These 2 Cities Have Both Been Declared Best for Veterans

Richard Sisk

What's the best city for veterans? That depends on which list you look at.

Charleston, South Carolina, has been ranked at the top of a 10 best cities for veterans list, but a separate survey had Orlando, Florida, down as No. 1.

The Best Cities After Service list released Monday by Navy Federal Credit Union, in partnership with the Operation Homefront nonprofit advocacy group, crowns Charleston as the winner.

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It was followed by Fort Myers, Florida; Savannah, Georgia; Daphne, Alabama; Norwich, Connecticut; San Diego, California: Norfolk, Virginia; Duluth, Minnesota; Gulfport, Mississippi; and Fort Worth, Texas.

NFCU's survey of 1,000 veterans, conducted with the market research firm Maru/Matchbox, ranked cities on a range of factors, including cost of living, housing affordability, access to recreational activities, and proximity to health resources and transportation.

The data showed that "transitioning service members prioritize living in a strong community of veterans with lower crime rates, lower cost of living, and easily accessible outdoor activities," NFCU said in a release.

The credit union's survey indicated that the COVID-19 pandemic is also influencing where veterans want to live.

"In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, many civilian jobs have gone remote, so there's little incentive to live in a costly major urban hub," said Clay Stackhouse, a retired Marine colonel and regional outreach manager at NFCU.

"Transitioning military are looking for a strong community of veterans to socialize with, building new connections and communities amidst the pandemic," he said.

The NFCU report can be seen here.

Another survey released Monday by the personal finance website WalletHub had a lengthier list of 100 of the best -- and worst -- cities for vets based on a range of factors, including veteran homelessness.

WalletHub's list of 100 "Best & Worst Places for Veterans to Live" had the following top 10: Orlando, Florida; Irvine, California; Tampa, Florida; Raleigh, North Carolina; Austin, Texas; Colorado Springs, Colorado; Virginia Beach, Virginia; Scottsdale, Arizona; Gilbert, Arizona; and Minneapolis, Minnesota.

The 10 cities at the bottom of WalletHub's list, ranked as the worst places for veterans to live, include: New York City; Fresno, California; Anaheim, California; Jersey City, New Jersey; Long Beach, California; Baltimore, Maryland; Memphis, Tennessee; Baton Rouge, Louisiana; Newark, New Jersey; and Detroit, Michigan.

"How good or bad a city is for veterans depends on factors like the rates of homelessness, unemployment and poverty for veterans, as well as the city's retirement-friendliness and the quality of its [Department of Veterans Affairs] facilities," Jill Gonzalez, a WalletHub analyst, said in a statement.

"We spend a vast amount of money on military operations and national defense, yet comparatively little on helping veterans once their service is done," she said. "We have tens of thousands of homeless veterans, and that number should be reduced to zero."

The WalletHub survey can be seen here.

-- Richard Sisk can be reached at Richard.Sisk@Military.com.

Related: The 2019 List of Best Cities for Veterans to Live, Buy a Home