Skipping Christmas…Again :(

So it’s been a minute since I posted last. I’m going to give you a quick rundown on No Christmas, OSC Drama, and Iwakuni Questions. The Mr. came home safely from Afghanistan about six weeks ago, and since then it’s been a non-stop whirlwind of travel and PCS prep. Did I mention we are moving to Iwakuni very soon? Well, we are and I’m looking forward to it. What I’m not looking forward to is a disgustingly long plane ride (travel total is some 24 hours with a 12 hour flight just from west coast to Tokyo) and skipping Christmas again. 

Last year we missed Christmas because we moved and went to Hawaii for our honeymoon. This year we’re also moving. Sigh. I love Christmastime! I always pictured in my mind that when I got married I would do up Christmas really big every year. Womp-womp! I’m embarrassed about the fact that we’ve never even had a tree to decorate! I did however, finally convinced hubs to let us host a Christmas SLASH Goodbye party, so I guess that will have to do.

Moving onto OSC drama… I’ve kept my nose out of it ever since I found out the president and vice were keeping a FILE of slanderous/negative behavior against them to “take to the general’s wife if need be”. The EFF?? Did these people never graduate high school? Granted, the “opposition” is just as childish–women twice my age posting facebook status’ throwing shade at former and existing spouses. This is what happens when the olds get their hands on technology and didn’t have the chance to grow out of their “posting selfies, inspirational quotes, and cryptic-but-not-really statuses” in college phase. Anyway, crazy thing is the president’s spouse got orders from the get-go so she stepped down early. And then the vice’s spouse also got orders so she’s leaving too! Kinda weird how that worked out. If there’s one thing I’ve taken away from all this it’s that I think when I go to Iwakuni I’m just going to be a casual member and join a club–but no more of this “involved” bullshit. Yikes!

Speaking of Iwakuni… so around the time of the government sequestration and shut down, we were receiving information that all families were required to live on base. I was disappointed because I had always wanted to live in Japan proper, but I talked myself into all the benefits and hassle-free parts of base living, and I was okay again. Then, about a week ago, we got an email saying that due to extensive renovations the average wait time for base housing was 12 months. Is this like 12 months for real, or Twentynine Palms 12 months (more like 3-4)?

There are a couple things I’m concerned about living in town now. One is the feeling of isolation. I felt isolated living out in Twentynine and I speak the same language as everyone else (mostly… still not fluent in meth-head), so I can only imagine how it will be magnified in Japan and once we decide to have a baby. Also, it’s virtually impossible to find a place that is pet friendly from what I hear, and getting a cat was high on my priority list. I’m less concerned with the drafty apartments as I can pretty much get along anywhere, but that still won’t be any fun.

On the other hand, if I find a place near restaurants and grocery shopping, I’d be excited about that. So much is up in the air right now that I really can’t speculate I guess. Just have to wait and see when I get there. Well, this may be my last post this year. The movers come in two weeks, and after that the adventure begins!  

 

Deciding on Housing

If you’ve received orders to move to 29, I’m sure by now you just can’t contain your excitement. 🙂 Of course the next thing to do is to find out what the housing situation is like.  I don’t have extensive experience in this department, but I will offer you what I know.

The decision to live out in town or on base is going to be determined by a couple things; 1. What is your personality? 2. Is he deploying? 3.  Are you able to find a job?

You might want to live on base if…

  • You have a lot of kids. There is just so much support there to help ease your load. Additionally, there aren’t a lot of options for daycare centers out in town, and most of the known reputable sitters seem to come from base anyway.
  • You enjoy being a part of the milspouse community and want to be active in your spouse’s unit. This was a big deciding factor for us to live on base. I enjoy being social, and when I lived in town I found that I was driving on base about twice a day for various meetings and social groups. I also like the idea of my friends as my neighbors, and don’t like to feel isolated.
  • You’re picky about the quality of your house. Before I moved here, I had heard nothing but horror stories about various base housing situations across the country and didn’t even think we would want to move from out of town. However once I got here, it became increasingly apparent that the best houses in 29 were on base! Officer housing, the new SNCO housing (all of Copper Canyon is beautiful!), and the newer enlisted houses (southern side of Adobe Flats) are all very nice. I would say with the exception of maybe the older enlisted housing units, you’re definitely not going to find anything comparable in 29. Many of the houses in town are poorly insulated, only have swamp coolers for A/C, and don’t have dishwashers.
  • Your spouse is deploying. This was another big reason why we moved. In my limited time here, it seems like 29 is rough not only on us, but on our spouses too. This place really seems to chew up and spit out SNCOs and up in particular, regardless of your MOS. My hubs was regularly putting in 12-14 hour days leading up to deployment, and I know some nights he was so tired he was tempted to sleep on the office floor. When we moved on base he really appreciated being less that 10 minutes away from home. Also, there’s a safety issue once he’s gone. My house out in town creaked and groaned to the point where you couldn’t tell if someone was entering or it was just settling. Certain locals are known for tracking houses of military families and breaking in to steal things once the spouse goes to the field, gets deployed, or the family leaves for the deployment. The area is also popular for meth houses. Of course you probably won’t find those until the police show up on your street, if at all.

