Navy Federal Revamps Best Cities After Service To Support Servicemembers Transitioning from Active Duty

Navy Federal Credit Union, in partnership with Operation Homefront, revamped its Best Cities After Service list, a compilation of the best places for servicemembers to move to when they leave the military. More than 250,000 military members transition out of the service each year. The change—which includes everything from deciding where to live, finding a suitable residence and employment as a civilian—is no easy feat, especially amid a global pandemic.

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Best Cities After Service

Best Cities After Service

To understand where transitioning servicemembers want to live as civilians, Navy Federal teamed up with Maru/Matchbox to survey 1,000 veterans and civilians about quality of life metrics such as cost of living, housing affordability, access to recreational activities, proximity to health resources and transportation, and more. Using the results from the survey, Sperling’s BestPlaces ranked more than 400 U.S. cities based on how they met transitioning servicemembers’ needs and preferences.

Data showed that transitioning servicemembers prioritize living in a strong community of veterans with lower crime rates, lower cost of living, and easily accessible outdoor activities. The updated 2020 list presents an entirely new set of locations, addressing veterans’ changing desires. The new top 10 are:

  1. Charleston, SC
  2. Fort Myers, FL
  3. Savannah, GA
  4. Daphne, AL
  5. Norwich, CT
  6. San Diego, CA
  7. Norfolk, VA
  8. Duluth, MN
  9. Gulfport, MS
  10. Fort Worth, TX

“Over the last two years, servicemembers and their families’ priorities have shifted a great deal,” said Clay Stackhouse, a retired Marine Corps colonel and regional outreach manager at Navy Federal. “In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, many civilian jobs have gone remote, so there’s little incentive to live in a costly major urban hub. Transitioning military are looking for a strong community of veterans to socialize with, building new connections and communities amidst the pandemic. We set out to identify cities that address those needs, and I believe we accomplished that goal.”

Navy Federal‘s “Best Of” list is an annual resource first launched in 2018. Best Cities was the focus of the list in its first year, and last year, covered Best Careers After Service, a comprehensive list of the best careers for transitioning servicemembers.

“We are thrilled to be able to help an amazing Navy Federal Credit Union team celebrate their top 10 list of communities they believe have earned special recognition for taking such great care of our military and veteran families,” said Brig. Gen. (ret.) John I. Pray, Jr., President and CEO of Operation Homefront. “We are incredibly grateful for NFCU's continued support and all they do to help us help this very deserving group of our fellow citizens overcome their financial hardships and put them on a path towards a stronger, more stable and more secure future.”

About Navy Federal Credit Union: Established in 1933 with only seven members, Navy Federal now has the distinct honor of serving over 9 million members globally and is the world’s largest credit union. As a member-owned and not-for-profit organization, Navy Federal always puts the financial needs of its members first. Membership is open to all branches of the armed forces and their families. Dedicated to its mission of service, Navy Federal employs a workforce of over 22,000 and has a global network of 341 branches. For more information about Navy Federal Credit Union, visit

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About Operation Homefront: Founded in 2002, Operation Homefront is a national nonprofit organization whose mission is to build strong, stable, and secure military families so that they can thrive – not simply struggle to get by – in the communities they have worked so hard to protect. Recognized for superior performance by leading independent charity oversight groups, over 90 percent of Operation Homefront expenditures go directly to programs that support tens of thousands of military families each year. Operation Homefront provides critical financial assistance, transitional and permanent housing and family support services to prevent short-term needs from turning into chronic, long-term struggles. Thanks to the generosity of our donors and the support from thousands of volunteers, Operation Homefront proudly serves America’s military families. For more information, visit