Aloha e komo mai to beautiful Hawaii – Hello and welcome to your next great PCS adventure!
The island of O'ahu has a population of over 950,000 and is home to almost 50,000 military personnel. Additionally, there are ten active military bases in Hawaii. Each branch of service, including the Coast Guard, is represented. Included in this number are Barking Sands Missile Range in Kaua'i and Coast Guard Station Maui.
From its beautiful beaches to its many peaks and craters, you really can't go wrong when it comes to exploring and enjoying all the island has to offer. Before your big move to one of the military bases in Hawaii, be sure to check out base housing photos, neighborhood reviews and more at PCSgrades.com.
WHERE IS HAWAII?
Hawaii is the most recent state to join the United States, and it is the only U.S. state located outside North America. It is also the only one composed entirely of islands and located approximately 2,000 miles southwest of the U.S. mainland.
HAWAII MILITARY HOUSING
ARMY HOUSING HAWAII
Wheeler Army Airfield/Schofield Barracks
Wheeler Army Airfield, which serves as headquarters for U.S. Army Garrison Hawaii, and Schofield Barracks, the home of the 25th Infantry Division, are also located in central O'ahu. Nearby towns include Wahiawa and Mililani.Click Here to check out housing photos and neighborhood reviews of Wheeler Army Airfield and Schofield Barracks
Listed as a National Historic Landmark, Fort Shafter is the oldest military base on O'ahu. It is also home to the United States Army Pacific Command, the Army Corps of Engineers Pacific Ocean Division, and the Major Command of U.S. Army Forces for the Pacific Region. There is one elementary school, Shafter Elementary, located on post.
Tripler Army Medical Center
Easily distinguished from a distance due to its pink exterior, Tripler Army Medical Center sits prominently on a ridge that overlooks Honolulu. Tripler is the home of the Pacific Regional Medical Command and is the largest medical treatment facility in the Pacific Basin, supporting over 250,000 active duty and retired military personnel, dependents, and veterans.
NAVY HOUSING HAWAII
All Navy Housing Hawaii is privatized. Although there is an inventory of over 4,500 homes, the wait can be long depending on the neighborhood. Don't hesitate to get on the list if you're on the fence about base housing! While not located on the main naval base, Ford Island, Makalapa, and McGrew Point neighborhoods are all gated.
NAVAL STATION PEARL HARBOR
Located eight miles west of Honolulu, Naval Station Pearl Harbor is the headquarters of the United States Pacific Fleet. It is home to both surface ships as well as submarines. Adjacent to the base are the USS Arizona and Battleship Missouri Memorials, which are open to the public. The Pacific Aviation Air Museum is on neighboring Ford Island.
Hickam Air Force Base
Home to the Pacific Command, 15th Wing, Pacific Air Forces headquarters and the Hawaii Air National Guard, Hickam Air Force Base is designated a National Historic Landmark for its role in the World War II Pacific campaign. There is one school, Hickam Elementary, located on base. Hickam has a flat terrain, wonderful for walking and biking. There are open playgrounds located throughout the base. Behind Wright Brothers Cafe, there is a paved path which runs along the Pearl Harbor channel, where you can often see ships and submarines coming and going. Just down the road from Wright Brothers is Hickam Harbor Beach. The southeast corner of Hickam backs up to Honolulu International Airport.
MARINE CORPS INSTALLATION
Marine Corps Base Hawaii (MCBH)
Located in Kaneohe Bay on the Windward side of O'ahu, MCBH is home to the 3rd Marine Regiment, Combat Logistics Battalion 3, Marine Aircraft Group 24, and the Patrol and Reconnaissance Wing 2 (Navy). There is one elementary school, Mokapu Elementary. This base has an impressive four beaches, in addition to the nearby Sandbar. Accessing MCBH as a visitor, even with a valid military ID, requires either a day pass or an annual paper pass.
Coast Guard Base Honolulu
U.S. Coast Guard Base Honolulu supports routine and contingency operations in the 14th District of Responsibility. This district has over 1,100 active duty men and women and covers over 12 million square miles of land and sea.
OFF BASE LIVING
One of the great things about Hawaii is being able to live just about anywhere and still have a [semi] reasonable commute to a military installation. Popular areas to live off base include Leeward (West) Side, Ewa Beach, Kapolei, Central, Mililani, Wahiawa, Salt Lake, Windward (East) Side, Kailua, Kaneohe, and Hawaii Kai.Click Here to check out off-base neighborhoods and local Realtors
BAH & COST OF LIVING
The BAH for Hawaii tends to be on the high side, similar to the Washing D.C. area. Island living, in general, tends to be pricey because everything has to be shipped in. The median sales price for a single-family home on O'ahu in 2018 was $800,000. Whether you decide to live in base housing, rent a home in town, or buy a house in paradise, be sure to check out PCSgrades for neighborhood reviews and military-friendly realtors!
