By Elizabeth Hedger, Air Force Spouse
When my husband and I got word that we were PCSing to Langley we were shocked. It wasn’t a base that Tanker pilots normally move to so we had very little knowledge about it. With seven moves behind us, our family of five was seasoned at moving and we were ready for a change.
Langley is situated in a metropolitan area called Hampton Roads on the southeastern shore of Virginia. With loads to do in this maritime area, we were thrilled about our next adventure.
Originally from Minnesota, my husband and I were most excited about being able to experience four seasons again. In this part of Virginia, Autumn is incredible. The vivid colors hang on to the trees much longer than they do in our northern home which allows one to really take it in and enjoy. Winter is crisp and clean with dustings of snow but it never lingers long and is rarely bone-chilling. Once spring and summer hit hang on to your hat! The warmth and humidity will be all that you need to hit a local beach and become a sweet tea fan if you aren’t already one.
Strong Military Presence
Hampton Roads has loads to do and is the first time we have been stationed in an area where every branch of the military is represented. Yes, even the Coast Guard! Norfolk Naval Base is one of many bases in the area and is home to the largest Naval Station in the world. No matter what branch you represent, Navy Norfolk will awe and inspire.
Langley Air Force Base merged with Fort Eustis to become Joint Base Langley-Eustis supporting both Air Force and Army units. You’ll also find a Coast Guard base in Portsmouth and a small satellite Marine base in Norfolk called Camp Allen. Those are only some of the local bases but you get the idea!
Choices, Choices, and more Choices!
When it comes to what to do in the area, I think a better question would be “What isn’t there to do”? There is literally a festival of some sort almost every weekend. You can get your fill of festivals for music, food, culture, and the arts with a quick online search. Norfolk Botanical Gardens offer an escape from the hectic city life and a great retreat for all ages. North of the area is Busch Garden’s Williamsburg which has fantastic rides for everyone as well as a water park to retreat from the heat in the summer.
While in Williamsburg, why not visit America’s Historical Triangle comprised of Williamsburg, Jamestown, and Yorktown. All three locations give you a taste of American history as well as stepping back in time and seeing how life was lived in the colonial days.
Although the area is pebbled with beaches you’ll want to take advantage of Virginia Beach and the Outer Banks of North Carolina. Virginia Beach is right in the area and has a great boardwalk as well as a hopping nightlife.
For the ideal beach life vacation, drive south to the Outer Banks of North Carolina. It is less than two hours away and a great place to rent a beach home for a week or weekend. While there, make sure to visit the Wright Brother’s Museum and some of the local lighthouses.
Schools and Education
I can only speak to the area around Langley Air Force base. But I do wish I would have known more about the area schools when I arrived. I did some research and spoke to a few people but not enough to make an educated choice for my family. Because of my lack of research, my kids have been attending private schools for most of our time here. I quickly learned to listen to people who tried to keep me away from certain areas but like many people, I thought it would be different for me.
Do your Homework
It could not have been a worse choice. Do your homework, speak to people who have or are living here and speak to the school liaison officer. You’ll find the areas with the best schools cost more to live in and there is good reason for that. Having said all that, it is different for every family and I don’t want my experiences to be your only guide so speak with someone you trust and know that like any place some schools handle military kids better than others. You can find reviews of local neighborhoods written by fellow military and veteran families at PCSgrades.com.
How much do we like this area?
We like it so much my husband decided to retire here and now we call it home. I haven’t even begun to do everything on my local bucket list but that’s for another article.
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Loved the article! I also love Hampton Roads area and would love to move back. Even though I am from Michigan, Hampton Roads will always be my home.
I hope to read more from You!
Great article! Lived in area for several years and have to agree Hampton Roads is a great place to live, or just visit.
Can you give the details on school warnings? we are moving there this summer with elementary school-aged children who will attend middle school there as well. Any tips would be greatly appreciated!
Hi Ellie! The school ratings are linked to the specific neighborhoods on PCSgrades.com. You can see which neighborhoods military families are living in and like and then see the schools.