I wanted to write a pros list following my pros list of 20 Pros to living off Base . Although at this point in my life I prefer to live off base, I realize things are not black and white and there are benefits to both. Living on base can be great for many families.
* We actually commute to base two times minimum everyday since we utilize the CDC, MCCS sports, and the amazing school they have on base.
You are not familiar with the area and living on base makes you feel more secure. I totally understand.
Everything you need is close by. You have the commissary, the PX, gyms, parks, fields, schools, childcare etc. right there.
You can save money on gas since you are not commuting as far. That is if you are not leaving base too often.
The houses can be large. The homes are larger than any home both my husband and I have ever lived in. One neighborhood even offers air conditioning. If you are a family that is not willing to downsize, then living on base is probably for you. There will most always be a 2 story home with a front yard. and back yard. This is something I wish that i had, but we agreed that it is not worth sacrificing the extra BAH.
There is a strong sense of community. You do not have to worry about finding emergency contacts for your kids, or someone to help you out incase your extremely ill because your neighbors are usually more than happy to help you out(something I have struggled with). There are events and parties in the neighborhood and you will be taken care of when your spouse is away on field ops and deployments.
Your kids never have to be alone. There are always the neighborhood kids outside playing.
You do not have to manage your BAH. It gets taken out of the servicemember’s check and goes straight to housing.
The CDC (Child Development Centers) are in nearly every neighborhood. The CDC is a useful recourse because it caters to the servicemembers’ working hours (6am-6pm-with adjustments as needed) and will bus the children to and from school. *Although we live off base, I utilize the after school part day program, and full-time summer program. It is quite affordable compared to civilian daycare where it can cost up to $1,300+ per month. The CDC is a subsidized program based off rank to ensure it is affordable. *Tip waitlists can take up to a year and sometimes more if you do not know how to navigate the system. As soon as you get orders, go to the childcare website and sign up for childcare. Hopefully a spot will be open by the time you arrive. I learned my lesson the hard way
There are some really great schools on base. There are also not so great schools on and off base. My best advice is to research schools and to plan ahead because you might qualify for “school of choice” if you file early enough or an inter-district transfer. This is exactly what we did. Oceanside Unified School District is a Title I school and many of the schools are not that great. When I learned about Mary Fay Pendleton Elementary (K-8) on base in Fallbrook District, I immediately filed for an inter-district transfer. This school located in Camp Pendleton is one referred to as a “light house “ school and there are only about 12 in the country. The motto is a leader in me which emphasize academics through leadership particularly in girls. It is impressive when you look at the demographics and statistics for performance.
MCCS Sports is another affordable activity on base with registration prices around $40-45. No tryouts! They emphasize teamwork, leadership, and building skills no matter what skill level you are. They never turn anyone away. I am a fan of MCCS Sports because they are do not endorse ableilism and support all children PK-17 no matter level of ability. If you are looking for something that is hardcore competitive you would be better off looking for something in town.
Camp Pendleton has beautiful views of the ocean. If you do not have a view of the Ocean then there is a hiking trail near your home. The landscape is breathtaking.
You are only a few miles away from the beach. We have Del Mar and San Onofre.
You can live in an RV if you choose to.
There is a camp ground with affordable prices.
They have the best parks, including one right on Del Mar beach
If you are coming up on PCS, it is up to every family and what works best for them. If you cannot decide, do your research from credible sources, read blogs to get peoples experiences about their time there, and try talking to someone from that duty station. Good luck on your journey!