Planning Ahead for Military Retirement


From season to season, there’s always something to look forward to. In the midst of toasty summer days, we long for when the forecast brings a cool down of the weather. When colorful autumn leaves appear, we anticipate the joys that upcoming holiday celebrations may bring. Throughout the chilly winter months, we visualize the arrival of spring flowers and cheerful sunshine.

On a similar note, we realize that this military life offers the shimmering hope of retirement. Daydreaming of the laid-back lifestyle of retirement days on the horizon brings lively discussion on where to live.

After experiencing a variety of locations with military assignments, our family often stargazes about getting away from it all, living off the grid, and retiring to a rural acreage. With a lifestyle way out yonder in the boonies, we may fully embrace the peace of nature and the beauty of the great outdoors.

Then, reality hits! We do enjoy the company of nearby neighbors and friends. We might not enjoy a lengthy drive down winding woodsy roads simply to reach the nearest town and gather basic groceries. So, with convenience in mind, we may actually prefer city living.

MilitaryByOwner asked its loyal social media followers what they prefer when choosing a retirement destination. Here’s what they said:

  • Several commented that small town living seems appealing. 
  • Others stated they are fond of the amenities within a metropolitan area.
  • Some remarked they’d like to try age 55+ communities. 
  • A few mentioned they’d be drawn to housing around a golf course or near a waterfront.

Perhaps you’ll have more than one place in mind when considering your retirement years. When making city-by-city comparisons, consider these points. 

Financial Constraints

How far will your money go? With an online search for a cost of living calculator, take a glance at how far your budget can stretch. Using the calculator tool, select where you currently live, where you’d like to live, and what your income will be. This will generate a comparable salary estimate, as well as show the rise or fall in the amount you’d spend on groceries, housing and utilities.

Research tax rates. Look at the rates for income tax, state tax, property tax and local sales tax. States such as Florida, Nevada, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Washington, and Wyoming may have steep sales tax but do not impose state income tax on Social Security and pension income.

Location and Military Facilities

Have you thought of living in a "college town"? A city with a vibrant college or university may stir youthful vigor with sports, music, art, theater, and cultural events. Additionally, living near an academic hub may offer continuing education opportunities for lifelong learning.

Consider personal safety. Check out local crime rates around the neighborhoods in your desired location. Keep in mind that crime happens everywhere, but a bit of research may help with your location choice. An interactive map may help pinpoint reported crimes.

Have you considered living near a base or post? Across the United States, many lovely homes or parcels of land are listed near military installations. To simplify your real estate pursuit, use the handy search tool on MilitaryByOwner and enter the state and installation you’d prefer. Choose the "Advanced Search" link to display a variety of options, including land, horse property, golf course, waterfront, etc. 

This will sort through listings according to the parameters you’ve noted. If a narrowed search does not yield fruit, broaden the search to include less specific details. If widening the search still does not bring the results you are looking for, check back again later—new ads are listed daily.

Medical Attention and Transportation 

Even if you are currently in perfect health, an important focus for retirement bliss is finding quality health care. Having trustworthy medical care near your potential new address is incredibly important, especially as the years pass. Down the road, you may need an assisted living apartment or a nursing home facility. Choosing a community with options for senior care may be an important detail to keep in mind.

Think about transportation. Does the city you’re considering have public transit options such as taxi, bus, or train? Does the area have a good-sized airport nearby? Having handy public transportation may be an added perk for you and for family and friends that might visit.

What Do You Prefer?

How would you answer the "retirement destination" question? Do you hope to hang your hiking hat at a mountaintop cabin? Or, are you a fan of the ever-warm Southwest desert climate? Would a long walk along the beach float your boat? Or perhaps full or part-time RV living is in your plans. 

No matter where your future military retirement plans lead, it might be helpful to try out a few places with a test drive of sorts. Consider spending vacation time in a haven where you’d consider living. This can offer a snapshot of what life is like there.

Beyond just favoring the weather or climate, when visiting a potential spot, ponder lifestyle questions, such as:

  • What is the "walkability" level? How far is it to walk to shops, coffee houses, and cafes? Are local parks and trails within walking distance?
  • Does the town have a church of your faith, a library, or a Senior Citizen center?
  • Could you find employment or a volunteer opportunity in the area?
  • If you’ll be tending to repairs or taking up a woodworking hobby, are there home improvement/hardware stores nearby?
  • If you plan to spend time on the fairways, what are the local greens fees?
  • If you heed the call of the water, what are the local slip fees?

The ideas mentioned here are suggestions to keep in mind if you happen to be on the search for a retirement retreat. Here’s hoping you find a destination that offers the quality of life you’ve been looking forward to, in a location that you’ll enjoy for years to come!

Original article by Mary Ann Eckberg. Updated 2018 by Dawn M. Smith