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Your Joint Base Langley-Eustis Area Guide

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So you are headed to Joint Base Langley-Eustis! The Hampton Roads area, often called "military-centric", is the birthplace of Colonial America. It has the largest concentration of military installations of any metro area in the world. Nearly a fourth of the nation's active-duty military personnel are stationed here. All five military services' operating forces are here, as well as several major command headquarters.

Here are some of the things you need to know before relocating to Joint Base Langley-Eustis, a unique region, full of history and culture!

HAMPTON ROADS

The Virginia Beach–Norfolk–Hampton-Newport News area has a population of over 1.7 million, making it the 37th-largest metropolitan area in the U. S.. Hampton Roads is made up of the cities of Newport News, Hampton, Norfolk, Virginia Beach, and Chesapeake.

In addition to the large military presence, Hampton Roads is also known for its ice-free harbor, shipyards, coal piers, and miles of waterfront property and beaches. The body of water in Hampton Roads is one of the world's largest natural harbors.


WHERE IS LANGLEY AFB IN VIRGINIA?

Located in Newport News and Hampton, Joint Base Langley-Eustis is comprised of two groups that provide installation support to more than 9,000 military and civilian personnel including Headquarters Air Combat Command and three operational wings. Although JBLE is a joint base, it is not contiguous. There are 17 miles of interstate between the two installations. Langley AFB is located in Hampton while Ft. Eustis is in Newport News. JBLE serves a large population made up of over 145,000 active duty, guard and reserve, family members, civilians, contractors, and retirees.

LANGLEY AFB HOUSING

There are many options for housing here. Langley AFB housing consists of five communities encompassing 1,430 new, renovated, and historic single family, duplex, fourplex and sixplex homes. Property features include playgrounds, tennis courts/ basketball half-court, and a 18-hole golf course. To see additional photos of base housing at Langley, click here.

langley afb housing

OFF BASE

There are many great neighborhoods within a 10-15 minute drive from Langley. Nearby cities include Yorktown, Williamsburg, Hampton, Newport News, and Poquoson. If you work with a PCSgrades reviewed Realtor, you'll find there is a rental or mortgage to fit every BAH.

LANGLEY AFB SCHOOLS

There are no DOD schools at Langley, but there are two school systems serving the base. Residents of Langley AFB housing on Main Base attend Hampton City Schools. One elementary, one middle school, and one high school serve as primary feeder schools

Bethel Manor residents attend York County Schools, with 19 schools and approximately 13,000 students. Two elementary, two middle and two high schools, serve Bethel Manor, depending on your location.

FORT EUSTIS & LANGLEY AFB WEATHER

Springtime brings thunderstorms that produce gusty winds, hail, and occasionally, tornadoes. Temperatures rise to an average 57.5 degrees during March, April, and May. Summers are often described as hot and humid while the fall brings welcome relief with temps in the mid 60's. Snowfall over the winter months averages 7.1 inches each year with the average temperature in the mid-forties.

FORT EUSTIS & LANGLEY AFB BAH / COST OF LIVING

The median sales price for homes in Newport News is $165,000. Virginia general sales tax is 4% higher than the national average and the Virginia state income tax is 10% lower than the national average. So, depending on where you are PCSing from will determine if the cost of living seems reasonable to you. Moving to Hampton Roads from the Washington D. C. area might mean the cost living seems very reasonable to you. Moving from Altus AFB in Oklahoma, not so much.

For more information on the Hampton Roads housing market click here.

ON BASE AMENITIES

Property features in Langley Family Housing include newly constructed shoppettes, state-of-the-art fitness facilities, splash park, indoor and outdoor pools, bowling alley, camping facility, dry cleaners, movie theater, shooting range, veterinary clinic, and 18-hole golf course.

At Fort Eustis, community features include a fitness center, multi-purpose room, television, and computer center.

CULTURE AND CUSTOMS

Driving around the area is sometimes complicated by all the water which means bridges and tunnels. The Hampton Roads Bridge-Tunnel built in 1957 was the first bridge-tunnel complex in the world. It was followed by the area's much longer Chesapeake Bay Bridge–Tunnel six years later. The prevalence of bridge-tunnels in the area is due to the number of shipbuilding and naval bases in the area. Region-specific information and tools to help you make the most of your commute can be found at VDOT.

There are two public transport ferries to include a passenger ferry operated on the Elizabeth River between Norfolk and Portsmouth. The Jamestown Ferry is an automobile ferry system on the James River connecting Jamestown in James City County with Scotland in Surry County.

Amtrak's Northeast Regional trains service Newport News, Norfolk, and Williamsburg. There are two main airports in the region: the Norfolk International Airport n Norfolk and the Newport News/Williamsburg International Airport in Newport News.

CUISINE

  • Barbecue in Virginia is mostly pork with a vinegar-based sauce which is similar to barbecue in North Carolina.
  • Seafood is popular in the coastal areas. Blue crabs are prepared in many ways such as crab cakes, crab imperial, soft-shelled in season, or simply plain crab meat that is picked from its shell and dipped in melted butter.
  • Smithfield ham, sometimes called Virginia ham, is a type of country ham which is only produced in the town of Smithfield.
  • Desserts include Shoofly Pie, fried peaches and marble cake.

There are over 230 wineries in the state of Virginia including several wineries on the Lower Peninsula.

AREA ATTRACTIONS

Need to get away from Langley AFB housing for a day? Consider these great day trips from coastal Virginia. Additionally, Hampton Roads has extensive natural areas, including 26 miles of Atlantic Ocean and Chesapeake Bay beaches, wildlife refuges, scenic rivers, state parks, as well as botanical gardens.

  • WILLIAMSBURG

Take a trip into the past at Colonial Williamsburg and the Jamestown Settlement. You can also interact with colonists as you walk the historically accurate Duke of Gloucester Street.

  • VIRGINIA BEACH

Virginia Beach is the largest city in Hampton Roads. It features a beach, boardwalk, a live music venue, the Sportsplex, museums, parks and a variety of shops and restaurants.

  • YORKTOWN

Most famous as the site of the surrender of General Cornwallis to George Washington during the Revolutionary War. History is kept alive through patriotic events and festivals throughout the year.

  • YORKTOWN BEACH

Located in historic Yorktown, this 3-acre beachfront features a fishing pier with no entry fee, no requirement for a fishing license and a 10-acre grass picnic area. Rentals include kayaks, paddleboards, and bikes. Shower facilities are open all summer. Next to the beach is Riverwalk Landing, a mile-long shopping and entertainment area. Tall ships and traditional sailing ships with the huge masts from countries around the world are often seen sailing on the York River.

  • YORKTOWN BATTLEFIELD

The Yorktown Battlefield is the site of the last major battle of the American Revolutionary War. Park Rangers lead guided walking tours of the battlefield and the 18th-century town. You can drive through the battlefield and visit the Moore House, scene of surrender negotiations; and Surrender Field, among other sites.

This post sponsored by PCSgrades.

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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.
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