers, Education Benefits for Veterans, Free Drivers Licenses for Veterans, and Free Hunting/Fishing Licenses for Veterans.
Property tax exemptions are the crème-de-la-crème state benefit for veterans, so we assigned it a 50% weighting with a 100 point maximum score.
Income tax waivers are also critically important to veterans, and thus, we assigned it a 30% weighting with a 100 point maximum score.
Education benefits for veterans was assigned a 10% weighting while free drivers licenses and reduced rates for hunting and fishing licenses were assigned a 5% weighting each. All weighted averages were also based on a 100 point maximum score.
The final step was to sum the weighted average scores across each of the five metrics to get a total Veteran Benefits Quality Score.
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Top 10 Best Places For Military Retirees
by Lizann Lightfoot -March 23rd, 2022
The best places for military retirees might not be on the top of your list at first.
Besides the obvious choice of moving closer to relatives, military families often weigh several factors when deciding where to retire:
State taxes on military pension
Employment opportunities for the veteran and spouse
Education opportunities for the veteran, spouse, and children
Access to VA healthcare centers
General attractions in the area
Many families find it convenient to live near a military base after retirement, even if it is not an installation from the veteranâs branch. A military installation will have benefits for the whole family, including a health clinic or military hospital, discounted groceries at the Commissary, and an ongoing connection to the military community.
States That Dont Tax Military Retirement
One of the most important things to consider when choosing what state to live is how much your veterans retirement payments will be taxed. Your budget could go much farther in the following states, which dont tax military retirement pay at all:
Tax codes vary from state to state, so check with a financial professional for the most up-to-date information about tax laws, income brackets, etc. They can help you narrow your options as you consider a new home.
Whether your ultimate retirement plans include hitting the open road for adventures, hiking scenic trails with other veterans or relaxing on a sandy beach with family and friends, being able to keep more of your retirement income in the above states can help turn those dreams into reality.
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Health Care Total Points: 3333
- Number of VA Health Facilities per Number of Veterans*: Full Weight
- Federal, State, Local & Private Hospitals per Capita: Full Weight
- Quality of VA Hospitals: Triple Weight Note: This metric includes VA hospital performance star rating from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs Strategic Analytics for Improvement and Learning performance improvement tool.
- Physicians per Capita: Full Weight
- Mental Health Counselors per Capita: Full Weight
- Veteran Suicide Rate: Full Weight
- Presence of Veteran-Treatment Courts: Full Weight Note: This binary metric considers the presence or absence of veteran-treatment courts, programs that provide treatment and mentoring services to veterans with mental-health and substance-abuse problems in order to keep them out of the criminal justice system and help stabilize their lives.
- Percentage of Residents 12+ Who Are Fully Vaccinated: Double Weight
Best And Worst States For Military Retirees
There are nearly two million military retirees in the U.S., and that number is only expected to grow within the next decade. But military personnel need to carefully consider where they retire before leaving the service and entering civilian life.
Between varying state tax policies on military benefits and access to Veteran Affairs health facilities, states may not provide the same opportunities and support for members of the U.S. military. To find the best and worst locations for military vets, personal finance resource WalletHub ranked all 50 states and the District of Columbia, giving them a score out of 100 points based on healthcare access, economic environment and overall quality of life for former military members. While Virginia and Florida topped the list, notably none of the states scored higher than 61 points.
The scores speak to the fact that retiring from the military is not easy, says Jill Gonzalez, an analyst at WalletHub. Retirees face different struggles, including disability, post-traumatic stress and finding employment, for which they should receive more support from federal, state and local authorities.
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Overall Best State For Veterans: Texas
No surprise here: Texas is the #1 overall best state for veteran benefits.
The benefits offered to veterans in Texas are simply unmatched by any other state.
For example, Texas is one of just two states with full property tax exemptions for 100% scheduler or TDIU veterans .
Texas also offers generous property tax reductions for veterans with a VA rating between 10% and 90%.
In addition, Texas is one of 9 states with no state income tax, so you get more bang for your buck.
Texas also exempts military retirement pay, Survivor Benefit Plan payments, and VA disability compensation payments from any taxation.
The Hazelwood Act is one of the best veteran education benefits in the country it provides veterans, spouses, and dependent children with up to 150 hours of tuition free college at state schools.
Texas also offers veterans with a 60% VA disability rating or higher a free drivers license and Veteran plates.
Finally, Texas veterans with a 50% VA rating or higher get a free super combo hunting and fishing license each year.
