So you've thought long and hard about it, and come to a final answer: You're going to retire. Thanks in part to your military retirement pay, not to mention military benefits like health care through the Department of Veteran Affairs, a career in the armed forces makes retirement life possible. You get to live out what many people can only dream about.
That's in part because you've consistently put money away – something that nearly 90% of active duty service members do, compared to less than two-thirds of the U.S. population, according to a survey from the National Foundation for Credit Counseling.
But your major decisions aren't quite finished yet. Now you have to determine where you'll retire. The options are almost endless, but this guide may help you decide on some of the best places for members of the military to retire.
Where do most retired military live?
When you think of the states that have the most senior citizens, Florida most likely comes to mind. And you'd be right. According to the most recent statistics available from the Census Bureau, 20.5% of the Sunshine State's residents are over the age of 65, USA Today reported.
But not when it comes to the military veteran population on a per capita basis. Florida comes in 20th overall, with 8.6% of its residents being veterans.
You may be surprised to learn that Alaska has the highest per capita veteran population. Indeed, nearly 12% of the Last Frontier State is made up of military retirees.
Other states with a high per capita rate of veterans include Virginia (10.6%), Montana (10.6%) and Wyoming (10.2%).
It's great to live in a location where people have similar life experiences. If this is important to you, any of these states are worthy candidates for best places for military to retire in.
What states do not tax retirement income for the military?
Several states absolve residents from paying certain types of taxes, like state income taxes or sales taxes.
The same is true for military retirement pay. Here is a list of all the states – nine in total – that do not tax that income, nor personal income, in general, for civilians. In parentheses is the percentage of the states' population composed of military veterans:
- Alaska (11.9%)
- Florida (8.6%)
- Nevada (8.8%)
- New Hampshire (8.6%)
- South Dakota (9.0%)
- Tennessee (8.3%)
- Texas (7.0%)
- Washington (9.4%)
- Wyoming (10.2%)
It's worth noting that in Tennessee and New Hampshire, the government does tax earnings on interest and dividends.
Many other states tax personal income, but not retirement pay. These include Alabama, Connecticut, Illinois, Hawaii, North Dakota, Iowa, Kansas and over a dozen others. The change took effect as recently as 2019 in North Dakota. Visit the website MilitaryBenefits.info for a complete listing.
What state has the best benefits for veterans?
The term "best" is a lot like "beauty": It's definition is in the eye of the beholder. Furthermore, benefits can mean several things, beyond health care and access to medical services.
Colorado is a classic example. Home to numerous military bases ,the Centennial State offers a number of tax benefits for qualifying disabled veterans who own real estate. Although Colorado does tax military pay, as much as $24,000 per year may be excluded pending approval, MilitaryBenefits.info reported.
New York also has a plethora of benefits that make it among the best places for military retirement. According to the New York State Department of Health, New York has six VA medical centers – more than any other state – and over two dozen community-based outpatient clinics. Wyoming, California, Texas and Montana round out the top five in VA health facilities on a per number of veterans basis, based on a report from WalletHub.
What should veterans consider when choosing where to retire?
No one knows you better than yourself. So when deciding on what state or city you want to reside in, really think about what it is that you want in your golden years. Perhaps you're thinking about investing in real estate or merely buying a home. Take a look at the National Association of Realtors' website. Every month, NAR provides updates on the median list values for existing homes in the U.S. as a whole as well as in regions of the country. This can help with pricing.
Or maybe you want to live somewhere that combines a little bit of everything. Military Park may be worth considering. Neighborhood social network Nextdoor recently selected Military Park – which is located in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma – in its top five list for "Best Connected Neighborhoods" in the Sooner State. Median home values here run nearly $123,600, considerably lower than the national median, which as of April 2020 was $286,800.
Which state is the best for military retirees?
Whether you're looking for a state with a low cost of living or a city where part-time job opportunities are plentiful, you have plenty of things to consider before you come to a resolution. Ultimately, though, your quality of life – wherever you live – is what you make of it. As the old saying goes, the truly richest people in life are the ones who are grateful for what they've got.
At Omni Financial, we wish you much happiness – wherever your retirement may play out.
The information provided in this blog post is for informational purposes only. It should not be considered legal or financial advice. You should consult with a financial professional to determine what may be best for your individual needs.