Best and Worst U.S. Cities for Veterans – Find Out Where Your City Ranks

At SaluteSpot, one of our goals is to make veterans aware of military-friendly businesses that support them throughout the country. Naturally, we wanted to understand which cities in the US are currently the most welcoming to veterans and which could use a little improvement. After some digging I found an analysis performed by WalletHub in late 2015 that ranks the 100 most populous cities in the US from best to worst for veterans.

As many real estate professionals know, it can be difficult to rank neighborhoods, cities, and states on data alone without really getting a feel for the area. After all, how can statistics tell us how well a small coffee shop on a street corner in Indianapolis treats their veteran patrons?  I’m just not convinced that data can paint the full picture. That being said, I have to admit that WalletHub’s algorithm was pretty robust. I’ll share the full methodology after the break – but let’s get to the important stuff first!

Here are the full results, ranked from best (#1) to worst (#100.. sorry Detroit):

Overall Rank

City

Overall Score

1

Irvine, CA

74.84

2

Scottsdale, AZ

69.21

3

Raleigh, NC

68.72

4

Orlando, FL

68.64

5

Gilbert, AZ

68.05

6

San Diego, CA

67.19

7

El Paso, TX

66.50

8

Sacramento, CA

66.16

9

Austin, TX

65.13

10

Lubbock, TX

64.93

11

Bakersfield, CA

64.53

12

Chula Vista, CA

64.36

13

Fort Worth, TX

63.82

14

Reno, NV

63.76

15

Chandler, AZ

63.50

16

Tucson, AZ

63.50

17

Tampa, FL

63.47

18

Laredo, TX

63.31

19

Denver, CO

62.63

20

Madison, WI

62.61

21

Garland, TX

62.51

22

Aurora, CO

62.51

23

Omaha, NE

62.41

24

Lincoln, NE

62.39

25

St. Paul, MN

61.89

26

Kansas City, MO

61.81

27

Phoenix, AZ

61.61

28

Plano, TX

61.31

29

Fremont, CA

61.22

30

Glendale, AZ

61.08

31

Colorado Springs, CO

61.05

32

Oklahoma City, OK

60.97

33

Virginia Beach, VA

60.79

34

Columbus, OH

60.68

35

Mesa, AZ

60.15

36

Minneapolis, MN

60.03

37

Chesapeake, VA

59.91

38

Anaheim, CA

59.82

39

Jacksonville, FL

59.80

40

Houston, TX

59.77

41

Irving, TX

59.75

42

Corpus Christi, TX

59.69

43

Pittsburgh, PA

59.60

44

Honolulu, HI

59.21

45

St. Petersburg, FL

59.21

46

Charlotte, NC

58.94

47

Winston-Salem, NC

58.89

48

Albuquerque, NM

58.87

49

Boise City, ID

58.79

50

Santa Ana, CA

58.58

51

Riverside, CA

58.53

52

Dallas, TX

58.29

53

San Francisco, CA

58.15

54

San Jose, CA

58.12

55

Arlington, TX

58.00

56

Tulsa, OK

57.84

57

Anchorage, AK

57.82

58

Wichita, KS

57.74

59

Baton Rouge, LA

57.38

60

Henderson, NV

57.17

61

St. Louis, MO

56.90

62

Nashville, TN

56.63

63

Oakland, CA

56.19

64

Los Angeles, CA

56.02

65

Stockton, CA

55.93

66

New Orleans, LA

55.74

67

Greensboro, NC

55.72

68

Seattle, WA

55.61

69

Atlanta, GA

55.56

70

Washington, DC

54.92

71

San Antonio, TX

54.89

72

Toledo, OH

54.64

73

Milwaukee, WI

54.33

74

Louisville, KY

54.26

75

Philadelphia, PA

53.64

76

Buffalo, NY

53.46

77

Durham, NC

53.39

78

Long Beach, CA

53.25

79

Chicago, IL

52.51

80

Las Vegas, NV

52.36

81

New York, NY

52.22

82

Fresno, CA

51.87

83

Cleveland, OH

51.79

84

Portland, OR

51.67

85

Birmingham, AL

51.52

86

Norfolk, VA

51.37

87

Cincinnati, OH

51.25

88

Jersey City, NJ

50.98

89

Baltimore, MD

50.82

90

San Bernardino, CA

50.82

91

Lexington-Fayette, KY

50.70

92

Indianapolis, IN

50.56

93

Memphis, TN

50.31

94

North Las Vegas, NV

50.22

95

Fort Wayne, IN

49.87

96

Miami, FL

47.99

97

Boston, MA

47.57

98

Hialeah, FL

45.85

99

Newark, NJ

41.64

100

Detroit, MI

39.75

Can’t find your city? WalletHub used the 100 most populous cities, so if your city has less than 200,000 people it’s likely they didn’t include it in the study.

Two interesting things that stood out to me:

  • According to WalletHub, bigger isn’t always better. The three largest cities in the US didn’t do so hot – New York City at #81, Los Angeles at #64, Chicago at #79.
  • Norfolk, VA ranks #86, yet it consistently has one of the highest percentages of veterans per capita in the country. How can it be in the bottom 25% if so many veterans are still choosing to live there?

I created a map showing the top 10 and bottom 10 cities in the United States. There’s clearly some trends – the South and West have green markers scattered throughout while the Midwest and Northeast are home to quite a few of the bottom 10 cities.

3a210d22-124c-4ed9-b212-81bc60f3fbd2 (2)

So what factors did WalletHub use to compile these scores? Here is the list of 18 metrics that were used in the study:

Economic Wellness

  • Percentage of Military Skill-Related Jobs
  • Veteran Unemployment Rate (ratio of unemployed veterans to total unemployed population)
  • Rate of Job Growth (2011–2014)
  • Rate of Veteran Income Growth (2009–2014)
  • Housing Affordability
  • Veteran Income Adjusted for Cost of Living Index
  • Percentage of Veterans Living Below the Poverty Line
  • Number of Homeless Veterans per 1,000 Veterans

Environment

  • Veteran Population (number of veterans per 1,000 Residents)
  • WalletHub “Recreation” Ranking
  • WalletHub “Weather” Ranking
  • Crime Rate

Education

  • Educational Opportunities (“Best Colleges for Veterans” ranking)

Health

  • Number of VA Health Facilities per Number* of Veterans
  • Number of VA Benefits Administration Facilities per Number* of Veterans
  • “Patients’ Willingness to Recommend the Veteran Hospitals” Score
  • Percentage of Medical Appointments Scheduled More than 30 Days
  • “Emotional Health” Ranking

Here’s my question – are there ways that city officials, businesses, veterans, and civilians are all working together to make our cities more veteran-friendly that wouldn’t be reflected in this algorithm? I say definitely, yes.

Are you from any of these cities and strongly agree or disagree with WalletHub’s assessment? We’d love to hear from you.

1 Comment on Best and Worst U.S. Cities for Veterans – Find Out Where Your City Ranks

  1. I’m from Gilbert, AZ #6 on the list I believe. I don’t know how it is so highly ranked. We do have a VA clinic but rent here is expensive and I am an unemployed vet having a hard time finding employment. I do love Gilbert though.

    Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: