The Best Places for Veterans to Live [Part III]

In Parts I & II of our Best Places for Veterans to Live series, we discussed the best places for veterans with service-related disabilities and the best places for veterans with families to live. In Part III of the series, we look at the best places for retired veterans to live.

Many veterans may know exactly where they plan to retire upon leaving the military: they want to go back to where they grew up, they have close family or friends in a certain area, or they have just always wanted to live somewhere specific. But for those who are not called by a particular municipality or geographical area, choosing where you want to retire can prove to be quite difficult.

The methodology utilized in determining our best places for retired veterans is a combination of climate, cost of living, taxes, and access to Veterans Affairs resources.

Athens, Georgia

First on our list of best places for veteran retirees is Athens, Georgia, home to the University of Georgia. Athens is situated just over an hour east of Atlanta. It has a cost of living that, as of 2019, was 7% lower than the national average. Military retirees who settle down in Athens will enjoy a warm climate, college-town amenities, and favorable tax treatment. Georgia does not tax Social Security income, allows for up to $65,000 of retirement income each year to be exempt from state income tax, and does not have an estate or inheritance tax. Because of this, Georgia is one of the most tax-friendly states for veteran retirees.

Housing prices in Athens are very low, with a median home cost of $180,200. Home prices do go up in more favorable areas of the city, but the cost per square foot ratio remains very favorable to buyers.

Athens has its own VA health center but does not have other benefits offices close by. Because of this, veterans who plan on using more than VA’s health care services may want to avoid Athens or be prepared for a 30-50 mile drive.

Boise, Idaho

When considering where to live, Boise, Idaho, is not always the first place that comes to mind. But veteran retirees who enjoy spending time outdoors may want to add Boise to the list of possible places to settle down. Boise is located in southwest Idaho, close to the Oregon border. It has a low crime rate, high quality of life rankings, and sits near the national average for cost of living.

Boise experiences all four seasons but generally has milder winters with low humidity felt year-round. It is a very walkable and bikeable city and is a close drive to many outdoor destinations, including white water rafting on the Snake River or camping in the Boise National Forest.

Idaho does not tax Social Security income, nor does it have an estate or inheritance tax. That being said, veteran retirees will be taxed on their income. Further, the housing market in Boise is booming, with an average home cost of $303,100. Because of this, Boise may not be the place for retirees looking for affordable housing, though it does come in under the national average cost of living in every other metric.

Boise has convenient access to VA health, benefits, and other centers, meaning you won’t have to travel more than a few miles to visit any one of them.

Sarasota, Florida

Sarasota, Florida, USA
Sarasota, Florida, USA downtown skyline on the bay.

What would a retirement list be without including somewhere in Florida? Sarasota can be found on the gulf-side of the Florida peninsula, about an hour south of Tampa. It is a beach and golf town with sunny weather and a great climate year-round. Sarasota also offers plenty of walking and bike trails, with easy access to its food and culture scene.

In addition to great weather and easy living, Florida has no state income or estate/inheritance tax. Because of its favorable tax status, veteran retirees will see their pension go further in Florida than in most other states.

The median home cost in Sarasota is $264,500, which is above the national average, but still affordable for a beach town. Groceries also come in above the national average, though every other metric comes in under the national average, as of 2019.

Veterans who retire in Sarasota will have easy access to VA health, benefits, and other centers without having to travel out of the immediate area. 

As an added benefit, Hero Loan is licensed in Florida and can assist you in getting the best VA home loan available. 

Conclusion

There are many great places for veterans to retire in the United States. We have listed three of them, but many states provide favorable tax laws that military veterans can take advantage of, including property tax exemptions, no state income tax, no estate or inheritance taxes, and so forth. When determining where you want to retire, keep in mind that climate, taxes, cost of living, and the availability of VA benefits should be top-of-mind as you spend the rest of your life enjoying where you are, instead of working to get there.

If you are interested in acquiring a VA home loan, let Hero Loan be your loan provider. We are licensed in Florida, Texas, Missouri, Indiana, California, Tennessee, and many more incredible states. Visit Hero Loan to learn more.