By Carla Olivo, PCSgrades Director of Strategic Communications

You remember Mayberry, right? That fictional, idyllic town with one traffic light and very little crime to occupy Sheriff Taylor and Deputy Sheriff Barney Fife. Well, living in base housing may not be Mayberry, but to some it has many of the same attributes. Crime, for instance, is definitely not usually much of a concern when you live on a military installation. There tends to be a greater sense of security in base housing which can be invaluable to military families facing a deployment or extended off-post training. There is a comfort level that allows parents to let kids play outside or walk around the neighborhood that doesn’t always exist out in town.

Base Housing Convenience & Affordability

While most military installations have more than one traffic light, it is not an exaggeration to say that living on base helps to avoid traffic jams at the gate during peak hours. Living close to the commissary, the Exchange, schools, doctors etc are another nice perk of living on a military installation. PCSgrades co-founder Todd Ernst says, “We only had 1,400 square feet of space but we really didn’t want for anything.”

For some, living on a military installation brings them back to basics and makes for a more affordable lifestyle. Nicole, a military spouse who is currently living at Fort Adams in Newport, Rhode Island says while the houses are older than what they could find in town, her family’s cost of living is brought down considerably by choosing to live on the Fort. She says her family also really enjoys living among other military families. “There is simply no comparison to the closeness of community here at the Fort compared to living out in town.”

Military Lifestyle

And that may be the most important factor for a lot of military families. It’s the knowledge that your neighbors understand the military lifestyle. They are very much in the same boat, or tank so to speak. A night like Halloween isn’t just for the kids. In base housing neighborhoods, it’s a chance to see old friends or meet new friends. And you don’t have to check your kid’s candy!

One highlight a few years back in the Villages on Fort Belvoir was the annual Holiday Tour of Homes where especially crafty or creative spouses showed off their holiday decorating skills. It was a chance to experience your neighbor’s talent and traditions in celebrating the holidays. It’s rare to find this type of open house event out in town.

And where else can you experience the daily retreat ceremony signaling the end of the official duty day while paying respect to the flag? My kids always enjoyed this special moment which usually fell in the middle of their soccer game.

Mayberry had its share of excitement like the time Barney arrested Gomer for making an illegal u-turn. Likewise, it’s common knowledge that the MPs on base are all business when it comes to enforcing speed limits, especially through base housing.


Mayberry was the embodiment of a simpler time where only a few grew up there but many wished they did. A place where friends became family. Sounds a lot like living on a military installation. As Nicole says, “I’ve always been reluctant to live on base, but living on base here in Newport was the best decision we could have made!”

Whether you live on Camp Pendleton, at Fort Lewis, or at Eglin Air Force Base, if your Base Housing experience was a lot like Mayberry, or even if it wasn’t, we want to hear from you! Please leave your favorite memories in a Base Housing Review at

Carla Olivo has garnered numerous TV industry awards including the Associated Press award for Spot News Reporting, News Writing, Enterprise Reporting, and Documentary Reporting. She lives in Northern Virginia with her husband, a retired USMC Lt. Colonel, and their two children. You can follow her on Twitter @olivowriter.

Carla Olivo

Director of Strategic Communication