Unaccompanied Orders - to Go or Stay?

Read More Here

Moving Cars During a PCS

Read More Here

11 MILITARY REC SITES FOR YOUR NEXT VACATION

Read More Here
Search our Area Guides

Your Fort Sill Area Guide

Area Guides

PCS orders to Fort Sill? Congratulations and welcome to Oklahoma and the Fires Center of Excellence! This area has plenty of things to do and is sure to be a good fit for every type of family. Between the Army, Marines, National Guard, and retirees, this area is very military-centric. But before you try and visit Big Deuce and Short Round, lets dive in and learn more about your new duty station.

WHERE IS FORT SILL?

First things first, where is Fort Sill? Fort Sill is located outside of Lawton, Oklahoma which is about 1 hour and 30 minutes south west of Oklahoma City. Sill is also 3 hours northwest of Dallas, Texas. Lawton-Ft. Sill regional airport (code LAW) is located about 3 miles from base making this a convenient location to fly in and out of. The next closest airport is in Oklahoma City (OKC).

FORT SILL HOUSING?

Fort Sill housing is run by the privatized company, Corvias. Buffalo Soldier Acres houses families E1-O4 and is the newest of homes on the post. These are homes are conveniently located close to the Welcome Center. Beside Freedom Elementary school, you will find Southern Plains. 3 communities inside of Southern Plains are for families E1-E5, and the other 2 are for E-9 families. The historic homes located in Old Calvary Post house families from E1-Commanding Generals in 8 different locations. This neighborhood is close to post headquarters and the museum.


BAH & COST OF LIVING

The median home cost in the Cache area is $120,000 making it a very attractive place to buy. Want to stretch your BAH even further? Try Lawton where the average cost of a home is $105,500! Elgin is a beloved community of military families due to schools but averages $168,000 to buy a house. Families looking to rent in this area can find homes and apartments to fit all BAH sizes. BAH dropped for 2019 in comparison to past years, but those stationed here before 2019 will be grandfathered in under the old BAH rate. Wondering if you should Rent or Buy? Weigh your options here.


FORT SILL AMENITIES

Fort Sill amenities are vast and have something that the whole family will be sure to enjoy. One of the newest additions to Sill was the multi-million dollar gym equipped with rock climbing wall, on-site CYSS, and hourly childcare. Other amenities include LETRA Beach & Waterslide, numerous pools ( some that let you float and watch a movie!) a bowling alley, library, a golf course, a Rod and Gun Club, Commissary, and a PX.

OKLAHOMA WEATHER

Welcome to the Midwest where you will get all 4 seasons. Summer will bring you warm temperatures averaging 94 degrees and regular thunderstorms. Peak tornado season is April-June, so it's a good thing to prepare for high winds and check your homeowner's insurance policy to review your wind damage coverage. Winter in Oklahoma brings an average of 6-8 inches of snow and the coldest month is January with an average of 24 degrees. You'll enjoy mild springs and falls!

CUSTOMS AND CULTURE

BIG DEUCE AND SHORT ROUND

Big Deuce and Short Round are Fort Sill's donkey and goat mascots. Fun tidbit, Sill and West Point are the only Army posts left to have live mascots. These local celebrities attend events, get promotions, and eventually retire out to greener pastures making way for their younger counterparts. Big Deuce, the donkey, is a symbol of the Army's muleskinner artillery days. Currently, Sill is on its VII donkey to serve. To promote equality now that military occupational specialties have been opened up to women, Short Round VI was brought on as the first female mascot.

ARTILLERY BOWL

The Artillery Bowl is a historic site used for Soldier's ceremonies, activities, and sports. This sizeable open-air amphitheater also allows families to work out on the stairs, and kids can burn off energy there too!

GERONIMO

Ever wonder why we say "Geronimo" when we jump off of or out of something? That is because of the legend of Geronimo escaping and jumping his horse off the steep medicine bluffs at Fort Sill in an attempt to escape. In reality, Geronimo and around 300 other Native American's were held prisoner on Fort Sill and he did not try to actually flee in this manner. Geronimo was a leader in his community and even though he was technically a prisoner, he traveled with Pawnee Bill's Wild West Show, rode in the Inaugural parade of President Theodore Roosevelt, and have free reign of Fort Sill. He died of pneumonia in 1906 and his grave is on Fort Sill and can be visited.

