Finding the right place to call home after leaving the service is one of the most important challenges new veterans and their families face. With an estimated 250,000 service members leaving the military each year, Navy Federal Credit Union has paired up with The Mission Continues, a nonprofit organization, to help vets find their new home base by putting together a list of the best cities for military members.
The 2022 Best Cities list was compiled using considerations such as veterans’ average income, unemployment rates, proximity to VA hospitals and military bases, and a suite of quality-of-life measures.
More than 400 cities across the U.S. were evaluated.
Here are the top five:
1. Charleston, South Carolina
Chosen for its reasonable cost-of-living rates and housing, Charleston takes the top spot as this year’s “Best City.” Located just 30 minutes from Joint Base Charleston, the consistently large military community is sure to make transitioning service members feel welcome. Charleston was also ranked #4 the in the Best for Military Families list.
2. Norristown, Pennsylvania
Located near Philadelphia, Norristown was selected for its proximity to beautiful parks and great colleges, such as University of Pennsylvania, Drexel and Villanova. Norristown also has relatively low-crime rates and a robust community of veterans.
3. Cambridge, Massachusetts
Situated just west of Boston, Cambridge is known for its world class institutions — Harvard and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology — and a full array of fun social options, with bars, cafes, and local and state parks in close proximity.
For healthcare, the nearby Massachusetts General Hospital is renowned for its world-class doctors and its partnership with the Red Sox Foundation’s Home Base Program, which offers free mental health services to veterans, active-duty service members and their loved ones.
4. San Diego, California
With Marine Corps bases Camp Pendleton and Miramar and Naval bases San Diego and Coronado in the vicinity, San Diego makes up the largest concentration of military personnel in the U.S., equating to a lively military community and plenty of healthcare options for veterans. Not to mention, the sunny weather and beaches are a favorite with families and retirees alike.
5. Naples, Florida
Known for white sand beaches, golf courses and nature and wildlife preserves, Naples came in at #5. While traditionally noted for its many retirement communities and resorts, the southwest Florida city is also located near a raceway, casinos and shops, making this a great choice for service members looking for some sun and fun.
Rounding out the top-10 cities were:
6. Anchorage, Alaska
7. Derry, New Hampshire
8. Virginia Beach, Virginia
9. Hempstead, New York
10. Waukegan, Illinois
In partnership with Sperling’s Best Places, Navy Federal also compiled sub-lists for the Best Cities for Families with Children, Best Cities for Retired Vets and Best Cities to Buy a House. Factors considered in these lists also included crime rates and cost-of-living expenses.
They can be found here.
Rachel is a Marine Corps veteran and a master's candidate at New York University's Business & Economic Reporting program.