The military life isn’t always easy. The constant moves can get tiring, and it can be hard making base housing feel like “home.” On many bases, off-base housing can be limited or expensive, and base housing might be the best option. There are a lot of wonderful things about living on base. Here are our top ten:
You actually know your neighbors.
Military communities are friendly, and chances are, you or your spouse work with some of your neighbors. On bases, which often feel like their own small towns, families get to know each other and form close friendships that last lifetimes. It’s Americana at its finest.
You’re in a gated community.
Base living tends to be pretty safe, since bases are gated and guarded at all hours. Parents often feel safe letting their kids walk to the neighbors’ house or to the playground. Adults sit on their porches at night, and have barbecues on the weekends, and you don’t have to worry if you forget to lock your car.
Your grocery store is just minutes away.
Most bases have a commissary on base or right outside, which means you have access to affordable groceries and don’t have to drive far (or drive at all) to get them. There are also usually restaurants, fast food, and other shopping nearby. If you’re living in another country, you’ll have access to American products you wouldn’t find otherwise.
You always have a gym nearby.
Like the commissary, the gym is another staple of base amenities. Some bases even have multiple gyms – and they’re free. Check out what your local base gym offers, because a lot of them have fitness classes for adults and activities for kids also. Many also have swimming pools.
You have accessible childcare and medical care.
Family support on base is extensive. Most bases offer childcare options, preschools, after-school care or summer camps. Some have their own schools. You also have medical care available for free at the base clinic (even though waits can sometimes be long).
You won’t be bored.
Military bases have a lot of recreational perks, from water parks and golf courses to canoe rentals and bowling. Most large bases have their own movie theater. What’s even better is that you can walk or bike to most of these. They also offer great opportunities for birthday parties and other celebrations, and they’re usually much cheaper than off-base options.
There’s always a party going on somewhere.
On base, there’s no shortage of celebrations. Whether it’s Christmas parties, 4th of July fireworks, or Halloween parties, there are plenty of base-wide events (not to mention block parties).
You may get a visit from your favorite celebrity.
Celebrities often visit bases if they’re passing through, not just USOs. Justin Bieber and Selena Gomez both came to NAS Oceana when I was living there several years ago. Singers often perform for base families. Keep your eyes peeled for who’s coming to your base next.
Your commute is short.
One of the best things about living on base is that your or your spouse’s commute to work is likely under 5 minutes. In a country where people can drive over an hour one way through traffic to get to their jobs, this is pretty remarkable.
One of the best-kept secrets about military life is that you can go to Disney World (and other theme parks) for a fraction of the price. All base ticket offices sell 4-day, 5-day, and 6-day Disney World passes at a significant discount. But make sure you also ask for the military rate at Disney hotels – they can be up to 50% off regular rates.
Some of the best memories of your time in the military will be made on base. In more rural areas where there isn’t a lot to do nearby, this is even more true. The base can be the center of your school, work, social, church and volunteer life – all within a few minutes’ drive.
Feature image courtesy of the U.S. Army