Best Places in the U.S. for Military Retirees to Start Second Careers

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A new study by financial services firm USAA and finds that Nassau, N.Y., is the best metro area for military retirees to start their post-service careers.

Military skills often translate to civilian jobs.

The study, “Best Places for Military Retirement: Second Careers” lists the U.S. metro areas most likely to offer employment opportunities for military retirees, while maximizing military benefits and providing a higher quality of life. The list, which was conducted by Sperling’s BestPlaces, features large metro areas offering job opportunities for military retirees but have higher housing costs that contribute to a higher cost of living.

There are approximately 2 million military retirees as of 2010: 73% enlisted and 27% officers with the average ages of 39 for enlisted service members and 46 for officers, according to the Department of Defense.

“Swapping military boots for civilian shoes is a big change, but in this era of high unemployment, being prepared is even more critical to a successful transition,” said June Walbert, a certified financial planner at USAA and a Lt. Col. in the Army Reserves. “The goal of this study is to help military retirees with their civilian job search while encouraging them to think about what financial changes lie ahead and the choices that need to be made as the result of a new career.”

Researchers reviewed variables for 379 major U.S. metropolitan areas, including:

  • Employment opportunities and sectors that align with military skills sets, such as defense, engineering, medical services and aviation, as well as the overall jobs climate based on unemployment rate and number of small businesses.
  • Proximity to a military base and a VA hospital or clinic, base amenities and state taxation on military pensions.
  • General quality of life and pocketbook issues, such as affordability, housing costs, crime rate, sales taxes and climate.

Each variables was weighted based on importance to military retirees seeking second careers. Each metro area was ranked based on total points for all variables. Metro areas with unemployment rates more than one percent above the national average were excluded from the list. Unlike other lists in the study, housing prices above the national median home price were not excluded from the premier metros list.

“Military retirees bring highly employable skills to the table, but in addition to facing a tough job market, many need help translating those skills to the civilian workplace,” said Ward Carroll, editor of and a military retiree. “This list can help take some guesswork out of a job search by pinpointing places likely to offer second careers matching a military retiree’s expertise.”

The rest of the top 10 premier metros list includes:


2. Washington, D.C.
3. Cambridge, MA
4. Honolulu, HI
5. Bethesda, MD
6. Baltimore, MD
7. Edison, NJ
8. Boston, MA
9. New York, NY
10. Seattle, WA

To see the other lists in the study, visit

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