Choosing Your Final Destination

Chicago skyline
Chicago skyline (Photo: Photographs in the Carol M. Highsmith Archive, Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division.)

Introducing's new Transition app. Our new app gives you a personalized transition plan, tells you what to expect while transitioning, and even helps you find a job. The app is customizable for all Active Duty, National Guard, Reservists, and spouses. Download it today from Google Play or iTunes.

Carefully consider the realities of where you’d like to live after the service.  For example, if you were a ship navigator during your military career, you could have a difficult time finding a similar job in the southwest.  On the other hand, if you were an Army nurse, you may find several excellent opportunities virtually anywhere. 

Most career placement specialists recommend that job applicants choose the type of job they want first, then go where the jobs are.  In making a decision to relocate, you might prioritize as follows:

  1. Job potential: Which community is most likely to offer job opportunities that match your skills, experience, and career goals?
  2. Affordability: Consider the not so obvious expenses in addition to the cost of living.  Compare local, state income, property, and sales taxes.  Does the state tax your military retirement pay?  Does the location have income and career potential? 
  3. Community: Do you have family or friends there?  Can you count on them to help make your transition easier?  Do you need to be close to your aging parents for economic or medical reasons? Are you seeking upward mobility with the potential to move, or are you looking for a community to settle for the long term? 
  4. Environment: Would you be happiest living in a city, the suburbs, a small town, or a rural area?  Does the climate suit you? Moving Out of the Area

Before moving consult your nearest Family Center, the best source of relocation information and planning assistance.  Other useful resources include local chambers of commerce, libraries, bookstores, and the Internet.  Use them to find out what you need in order to make informed moving decisions. 

Online Employment Resources,, and USAA team up each year to create a list of the top U.S. cities based on criteria listed above. Visit the USAA “Best Places for Veterans to learn more.

Chambers of Commerce

Many communities across America have chambers of commerce.  Each chamber of commerce promotes its community and is a good source of information about the surrounding area:  the local job market, housing costs, local realtors, cost of living, local taxes, climate, schools and availability of recreation or child care.  Ask for the chamber’s booklet – much like the relocation packet you received about a new installation when you changed stations. 

You can find any chamber of commerce office in the nation at  

Libraries and Bookstores

Each of the Service Library Programs provides electronic content through their respective portals (;;  The electronic content provides information on relocating, career opportunities, and educational opportunities.

The reference section of your nearest installation library, public library or bookstore may offer atlases, maps, and geographical information that provide useful information.  Tour books and guides in the travel section may provide insights into the community you may someday call home.  Military libraries and public libraries also have many other free resources.  Libraries also offer customer use computers which can help you keep up to date on the latest news in your new community, apply for a job, check your e-mail, or just chat with friends. 

Story Continues