A Pacific Northwest military base has more than just rainy weather and clouds. Promise. While the summers are gorgeous, green, and temperate… they are often too short. Most residents have invested in quality rain boots, rain jackets, and stock up on windshield wipers. Depending on where in the region you are, the weather will be influenced by the coast or the mountains. Both of which are beautiful and neither of which are predictable.
Due to the diversity of the region, almost everything is available here. Mountains, hot springs, microbreweries, music, big cities, and college towns. One of the favorites is Mt. Rainier, the famous snow-capped summit that you can sometimes see through the clouds. Additionally, the Emerald City of Seattle is a progressive and artsy city, home to a 7-ton bronze statue of Lenin and a giant troll under a bridge. Let’s dig in and start exploring the area and the installations it’s home to, then visit PCSgrades.com to see what fellow military families have to say about base housing, neighborhoods, REALTORS, and more!
Pacific Northwest Military Bases
The region is comprised of the following five bases:
Established in 1942 and located right outside Spokane, Fairchild AFB supports a total population of over 9,000. Fairchild is home to the 92nd and 141st Air Refueling Wings and boasts a long and storied history dating all the way back to WWII.
NAS WHIDBEY ISLAND
Near Oak Harbor, on Whidbey Island, this base boasts a relatively large number of military including active duty, reserves, retirees and their families, a population totaling around 38,000. Like Fairchild AFB, NAS Whidbey Island was also established during WWII and today supports training activities for multiple squadrons and serves as the Center of Excellence for Electronic Combat Warfare Training.
Naval Base Kitsap
Located in the Puget Sound area, Naval Base Kitsap is the third largest naval base in the United States. NB Kitsap was established in 2004 after 5 separate installations were centralized as one command. Kitsap is home to 70 tenant commands and is the largest employer in Kitsap County.
Established in 1994 and one of the most modern, NS Everett’s mission is to provide support to Naval and Coast Guard Forces. Everett is a smaller station but is home to 6 Naval Ships and 2 Coast Guard Ships.
Formally beginning operation as a joint base in 2010, JBLM is in between Tacoma and Olympia and supports a community of around 150,000 military members, retirees, and their families. Check out our Joint Base Lewis McChord Area Guide for more info!
On- Base Housing in the Pacific Northwest Military Bases
Housing is available on each of the installations in the area, but the Air Force installations all report very limited accommodations and long waits. The rentals in those areas are also hard to come by, as the mid-price range housing market is also limited. The closer the installation is to a city, the more options are available. And, like most densely populated military regions, rentals are generally priced right at BAH rates for mid-career NCOs and Officers.
Fairchild AFB Housing
Base Housing at Fairchild AFB offers two, three, and four bedroom homes in four different neighborhoods, also boasting close proximity for all to playgrounds, sports courts, and a dog park. Circle Drive is exclusively for O6, Fort Right Villiage is near the commissary and accommodates E1-E9 and O1-O6. Galena Station is near the elementary and accommodates E1-E9 and O1-O5, and Palouse Hills is close to the playgrounds and serves ranks E1-E6. Fairchild AFB is right outside of Spokane which has a median home cost of $231,097. The low median home cost makes Spokane one of the most affordable towns in which to live in the area.
NAS Whidbey Island Housing
Hunt Military Communities manage Public/Private Venture (PPV) Housing. There are ten neighborhoods and a set of apartments to serve, some on base and some available through a Rental Partnership Program (RPP). This program is designed to help military families find secure and affordable off-base rental communities. Aside from the RPP homes, there is also nearby Oak Harbor with a median home cost of $350,000. This price at this Pacific Northwest military base is slightly higher than the median home cost in Washington state but not nearly as high as Seattle. See what fellow Mil-fams have to say about neighborhoods in the Whidbey Island area at PCSgrades.com, where you can read reviews and see grades for all base housing communities.
NB Kitsap & NS Everett Housing
Public/ Private Venture Housing managed by Hunt Companies serves as primary housing at Kitsap and Everett, much like at Whidbey Island. Multiple unaccompanied housing options are also available.
Joint Base Lewis McChord housing offers small duplexes up to four bedroom homes, based on rank and availability. With 21 neighborhoods managed by Lincoln Military Housing, libraries, parks, schools and proximity to American Lake, living on post is charming. Off base, areas such as Dupont, Lacey, and Hawks Prairie, Olympia, Tacoma, Puyallup, and Yelm are all popular communities that offer rather somewhat different experiences and price range. Read more about housing for Joint Base Lewis McChord in the JBLM Installation Guide.
See what other mil-fams have to say about the housing in the Pacific Northwest. Read reviews today at PCSgrades.com.
PACIFIC NORTHWEST BAH & COST OF LIVING
Washington State is among the most expensive states in which to buy a home. Median prices are a little over $300,000, and the general cost of living is high as well. Seattle is by far higher than towns like Spokane or Tacoma so it might be a wise move to buy well outside of the city of Seattle.
BAH for JBLM is $1,833 for an E-3 with dependents, and $2,007 for an O-1 with dependents.
BAH for Kitsap is $1,932 for an E-3 with dependents and $2,022 for an O-1 with dependents.
BAH for Everett is $2,196 for an E-3 with dependents, and $2,385 for an O-1 with dependents.
BAH for Whidbey Island is $1,365 for an E-3 with dependents and $1,467 for an O-1 with dependents.
