When transitioning out of the military, where you live is almost if not just as important as your work experience. Not only does your location determine which industries are accessible, it impacts just about every aspect of your life including living expenses and education opportunities. There are a number of different variables to consider when picking a new city to live in, but if you're a young veteran with little to on work experience under your belt, you might want to consider locations with good education and employment opportunities.
PRWeb reported that four organizations came together to analyze 379 major U.S. cities and picked out the top 10 for returning veterans. USAA, Hiring Our Heroes, Sperling's BestPlaces, and the Institute for Veterans and Military Families at Syracuse University pooled their resources to create this list, keeping in mind top priorities for returning veterans. The variables taken into consideration are as follows:
- G.I. Bill Enrollment
- Density of Colleges and Universities
- U.S. News and World Report, "Best Colleges for Veterans"
- Certification and License Transfers
- Unemployment Rate
- Population Growth
- Military Skills Jobs
- Job Growth
- Health Resources
While some cities may have fit the bill, USAA purposefully excluded cities that fit any of these criteria:
- Unemployment rate higher than 1 percent above national average
- Violent crime in the top two percentile
- Median cost of living 10 percent above national average
1. Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
It's called America's Most Livable City for a reason: Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania features a wide array of industries and educational opportunities as well as a wealth of culture. Whether you're trying to enter a blue collar profession in the steel industry or are seeking employment with Intel, job diversity is only part of what makes Pittsburgh a great choice for returning veterans.
2. Austin, Texas
Not only does Austin rank second in education and job opportunities, it's packed with a great range of industries and entertainment. Dubbed Silicon Hills and The Live Music Capital of the World, Austin has a little bit of everything for just about everyone.
3. Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
With a population increase of about 300,000 from 2010 to 2013, Oklahoma City has been an attractive destination for a few years. Nestled among oil, natural gas, and petroleum industries, there are plenty of job opportunities for aspiring professionals in these fields. If working with fossil fuels isn't your speed, Oklahoma City also features one of the largest livestock markets in the world.
Related: Search for Veteran Jobs
4. San Antonio, Texas
If you're worried about the culture shock of diving into a civilian community, San Antonio may allow you to gently ease into it. With multiple military bases in and around the city, there are plenty of veterans and active duty service members out and about.
5. St. Louis, Missouri
You'll probably recognize the city for its famous arch, St. Louis has a lot to offer returning veterans. The city hosts two Fortune 500 companies and is close to seven others. If you're not aiming quite that high on the business ladder, there are plenty of other notable corporations in the area. If you're concerned about arts and entertainment, St. Louis is infused with blues, jazz, and ragtime music and a variety of tasty, local food options.
6. Columbus, Ohio
The capital of Ohio, Columbus features a diverse economy based on education, government, banking, fashion, defense, food, steel, and much more. Columbus also features a thriving performing arts culture, as well as numerous sports centers, fairs, and parks.
7. State College, Pennsylvania
While it may not be the very first place that jumps to mind when considering new cities, State College has a lot to offer. This hidden gem has been ranked as one of the least stressful places to live in the U.S. and lives up to the hype with the nickname Happy Valley. It's been rated as the safest small city in the country, and Forbes listed State College as one of the top 10 small cities to start a career or business.
8. Cincinnati, Ohio
One of the oldest cities in the U.S., Cincinnati enjoys a rich heritage largely influenced by German and Irish immigrants. The city features iconic architecture and has been dubbed the Chili Capital of America. Multiple corporations make their home in Cincinnati including Procter & Gamble, The Kroger Company, and Macy's Inc.
9. College Station, Texas
Primarily a college town, the Texas A&M University System plays a large part in providing employment opportunities to local residents. While unemployment rates are low, underemployment can be an issue. The local university provides research projects funded by NASA, the National Institute of Health, the National Science Foundation, and the Office of Naval Research.
10. Minneapolis, Minnesota
The second largest economic center in the Midwest, Minneapolis' economy is based in commerce, finance, rail and trucking, health care, and industry. If those aren't your speed, there are plenty of other industries including publishing, milling, food processing, and graphic arts.
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