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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.

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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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.