What are the best military bases for retirees? Much depends on your priorities. Do you seek easy access to VA facilities, on-base amenities such as BX/PX and Navy Exchanges? Or do you want to live near federal jobs and civil service career options in a close-knit military community? Check out the bases and locales below for inspiration:
Joint Base San Antonio, San Antonio, Texas
The military community in San Antonio is a large and welcoming one. What was once three separate military bases (Lackland AFB, Fort Sam Houston, and Randolph AFB) was consolidated under the Joint Base concept.
These bases provide many services for retirees and there are plenty of BX/PX/Commissary options in this area. But San Antonio has also been home to an affordable cost of living, reasonable housing markets, and a fair amount of expansion over the years.
This area is strategically located, with the Mexico border only a few hours away, plus easy access to Austin, Houston, Dallas, and Waco.
There is plenty of outdoor recreation in the Lone Star State, and this is definitely an RV-friendly area. Texas also features liberal benefits for Texas military people including reduced interest rate loans via the Texas Land Board.
Fort Hood, Austin, Texas
Fort Hood is an hour north of the live music capital of Texas and possibly the world, Austin, Texas. Some prefer the Austin metro area to San Antonio, but an explosion of growth has made the city harder to navigate and some may choose to live on the outskirts or in a half-way point between Austin and Fort Hood.
Fort Hood is a go-to destination for those who need a VA medical center. Autin itself is a major source of jobs and has a growing economy including a thriving media and tech sector. There are many opportunities for military retirees to start second careers in an upwardly mobile city.
NAS Pensacola: Pensacola, Florida
Pensacola, Florida is home to an impressive military population. In general, the state of Florida is desirable for many who have retired or separated from the military.
An official Army benefits page says state benefits for military people who have relocated here include a homestead tax exemption, education assistance, and the state does not have a personal income tax.
There are multiple VA facilities and military bases on the coast. NAS Pensacola is just one of your many resources if you choose spend your military retirement years in the Sunshine State.
Joint Base Lewis-McChord: Tacoma, Washington
Those who want to retire in the Pacific Northwest know after a bit of research that the area can be costly to live in. But near Joint Base Lewis-McChord, the average home price is nearly cut in half according to some sources.
Joint Base Lewis-McChord is spread out over four locations including Lewis Main, Lewis North, McChord Field and Yakima Training Center–that covers more than 400,000 acres. The base services more than two hundred thousand active duty, reservists, civilians, dependents, and retirees.
This area is known for its large military community. Some will love the state because it has no personal income tax, but there are also an impressive number of VA facilities in the area.
You also have easy access to many West Coast destinations making the area perfect for those who are curious about RV travel or just seeing the sights along the coastline.
San Diego, California
Like many locations in this list, the San Diego area has multiple military bases to choose from–where you want to live may depend on what base you prefer and which services are most important to you. Local bases include but may not be limited to:
- Marine Corps Air Station Miramar
- Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton
- Marine Corps Recruit Depot San Diego
- Naval Base Coronado
- Naval Base Point Loma
- Naval Base San Diego
- US Coast Guard Station San Diego
One hour from the San Diego area, you’ll find Camp Pendleton, considered one of the largest employers in North San Diego County.
One thing that keeps some retirees from this area is the high cost of living, but senior enlisted and career officers may have more options here even with the higher expenses.
Colorado Springs, Colorado: Fort Carson, Peterson AFB, And Schriever AFB
There are actually five military installations in Colorado Springs and even though there’s a higher cost of living here, the military community is a thriving one.
The nearest VA medical facility is the Lindstrom Department of Veterans Affairs Clinic in Colorado Springs, but there may be other opportunities depending on priority, mission demands, and other variables at the other local military bases including:
There is plenty to do here in terms of outdoor sports, adventure, and education. This state official site mentions that military retirees may claim “one of two subtractions for all or part of the military retirement benefits that are included in their federal taxable income.
The subtraction that may be claimed depends on the retired servicemember’s age at the end of the tax year”. Some military retirees may also be able to claim property tax exemptions in the state.
Tinker Air Force Base: Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
A low cost of living, proximity to thriving college towns nearby as well as an easy drive to the Dallas-Fort Worth area make Oklahoma City a tempting place to put down roots after military service.
Unlike some areas on our list, Tinker Air Force Base is the main attraction here for many retirees–the BX, Commissary, and medical care options at this large Air Force Base make the area quite appealing.
Add to that the low cost of living–some sources cite median home prices at just above $100,000. This area features a thriving military community including many veteran-owned and operated businesses. Don’t forget about the Oklahoma City VA Health Care System for an added incentive to give OKC a look.
Washington, D.C. Area
Washington D.C. is a good option for military retirees who plan to start second careers or continue using their existing job skills in the private sector. The cost of living is high here, traffic can be daunting, and the city sprawl can seem overwhelming at first.
But there are many opportunities for those who wish to pursue Civil Service jobs, careers as government contractors, or work in high-level private sector positions.
There are opportunities at a variety of military bases including Fort Belvoir in Maryland, the Pentagon, Bolling AFB, Andrews Air Force Base, and many others.
There is no shortage of VA facilities in the area, those who have moved here in the past have looked forward to being able to explore their options for care at places like the Navy Medical Center in Bethesda, plus Walter Reed Army Medical Center.
Naval Station Norfolk: Virginia Beach, Virginia
A strong military community–currently serving and retired alike–can be supported by a single base but in areas like Virginia Beach, we see a familiar situation with one big base in the area surrounded by smaller operations elsewhere.
Naval Station Norfolk, home of U.S. Navy Fleet Forces Command, is the big attraction here, featuring a VA medical center, a low cost of living, plus the following installations in the area giving military retirees plenty of options on where to look for the best BX/PX/Navy Exchange options, etc.:
- NAS Oceana
- NAS Oceana Dam Neck Annex
- Joint Expeditionary Base Little Creek-Fort Story
- Joint Base Langley-Eustis
NS Norfolk features an Air Mobility Command air terminal, which means retirees who want to explore their Space-A travel options do well to live nearby.