With its warm climate, lower cost of living and no state income or inheritance taxes, many Americans decide when it’s time to retire to move to Florida. The third most populous state in the U. S., Florida has the highest percentage of people over age 65. For military retirees, a popular option is to relocate near a military base in Florida to fully enjoy the retirement benefits they acquired from their service. These retirement benefits allow them discounted prices at exchanges, commissaries, recreational facilities such as golf courses, and allow them access to medical and pharmacy services at on-base facilities as well as numerous Veteran’s Administration health centers and clinics located throughout the state. Because of the large number of military retirees in Florida, a comradeship is also easy to be formed for newly relocated residents, with many veterans’ clubs and organizations located close to the bases. Personal finance website WalletHub agrees, ranking Florida the best overall state for military retirees to live at in 2018.
The City of Jacksonville, with three large military bases in the area (NAS Jacksonville, NS Mayport, and NSB Kings Bay), has a large active duty and retired military community, there are several reasons for this. With its affordable housing options, it's easy to relocate here. The city is enjoying rapid job growth due to a business-friendly government environment. Many Fortune 500 companies are relocating to Jacksonville away from their higher taxed former locations. For younger military retirees looking for continued employment, there are many jobs available. Outlying areas include Jacksonville, Neptune and Atlantic Beach, historic St. Augustine, and Ponte Vedra Beach, home of PGA golf’s Tournament Players Championship. For those relocating and used to Northern climates with their four seasons, Jacksonville has the most diverse climate compared to the more Southern areas on the list, featuring a normally mild winter and a temperate summer. Housing prices range depending on location, from the low $100,000s to $400,000s inland and $500,000s on up for beach and riverfront homes.
The area of Pensacola, Florida, draws in a large number of military retirees. The reasons are not hard to guess. Located on the beautiful Florida Emerald Coast, it is a sought-after destination for tourists to visit and retirees to live. With many large military bases in the area, NAS Pensacola, IWTC Corry Station, and NAS Whiting Field, one can live on or near the beaches or farther inland and still have access to base facilities. The overall area has a moderately large population of over 400,000, so job opportunities exist versus smaller populations. Housing prices vary depending on location, with prime Gulf property on the high end (median price online $493,000), while inland housing is available at an affordable price (online listings from the low $100,000s to around $350,000), especially when compared to housing in the Northeastern and Western U.S.
Tampa, Florida, and the surrounding communities that consist the Tampa Bay Area, are a great place to retire in. If you are looking to live in or near a large metropolitan area there are three large cities in the area, Tampa, St. Petersburg, and Clearwater. Or if you prefer a smaller town feel, the Tampa Bay area has dozens of distinct towns to choose from. MacDill AFB is located in the middle of Tampa Bay and features many modern facilities, offering retirees convenient access no matter which part of the area they chose to live in. For younger military retirees, the area’s growing population ranks as one of the largest in Florida and with this large population base are many companies and jobs to choose from. Like Jacksonville, Tampa offers diverse lifestyle options, from Gulf of Mexico beaches, to inland communities with a rural way of life. Like the other areas on this list, housing prices will vary on location, the beach areas being on the higher side of pricing (median price $600,000 and up) to more affordable options inland (low $100,000 to $450,000). Located in western central Florida, it also offers convenient access whether traveling North, South, or East to the other areas of Florida for nearby vacation getaways.
Since its area's development in the early 1900s to attract Northern “Snow Birds” for an escape from harsh winter weather (a trend that continues), the Destin-Fort Walton Beach and other areas near Eglin AFB is also an area that attracts military retirees to live. Also boasting some of the most beautiful beaches around on Florida’s Emerald Coast, it has a smaller population base (less than 100,000 total population) than other areas on this list. While it may not offer younger retirees seeking continued employment the same opportunities as the others here, it does offer older military retirees a more tranquil way of life. Like the other choices, housing will range depending on proximity to the Gulf beaches with waterfront property ranging from around $400,000 and up for a condo, to well over $1 million for a waterfront house and inland home pricing listed online with median prices depending on ZIP code of $250,000 to $400,000.
The eastern central Florida area surrounding Patrick AFB consists of Palm Bay, Melbourne, Titusville, and their nearby beach cities. Like its west central Florida location of Tampa Bay, this area also offers convenient access to the rest of Florida for a vacation getaway, whether traveling North, South or West. With an area population of about 500,000, many employment opportunities for younger military retirees come from government agencies, most notably tied to the aerospace industry at the Kennedy Space Center. Nearby Port Canaveral is one of the nation’s busiest cruise ports with six major cruise terminals and hosting seven cruise lines so there are employment opportunities there as well. For those who like fireworks, witness the ultimate ones as you watch live rocket launches from your backyard! Also nearby is Orlando and its many attractions such as Walt Disney World, chances are good that your children who live far away will be visiting you, along with the grandkids. Housing prices in the inland cities of Palm Bay and Melbourne are a reasonably low median price of $125,000 and $200,000 and in the waterfront communities of Satellite Beach and Cocoa Beach median property prices are listed on Realtor.com at $330,000 and $400,000, making this area within financial reach for many retirees to relocate to.