You might want to live off base if…

  • Owning a home is important to you. The land and housing is cheap out here, so it might be a good time to take a risk, especially if you’re going to fix up the house and rent it out to other families once you PCS. 29’s main source of economy is the base, so as long as that isn’t going anywhere, I’d guess you have a good shot at keeping the house occupied for a number of years.
  • You really enjoy privacy and solitude. This is the desert. The silence is almost deafening at times, and neighbors can be spread pretty far apart. If that’s your idea of a good time, then you will definitely prefer living out in town.
  • You absolutely cannot live without being within a 10 minute driving distance of Walmart/Starbucks/Home Depot. Some people don’t adapt well to change, and for those people there’s Yucca Valley. Yucca Valley also has a Walgreens and a Rite Aid, instead of just a Rite Aid. If the amenities of the regular world are important to you, don’t even waste your time looking at off base housing in 29. Go to Yucca Valley; the area tends to be a little nicer housing wise, and you will be half way between base and Palm Springs. Keep in mind Yucca is about a 45-50 minute drive to base.
  • Having a job is a high priority. Again, live in Yucca Valley or as far southwest as your spouse will agree to add to his commute. The closer you get to Palm Springs, the better. The economy is pretty bad out here, and many spouses can’t find work. A high percentage of those who do have jobs seem to have been fortunate enough to get transferred from their previous work, and permitted to do a large chunk of it at home. Otherwise you’re competing with the locals for minimum wage retail or serving jobs.
  • You want to make money off of BAH. Of course, you will take a hit in your standard of living, but this can be a great way to compensate for the fact that you will probably not find a job out here. Shop around 29 and even Joshua Tree for cheap housing, and don’t tell them your BAH allowance. There are places around here that charge max BAH prices because they know they can get it. And let me tell you, I haven’t seen a house out here yet that warrants their advertised price of 1200 a month.
  • Power outages are a problem for you. For some reason, the base does not seem to be self sufficient when it comes to power (which is kind of scary to me). About once a month we will lose power for hours. These are not always pre-planned outages with warnings. I have lived on base for about 3.5 months and been through about 4 outages and only one was planned. It seems we get most of our power from somewhere in Palm Springs, but I don’t know much more than that. These outages mean things like no street lights or traffic lights at night, and manually unhooking your garage door so you can leave your house. Not to mention limiting opening your freezer/refrigerator. If your family has special needs, you can request a backup generator but I’m not sure about how long it takes to get one, or the process. When we lived out in town we only experienced an outage once, and it wasn’t more than an hour. Most of the other houses in town don’t seem to experience a power loss as frequently.

I guess that’s about it for determining where to begin your housing search. I will say that if you are not yet married but will be and want base housing, you are eligible to put your name on the list 30 days before your ceremony, and that will help you get a head start on the wait list. They give everyone out here a ridiculous estimation of 18 months for a house, but I’m calling their baloney. I would say average wait is about 4 months or less IF you constantly check in with the housing office on the status of your wait.

If anyone has any other questions, I will try and create another post later.

Christmas?

It’s only just begun to get cold here. And by “cold” I mean, the cold that the middle of fall usually brings in places that are used to four seasons. It has been really hard for me to get into the Christmas spirit this year. For one thing, the church we have been attending hasn’t been singing any Christmas songs during their services even though it’s Advent (yes this bums me out!).

I have also realized how important the look of bare trees are to signaling winter/Christmas. Even in the South where I grew up, the weather didn’t get excessively cold but the trees were always bare and that seemed to be enough. Out here where there are so few trees and the sun shines down mercilessly bright, it just feels “off” to talk about holiday baking and decorating.

Not that I can decorate anyway.

The good news is that we finally got a house on base and are moving this week. The bad news is we are moving during Christmas season (making decorating obsolete) and the day before we leave for Hawaii (packing for a 2 week long vacation & a house!). I can’t wait to move though. I will have a DISHWASHER! And central HEATING AND COOLING!

Yes, ladies and gents, living in town can be cheaper but at what cost? Not to mention the history of break-ins military homes have had when the service member gets deployed or goes out in the field in this neck of the woods (or should I say, desert).

Alright enough procrastinating, I have some packing to do! It doesn’t feel like Christmas yet, but maybe it will in Hawaii. 🙂

Create a free website or blog at WordPress.com.