You’re getting out of the military, but do you have any idea where you want to move next? Should you go back home? Maybe even stay where you are? It might feel a little like blindly throwing a dart at a map. Here’s a guide on how to research and choose the location for your next adventure.
1. Professional Goals
This probably seems like the most obvious question to ask yourself, but you should give yourself some time to think about it thoroughly. Opportunities can be tied to certain locations, and if you choose poorly you may find yourself financially unable to make another move in a short amount of time. (The more opportunities to choose from, the better!)
If your professional goal is to work in a specific field or for a particular company, you will need to assess where those opportunities are brightest. If your goal is to work for Google, it won’t do you any good to move to Montana. If you are interested in deep-sea fishing, Alaska may be the best option.
Once you’ve decided on a course of study, take the time to research schools (Read: 10 Best States for Post-Military Education) with your anticipated major. You will need to establish that they have your major and determine how well-developed, funded and regarded the program is at that particular school. If you wish to later pursue graduate study, assess if there are programs that will suit your future needs as well.
Whether your goals are for a career, education or both, be sure to plan for flexibility and growth.
2. Cost of Living vs. Expected Income
Getting a rough estimate on your post-military income will be helpful to conceptualize your finances. Researching real estate and rental costs are great ways to estimate a location’s cost of living.
The anticipated cost of transportation can also factor into this estimate. In some cases, residing close enough to work or school can allow you and your family to eliminate a vehicle in favor of walking or biking.
If you are moving with a family, you know how important it is to figure in factors that affect not only you but your entire household. Conducting research on school districts and neighborhood amenities such as playgrounds may contribute to your ultimate decision. This also includes considering locations where you have friends and family available for support. This may come in emotional support as well as help with childcare.
If you are moving to an entirely new place, especially for the first time without the military community, it can be a lonely venture at first. Don’t forget to choose a location that will provide opportunities and a community that supports your religious beliefs, interests and hobbies.
Once you’ve decided, don’t be afraid to commit. You don’t have to join the local neighborhood watch, but giving yourself room to become part of your new community is a good thing. It doesn’t mean you will be there forever, but simply considering yourself a part of the community will help you settle in. Take those military values with you into your civilian life.
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