Planning Your Military Retirement: Choosing the Right State to Call Home

Retirement from military service marks a significant milestone in one’s life—a transition from years of dedicated service to the opportunity to settle down and enjoy the fruits of labor. One crucial decision many military retirees face is where to live post-retirement. The choice of state can have profound implications on finances, healthcare, quality of life, and overall well-being. Here’s a comprehensive guide to help you navigate this important decision.

Factors to Consider

1. Financial Considerations:  State taxes can significantly impact your retirement income. Some states do not tax military retirement pay at all, while others offer exemptions up to a certain amount. Researching each state’s tax policies regarding retirement income is essential for maximizing your financial stability in retirement.

2. Cost of Living: The cost of living varies widely across the United States. Housing, healthcare, groceries, and utilities can all differ significantly from state to state. Retirees often seek states with a lower overall cost of living to make their retirement income stretch further.

3. Quality of Healthcare: Access to quality healthcare is crucial as you age. Consider the availability and quality of healthcare facilities, especially those affiliated with the military such as VA hospitals and clinics. Some states may have better healthcare infrastructure and services tailored to veterans and retirees.

4. Climate and Environment: Climate preferences vary widely among retirees. Some prefer warmer climates year-round, while others enjoy distinct seasons. Consider the weather patterns and environmental factors that align with your lifestyle and health needs.

5. Recreational and Cultural Opportunities: Retirement is a time to pursue hobbies, travel, and explore new interests. Look for states that offer recreational activities you enjoy, such as outdoor adventures, cultural events, arts, and entertainment. Proximity to family and friends or a supportive community can also enhance your retirement experience.

6. Employment Opportunities: While retirement signifies the end of a military career, many retirees choose to work part-time or start a second career. Some states may offer better job prospects, entrepreneurial opportunities, or favorable business climates if you plan to continue working.

7. Proximity to Military Bases and Facilities: Being close to military bases and installations can provide a sense of familiarity and access to services and support networks tailored to veterans and retirees. It can also facilitate participation in military-related activities and events.

Top States for Military Retirees

Based on the factors above, several states consistently rank high as favorable destinations for military retirees:

– Florida: Known for its favorable tax climate (no state income tax), warm weather, and abundance of retirement communities. It also boasts numerous military bases and VA facilities.

– Texas: Another state with no income tax and a lower overall cost of living. Texas offers a diverse range of climates and landscapes, from bustling cities to serene countryside.

– Virginia: Home to several military installations, including the Pentagon and numerous historic sites. Virginia provides a blend of urban and rural living options, with good healthcare facilities.

– North Carolina: Offers a moderate climate, affordable housing, and proximity to military bases like Fort Bragg and Camp Lejeune. The state is known for its outdoor recreational opportunities.

– Arizona: Known for its dry, warm climate and diverse landscapes. Arizona has military bases, including Luke Air Force Base, and offers a variety of retirement communities.


Choosing the right state to live in after military retirement requires careful consideration of financial, healthcare, lifestyle, and personal preferences. Each state offers unique benefits and challenges, so it’s essential to prioritize what matters most to you and your family. Researching and visiting potential locations can provide valuable insights before making this significant decision. Ultimately, finding a place that aligns with your retirement goals and enhances your quality of life will ensure a fulfilling and enjoyable post-military career transition.