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The 15 Best Places for Military To Retire in 2024

By Landing | Apr 23, 2024
Military boots and backpack plus a US flag, lying on the floor next to a military retiree.

Transitioning from military to civilian life is a major shift. Here are the 15 best places for military to retire with all the support you need.

Retirement is a major life shift for anyone, especially people transitioning from military to civilian life. It’s like the first day of bootcamp all over again — stepping into an entirely new routine without the protocols and camaraderie you’re used to.

Finding the best places for retired military to live is more than seeking out VA hospitals and services. It’s also about communities that welcome military families and veterans with open arms. Find a city where you can share stories, bond with other military retirees, and feel respected for your service.

When it comes to making military retirees feel at home, certain states stand out. They offer everything from tax breaks and comprehensive veterans services to vibrant communities of fellow veterans. If you’re looking for the best places for military to retire, here are 15 states that offer a mix of support and military benefits.

15 Best States for Military Retirees

It’s hard to figure out what to do after retirement and years of routine. Finding a community that supports you can make the transition into military retirement much easier, especially for young retirees looking for new career opportunities.

Here are 15 of the best states for veterans to call home:

1. Alaska

Alaska’s rugged landscapes and unique wildlife make it one of the best retirement states for nature lovers. Veterans who want to set up their own homestead benefit from a 25% discount on state residential land. Military veterans also don’t pay taxes on retirement pay and have access to VA healthcare facilities across the state, making Alaska a financial and recreational oasis.

2. California

California is home to more active duty and veteran military members than any other state. Many find a home in San Diego because of its long-standing naval history. But if you can’t deal with the high cost of living in San Diego, San Francisco, or Los Angeles, there are plenty of places to call home in the Golden State.

In California, veterans aren’t exempt from income taxes and should expect higher living costs. But the state offsets this with property tax and business license exemptions, an extensive network of VA healthcare facilities, and the CalVet Home Loans program.

3. Florida

The Sunshine State is a haven for retirees thanks to its tax-friendly policies, including state income tax and property tax exemptions for disabled veterans. And your Florida beach haven may be closer than you think. If you’ve never owned a home, the Florida Hometown Heroes Housing Program helps veterans with down payment and closing cost assistance programs.

With so many great cities, it isn’t easy to choose the best places to retire in Florida. Check out Florida’s best cities to narrow it down.

4. Idaho

Military veterans can enjoy Idaho’s natural beauty and outdoor activities with a helpful hand from the state. Idaho waives state park admission and camping fees and reduces hunting and fishing license fees, depending on your VA disability rating. Veterans also enjoy expedited services and hiring preferences when applying for public employment. Plus, property tax exemptions and a grocery tax credit can help reduce the costs of living in Idaho.

5. Nebraska

Nebraska welcomes military retirees to settle right into the state’s natural beauty. Although it only offers a partial exemption on military retirement pay, the Nebraska Homestead Exemption Program has generous property tax exemptions for military families to build a homestead on an acre of land. Veterans also experience educational benefits, high-quality medical care facilities, and job preferences for state employment.

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6. Nevada

Nevada’s extensive network of VA facilities ensures top-tier health services, including the VA Southern Nevada Healthcare System. It’s also one of the best tax-friendly states for military retirees. Nevada doesn’t charge state income tax and provides property tax exemptions for veterans with certain VA disability ratings and veterans who served in wartime. If that’s not enough reason to retire in Las Vegas, imagine all the great restaurants, grandkid-friendly activities, and golfing to enjoy.

7. New Hampshire

New Hampshire has no general state income tax — for anyone. But additional property tax credits and military disability for families make New Hampshire a desirable destination for veterans. The state also offers free tuition for children of disabled service members and has several community centers that offer veteran assistance. With picturesque New England landscapes and tight-knit communities, New Hampshire offers a high quality of life and plenty of opportunities to make connections.

8. North Carolina

Beautiful beaches and vibrant cities aren’t the only reason to call North Carolina home. This state exempts military retirees from taxes on their pensions, making it a great place to make the most out of your retirement pay.

Raleigh is known nationwide as one of the best cities for military retirees because of its low unemployment rate and abundance of veteran-owned businesses. But there are ample veteran services all across North Carolina, including military benefits, education programs, and counseling services. And VA health centers, like the Durham VA Health Care System, offer comprehensive care and disability assistance.

9. North Dakota

North Dakota is a welcoming place for anyone looking to settle into a quiet, community-driven environment. Veterans can appreciate peaceful, spacious outdoors with an abundance of state benefits, beginning with property, vehicle, and state income tax exemptions.

The Veterans Educational Training program from North Dakota State University is a free educational service that inserts you into your local community. The program supports continued education in two-year and four-year programs, as well as vocational and technical training.

10. Oklahoma

Oklahoma’s vast veteran benefits go further than tax exemptions on retirement pensions and sales tax for military families. The state also has robust recreational and educational programs, including discounts on hunting and fishing licenses and college credits for veterans interested in continued education.

11. South Dakota

With no state income tax and property tax relief for veterans with certain VA disability ratings or incomes, South Dakota stands out as one of the best tax-friendly states for military retirees. It also offers free tuition for veterans to take undergraduate courses at state-run universities and technical colleges. And on top of that, reductions on hunting and fishing licenses and access to state parks let military families enjoy South Dakota’s natural wonders.

12. Tennessee

Tennessee has a little something for everybody. Its legendary barbecue, diverse music scenes in Nashville and Memphis, and natural beauty make it an exciting choice for active retirees. Veterans also enjoy a strong support system, including state tax exemptions, property tax relief, and VA hospitals.

If you yearn to build community with other retired military, there are six vet centers across the state that offer counseling and recreational activities. Find them in Memphis, Nashville, and Chattanooga, just to name a few.

13. Virginia

Virginia’s rich history of military presence makes it a notable military-friendly retirement state. It’s an attractive option for veterans seeking community with other active and non-active duty military personnel.

The state offers special benefits like employment assistance, education and tuition waivers, and hunting and fishing privileges. Plus, property tax exemptions make that oceanfront Virginia Beach home or Appalachian cabin all the more obtainable.

14. Washington

The Pacific Northwest state has a strong commitment to veterans. While there’s a high cost of living in urban areas like Seattle, military personnel don’t have to pay state income taxes or property taxes. Washington has other unique benefits, like tuition waivers at state-run schools and special events programs for women and LGBTQ+ service members.

15. Wyoming

The natural beauty and laid-back lifestyle are enough reasons to call Wyoming home. But with no state income tax, it’s also a financially attractive place for veterans who receive military pensions.

The state is committed to caring for military personnel, with services like the Wyoming Veterans Home in Buffalo. The center provides care for veterans across different VA disability ratings and retirement amenities in their assisted living and nursing communities.

8 Best Tax-Friendly States for Military Retirees

Maximize your hard-earned military retirement benefits in a state that doesn’t tax them. As of 2024, 25 states don’t tax military retirement pay, and eight states don’t have state income tax at all. They include:

1. Alaska

2. Florida

3. Nevada

4. South Dakota

5. Tennessee

6. Texas

7. Washington

8. Wyoming

Taxes are just one component of your overall financial health. To make the most of your retirement, you may want to consult with a professional accountant or financial planner with experience working with military personnel. They can help you decide which veteran-friendly state best fits your financial goals.

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