Charleston, South Carolina was recently named the best city to live after military service according to a newly released list compiled by Navy Federal Credit Union, in partnership with Operation Homefront. In its compilation, The Best Cities After Service List takes a variety of quality of life metrics into account, including cost of living, housing affordability, access to recreational activities, proximity to health care resources and transportation.
To understand where transitioning service members want to live as civilians, Navy Federal teamed up with Maru/Matchbox to survey 1,000 veterans and civilians. Using the results from the survey, Sperling’s BestPlaces ranked more than 400 U.S. cities based on how they met transitioning service members’ needs and preferences.
Clay Stackhouse, a retired Marine Corps colonel and regional outreach manager at Navy Federal, says that Charleston topped their list not only for its southern hospitality but also for its proximity to Joint Base Charleston and affordable housing.
Stackhouse noted that more than 250,000 military members transition out of the service each year.
“Every veteran is going to transition differently,” he said.
According to Stackhouse, from San Diego to Deluth or Savannah, the wide range of military-friendly communities featured on this year’s list reflect that diversity. While the cities are diverse in terms of geographic locations, size and climate, they do share some similarities and all have strong veterans communities.
“Depending on individuality of the transition, there’s something for everybody on this list with locations all over the country,” Stackhouse said.
Data showed that transitioning service members prioritize living in a strong community of veterans with lower crime rates, lower cost of living and easily accessible outdoor activities.
Navy Federal‘s “Best Of” list is an annual resource first launched in 2018. Best Cities was the focus of the list in its first year, and last year, covered Best Careers After Service, a comprehensive list of the best careers for transitioning servicemembers.
The updated 2020 list presents an entirely new set of locations, addressing veterans’ changing desires. Of particular note is the impact of COVID-19 on the list.
“Over the last two years, service members and their families’ priorities have shifted a great deal,” Stackhouse said. “In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, many civilian jobs have gone remote, so there’s little incentive to live in a costly major urban hub. Transitioning military are looking for a strong community of veterans to socialize with, building new connections and communities amidst the pandemic. We set out to identify cities that address those needs, and I believe we accomplished that goal.”
“As we transition, we should look at where we want to live and pursue that and I hope this list helps with that,” Stackhouse said.
The new top 10 cities according to The Best Cities After Service List are:
- Charleston, South Carolina
- Fort Myers, Florida
- Savannah, Georgia
- Daphne, Alabama
- Norwich, Connecticut
- San Diego, California
- Norfolk, Virginia
- Duluth, Minnesota
- Gulfport, Mississippi
- Fort Worth, Texas
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