Texas Veteran Benefits Quality Score: 95/100
Top Reasons Florida Is One Of The Best Places To Retire In The Us
Accessibility of VA Health Care
Florida boasts 21 military bases, so naturally here is a great variety of health services available for Florida veterans. Not only can they find highly rated veteran hospitals, but also outpatient clinics and vet centers. If you need care in Florida, you can certainly find it in our state, making this one of the best places to retire.
No State Tax on Military Pensions
Kiplinger ranks Florida as one of the top five most tax-friendly states for retirees. There is no state income tax at all in the Sunshine State. Fortunately for veterans, this means they dont have to pay any income tax on their military retirement income. They can instead put that money toward their lifestyle, savings, or anything else they choose.
Thriving Population of Veterans
According to the Census Bureau, over 1.5 million veterans live in the state of Florida, and 50% of the veteran population is 65 or older. These numbers mean there are thriving veteran member groups like the USO and Team RWB, where older veterans have the support of their peers and find connection with people who have had similar life experiences.
Health Benefits of Living near Water
- Fort Mose Historic State Park
- Armed Forces History Museum
- Brevard Veterans Memorial Center Museum
- Corporal Larry E. Smedley Vietnam War Museum
- Brigade 2506 Museum and Library
- Deland Naval Air Station Museum
- Jacksonville Automobile and Motorcycle Museum
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Money Tips For Veterans
- Financial help from someone whos always got your six. Veterans, like everybody else, sometimes need help with financial matters. A financial advisor can provide that help and bring in reinforcements to set you on the right path. Finding a financial advisor doesnt have to be hard. SmartAssets free tool connects you with financial advisors in your area in five minutes. If youre ready to be matched with local advisors, get started now.
- Dont sacrifice continuing education because of costs. If you want to go to college after you serve, the GI Bill will help but you may still end up with student loans. To discover how much youll need to pay, use SmartAssets student loan calculator.
- Create a strong strategy for your budget. Use SmartAssets budget calculator to figure out how much you should be spending on different areas and youll make sure you have enough money for everything.
Questions about our study? Contact .
Melissa Stockwell Professional Athletes With Military Service
Harry How/Getty Images
Melissa Stockwell is no stranger to athletic successes. A paralympic triathlete swimmer, Stockwell has competed in the Paralympics twice, one of which earned her a bronze medal. She is a three-time gold medalist in the ICU Triathlon World Championships. Before her athletic successes, Stockwell served as an Army Officer in the 1st Cavalry Division at Fort Hood, Texas. She served from 2002 to 2005 and spent the latter part of her military career deployed in Iraq. While leading a convoy in Baghdad, Stockwell was struck by a roadside bomb, resulting in the loss of her left leg. She retired from the military after the accident, earning a Bronze Star and a Purple Heart for her service. Along with taking an interest in swimming, Stockwell worked as a prosthetist and served on the board of directors of the Wounded Warrior Project. Besides her numerous achievements in triathlons, Stockwell holds the title of the first Iraq veteran to be chosen for the Paralympics.
In 2018, the VA issued a report, The Military to Civilian Transition: A Review of Historical, Current, and Future Trends. More than 8,500 veterans, active-duty, National Guard and Reserve members and dependents identified their transition challenges:
- Navigating VA programs, benefits and services 60%
- Finding a job 55%
- Adjusting to civilian culture 41%
- Addressing financial challenges 40%
- Applying military-learned skills to civilian life 39%
Maintaining a laser-like focus on a goal is critical.
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Th Worst: Rhode Island
The reputation of the Rhode Island Veterans Home in Bristol isnt quite as alluring as the one in Iowa there are reports that military retirees there are frequently victims of theft. One notable incidents involved a nearly 100-year-old Medal of Honor recipient who was robbed of it months after moving in. The older generation of veterans in the state isnt the only one suffering: Rhode Island has the third-fewest job opportunities for vets and the lowest number of VA health facilities per veteran in the nation.
Best States For Military Retirees
I hope you enjoy reading this blog post.
If you want to learn how to implement these strategies to get the VA benefits you deserve, to speak with a VA claim expert for free.
This is your Ultimate Guide to the Top 5 Best States for Military Retirees, whereby we used a weighted average statistical analysis to arrive at our conclusions.
We compared metrics across five key financial measures that matter most to military retirees.
If youre retired military who served your country for 20 years or more, choosing where to live after leaving the military is a very important decision for you and your family.
You might be wondering: What are the best military friendly retirement states?
Well, heres the deal: Some states are more friendly to military retirees than others, and thus, selecting where to live could save you thousands of dollars per year!
Okay, lets jump into VA Claims Insiders list of the best states for military retirement in 2023.
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