If you’re a soon-to-be-Veteran, you’re probably contemplating the biggest question of your life so far: Where on earth do I settle down?
That’s right: “settle.” This term has been absent from your vocabulary throughout your military career but has now suddenly become your impending reality. You must choose wisely.
Luckily for you, our team of SAVI Veterans, milspouses, and researchers has some wisdom to share on the top 10 cities you should consider for your “Expiration Term of Service.” This list looks at the best places for new Veterans to start a new career, go back to school, or launch a business — all while fitting in seamlessly with the Veteran-friendly community.
1. Fayetteville, N.C.
There’s no question that Fayetteville is home to the nation’s largest military population, with more than 50,000 soldiers stationed there. Since three military installations — Fort Bragg, Pope Air Force Base, and Camp Lejeune — are either in or around town, Fayetteville offers tailored services and perks for Veterans everywhere you turn.
It’s also a town of educational opportunity, with three college options: Fayetteville Technical Community College, Fayetteville State University, and Methodist University. Fayetteville offers promising career options as well, with jobs in major industries including educational services, healthcare, public administration, recreation, and food services. If you’re looking for the smoothest of sailing into your post-military days, Fayetteville is number one for a reason.
2. Colorado Springs, Colo.
Holy scenery! Colorado Springs has eye-catching views in all directions and is home to some of the best hiking, geological features, and natural landmarks in the country. Boasting several military bases — including Fort Carson, Peterson Air Force Base, and Schriever Air Force Base — and offering tons of high-tech Veteran careers, the sprawling city proves it’s more than just a pretty face.
In addition to job opportunities, “The Springs” also offers several options by way of higher education, including Colorado College, University of Colorado Colorado Springs, and Pikes Peak Community College. Fun fact: The United States Olympic Committee is headquartered here, as well as one of the Olympic Training Centers.
3. San Angelo, Texas
When it comes to job security, you just can’t beat San Angelo, Texas, which Forbes Magazine calls one of the “best places for businesses and careers.” Between Goodfellow Air Force Base — which averages a weekday population of 6,500 – a strong telecommunications presence, two major healthcare centers, and the renowned Angelo State University, this Texas town is bursting with opportunity for Veterans. Plus, the historic sites and artillery on display at Fort Concho, an 1860s Army post, flow into a restored downtown area and a lush walking trails that seamlessly bridge the gap between past and present.
4. Carlisle, Pa.
With relaxation spots as diverse as wineries, golf courses, art galleries, and everything imaginable outdoors, Carlisle’s got it. Its beautiful forests and mountains create a picturesque backdrop for this retirement spot that is also home to the U.S. Army War College and one of the top liberal arts schools in the country, Dickinson College.
Forbes has also ranked this Pennsylvania town as one of the cheapest cities to live in and the second-best place in the nation to raise a family. Employment opportunities include industries in education, military, government, and retail. Another tidbit worth noting: The state of Pennsylvania doesn’t tax federal pensions. Happy retirement, yinz!
5. Madison, Wis.
Want the best of all seasons? Move to Madison, where all your ice fishing, snowmobiling, swimming, and hiking dreams come true. Even Money Magazine took notice of this Wisconsin town’s overflowing amenities when it named Madison one of America’s best small cities in 2008.
The town is bursting with healthcare, agriculture, and advanced manufacturing careers and also offers highly ranked educational options, including the University of Wisconsin. Though its closest military installation, Fort McCoy, is more than an hour’s drive away, the William S. Middleton Memorial Veterans Hospital is conveniently located in Madison.
6. Topeka, Kan.
Like Dorothy after her own whirlwind journey, you may think you’re not in Kansas anymore! Well, you might actually be if you move to Topeka, where job growth, education services, and a high quality of life abound! This thriving city in northeast Kansas boasts renowned school systems, including Washburn University, home to one of the top 20 law schools in the United States. In addition to the Topeka VA Medical Center, Topeka also has two main hospitals — Stormont Vail Health and St. Francis Health – making it a major hub for those entering the healthcare industry after the military.
7. Syracuse, N.Y.
If you’re thinking about going back to school, Syracuse just might be the city for you. With 11 colleges — including Syracuse University, Le Moyne University, and Onondaga Community College — in or near town, Syracuse has more than enough options to suit your educational dreams.
If Syracuse’s schools, 40-plus golf courses, and year-round professional opera company don’t convince you of this city’s many attractions, maybe its access to Veteran services will. “The ‘Cuse” offers a local VA medical center, a short drive to military installation Fort Drum, and a zero tax policy for federal pensions.
8. Kenner, La.
What couldn’t we say about Kenner!? It’s got as many amenities and attractions as there are stars in the sky, including the nearby port mecca of New Orleans, NASA’s Michoud Assembly Facility, views of the Mississippi River, and the New Orleans Naval Air Station (for all your commissary needs). Tulane University, recognized as a top university throughout the world, is also located in Kenner, along with career options in major industries such as tourism, entertainment, healthcare, and government. If we were allowed to choose favorites at SAVI, Kenner would be a winner!
9. Tucson, Ariz.
Tucson is a military meeting place in the desert. Surrounded by four major bases — Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Fort Huachuca (Army), Luke Air Force Base, and training center Camp Navajo — there’s no shortage of a military-friendly atmosphere here. It also sports views of five mountain ranges, meaning its outdoor and scenic game are on point. For employment, manufacturing and industry lead the pack in this Wildcat town, which is home to the University of Arizona.
10. Cheyenne, Wyo.
Often overlooked, Wyoming is a flyover state that people don’t often think of as a “settling down” destination. But we think it should be added to your radar. And here’s why: Cheyenne is just 1.5 hours from Denver, sits in the northern part of the Rocky Mountains, and offers a low cost of living with ZERO state income tax. Plus, Veterans enjoy a close proximity to Francis E. Warren Air Force Base for any military-related services, as well as access to educational opportunities at the University of Wyoming and Laramie County Community College. Career growth is also strong here in the Union Pacific Railroad city, with options such as manufacturing, tourism, mining, agriculture, and transportation. Don’t just fly over it — come and stay awhile in the Frontier City.
Looking for more resources to make the most out of your transition into civilian life? Check out SAVI’s free offerings here, or contact firstname.lastname@example.org to learn more.