Even as a civilian, you know when you live near a military base. It’s usually fairly obvious; from the uniforms around town, to the city taking an interest in special events, to the base opening up things to the public. But it can take on a different view as a military family. We live near Ft. Bliss – just a few miles up the road from us. It’s huge, size wise it’s one of the largest bases in the U.S.
There are some pros and cons to living near a base – and if you’re new to the military here are some to look out for and to look forward to:
- The housing industry (apartments, rentals, and even buyers) all are a bit wary of military families looking into living in their homes. It can be a real problem, because military are so identifiable they stand out even more when they trash a place or leave without paying.
- The military base can be the main source of income in a city. This means that other jobs offered are hard to get or find, you’re competing for a small, sometimes low paying, position off base with many other applicants.
- The housing can be hard to find. When we first moved here, there was a huge surge of troops placed with us. It took us 10 days to find a home while we lived in a hotel. One base housing had a year and a half wait at that time.
- There is always something to do. On our base, every weekend and all summer long there are concerts, things for the kids, pools open, and carnivals. Off base is the same – the military provides a fairly strong family presence so we’ve found a lot that caters to families with small children; library time, Gymboree, play and eat places.
- Other military families live close. You can find them all over – and more than likely your base/post offers ways to make some new friends that are also military spouses. From MOPS to Girl’s Night Out. Our company also hosts get togethers and parties (Halloween, Christmas, Easter), as well as the regular balls.
- Resources are available. The military base offers a lot that might be harder to find out in town. Chaplains, counselors, financial help, childcare – it’s all on base. The great thing about living near one is you have immediate and close access to all of these, and nearly all of them are free or at a reduced cost.
- Closer commute. My husband has about a 15 minute drive to work from where we live, although there are other places we could have chosen and it would have been much longer. It’s nice for errands and grocery shopping and just meeting up for playdates too.
I find that living near a base is more beneficial to us than when we didn’t. I like the hustle and bustle of it, my daughter loves to see the military planes roar overhead and call everyone in uniform “Daddy”. 🙂 We love our base, it’s clean and tidy and everything is within just a few minutes of the rest.
Although there are always problems with any station you’re placed at, I’ve found the old saying that I was told many times is true, “It’s what you make of it.”