Most people who serve in the military are forcibly dragged from their hometowns by Uncle Sam and sent to live on or nearby some base in west bumblefuck. Though separating from service can be a challenge, one of the upsides is that you now get to live wherever you want.
On March 13, Veterans United Home Loans, a Department of Veterans Affairs-approved homebuying lender, released its annual study examining the best places for veterans to live based on veteran unemployment rates, cost of living, educational opportunity, and job growth.
So forget cramped New York City and expensive Los Angeles. These are the top five cities for veterans.
5. Plano, Texas
According to Dallas News, Plano is a corporate city with a small-town vibe. Located near Dallas, the city is an easy drive to one of the biggest cities in America, with the culture and night life to back that up. It’s is expected to see 3.43% job growth based on 2015 data, making it a great place for recently separated veterans looking for work. What’s more, it has an incredibly low crime rate, and some of lowest taxes in the nation.
4. Alexandria, Virginia
Alexandria has local town charm but big-city amenities. Nestled directly across the Potomac River from Washington, D.C., the city is great for veterans hoping to work in government or seek higher education opportunities at schools like Georgetown, American University, or Johns Hopkins. In addition, there are five nearby VA benefits facilities, so you’ll always be taken care of. Though Alexandria is a little on the pricey side — with a mortgage averaging 36.29% of monthly income — you’re getting what you pay for in terms of safety, convenience, and scenery.
3. Jacksonville, Florida
For veterans, Jacksonville was rated one of the best in terms of percentage of monthly income on rent, meaning it’s super affordable to live there. It has a high educational attainment rate and Florida as a state has the highest percentage of veterans living within it in the nation. Even better, Jacksonville is located within an hour’s drive of a slew of Florida’s idyllic beaches, including Jacksonville Beach, Ponte Vedra, Neptune Beach, St. Augustine, and Atlantic Beach. Seriously, who wouldn’t enjoy that Florida weather
2. Colorado Springs, Colorado
If you like city life, but also enjoy the great outdoors, Colorado Springs should top your list. Colorado Springs has many military personnel who choose to stay in the area after being stationed there. It boasts a number of nationally ranked colleges where you can put your GI Bill to good use. It’s a quiet city with a very low unemployment rate, perfect for veterans who want the convenience of a metropolitan area and the natural beauty of a mountainous region.
1. San Antonio, Texas
Ranked first on Veterans United Home Loans’ list, San Antonio dominates other cities in home affordability. With a high veteran population and decent proximity to Fort Sam Houston Air Base, this quaint city boasts a lot of benefits for recently separated service members, like access to VA benefits, job growth, and low cost of living. Despite its status as the third largest city in Texas, San Antonio maintains a small, old-town feel and charm. And remember the Alamo!