College Station is ranked No. 4 nationally — No. 2 among medium-sized metropolitan areas — on USAA and Military.com’s list of “Best Places for Military Retirement.”
The first-of-its-kind list was announced Monday and pinpoints places that offer a high quality of life and help maximize military retiree benefits as service members manage their “first retirement” from the armed forces and begin planning their “second retirement” from civilian life.
Why College Station?
According to the study, the College Station-Bryan metro area has a low cost of living and has avoided the housing issues seen in much of the country. In addition to no taxes on federal pensions, the local economy is stable, due in part to the presence of Texas A&M University and its 49,000 students. Sports are a huge part of the A&M culture, and Aggie teams are among the best in the nation.
The university environment also includes a steady selection of lectures and concerts by world leaders, famous personalities and performers. The College Station area has no military bases, but excellent commissary and exchange amenities are available to military retirees at Fort Hood, which is only 90 miles away. The closest Veterans Administration medical center is in nearby Temple. In addition, College Station is centrally located with easy access to major Texas cities such as Austin, Houston, Dallas and San Antonio.
Of the approximately two million military retirees living in 2009, 28 percent were officers and 72 percent were enlisted. The average ages for military retirees are 42 for enlisted service members and 46 for officers.
“Most military members face two retirements — one from a military career and one from a civilian career,” said Kevin O’Fee, assistant vice president of retirement strategies at USAA. “The list gives veterans a head start on planning both the second and third acts of their lives, which likely involves a new community, a new home and a new financial plan.”
Ward Carroll, editor of Military.com and also a military retiree, said, “Military.com supports our military personnel throughout their lifecycle of service, including retirement and secondary careers. Tools like our skills translator and helpful information such as the list of best places to retire is our way of saying thank you to those who have served.”
How the List was Developed
USAA is a leading financial services provider focused on serving the military, and Military.com is the largest military and veteran membership organization. The organizations worked with Sperling’s BestPlaces to develop the list. Researchers reviewed data on 20 different variables for 379 major U.S. metropolitan areas, which are defined as one or more central cities including the surrounding county or counties.
Variables included proximity to a military base and a VA hospital or clinic, base amenities and state taxation on military pensions, employment rates and presence of colleges and universities, affordability, housing costs, economic stability, crime rate, climate, health indicators, airport access, arts and culture and recreational activities.
Each of the identified variables was weighted based on importance to military retirees, and each metro area was given a score based on its total points for each variable. The metro areas were ranked based on these scores. Metro areas where the median housing cost was 40 or more percent above the national median were excluded from the list. A medium metro area is defined as one with a population between 175,000 to 500,000.
To see the full top 10 list and additional lists that rank the top 10 places to retire in large, medium, small, and “military” metro areas, visit usaa.com/bestplaces and military.com/usaa-best-places-to-retire/2010.
USAA provides insurance, banking, investment and retirement products and services to 7.8 million members of the U.S. military and their families. Known for its legendary commitment to its members, USAA is consistently recognized for outstanding service, employee well-being and financial strength. USAA membership is open to all who are serving or have honorably served our nation in the U.S. military—and their families.