You can learn more about your BAH rates and find top-rated Realtors with reviews from military families at PCSgrades.com.
PACIFIC NORTHWEST MILITARY BASE SCHOOLS
Washington state is ranked 19th in the country for elementary schools, but 2nd in the country for higher education. Military families have a number of districts from which to choose, so you won’t find schools on every Pacific Northwest military base. Unlike some areas of the U.S., districts in Washington State do not necessarily coincide with local city, town, or county boundaries. JBLM has elementary schools on base, while middle and high school students attend off base. Residents on NB Kitsap can choose to attend Central Kitsap School District, North Kitsap School District, and some qualify for Bremerton School District. Military families at NS Everett have a wide selection of school districts to choose from, depending where they live. NAS Whidbey Island is part of the Oak Harbor School district, which includes 5 elementary schools, 2 middle schools, and 1 high school.
Pacific Northwest Weather
It’s absolutely beautiful in the PNW and, it’s entirely due to rain. That being said, summers are too short and best spent outside, exploring the local area and events. While not the wettest place in the US, western Washington is the only area in the lower 48 that has over 100 inches of rain a year.
Like most of the country, the coldest months are December through February, with temperatures hovering just above freezing overnight and reaching into the mid-40s during the day. During the summer, temperatures get into the 70s during the day, and the precipitation reduces. June through September are green, relatively dry, and warm.
THINGS TO DO NEAR PACIFIC NORTHWEST MILITARY BASES
Art and Music
Seattle has long been famous for its music scene and retains its reputation as the birthplace of grunge in the early 1990s. Today the music scene in the Pacific Northwest is still flourishing with artists producing a wide variety of music, from folk to hip hop. In urban areas, such as Seattle or Olympia, you can catch local acts pretty much any night of the week, and festivals are rolling through the area pretty frequently. The Pacific Northwest is also home to a wide variety of art galleries, museums, and other art and culture events to take in.
Possibly the best thing about the Pacific Northwest is all of the beautiful natural year-round scenery. The wet weather leaves everything lush and green, and the locals take full advantage of it by spending a ton of time outdoors. There are some beautiful hiking, and bike trails and the cities are well equipped to accommodate citizens who prefer to walk or bike over driving.
The Pacific Northwest is noted for their seafood, specifically crab and salmon. Aside from seafood, seasonal fruits and veggies are also included in popular regional dishes. Food trucks and carts have become wildly popular in urban areas, serving up fast and fresh option that allows residents to grab a quick lunch or dinner. The area also has a huge craft beer and coffee culture even outside of Seattle, home of Starbucks, and the region is a leader in the industry with many shops roasting their own beans.
Pacific Northwest Military Base Attractions
The best attraction on Fairchild AFB is the FunSpot, which hosts a bowling alley, food, indoor play area for kids and sometimes bounce houses. Clear Lake is the local lake, and it has camping, kayaking, biking, and a small beach. There is a pool (with very limited hours) and a newer fitness center with an indoor pool and 1/8th-mile running track.
NAS Whidbey Island
The Convergence Zone on NAS Whidbey Island is the place to be for everyone. It has a toddler play area, bowling alley, indoor playground and gaming systems for kids of all ages. It also has a resource center with fax, copy, and printing services, computers, and Wi-Fi. Billiards, air hockey, and foosball are also available as well as Kegler’s Bar & Grill for a night out. There is also a movie theater, running trail and a campground/beach on base. NASWI is an outdoor lover’s dream. Fishing, boating, hiking, and hunting are all available in the area.
Naval Station Everett
One very popular place to visit on NS Everett is the Tsunami Pool. It uses a salt-water purification system, and programs include swim instruction for all ages, water aerobics and lap swim. The fitness center is another favorite place, as are intramural sports. There are several things to do in this area including movie theaters, a bowling alley, and a skate park. Camp McKean Recreation Area is located along the Kitsap Lake shoreline, and Elwood Point has walking paths, a playground and picnic areas on the waterfront. A big draw would be the Gallery Golf Course (with 18 holes and amazing views of the Olympic Mountains), the Strait of Juan de Fuca and Vancouver Island.
Joint Base Lewis- McChord
There are lots of fun things to do on JB Lewis-McChord, including a skate park, splash pad, and dog park. There is also a Pet Brigade doggie day-care and grooming, and American Lake Beach with paddle-boards, yoga on the beach and canoes.
Take off on the light rail and visit the Museum of Glass, the Museum of Art, or the Museum of History located in downtown Tacoma or root for the home team at a Ranier baseball game at Rainer Stadium.
There is so much to see and do in Seattle, and it’s only about an hour away from most Pacific Northwest military bases. Spend your day exploring and make sure to visit the famous Pikes Place Market or head to the waterfront to ride the Great Wheel or visit the Seattle Aquarium.
This active volcano stands a whopping 14,410 feet above sea level. The Mountain and surrounding National Park makes for a perfect get-a-way with activities for everyone regardless of the season. Spend the day hiking, sledding, and snowboarding or take a more somber trip to see The Mount Rainier National Park Valor Memorial, which pays tribute to brave rangers who gave their lives for the lives of others.
That’s right Canada. Visit our northern neighbors easily by taking an Amtrak train to downtown Vancouver or riding the Clipper ferry from Seattle to Victoria B.C.
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