There are few life changes bigger than that involved in transitioning from military service to the civilian world. The thousands of servicemen and women who do it each year know it isn’t easy to trade the uniform for a dress shirt and tie, or base housing for a private home or apartment.

Questions over health care, education, employment and much more have to be answered, preferably a few months before actually being discharged. One way to make the transition to a life after service easier is if servicemembers know they’re coming home to cities that welcome them with open arms, where opportunities to work and relax are theirs for the taking.

What would such cities look like? Which factors would determine their suitability for veterans? Affordability is obviously a key concern. Housing, including single family homes, condos and apartments, would have to be within an achievable price range, with guarantees that prices wouldn’t skyrocket in the next few years. That rules out some major cities but opens plenty of other options nationwide.

Proximity to Department of Veterans Affairs hospitals and care providers is obviously essential. Veterans need to have immediate access to medical support, both of the physical and emotional kind, so that rules out deep, rural areas and urban areas with only limited facilities.

Here’s another factor to consider – a sense of community. One of the great benefits of military service is the camaraderie and fellowship of being with like-minded men and women united in a patriotic effort. Many veterans miss that sense of togetherness when they leave, but they don’t have to. Veterans communities exist all over the country, and they’re often just as important to the happiness and well-being of retired servicemembers as a quality hospital or bright employment outlook.

Considering these requirements and many others, here’s a list of some of the best cities for veterans.