There's something about that "Open House" sign that acts like a magnet. Whether you're looking for a new place to live, keeping tabs on real estate in your neighborhood, or just angling for a sneak peek at someone else's private domain, the lure of an open door is strong indeed.
In honor of Veterans Day, this week we explore the best places to buy for our troops. With many of our service members contemplating retirement in their late 30s and 40s, it's important to find communities that understand and appreciate their skill sets and needs. Drawing on a study of 379 cities, Military.com and the USAA identified the best cities for retiring vets. (To see all 14 criteria used to determine the best cities, see the report here.) In turn, we did some of our own recon and came up with some of the finest open houses these troop-friendly cities have to offer.
Open Houses for Nov. 12-13
Oklahoma City, Okla.
Open house: Sunday, Nov. 13 Location: 12501 Arthur Ave Price: $338,000 Property details: Built in 2008, this 3-bedroom custom home has curb appeal down to a science -- plenty of fresh landscaping, new window treatments, and a gas line in the back for killer cookouts. And for the lifelong soldier, there's comfort in knowing that OK City has four nearby military bases and a VA medical center.
Open house: Saturday, Nov. 12 Location: 2040 Kersey Ave Price: $194,900 Property details: Virginia has a long history of supporting the troops, and with homes like this 4-bedroom family home, it's easy to put down new roots. And for those looking to transition into a new career, Norfolk is known for its large volume of defense contract awards.
Open house: Sunday, Nov. 13 Location: 11324 Lady Slipper Lane Price: $175,000 Property details: What's more American than a beautifully restored Colonial-style home? This two-story, 4-bedroom home is selling for $20,000 less than the median home price in Richmond. Plus, the sellers are offering up to $2,500 in closing cost assistance. Check the listing to see inside.
Open house: Sunday, Nov. 13 Location: 2012 Laurel Ridge Cv Price: $895,000 Property details: For the military retiree who enjoys the finer things in life, dive into this luxury listing in the Lone Star state's most troop-friendly city. This 5-bedroom home includes a game room, media room, outdoor kitchen, sitting room with fireplace, and of course, this resort-style pool. And what better way to kick off retirement than with a trip to the nearby golf club.
Open house: Sunday, Nov. 13 Location: 18002 Bullis Hl Price: $462,000 Property description: One part Mediterranean-style pool house, one-part custom bungalow, this 3-bedroom home has everything a young retiree is looking for -- an outdoor pool/hot tub combination, detached garage for unlimited man-cave possibilities, and a "xero-scaped" lawn (i.e.: little water required) for no-hassle Sundays.
Open House: Saturday, Nov. 13 Location: 1173 Farwell Dr Price: $950,000 Property description: Built in 1917, this stunning historical home could have been transplanted from the heart of Georgia. Spend a lazy afternoon on the back patio and watch the sunset over the Lake Mendota shoreline. With just a 5.8 percent unemployment rate, Madison also offers young retirees plenty of job prospect in their next career.
Open house: Sunday, Nov. 13 Location: 224 Delancey St Price: $1,395,000 Property description: The City of Brotherly Love has always been kind to the armed forces. In fact, Pennsylvania has a zero percent state tax on military retirement pay. As one of the larger cities on the list, it also includes some tonier listings -- like this 3,000-square-foot town home. Peek inside at this ultra-deluxe gourmet kitchen.
Open house: Sunday, Nov. 13 Location: 323 Marlowe Road Price: $949,900 Property description: Home builder, we salute you. This more than 5,000 square foot custom brick home is stunning, inside and out. With cherry hardwood floors, 10-foot high ceilings and a top-notch chef's kitchen, this understated 5-bedroom home is the epitome of early retirement.
The Boston-Cambridge-Quincy metropolitan area’s greatest strength for those without an automobile is the prevalence of dense, easily manageable communities. This makes it exceptionally easy for residents to reach amenities such as groceries, restaurants, shopping and schools. The metropolitan area’s primary city, Boston, has the third-highest walk score in the country. The area’s public transit also has a relatively high service frequency rate, making its use that much more convenient for the city’s residents.
> Transit coverage: 96 percent (second highest)
> Service frequency (minutes): 6.2 (second lowest)
> Jobs reachable in 90 minutes: 25.6 percent (69th highest)
> Walk score: 65.9 (14th highest)
> Commuters who bike: 0.87 percent (14th highest)
Los Angeles is the second largest city by population in the United States, and its metropolitan area is fairly spread out. Due to its extensive public transit system the area has avoided a complete automobile-based culture. The metro area’s 19 transit systems have more than 500 bus routes. As a result, 96 percent of neighborhoods are within 0.75 miles to a transit stop -- the second highest rate in the country. Better still, commuters can catch a form of public transportation from their nearest stop every 6.2 minutes.
