military member in uniform facing the camera

For the almost 19 million veterans currently living in America, the transition to civilian life can be challenging. There are so many decisions to make. Some decisions can be more difficult than others, like where to live after leaving the military. Finding your first home as a veteran can be challenging. Most military families can move every 2 to 3 years. Research has shown that military families relocate 10 times more than civilian families. So, for veterans just leaving the service, choosing a place to settle down can take some time and consideration of a few important factors. You may be looking forward to retirement, planning on starting a second career after the military, or aiming to move on a tight budget. In any case, here are a few questions you should be asking yourself when choosing the location of your first home as a newly minted veteran.

What Is The Outlook For Military Retirees?

WalletHub and Fox Business recently published a list of the country’s best states for veteran retirees. Their list considered factors like unemployment rates, support for veteran-owned businesses, and access to support non-profits/veteran healthcare. These are all things you should think about when choosing a location to live as a veteran. Many veterans can find the transition to civilian life difficult, and you want to be sure you will be surrounded by the right resources in case you need them. For instance, veteran retirees ranked Virginia highly thanks to its 26 service benefit offices and its Transition Assistance Program.

Will You Buy Or Rent?

A large influence on where you choose to live after the military is the cost of accommodations. Certain states like California and Hawaii cost the most to buy a home. Other states like Ohio and Montana have the fastest-growing house rents in the country. Whether you plan to buy your first home as a veteran or rent for a while after leaving the military will help you determine your financial limits and the locations that match your budget. If you are looking to buy, a state with veteran-friendly home-loan programs like Connecticut’s Military Mortgage Option and the VA home loan program would be great. The use of a VA loan calculator will help you determine how much you can afford and the states that suit your homebuying budget.

What Are Your Priorities And Triggers In An Environment?

Knowing your priorities when looking for a home after leaving the military is a great way to find a place where you are comfortable and that aligns with your future plans. Start by making a list of your ideal location (and home) criteria for your new home, like school proximity, job opportunities, and family.

The employment landscape for veterans may also make a difference. States like Alaska, Maryland, and New Jersey were named some of the best states for hiring veterans. New Jersey and South Dakota are also known for giving ‘absolute’ preference to veteran job applicants, so your plans for employment as a veteran may influence your decision. Another thing to think about is the cost of living. How affordable are rent, utilities, and transportation in the locations you are considering?

How Far Do Your Relocation Benefits Extend?

The military has a relocation assistance program and relocation benefits including a move from your final duty station. However, that comes with geographical limits. Therefore if you plan on utilizing the service’s tools and benefits to find a home, it is best to speak to your local transition office. If you find yourself without a home during your discharge, the Department of Veterans Affairs can help you find supported accommodation to an available state while you transition.

Will It Be Affordable On Your Budget?

Your income sources after leaving the military will play a significant role in where you decide to live and where you can afford to live. If you are planning on buying, you will need to have a post-military job in place. Most lenders ask applicants to provide at least 2 years of employment history and a stable source of income when applying for a mortgage. If you apply for an FHA Loan, you will need to be at your current job for at least 6 months.

In the meantime, renting could help you save for a home deposit and finding employment as a veteran. In this case, finding a city where rents are low can help your budget go much further and still enable you to work towards owning your first home.

Are You Leaning Towards A Second Career Or Retirement?

Your plans after leaving the military are also important when choosing where to have your first home as a veteran. If you are retiring, you may want a quieter and slower pace of life. According to WalletHub, some of the best states for military retirees include Virginia, California, and Maine.

Alternatively, if you are planning on a second career, your choice of career and industry can influence your home’s location. The proximity to military support and benefits may also help. For instance, states with a thriving tech sector include Colorado and Washington. On the other hand, some of the best cities for veteran entrepreneurs include Chicago, Dallas, and Seattle. So, if you are thinking of starting your own business after leaving the military, these cities may be at the top of your list.

Finding a place to call home after the military is not the same for everyone. Where you choose as your first home will depend entirely on your preferences, your idea of life as a veteran, and the kind of support you require moving forward. These questions are an excellent start to getting you that answer.

You might have come up with a few new ideas after reading this post. More suggestions can be found on this page: How to Choose the Best Home Considering Your Lifestyle


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