Think back to your last Permament Change of Station (PCS), and you'll remember the anxiety you felt trying to decide where, exactly, you were going to live. On base? Off base? And, if off, what neighborhood?
If you're lucky, you had time to come feel out the region for a few days before signing a lease. But even then you may be wondering where you can turn for advice on what neighborhood to pick for your new home.
That's exactly where reader Sandra was coming from as she gets ready for her second PCS when she sent us this question:
"This will be our second PCS move, how do you go about finding a new place to live when not on base? Are there any sites where people that have previously lived somewhere leave their feedback for newbies?"
The short answer is "not really." I've seen many attempts at making such a central resource like that, but all of the ones I am aware of have fizzled because not enough people use them.
However, there are some great other options out there where, with a little digging, you can come up with some recommendations! Here's what we suggest.
Resources for picking a military neighborhood1. Check out USAA's Great Communities list. If you're headed to one of the five largest military saturated metro areas you are in luck because that means USAA has already done all the neighborhood research work for you. Their resource, which breaks down those regions by best communities, ranks them according to things like affordability, commute time, schools and crime rate.
2. Go to social media. One of my favorite uses of social media is crowd sourcing questions. Most military bases have Facebook groups dedicated to them. Here at Fort Campbell, Ky., for example, we have "Fort Campbell Wives Page." At Joint Base Lewis-McChord there's the "Fort Lewis Spouse Network." Spouses head there to ask everything from "what's the best nail salon" to "what neighborhood should I move to?" And the responses from local spouses come from folks of all walks of life, making it a top resource.
Other pages like Oh, The Places We Go, also crowd source information for a wide variety of locations.To find your local page just search Facebook for the name of the base and the word "wives" or "spouses," and see what comes up.
3. Use a checklist. While it doesn't give you quite the inside information you might be looking for, there are proven ways to pick the neighborhood that best fits your needs. This list from About.com breaks down the decision process nicely.
What tools did you use to help you pick your neighborhood? Give Sandra some help in the comment section.
Thanks to pallspera.com for the photo used under the creative commons license.