Skip to Content

Veterans United Names Best Cities for Veterans to Live

May 17, 2024

COLUMBIA, Mo., May 17, 2024 - Veterans United Home Loans, the nation's largest VA lender, today released its 2024 Best Cities for Veterans to Live list. While each region of the country is represented, the East Coast and Midwest rank high among the best places for Veterans and service members to plant roots.

The Top 10 overall markets for Veterans and service members are: Tampa, Fla., Rochester, Minn.; Wichita Falls, Texas; Fargo, N.D.; Virginia Beach, Va.; Watertown, N.Y.; Charleston, S.C.; Medford, Ore.; Altoona, Pa., and Sioux Falls, S.D. In addition to the overall list, the complete analysis includes separate rankings of the best big and small cities based on population size.

"Our in-depth analysis factors in feedback and priorities from hundreds of Veterans we surveyed, so we can really dig into what those who serve are looking for when it comes to planting roots and building communities," said Chris Birk, vice president of mortgage insight at Veterans United. "These cities, both big and small, are great places to raise a family, offer healthy job markets, an abundance of outdoor activities to enjoy for those kicking off the next chapter after the military and provide ample opportunities to connect with fellow Veterans."

Each quarter, Veterans United surveys Veterans to learn which factors are most important to them when deciding where to live. The Best Cities to Live list analyzes more than 500 metropolitan markets based on 25 factors, including cost of living, crime, housing affordability and a strong Veteran community, which all rank high among Veterans.

Cost of living: Higher food, gasoline and utility costs mean less money for savings and discretionary spending. Veterans United considered the cost of goods and services to measure the cost of living. A higher composite score means a lower cost of living. With a composite score of 90.17, Sioux Falls was the most affordable of the Top 10 cities, followed by Wichita Falls at 90.13. At the other end of the spectrum, Virginia Beach (85.56) ranked as the most expensive city in the Top 10, slightly above the national average of 86.64.

Crime: Veterans and service members consistently rank crime as one of the most important factors in deciding where to live. Veterans United analyzed the FBI's local violent and property crime rates to assign a crime score to each market. A higher composite score means a lower crime rate. With a composite score of 90.71, Rochester ranked No. 1, putting it about 19 points higher than the national average score of 80.72. Only two cities in the Top 10 had a crime rate that was slightly above the national average, with Sioux Falls and Charleston–North Charleston scoring 79.30 and 77.97, respectively.

Median home price: Affordability is a major consideration for Veteran homebuyers. Half of the markets in the Top 10 – Altoona, Wichita Falls, Fargo, Watertown and Sioux Falls – have median home prices that are below the national median home price of $383,538. Altoona offered the most affordable median home price at $129,950. At $415,500, Tampa has the highest median home price among the Top 10.

Quality of life: To determine what makes a good place to live, Veterans United looked at a combination of highly rated quality of life factors for Veterans, such as local air quality, proximity to essentials like grocery stores, and local amenities, including outdoor activities and restaurants. The Top 10 markets rank high in each of these categories. For instance, top-rated Tampa has plenty of day and nighttime activities to appeal to all ages, from multiple amusement parks to museums, theaters and beautiful sandy beaches.

Veteran community: Veterans and service members want to be near people who share common experiences and beliefs. To assess a Veteran community score, Veterans United examined both the local community as well as the state benefits afforded to Veterans. Wichita Falls (No. 3 on the Best Cities list) had the highest score of all 500+ cities, with a score of 166.71, well above the average of 128.1. Wichita Falls is also a beacon to the Veteran community because of the nearby Sheppard Air Force Base and local organizations, such as Base Camp Lindsey, which has a mission to eliminate Veteran homelessness in northern Texas.

Veterans United Best Cities for Veterans to Live

Rank

Metro

Cost of Living Score

Median Home Price **

Quality of Life Score

Veteran Community Score

Crime Rate Score

Total Composite Score (25 Factors)

1

Tampa–St. Petersburg Clearwater, Fla.

