As it turns out, the Lone Star State garnered the most spots, taking four of the top ten. Pennsylvania showed up twice on the list, for Harrisburg and Pittsburgh.
USAA and Military.com commissioned a study to create the list to pinpoint places in the U.S. that “offer a high quality of life and help maximize military retiree benefits as service members manage their “first retirement” from the armed forces and begin planning their “second retirement” from civilian life,” according to a press release.
The firms say that the first-ever “Best Places for Military Retirement” list gives veterans a head start on planning both the second and third acts of their lives, which likely involves a new community, a new home and a new financial plan.”
The rest of the list is:
2. Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
3. Austin, Texas
4. College Station, Texas
5. Harrisburg, Pennsylvania
6. San Angelo, Texas
7. Madison, Wisconsin
8. Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
9. New Orleans, Louisiana
10. Syracuse, New York
There are approximately two million military retirees as of 2009, of whom 28% are officers and 72% are enlisted. Generally, military retirees retire relatively early in life at the average ages of 42 for enlisted service members and 46 for officers, according to the announcement.
“Most military members face two retirements—one from a military career and one from a civilian career,” said Kevin O’Fee, assistant vice president of retirement strategies at USAA. “The list gives veterans a head start on planning both the second and third acts of their lives, which likely involves a new community, a new home and a new financial plan.”
USAA and Military.com worked with Sperling’s BestPlaces to develop the list. Researchers reviewed data on 20 different variables for 379 major U.S. metropolitan areas, which are defined as one or more central cities including the surrounding county or counties. Variables included:
- Proximity to a military base and a VA hospital or clinic, base amenities and state taxation on military pensions.
- Employment and education opportunities, including employment rates and presence of colleges and universities.
- General quality of life issues, such as affordability, housing costs, economic stability, crime rate, climate, health indicators, airport access, arts and culture and recreational activities.
Each of the identified variables was weighted based on importance to military retirees, and each metro area was given a score based on its total points for each variable. According to the firms, the metro areas were ranked based on these scores. Metro areas where the median housing cost was 40 or more percent above the national median were excluded from the list.
In addition to the overall ranking, USAA and Military.com developed four other lists that provide service members with the top 10 places to retire in large, medium, small and “military” metro areas. For more information about the lists, visit www.usaa.com/bestplaces and www.military.com/Finance/usaa-best-places-to-retire/2010.
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