Leaving the military for the civilian world can feel like walking into the great unknown, especially if you've spent the majority of your life wearing the uniform. And for those getting out of active duty, picking a place to live can be one of the hardest decisions.
Military veterans and retirees know that first post-duty location could set them and their families up for a successful civilian life and career. An ETS move or military retirement final move can take you virtually anywhere you want to go within some parameters. So how do you pick?
Knowing the best and worst states for military veterans and retirees is a good start. Experts with the financial advice website WalletHub annually release their updated list of the best and worst places for military retirees. Their rankings look at all 50 states and the District of Columbia.
Here's what they say for 2022.
10 Worst States for Military Veterans and Retirees 2022:
- District of Columbia
- New Mexico
- Rhode Island
10 Best States for Military Veterans and Retirees 2022:
- New Hampshire
- South Carolina
- South Dakota
What Makes a State Good or Bad for Veterans and Military Retirees?
WalletHub's report factors in about 30 indicators, looking at everything from overall cost of living to veteran-specific services offered by the state government. Of those factors, 12 aren't veteran-focused but do make a substantial quality of life impact, such as the "idleness of the weather." And one of the indicators, whether the state taxes military pensions, impacts only retirees, not veterans. The remaining factors impact both veterans and retirees, regardless of time in service.
Best and Worst Cities for Military Veterans and Retirees
While this WalletHub study looks specifically at the best and worst states for military veterans and retirees, another WalletHub study, released annually in November, focuses on specific cities.
In 2021, that study said the top 10 best cities for veterans were:
- Tampa, Florida
- Austin, Texas
- Scottsdale, Arizona
- Raleigh, North Carolina
- Gilbert, Arizona
- Lincoln, Nebraska
- Madison, Wisconsin
- Virginia Beach, Virginia
- Orlando, Florida
- Boise, Idaho
The 10 worst cities for veterans were:
- North Las Vegas
- San Bernardino, California
- Toledo, Ohio
- Jersey City, New Jersey
- Memphis, Tennessee
- Newark, New Jersey
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