WEATHER IN HAWAII
Trade winds keep the average temperature in Hawaii at around 85 degrees throughout the year. The landscape across the island, however, varies significantly depending on location. On the Leeward (West) side of O'ahu, you will find a drier, more desert-like environment, while the Windward (East) side is home to the lush Ko'olau Mountains. Much of central O'ahu is farmland, and the North Shore consists of a rocky shoreline with higher surf. Many popular surfing competitions are held there.Click here to read more about the Housing Market in Hawaii
ON-POST AMENITIES & SCHOOLS
All of the military bases in Hawaii have the usual amenities: Commissary, Exchange, gym, community pool, etc. Check with the individual installation for details.
Public schools are part of the Hawaii Department of Education. If you have school-age children, a great place to start in finding a school is to contact the School Liaison Officer for your respective branch. The SLO can assist in getting your child registered. Hawaii does not have any DoD schools, but there are many public, private, and charter schools to choose from, as well as a large homeschooling community on the island. Just a heads up: most schools and childcare centers require a negative Tuberculosis test to enroll.
NUTS & BOLTS
Moving to Hawaii is a process with a few more factors than your typical stateside PCS. It requires some extra planning when it comes to shipping your pets, vehicles, and even your household goods.
Commonly known as an "express shipment," service members moving to Hawaii are allowed to ship a small, separate collection of household goods ahead of their regular shipment. This shipment counts toward your total household weight limit and typically includes things like season-appropriate clothing. It is surprisingly difficult to find summer-weather clothing in Hawaii during the winter. Kitchen items and small appliances that can be used in temporary housing, and small electronics are also a good idea to include in the express shipment. This is an excellent opportunity to pack bikes and outdoor toys for the kids, or boogie boards and snorkel or scuba gear for the adults! Depending on the moving company and departure city, unaccompanied shipments have been known to arrive after the main HHG shipment occasionally, so be sure to plan accordingly!
ANIMAL QUARANTINE & LODGING
Will you be PCSing with pets? Check the Hawaii Department of Agriculture's website for animal quarantine regulations and requirements. Please note the "Checklist for the 5 Day or Less Program." If your animal qualifies, you will be able to pick them up and take them home directly from the animal quarantine station at the airport! Otherwise, the standard quarantine period is 120 days upon arrival in Hawai'i. *as of August 31, 2018- the new waiting period time is now 30 days.
The next step with pets is to secure temporary housing that allows animals. The Royal Alaka'i on Hickam, Ford Island Navy Lodge, The Inn at Schofield Barracks, and Inn of the Corps in Kaneohe all offer pet-friendly temporary lodging. Weight limits and fees may apply, so be sure to double check before booking!
The military will pay to ship one vehicle to Hawaii. Motorcycles can often be shipped with your household goods shipment, so be sure to double check with your assigned moving company. You can use the PCS My POV website to find the nearest Vehicle Processing Center (VPC). Some people choose to pay out of pocket to ship a second vehicle, while others decide to purchase an additional vehicle once on the island. Military Car Lot is a great place to search for quality used vehicles being sold by other service members.
Living on a tropical island means great year-round weather. No matter where you decide to live, you will only be a short trip from a beach or a scenic hike!
If you are interested in planning a trip to any of the locations below, be sure to check your local Information, Tickets, & Travel (ITT) or Leisure Travel Office (LTO) for exclusive military deals and discounts!
Kualoa Ranch has been a filming location for many famous movies. They offer a movie tour as well as horseback and ATV adventures.
The Dole Plantation in Wahiawa is famous for its Pineapple Express train that runs through the pineapple fields. It is also known for its Dole Whip ice cream and houses a koi pond as well as a pineapple maze.
Polynesian Cultural Center
Located in Laie, the Polynesian Cultural Center is an immersive cultural experience that allows visitors to learn about all the Pacific Island cultures, including food, hula, games, and lei-making.
FOR THE KIDS
A variety of great kids' activities can be found in the town of Kapolei. Wet & Wild, iTrampoline, and Coral Crater Adventure Park are fun for kids of all ages. The Disney resort, Aulani, is located in Ko'olina and features a Disney character breakfast buffet as well as waterslides and other family-oriented activities.
