You’ve heard a lot of talk – from me and from other people, no doubt – about what you’re going to do when you get out of the service. Just as important as what you’re gonna do is where in the world you’re gonna do it. If you’re lucky, this location will be determined by your school or your job and you won’t have to think any more thoughts about it.

And then, you might. So where would you go if you had the world to choose from?

Every year, reputable sources publish a list of the best places for veterans to live, and they aren’t wrong. They take into account everything vets need and are accustomed to having, which includes VA medical services, quality of life for people entering the civilian world, and even support from other veterans. The list might not surprise you, as places in Virginia, Maryland, and Texas rank very high on the list, while Colorado Springs sits at the top.

Let’s go back to your new degree program or new job choosing the place you live when you leave the military. Is the location of the school something you took into account? Did you consider the local area if you have a family? What about the new job – it’s great to work for a federal agency, but chances are good living in the District of Columbia might be out of your price range. Are you ready for that daily commute? How will you get to work or class? How will your family meet those same needs? These are all important considerations as you transition into the next phase of your life.

This decision doesn’t necessarily have to change the rest of your life. After all, if you get another big job or you graduate and take a big job, you’ll end up moving again anyway. The whole idea is to have a support system in place and make your transition to civilian life a simple as possible. So let’s be real for a moment: it’s gonna be difficult. No one ever got out of the military without a single hiccup or regret. You can follow every one of these suggestions, completely stick to the timeline we gave you, or the one the transition office gave you, or the one anyone gave you because you received so many, and things are still going to happen.

But being able to get to school while your spouse heads off to work doesn’t need to be one of those issues. Finding a doctor for yourself or your kids doesn’t need to be one of those issues. And finding a place you feel at home shouldn’t be one either.

So if you’re a big city person, just do the research. You’ll have no problem finding schools for everyone who needs one, along with jobs, food, and fun. You’ll probably even find multiple VA facilities to serve your needs and finish your VA disability examination. In a small town, you might have more difficulty checking every box but it’s not impossible. Do the research and figure out what’s right for you and yours.

When you know where you really want to go and find a new home there, be sure to update your home of record with the MPF. When you leave the military, you will get one free shipment of household goods to that home of record as a final send-off from America’s greatest fighting force. Be sure it’s all going to a place you really want to meet it.

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