AREA ATTRACTIONS

MEDICINE BLUFF

The Medicine Bluff is a sacred ceremonial site where Native American's went for healing and times of reflection. This historic landmark is about 8 miles north of post and located at the bottom of the Wichita Mountains. Enjoy the historic and spiritual significance of this location and make this a must-see.

MUSEUMS

Throw a rock and you will hit a museum in this area. The Army Artillery Museum, Fort Sill National Historic Landmark Museum, and Museum of the Great Planes are the fan favorites. The Artillery Museum houses a large display of military vehicles outside.

WICHITA MOUNTAINS

Sill is a short 10 min drive to the Wichita Mountains. There are miles and miles of hiking trails and wildlife to explore, to include herds of Buffalo and Prairie Dogs. The Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge has a great welcome center that kids and adults alike enjoy. Going to the top of Mt Scott and seeing for miles around is fun.

OKLAHOMA CITY

Fort Sill is about 65 miles outside of Oklahoma City making this a great day trip or weekend getaway. OKC has a Zoo, tons of museums (we love the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum), and Myriad Botanical Gardens with are excellent ideas. If you are into sports, catch an Oklahoma City Thunder NBA games. The city also hosts numerous music concerts and outdoor festivals that any age can enjoy. Looking for a more adult adventure? Bricktown is an eclectic place to experience with wine bars, piano bars, tons of restaurants, and shopping.

DALLAS

Dallas is a large city that deserves more than one trip to accomplish the checklist of events that the town has to offer. The most notable attractions include the JFK History Tour that ends in Dealey Plaza, the George W. Bush Presidential Library, the Dallas World Aquarium, Cowboys football games, Rangers baseball games, the Dallas Zoo, and many more parks and museums.

Read Reviews of Ft. Sill Here

Whether you are here permanent party, attending CCC, BOLC, or just stop by briefly for basic training, Fort Sill is a great duty station to experience. The home of the Fires Center of Excellence truly feels like just that, a home.

This post was sponsored by PCSgrades.

U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. William Sallette
Stephanie Wade/U.S. Transportation Command

In military life, there is really nothing more stressful than a Permanent Change of Station (PCS). Deployments are a close second, but a PCS takes the cake. Combine a PCS with a deployment and not only do you want to eat all of the proverbial cake, you want to guzzle copious amounts of wine, too. We see you. Cheers.

One company, PCSgrades, is trying to make the PCS process feel more like a three-letter acronym than a four-letter expletive. Founded by veteran Todd Ernst, PCSgrades is the epitome of the military community taking care of its own. "PCSing has an emotional connotation," said Ernst. "We use it as an adverb, adjective, a noun and even as a cuss word."

Ernst started PCSgrades in 2015 after seeing friends struggle with unethical real estate agents and being taken advantage of by moving companies who knew DoD would be a paying customer no matter how poorly the companies treated their clients - us.

Here are 4 resources PCSgrades provides that you need to make moving easier:

1. Housing reviews

Does it get any more stressful than finding out where you're going to be stationed, Googling base housing at that station and getting results from 15 years ago (if you find anything, at all)? Nope, no it doesn't.

PCSgrades is changing the game on that by having military families who live in an area provide honest, candid reviews of their housing so incoming families can benefit. With reviews of both on and off base locations, families can finally get the truth about housing, whether it has black mold or the best views in town.

2. Moving company reviews

Great, you've figured out where to live; that's half the battle. The other, larger, more complex half? Figuring out how your stuff is going to get there. Knowing someone else will be handling your personal property and driving away with it for the foreseeable future is stressful enough. But not knowing what that company's background is, well that's a whole different ball game.

PCSgrades has countless reviews of moving companies provided by military families who have used them. Let's be honest: You wouldn't try a new Chinese delivery place without looking at reviews … why should picking a moving company be any different?

3. Area guides

The giant Google machine can only get you so far in life when you're researching your new duty station. We know you're busy and you want one-stop shopping on the interwebs. What you really need is aggregate data of things like schools to attend, restaurants to try, day trips to take and neighborhoods to avoid.

Introducing Area Guides, which offer exactly that: a holistic view of where you're moving and what to do once you get there. The best part? These are written by military families who have done it, for military families who are doing it.

4. Network of realtors and resources

PCSgrades has a nationwide network of A-graded realtors who know and understand the military and veteran lifestyle. Many of the realtors are veterans or spouses themselves, which takes the empathy to a whole new level. Having a realtor who gets the pressures of PCSing and the challenges of a military move is key to finding the right home for your family.

