Alaska has been called the "Last Frontier" and being stationed here means you are in for a unique experience.
Fort Wainwright is considered an overseas tour. Additionally, if your dependents want to accompany you to Alaska, your PCS orders must say "concurrent travel" and each family member's name must be listed on your orders.
The mission here is to deploy combat-ready forces to support joint military operations around the world. The major units at Fort Wainwright currently are the 1st Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division and the U.S. Army Alaska Aviation Task Force.
Ft. Wainwright is also home to Medical Department Activity-Alaska, Dental Activity-Alaska, and Bassett Army Community Hospital.
WHERE IS FORT WAINWRIGHT?
Fort Wainwright is located in the North Star Borough of Fairbanks, the second largest city in Alaska. Centrally located, it is 365 miles north of Anchorage.
FORT WAINWRIGHT HOUSING
If there is a duty station where a military family should strive to live in on-post housing, Ft. Wainwright is it! Given the harsh winters, the heating costs, etc.; losing one's entire BAH as a trade-off to live in a safe, well-cared for neighborhood, with maintenance, landscaping, trash removal and road plowing all taken care of is thought to be well worth it.
The North Haven master-planned communities offer a variety of homes and neighborhood amenities designed to meet your family's needs. Take a look at what other mil-fams had to say about base housing. Read reviews and see photos now at PCSgrades.com.Click Here to see what other military families have to say about Ft Wainwright post housing.
FORT WAINWRIGHT WEATHER
COLD! The interior of Alaska is a unique area to live when it comes to weather. During the summer months (June-August) highs will range in the 60-70 degree range. In September the temperatures plummet.
It is not uncommon for this area to get snow during early fall. Usually, the first snow that sticks on the ground is in October and the snowiest months of the year are from Oct-Dec with the temperatures ranging from an average of 30 degrees in October to an average of 4 degrees in December.
January starts the hardest time of year as far as weather goes, with an average temp of -3 degrees but can see an excess of -50 degrees. February is also cold but usually, has an average of 10 degrees. The sun begins to shine in March bringing forth the 'breakup season.' Alaska does not have a spring season. It literally goes from 3-4 feet of snow one week, and in a couple of weeks, all of it is gone! Winter lasts from October to April.
BAH & COST OF LIVING
You've probably heard Alaska is one of the most expensive places to live in the U.S. The good news is Fairbanks has one of the lowest cost-of-living rates in the state. It is on a par with Portland, Oregon. PCSgrades can help you find an awesome REALTOR today! Visit PCSgrades.com to get connected!
The BAH rates for Fort Wainwright decreased by more than 9% percent over the last year, ranking 22nd highest out of all army bases.
There is a full serviced commissary on post, as well as a chapel, Armed Services YMCA, veterinary services, and the Bassett Army Community Hospital.
The Fort Wainwright Community Spouses' Club is open to spouses of active-duty and retired military members in all branches of the armed services who are assigned, attached or living at Fort Wainwright, as well as active military members and Department of Defense civilians and their spouses.
The Fort Wainwright CDC offers full-day (6 weeks to 5 years old) and part-day preschool programs. Hourly Care is provided at the Soldier and Family Assistance Center.
The SKIES Unlimited program offers children's classes in martial arts, dance, sports, art, music, and language.
Schools are off post. The Fairbanks North Star Borough School District serves more than 14,300 students in 35 schools.
CULTURE & CUSTOMS
Sunlight is not always a given. During the winter months, it can go down to as little as 3-4 hours of sunlight a day, culminating in the shortest day of the year around the 20-23rd of December. This day is known as the winter solstice. Gaining 17 minutes of sunlight per day until there is sunshine around the clock during the summer solstice, which varies between June 20-22. And then the reverse occurs. Often the summer seems like one long day because the sun doesn't actually set again until August. But having the darkness in winter can be a blessing around Christmas time as everyone just leaves their Christmas lights on around the clock making the town into a picturesque Winter Wonderland.
Ft. Wainwright and the local Fairbanks area are one of Alaska's hidden gems. If you like the outdoors or seeing untouched land and animals, this is the place to live. On any given day you can enjoy the view of the Aurora lights and a visit from the neighborhood moose! There is plenty of hunting, fishing, camping and winter sports available that you won't get anywhere else! Fort Wainwright is a great area for enjoying hockey games in the winter, camping and berry picking in the summer.
IT'S NOT THE BOONIES
Some favorite local restaurants include The Cookie Jar, Loose Moose Café, Silver Gultch (Fox, AK), Sam's Sourdough Café, The Chowder House and Alaska Salmon Bake.
Some great places to get your hair/nails done: Elements Salon, Shear Heaven Salon, L.A. Nails. Shopping offers a nice variety of stores to include: Old Navy, Barnes & Noble, Walmart, Home Depot, Fred Meyers, Sears, Lowes, Safeway and the Bentley Mall (about 6-8 shops).
Enjoy a relaxing, entertaining boat cruise of the Chena and Tanana Rivers, including a guided walking tour of the Chena Indian Village. Additionally, you can see Susan Butcher's champion dogs, the wedding of the rivers, and Dixie Alexander's Athabascan art.
AURORA BOREALIS LODGE
Nothing like viewing the northern lights in style and comfort! Located 21 miles north of Fairbanks, the Aurora Borealis Lodge is ideally situated for 360-degree viewing & photography. From late August through early April, they offer nightly aurora tours with round-trip transfers from Fairbanks.
SLED DOG ADVENTURES IN FAIRBANKS
Exciting dogsled rides, mushing school & tours with Alaskan guides, what could be better? Arctic gear supplied.
CHENA HOT SPRINGS RESORT
Experience the natural healing waters of the 105-degree outdoor hot springs rock lake with the northern lights dancing above your head at this memorable resort. Families can enjoy the indoor swimming pool and hot tubs. No other place in Alaska offers both, and they are open year-round.
FAIRBANKS CHILDREN'S MUSEUM
The museum offers interactive exhibits designed for young people and activities such as role-playing, science, art and crafts, building, physical movement, and water play. These events are specifically designed to create a playful learning environment.
FAIRBANKS CURLING CLUB
They like to say "100 Years & Still Rockin'". An Olympic staple, this is the oldest club devoted to any sport in Alaska.
This post is sponsored by PCSgrades.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.