> Transit coverage: 89 percent (eighth highest)
> Service frequency (minutes): 8.5 (11th lowest)
> Jobs reachable in 90 minutes: 58.9 percent (2nd highest)
> Walk score: 57.6 (29th highest)
> Commuters who bike: 0.78 percent (17th highest)
Utah’s population is expected to grow from 2010’s approximately 3 million to 4.4 million in 2030. Salt Lake County accounts for more than one-third of the state’s population. To accommodate this growth, the Utah Transit Authority has plans to add four more lines to its light rail system, TRAX, up from its current three lines. This investment is meant to improve transportation for the suburban and exurban population to the city. In the winter, the UTA runs ski transit lines in addition to its rail and bus services.
> Transit coverage: 83.7 percent (12th highest)
> Service frequency (minutes): 8.1 (10th lowest)
> Jobs reachable in 90 minutes: 47.5 percent (10th highest)
> Walk score: 60.4 (23rd highest)
> Commuters who bike: 0.79 percent (16th highest)
Denver has bus service, light rail lines and an airport shuttle service. The city is currently undergoing a multibillion dollar expansion of its transit system, called the FasTracks Expansion. This plan is meant to increase light rail, commuter rail and bus rapid-transit lines. The project, which is expected to be completed in 2019, currently faces a $2 billion shortfall.
> Transit coverage: 95.6 percent (third highest)
> Service frequency (minutes): 6.9 (fifth lowest)
> Jobs reachable in 90 minutes: 58.4 percent (third highest)
> Walk score: 54.5 (34th highest)
> Commuters who bike: 1.56 percent (seventh highest)
The San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara metropolitan area’s public transportation is overseen by the Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority. Like Los Angeles, the area relies heavily on buses, running about 100 routes. Public transit covers 95.6 percent of neighborhoods, the third greatest in the country. Public vehicles also run under seven minutes apart, the fifth smallest frequency. The metro area also has the seventh highest rate of commuters who travel to work by bicycle.
> Transit coverage: 85.3 percent (11th highest)
> Service frequency (minutes): 8.8 (15th lowest)
> Jobs reachable in 90 minutes: 33.4 percent (35th highest)
> Walk score: 73.6 (sixth highest)
> Commuters who bike: 1.07 percent (ninth highest)
Seattle’s public transportation system not only includes bus and rail transit, but a monorail in the city center, as well as ferries. The city also has the sixth highest walk score in the country, due to its high number of easily accessible amenities. According to Bicycling magazine, Seattle is one of the most bike-friendly cities in the country and “has a 10-year, $240-million bike master plan that seeks to triple the number of journeys made by bike and add 450 miles of bike paths.”
> Transit coverage: 97 percent (the highest)
> Service frequency (minutes): 9 (18th highest)
> Jobs reachable in 90 minutes: 59.8 percent (the highest)
> Walk score: 63 (19th highest)
> Commuters who bike: 0.95 percent (12th highest)
Honolulu currently does not have an urban rail system, but its bus system helps cover 97 percent of neighborhoods — the highest rate in the country. Additionally, almost 60 percent of jobs are accessible within 90 minutes to those who live in neighborhoods covered by transit. This is also the highest rate in the country. Nevertheless, the city is planning a $5.5 billion rail project called the Honolulu Rail Transit Project. This will include 20 miles of track, connecting East Kapolei with the Honolulu International Airport and downtown Honolulu and will end at Ala Moana Center.
> Transit coverage: 89.6 percent (seventh highest)
> Service frequency (minutes): 4.5 (the highest)
> Jobs reachable in 90 minutes: 36.6 percent (25th highest)
> Walk score: 85.3 (the highest)
> Commuters who bike: 0.52 percent (32nd highest)
New York City and its surroundings rank first in the nation for total number of passenger trips and government spending per capita on public transit, according to U.S. News. It also has the highest rate of service frequency. The Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s 2010 operating budget was $13.4 billion. The average weekday ridership for the city is estimated to be over 8.4 million trips. The city also has the highest walk score on this list, thanks to the ability of city dwellers to reach just about any amenity on foot.
> Transit coverage: 83.5 percent (13th highest)
> Service frequency (minutes): 7.4 (eighth lowest)
> Jobs reachable in 90 minutes: 39.9 percent (16th highest)
> Walk score: 66.3 (13th highest)
> Commuters who bike: 2.23 percent (second highest)
Portland is such a good place for people to live without a car due to both its public transit system and the ease of walking and biking around the city. The metropolitan area is served by TriMet, which in addition to other services offers a Free Rail Zone — a region that includes most of downtown Portland and where light rail and streetcar rides are always free. The city has a number of benefits for bike riders, including designated bike-only areas at traffic signals and free bike lights. It has the second highest rate of commuters who ride bikes to work in the country.
> Transit coverage: 91.7 percent (fifth highest)
> Service frequency (minutes): 8.5 (12th highest)
> Jobs reachable in 90 minutes: 34.8 (30th highest)
> Walk score: 84.9 (second highest)
> Commuters who bike: 1.65 percent (sixth highest)
San Francisco is held in high regard for its many successful transit systems, including the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Authority and the Bay Area Rapid Transit district. These systems cover nearly 92 percent of neighborhoods -- the fifth highest rate in the country. San Francisco also has the second highest walk score and is excellent for bicyclists. Commuter rails within the city allow bicyclists to mount with their bicycles, and there is a bike shuttle across the Bay Bridge to help cyclists during rush hour.