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Waco, Texas best spot for military retirees: survey

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Waco, Texas tops the list of best places in the United States for military personnel to retire, according to a survey released on Monday.

The Texas city, ranked No. 1 for military retirees to maximize their benefits, raise families and start second careers. It was followed by Oklahoma City and Austin, Texas, according to the survey by USAA, a financial services company for military families, and Military.com, a military and veterans’ membership organization.

Waco, a city of 120,000 people sitting on a flat plain between Dallas and Austin in east-central Texas, is home to Baylor University.

Rounding out the top ten U.S. places were College Station, Texas; Harrisburg, Pennsylvania; San Angelo, Texas; Madison, Wisconsin; Pittsburgh; New Orleans and Syracuse, New York.

Some 2 million military retirees live in the United States, the survey said. Enlisted service members retire on average at age 42 and officers on average at age 46, it said.

“What we’re hoping to do is catch the soon-to-be retirees and provide them this data so they can make a really smart decision as to where they go,” said June Walbert, a certified financial planner for USAA, based in San Antonio.

Researchers looked at such factors as proximity to a military base and a veterans hospital or clinic, state taxation of military pensions and job and education opportunities. They also looked at housing costs, economic stability, crime rates and airport access.

“Arguably the most critical is a state’s military pension taxation,” said Ward Carroll, editor of Military.com’s web site. Other key factors are proximity to a military installation and to colleges and universities, he said.

Texas does not tax the pensions of military retirees, one reason why four of the top ten cities in survey are located there.

Overall, the research weighed 20 variables for 379 major U.S. metropolitan areas, it said. It is the first such survey, USAA and Military.com said.

Writing by Ellen Wulfhorst, Editing by Greg McCune

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