One choice in transitioning out of the military – of the many that families must make –  is location. While several factors go into making that decision, one should be cost of living. The data chosen from the report Best for Vets Places to Live 2019, used the following four factors to select and rank the top five large cities for veterans:

  • Median Housing: Less than $250,000
  • Median Veteran Income: More than $36,000
  • Population: Greater than 250,000
  • School rating: More than 5, with one exception (Range is 1 to 10 with 10 being the best)

Note 1: Each location has at least one military installation within 25 miles providing access to a PX/BX and Commissary;

Note 2: Each location also has at least 4 VA health facilities within 50 miles for health care access.

Note 3: Three of the four factors apply to all veterans, however, the school rating applies only to veterans having school age children.

Note 4: In all cities, Civilian Unemployment rate exceeds that of Veterans by at least 1.5 %.

Note 5: Veteran Median Income at each location exceeds nonveteran income by at least $7,800 per year, meaning more buying power for veterans in that locale.

Housing to Income Ratio

Two critical factors when choosing a place to live are median housing costs compared to veteran income. Making those comparisons, the following data emerges for the five large cities selected:

  • 2.94 – Corpus Christi, TX
  • 4.15 – Louisville, KY
  • 4.34 – Oklahoma, City, OK
  • 4.73 – Colorado Springs, CO
  • 4.95 – Albuquerque, NM

Note: The lower the factor, the more affordable it is to buy a house.

Many veterans want to work after getting out, so employability is important consideration for them. As shown in the previous chart, all five large cities have veteran unemployment rates under the National average of 3.7%, but two stick out above the rest: Corpus Christi, TX and Colorado Springs, CO at 1.2% and 2.9%, respectively. Below is a chart showing a comparison of the same major industries between the two cities.

Quick facts on these two large cities:

Colorado Springs, CO

The top three industries here are healthcare, retail and education/hospitality (tied at 9%). Located on I-25 on the east side of the Rocky Mountains this city is military-friendly with the Air Force Academy, Peterson Air Force Base and Fort Carson located there. As no surprise with three military installations here it has a large veteran population at 15.6%. Commuters spend on average just 21.5 minutes getting to and from work each day.

Corpus Christi, TX

Healthcare, retail and hospitality are the three big industries here also. Located on the Gulf Coast southeast of San Antonio, Corpus Christi has a Naval Air Station and a Coast Guard Station nearby. It has a veteran population of 10.3% and commuters spend on average 18.7 minutes daily getting to and from work.

Transitioning out of the military is stressful and choosing the right place for a veteran family to live can be challenging given all of the considerations that must be made. But, because knowledge is power, the information in this article maybe can help make that decision a little easier to make.

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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.

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