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USAA and Military.com Announce Best Places for Military Retirees to Launch Second Careers

List highlights best places for jobs that match military skill sets Oklahoma City, Okla., is the best place in the nation for military retirees to launch their post-service careers, according to a new study commissioned by USAA and Military.com.

The "Best Places for Military Retirement: Second Careers" list pinpoints U.S. metro areas that are more likely to offer employment opportunities for military retirees, while still maximizing military benefits and providing a high quality of life. Here's the complete top 10 list:

1. Oklahoma City, Okla.
2. Norfolk, Va.
3. Richmond, Va.
4. Austin, Texas
5. San Antonio 6. Madison, Wis.
7. Philadelphia
8. Raleigh, N.C.
9. Omaha, Neb.
10. Manchester, N.H
According to the Department of Defense, there are approximately 2 million military retirees as of 2010: 73% enlisted and 27% officers. And they generally retire from the service early in life at the average age of 39 for enlisted service members and 46 for officers.

"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," says June Walbert, a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNERTM practitioner at USAA and a lieutenant colonel 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, such as replacing life insurance or rolling over a Thrift Savings Plan account to an IRA."

Ward Carroll, editor of Military.com and also a military retiree, added, "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. 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."

USAA and Military.com, the largest military and veteran membership organization, commissioned Sperling's BestPlaces to develop the list. Researchers reviewed 379 major U.S. metropolitan areas and considered several variables, including these:
 

  • Employment opportunities and sectors that align with military skill 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 installation and a VA hospital or clinic, military installation 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 of the variables was weighted based on importance to military retirees seeking second careers, and each metro area was ranked based on its total points for all variables. Metro areas with unemployment rates more than 1% above the national average were excluded. Metro areas with median housing costs 40% above the national median were excluded from the overall top 10, medium and small metros lists.

View all lists
 

We developed three additional lists to provide military retirees with more choices.

 

Small Metros Small metros are areas with a population less than 175,000. Medium Metros Medium metros are areas with a population between 175,000 and 500,000. Rank Metro Median Home Price Unemployment Rate Federal Pension Taxed Military Base Proximity Primary Job Sectors
(In order of importance) 1 Manchester, New Hampshire
Population: 402,100 $229,000 5.3% No 32 miles

  • Engineering
  • Defense
  • Government

2 Anchorage, Alaska
Population: 375,200
$229,900 7.4% No Local

  • Aviation
  • Engineering
  • Defense

3 Killeen, Texas
Population: 389,900 $96,600 7.9% No Local

  • Protective/Emergency Services
  • Medical
  • Government

4 Huntsville, Alabama
Population: 406,400 $147,300 7.5% No Local

  • Engineering
  • Defense
  • Government

5 Ann Arbor, Michigan
Population: 349,000 $199,700 7.1% No 50 miles

  • Medical
  • Engineering
  • Government

6 Rockingham County, New Hampshire
Population: 420,800 $230,800 5.2% No 46 miles

  • Engineering
  • Maintenance/Material Handling
  • Defense

7 York, Pennsylvania
Population: 431,700 $146,100 7.7% No 30 miles

  • Defense
  • Maintenance/Material Handling
  • Engineering

8 Roanoke, Virginia
Population: 300,400 $159,300 6.8% Yes 170 miles

  • Government
  • Defense
  • Medical

9 Topeka, Kansas
Population: 230,400 $117,200 7.5% No 57 miles

  • Protective/Emergency Services
  • Government
  • Medical

10 Lexington, Kentucky
Population: 461,800 $149,700 8.4% Partly 81 miles

  • Government
  • Defense
  • Engineering

Premium Metros Premium metros have housing costs that are 40 percent or more above the national median.

List does not represent any endorsement, expressed or implied, by the Department of Defense or any other U.S. government agency.

About Military.com
Military.com is the nation's largest military and veteran online news and membership organization serving active duty personnel, reservists, guard members, retirees, veterans, family members, defense workers and those considering military careers. Military.com enables Americans with military affinity to access their benefits, advance their careers, enjoy military discounts and stay connected for life. Military.com is a business unit of Monster Worldwide Inc.

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