87.43

$415,500

145.50

125.98

85.09

777.02

2

Rochester, Minn.

86.64

$399,950

134.67

126.56

90.71

772.35

3

Wichita Falls, Texas

90.13

$214,625

128.34

166.71

80.65

770.13

4

Fargo, N.D.-Minn.

86.54

$365,000

144.63

123.63

82.22

764.77

5

Virginia Beach, Norfolk,

Newport News, Va.-N.C.

85.56

$384,504

137.56

146.56

80.45

763.31

6

Watertown–Fort Drum, N.Y.

86.63

$225,450

138.15

132.48

88.04

762.49

7

Charleston–North Charleston, S.C.

86.49

$494,500

151.58

129.91

77.97

762.47

8

Medford, Ore.

86.22

$499,473

156.54

142.12

80.72

761.74

9

Altoona, Pa.

86.70

$129,950

147.32

130.26

85.81

761.39

10

Sioux Falls, S.D.

90.17

$374,975

129.94

125.05

79.30

761.33

*Scores were weighted to reflect the importance of each factor to Veterans. Higher scores indicate a greater contribution to the composite score. Some shown metrics, such as 'Quality of Life Score,' are a combination of multiple variables.

** Median home prices sourced from Realtor.com.

Veterans and service members have the advantage of using a VA loan, which doesn't require a down payment or mortgage insurance. In addition, with large concentrations of Veterans in these markets, there is potential for obtaining an assumable mortgage, which allows a buyer to purchase a home by taking over the seller's mortgage loan, often at a lower interest rate.

To see the full analysis, including individual city profiles, rankings of the best big and small cities, and a detailed methodology, visit: https://www.veteransunited.com/education/best-cities-for-veteran-homebuyers/

About Veterans United Home Loans

Based in Columbia, Missouri, the full-service national direct lender financed more than $17 billion in loans in Fiscal Year 2023 and is the country's largest VA lender, according to the Department of Veterans Affairs Lender Statistics. The company's mission is to help Veterans and service members take advantage of the home loan benefits earned by their service.

VeteransUnited.com | 1-800-884-5560 | 550 Veterans United Drive, Columbia, MO 65201 | Veterans United Home Loans NMLS # 1907 (www.nmlsconsumeraccess.org). A VA approved lender; Not endorsed or sponsored by the Dept. of Veterans Affairs or any government agency. Licensed in all 50 states. For State Licensing information, please visit http://www.veteransunited.com/licenses/. Equal Opportunity Lender.

Veterans United Facts

  • $34 billion
    in loans financed in 2022
  • Defense Employer Support Freedom Award Recipient
    by the Secretary of Defense
  • More than 4,300 employees
    in more than 36 states
  • More than $130 million
    raised for nonprofit charitable arm, Veterans United Foundation since Nov. 2011
  • No. 8 Best Place to Work
    according to Glassdoor Best Places to Work in 2022

Featured In

  • Chicago Tribune
  • Los Angeles Times
  • Yahoo! Finance
  • US News & World Report
  • CNN Money
  • The New York Times
  • INC 500

Newsroom

Media Team

Chad Moller
Communications Manager
(573) 876-2600 ext. 6924
communications@vu.com

Tierre Banks
Sr. Media Relations Specialist
(800) 814-1103 ext. 3220
Tierre.Banks@vu.com

Meet The Expert

Chris Birk, Vice President of Mortgage Insight at Veterans United Chris Birk
Author, The Book on VA Loans

Chris is the nation’s leading expert on VA Loan benefits. He authored The Book on VA Loans in 2011, and maintains the VA Loans Insider blog. His analysis and articles have appeared at a host of sites and publications, including the Washington Post, The New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, ABC News, USA Today, the Houston Chronicle and more. Members of the media may request a free copy of The Book on VA Loans to learn more about the VA loan program.

See Chris' Bio »