There are a seemingly endless number of hikes to check out in Hawaii. Some of the more well-known hikes include Diamond Head, Waimea Falls, Koko Head Stairs, and Makapu'u Lighthouse Trail. For those who prefer more of a leisurely stroll, botanical gardens are abundant throughout O'ahu!
This is probably the most well-known and loved snorkel spot on the island. Located in East O'ahu, droves of people flock to its beautiful beach and reefs every day. Park and walk, or pay a few dollars to catch a shuttle ride down the hill and back to the parking lot.
Located in the town of Kailua, Lanikai is known for its beautiful white sand beach and bright blue water. It's perfect for sunbathing and boogie boarding, and the low surf makes it great for the kids, too!
WAIKIKI BEACH/HALE KOA HOTEL
In the heart of downtown Honolulu on the south shore of O'ahu, Waikiki Beach is situated amongst some of the more popular hotels. The Hale Koa Hotel parking garage has great rates and offers parking validation for military members. The beach can be accessed by walking straight through the main lobby at the hotel. The Hale Koa also has two pools available for public use by military personnel and their families.
LAGOONS AT KO'OLINA
Located in Kapolei, the Ko'Olina Resort is a master-planned vacation community that houses several resorts including Aulani (Disney). It has three natural and four man-made lagoons that are perfect for swimming and snorkeling, making it an extremely popular destination for families.
With a little planning and making use of great resources such as PCSgrades.com, moving to Hawaii can be a breeze, and before you know it, you can begin to enjoy island life! Read or submit your reviews today! Together, we can truly make a difference.
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.
While retired military Space A travel is a privilege, there are some retirees that do not have this privilege. There are different categories of retirees, some are eligible for Space A and some are not. But there are efforts to change the eligibility requirements.
For a retiree to be eligible for Space A travel they must possess a 'Blue' DD Form 2 (Military ID card). This includes those that are medically retired. Their dependents are also allowed to travel with them and must bring along their ID cards. All dependents should be enrolled in DEERS.
WHO IS ELIGIBLE FOR RETIRED MILITARY SPACE A TRAVEL?
There are plenty of rumors out there saying that ALL retirees are eligible. This is not true. If you are 100% disabled and you only possess a DD Form 1173, or the new DD Form 2765 ID cards, you are not entitled to travel on Space A. Also, if you possess the brown ID card with DAVPRM (Disabled Veteran Permanent) in the bottom right, then you too are not entitled to retired military space a travel Space A travel privileges.
Dependents of retirees are not allowed to travel without the retiree. If the retiree dies, then the dependents no longer have Space A privileges.
If you are a member of the Guard or Reserves with a 'Red" DD Form 2 you can travel through CONUS (Continental United States), to, from, and between Alaska, Hawaii, Guam, Virgin Islands, American Samoa, and Puerto Rico. Also, if you are active duty for more than 30 consecutive days, Guardsmen and Reservists may fly anywhere that Space A flies.
Dependents of the Guard and Reserves are not authorized to fly on Space A until the member reaches the age of 60. At that time, they will be in the same category as a regular retiree, Category 6. Retired Guardsmen and Reservists who have completed their 20 years but are not old enough to collect their retired pay are considered to be in a "gray area".
AN ACT OF CONGRESS
There have been attempts to change the eligibility of all of the above retirees and dependents.
The first Bill to be submitted to the House of Representatives was House Bill 4164 aka Space-Available Act of 2012. This bill sought to authorize the Secretary of Defense to establish a program to provide transportation on Department of Defense (DOD) aircraft on a space-available basis for (1) active duty and reserve members holding a valid Uniformed Services Identification and Privilege Card; (2) retired members who, but for not attaining age 60, would be eligible for military retired pay; (3) an un-remarried widow or widower of an active or reserve member; and (3) certain dependents of members described above. Allows the Secretary to establish an order of priority based on considerations of military needs and readiness.
This Bill was sent to the Subcommittee on Readiness in March of 2012 where it has sat with no action.
Earlier this year, a measure to establish a space-available transportation priority for veterans of the Armed Forces who have a service-connected, permanent disability rated as total was introduced in the house. That bill HR 936 was referred to the House Subcommittee on Readiness.
HAVE YOUR VOICE HEARD
How can you help? Write your Congressman. Make your voice known.
The Gray Area Retirees Facebook group was created to talk about these problems and to try to get the changes implemented.
Space-A eligibility is sometimes confusing and false information is passed around often. Check out the resources in this article for any updates.
PCSgrades.com is a review platform for military and veteran families. Leave a review of your prior duty station and read the reviews of where you are PCSing to. Home is where the military sends us and together we can make a difference!
This post sponsored by PCSgrades.