"I have friends who are hundreds of thousands of dollars upside down after bad home choices," Ernst said. "Housing choices can be pretty limited. Our moves are way more expensive than the typical civilian move." This is why Ernst created a way to alleviate the pain points for military families through PCSgrades.

In addition to a network of realtors, PCSgrades partners with "HomeScout," which allows you to search up-to-date home listings nationwide. Simply create an account with PCSgrades and the realty world is your oyster.

Whether you're looking for a new neighborhood, trying to find a vetted realtor, need a PCS checklist (let's be honest, is it on your radar to look at the expiration date of your military ID card two months before you PCS? Yeah, we know the truth; download the checklists here), or you're just wanting to know more about where you're heading, PCSgrades is making moving easier for every military family. Pay it forward by leaving reviews and be sure to take advantage of their excellent resources, today.

This post sponsored by PCSgrades.

7 airplane travel hacks with kids

popular

Yeah! You got orders to (insert foreign country overseas)! You can already picture your kids in the international school, speaking with cute little accents and wearing local garments. Adorbs. You've got your housing picked out, adventures planned and passport photos taken. You're ready for your epic move ... except for that 13 hour plane ride. Have you wrapped your head around that yet? Before you grab for a paper bag and start hyperventilating, use our travel hacks to help make the emotional turbulence you're experiencing a little lighter.

Read More Show Less

We've all said it: "We'll drive. It won't be that bad." We picture the adventure, the memories, the nostalgia of car trips when we were younger.

But if we're really being honest with ourselves, think back to those car trips. Someone was crying. Someone was puking. Someone was whining. That person very well may have been your poor mother. True story, my mom once got out and walked along the highway when all six of us kids wouldn't stop fighting. A long car trip can be daunting, but with our tips and tricks they don't need to be.

Read More Show Less
Nordwood theme, Unsplash

WE ALL HAVE OUR SHARE OF HORROR STORIES WHEN IT COMES TO MILITARY MOVING!

Name the most disgusting item erroneously packed by your movers… for me it was used coffee grounds and of course, trash. For others, I've heard everything from wet towels to dirty diapers. I've caught movers raiding my fridge, lounging on my mattress in my front yard, and throwing out items that they've broken. Raise your hand (or have a drink) if you ever had packers show up late (or not at all). Ever had packers get into a shouting match among themselves as they were packing your china? Or have you caught your movers throwing boxes down the stairs to the basement? That would be me!

LESSONS LEARNED

With each military move, there are "lessons learned". For instance, I won't go into great detail but let's just say after watching one packer go directly from using the restroom back to packing my kitchen without washing his hands, we now use gigantic ziplock bags to "pre-pack" all my kitchen utensils. A packers' bare flesh has never again touched one of my kitchen utensils.

My family's last military move was by far the shortest, only 1½ miles up the road. We were moving from a rental to a home we purchased. It was by far the worst in terms of damage and overall angst. I think because we were only "moving up the road" the pack job left a lot to be desired. I found one box of dishes which had not one piece of wrapping paper! Instead two throw pillows from my family room were used as a buffer! Amazingly, nothing was broken! Go figure!

When I heard glass shatter in the moving truck, I asked one of the guys what shattered.

Read More Show Less

There are any number of reasons why in a given situation renting might be better than buying or vice versa. For military families, it might make more sense to buy at one duty station and then rent at the next. Up for consideration with each PCS is whether to buy or rent, to stay on-base or off. In making these decisions, there are numerous pros and cons to consider.

PROS TO BUYING

  • Purchasing the right home can be a great financial investment that can grow in value over time.
  • Tax deductions such as mortgage interest and property taxes can greatly reduce your overall income tax burden if you itemize.
  • Being a homeowner can give you pride of ownership and a sense of stability, rare in the military life which can seem nomadic at times.
  • A mortgage payment that is lower than your BAH can result in a boost to your savings.
  • You can decorate however you want! Goodbye white walls! Hello, Color!
  • Anyone can stay with you at any time. So it is not a problem when your Mom or sister comes for an extended stay during a deployment or following a PCS.
  • You can do (almost) whatever you want….host a late night party, plant a garden, knock a wall down!
  • There are no security or pet deposits when you buy a home.
  • You have the opportunity to become a landlord when military orders arrive and you have to move. Your home can become an investment property, providing a source of income which can partially or totally offset your mortgage, taxes, and insurance payments.
Read More Show Less