The best and worst states for retired military
May 31, 2023

WalletHub, a leading personal finance website, recently released its comprehensive study on the best and worst states for military retirees. The study examined a range of factors, including healthcare, job opportunities, affordability, veteran services, and support systems. The results shed light on the states that provide the most favorable environments for retired military personnel and those that face notable challenges.

Topping the list of the best states for military retirees is Florida. Known for its tax-friendliness, the state exempts both military retired pay and survivor benefit plan payments from taxation.

Florida also stands out for its high number of VA benefits administration and VA health facilities, along with the presence of veteran treatment programs for mental health and substance abuse. The state’s job market, which experienced nearly 6% growth in the past year, further enhances its appeal.

Following closely behind Florida are South Carolina and Virginia. These states boast a high percentage of veteran-owned businesses, indicating a supportive environment for veteran entrepreneurship.

They also provide favorable tax policies and offer robust veteran services. Virginia’s low percentage of homeless veterans and South Carolina’s vibrant job market contribute to their high rankings.

However, the study also revealed the states that ranked at the bottom. Oregon received the lowest ranking among all states, while the District of Columbia and Nevada rounded out the bottom three. These states faced challenges related to healthcare access, affordability, and job opportunities for veterans.

Oregon’s low ranking is attributed to factors such as limited veteran services, high cost of living, and a lack of job opportunities. The District of Columbia struggles with housing affordability and limited job prospects for retired military personnel. Nevada, on the other hand, faced issues with job growth and the availability of veteran services.

The study emphasized that the differences between the best and worst states were primarily related to economic factors, quality of life, and support systems rather than existing policies.

The best states demonstrated a strong economic environment, lower cost of living, higher presence of veteran-owned businesses, and comprehensive healthcare facilities. Conversely, the worst states struggled with housing affordability, limited job opportunities, and higher rates of homelessness among veterans.

Colin Slabach, a faculty member at New York University, highlighted the importance of choosing a location with a supportive community, recognizing military-acquired skills, robust veteran services, and easy access to quality healthcare. These considerations can greatly impact the overall retirement experience and successful transition from military to civilian life.

As retired military personnel and their families evaluate their options, it is essential to consider multiple factors, including economic opportunities, quality of life, the residence of friends and relatives, and support services. States that prioritize the well-being and needs of veterans can create an environment where retired military personnel can thrive in their post-service lives.

The rankings provided by WalletHub serve as a valuable resource for veterans and their families, enabling them to make informed decisions about their retirement destinations. By understanding the strengths and challenges of different states, retired military personnel can select the best location to embark on their next chapter, ensuring a fulfilling and comfortable retirement experience.

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