America’s 15 Best Cities For Veterans & Their Families

GOLETA, Calif. — In honor of Veterans Day, a new survey is recognizing the significant shift America’s military personnel face when they return to civilian life. This includes challenges such as finding a new place to live and work. So, where are the best places for veterans and their families to start the civilian chapter of their lives?

A recent study by has made this decision a little easier by highlighting American cities that offer the best conditions for veterans to start these new chapters. Their survey took into account various factors that contribute to a veteran’s quality of life, including how many veterans already live in the area, the availability of veteran-owned businesses, and employment opportunities. Additionally, researchers examined the availability of healthcare providers specializing in veteran care, the presence of pediatricians for those with families, environmental quality, and the availability of green spaces.

The findings showed that Virginia is a standout state, with four cities — Chesapeake, Arlington, Virginia Beach, and Norfolk — dominating the top spots. These cities not only offer strong veteran communities and high average incomes for veterans but also have exceptional employment rates for veterans, with some cities showing a zero percent unemployment rate within this group.

Virginia also offers additional benefits for veterans, including tax breaks for disabled veterans and support with education and job hunting, making it particularly attractive.

The survey showed that the East Coast, overall, is home to many of the top cities for veterans. New York City boasts the highest number of veteran-run businesses, while Norfolk has the highest percentage of veterans in its population.

Arlington, Virginia not only made it into the top tier of the list but also offers the highest median income for veterans at over $117,000 a year. Moreover, cities like St. Petersburg, Florida, and Chesapeake, Virginia, join Arlington in having virtually no unemployed veterans among their residents.

Veterans best cities map

Let’s take a deeper look at each city making’s list of the best communities for veterans:

1. Chesapeake, Va. – Total Points: 58.9

“With great scores across the board, this Virginia representative is the ultimate spot for veterans to settle in after their military service,” researchers write in a media release.

The survey finds Chesapeake also had one of the highest percentages of veterans across the city’s total population (14.2%). It was only surpassed by Norfolk and Virginia Beach. Importantly, Chesapeake shined with a basically non-existent veterans’ unemployment rate. In terms of salary, the median income for veterans in Chesapeake stands at more than $80,000 per year. That was the second-highest in the poll, topped only by Arlington.

2. New York City, N.Y. – Total Points: 55.3

“More specifically, there are more than 19,000 veteran-owned companies, which was the highest number among all of the cities we analyzed,” the team reports.

New York is also home to the most veteran-specialized healthcare providers (three), and the highest number of coworking spaces available (367) for those who want to kickstart a business in a flexible work environment.

3. Arlington, Va. – Total Points: 54.5

Famous for hosting the Veterans Day National Ceremony every year, Arlington boasts the highest median income for veterans (more than $117,000), as well as a zero-percent unemployment rate among veterans who live in the city.

4. Virginia Beach, Va. – Total Points: 49.7

“Known as an affordable place to live on the East Coast with low tax rates, beautiful scenery and plenty of family-friendly activities, this oceanfront destination is home to the second-largest community of veterans among the cities on our list,” researchers write.

Additionally, 14.4 percent of the residents in Virginia Beach are former military. The city also recorded the second-highest number of green space acres available for residents and the best air quality on the list.

5. Norfolk, Va. – Total Points: 47.1

Norfolk is home to the world’s largest naval station. Aside from its massive military presence, Norfolk also has a large number of pediatricians available per 100,000 children in the area — 184, which finished only behind Boston and Washington, D.C.

6. Washington, D.C. – Total Points: 44.7

“A good place for families, Washington, D.C. also claims great schools with high rankings, coming in third place in this category,” the survey reveals.

The median yearly income for veterans in this city stands at more than $77,500, the third-highest among all of the cities analyzed.

7. Colorado Springs, Colo. – Total Points: 41.7

“The most important factor that could potentially drive veterans to this idyllic spot was the large community of veterans who reside in the city,” researchers write.

Specifically, over 13 percent of the total population in Colorado Springs consists of veterans, making it very appealing for both military retirees and their families.

8. St. Petersburg, Fla. – Total Points: 41

Florida’s warm climate and thriving business scene generate great job opportunities for veterans. This includes homestead tax exemptions, education and tuition assistance, and other special benefits for former military personnel. St. Petersburg also registered a zero-percent unemployment rate among veterans, as well as the second-highest number of specialized health care providers (two).

9. Boston, Mass. – Total Points: 40.4

Boston excels in health care, with two veteran-specialized locations, and the highest number of pediatricians on the list (386 per 100,000 children). Veterans with families will also be happy to know that Boston schools had the highest rank among all of the cities analyzed.

10. Chula Vista, Calif. – Total Points: 40.4

California is home to more than 1.8 million veterans, the largest population in the country. In Chula Vista, the median veteran income is more than $70,000 per year, with the unemployment rate standing at roughly 1.4 percent.

Rounding out the top 15 cities on’s map are Tampa, Florida; Seattle, Washington; Chicago, Illinois; Atlanta, Georgia; and Los Angeles, California.

Survey methodology:

To compile this study, analyzed and ranked 79 U.S. cities, each with a veteran population of more than 10,000. Researchers only considered cities with a full data set. Data points were analyzed comparatively with the extreme values within the data pool, determining the highest and lowest possible scores for each metric.

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About the Author

Chris Melore

Chris Melore has been a writer, researcher, editor, and producer in the New York-area since 2006. He won a local Emmy award for his work in sports television in 2011.

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