You’ve made it through the late nights of midnight feedings during the diaper years, the late nights of waiting up during the teenage years, and the late nights of worrying during your early empty-nester days. You’re not just ready for a nap, you’re ready to settle down in your forever home. But how do you pick where to live when your kids are serving in the military? Here are five things every multi-generational service family should consider when picking their “final,” permanent duty station.
When deciding where to live, it’s important to think through your current and projected long-term healthcare needs. Sure, maybe right now you’re walking three miles a day, uphill, in the snow, just like you used to “back in the day (sorry, we had to!),” but what about a few years from now?
What kind of hospitals are in your area? What kind of specialties (orthopedics, cardiac, cancer, etc.) are available? Look for VA Hospitals that will accept military health care plans. Beyond preventative and specialty care, what do assisted living and nursing home facilities look like if you or your spouse need either of those as an option? Thinking through the gamut of possibilities is not only a proactive mindset, it also can alleviate possible burdens from your children.
No matter where you live, as long as your child or children are serving, there’s a very slim chance you’ll be co-located in perpetuity. Consequently, you’ll want to be somewhere that’s easy to get to in order to maximize visits — for you and for them! That beach house in Hawaii overlooking Kaua’i may be calling, but if you decide to go that route, sadly, that’s probably all you’ll be getting for holidays and weekends: phone calls.
Regional airports are more expensive, so consider living somewhere within an hour or two of a larger airport or finding somewhere that feels somewhat road-trippable from likely duty stations.
Also, think through the kind of house you want for retirement. You may want the guest bedrooms for kids and grandchildren to visit, but the extra rooms might be too much to clean. If you have a budget down the line where someone can help clean, go for it! Or, go for the smaller home and save your money for renting a house to fit your entire family a couple of times a year. You’ll also want to prioritize what kind of home you want down the road. That three-story colonial might be your dream house now, but that’s a lot of stairs in 15 years! Either look at ranch houses or find one with a master bed and bath on the main level.
When choosing where to live after military life, identifying the community vibe you want is imperative. Retirement is a different ballgame than the nine-to-five you’re used to, so look for things you’ll want to do. Is having city-type amenities important to you or will you be more comfortable in the pace of a small town? Do you prefer to live near a military base and remain connected to the military community? Do you play golf? Need a gardening club? Build your dream city one requirement at a time.
So, you’ve built your dream city with skyscrapers or one stoplight or something in between. Now you have to figure out what kind of weather you want in it! Do you need all four seasons? Do you want a winter with plenty of snow or prefer “forever summer?” According to the Center for Disease Control, mental health can be directly tied to weather. Whether you’re a ski bum or a beach bum, look at locations that offer the kind of climate you’ll need to thrive. PCSgrades Area Guides can help you explore the climate at military bases around the country, so you’ll know what to expect in various locations.
Last, but certainly not least, talk to your kids. Have the conversation with them about where they see themselves after their service. If it’s most important to you to be near where they think they’ll want to be, find a city or town that meets everyone’s needs. When you invite them into the decision-making process, you’re generating their buy-in down the road. When it’s time for them to find their forever home, they’ll want to be close to you. Home is where the heart is… and most of the time, that’s with mom and dad.
Article by PCSgrades Staff