Statistic show that people are working longer – some well into their 70s. Military veterans are part of this new norm. After a career of service to our Nation, many veterans still want to work, but prefer to do so where it doesn’t get cold. They would rather scoop sunshine than snow.

With its lack of income tax and a 6% sales tax, Florida can be a great place for veterans to call home. In Wallet Hub’s report 2016’s Best & Worst States for Military Retirees, Florida was the first warm weather state, listed at number five overall.

Drilling down deeper, a USAA report, ranked these Florida cities as four of the best for military retirees in the state.

 4 Top Florida Cities
Evaluated Metrics Ft. Lauderdale West Palm Beach Sarasota Ft. Walton Beach
Population 1,838,844 1, 372,171 732,535 253,518
Average Home Price $184,400 $199,850 $188,250 $177,550
Average Rent $1,734 $1,696 $1,286 $1,272
% of Vet-Owned Businesses 11.3% 13.2% 16.4% 18.9%
% of Small Businesses

(under 10 employees)

31.3% 32.2% 28.4% 27.2%

Chart data:

Nearby Military Installations

One criteria frequently used by veterans is the closeness to nearby military installations, so they can easily use their earned benefits from their service to their country, like Base/Post Exchange and Commissary privileges. The four cities in this article are all located less than 3 hours from large Air Force Bases, namely:

  • Elgin – Located 8 miles northwest from Ft. Walton Beach.
  • MacDill – Located 8 miles south of Tampa making it less than an hour north from Sarasota.
  • Patrick – Located east of Orlando, it is about 3 hours north from Ft. Lauderdale and 2.5 hours from West Palm Beach.
  • Tyndall – Located less than 2 hours east of Ft Walton Beach

Plus, there are several smaller installations spread throughout the State of Florida that can be used. Now let’s look a little deeper into each of these four cities.

Ft Lauderdale

Less than one hour north of Miami, Ft. Lauderdale is one of the largest metro areas in Florida. With a higher-than-average number of veteran-owned and small businesses, it has shown job growth of 3.89%. Many of the popular cruise lines operate out of Ft. Lauderdale and frequently hire retirees for jobs related to the growing cruise industry. Predicted future job growth over the next ten years is 43.30%. Median income for this area is $59,879. As far as average housing-to-income comparison, Ft. Lauderdale came out the best of the four cities listed at 3.07*.

West Palm Beach

Located about ½ hour north of Ft Lauderdale, West Palm Beach has shown a job growth more than double of the national average at 3.93%. Projected job growth is estimated to be 42.90% over the next ten years. It has a higher-than-average rate of number of veteran-owned and small businesses per capita and a median income of $52,573. Its housing-to-income comparison calculated out at 3.08*.


Located on the Gulf of Mexico side of Florida, Sarasota has shown a job growth more than five times the national average – 5.19%. And it appears it won’t slow down anytime soon; projected job growth over the next ten years is 45.40%. It also exceeds the national average as far as the number of veteran-owned and small businesses. Median income is $51,161; its housing-to-income figure is the highest of the four cities listed at 3.67*.

Ft. Walton Beach

Located in the western side of the Panhandle about an hour east of Pensacola, this city has enjoyed 10.5% population growth in the last five years. Recent job growth has been almost four times the national average at 4.20%; ten-year projected job growth is estimated at 44.30%. Both the number of veteran-owned and small businesses are above the national average. Median income is $56,372 and its housing-to-income figure is mid-range at 3.14*.

Whether it is just enjoying the pleasant year-round weather or getting into the civilian workforce either part or full-time, any of these cities in this article would make a good place to call home after a career in service to the Nation.

* NOTE: Housing-to-income figure is an indicator of the average housing costs (renting or buying) compared against the median salary of an area and can be used to indicate the best “bang-for-the-buck” as far as cost of living.


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Kness retired in November 2007 as a Senior Noncommissioned Officer after serving 36 years of service with the Minnesota Army National Guard of which 32 of those years were in a full-time status along with being a traditional guardsman. Kness takes pride in being able to still help veterans, military members, and families as they struggle through veteran and dependent education issues.