Welcome to the Crossroads of the Marine Corps!
There are approximately 4,000 military service members and their families living in Quantico VA. It is home to the Marine Corps Combat Development Command and the Training and Education Command (TECOM). The TECOM includes the Marine Corps Officer Candidate School (OCS), The Basic School (TBS), Marine Corps War College and the Weapons Training Battalion. The FBI Academy, the Naval Investigative Service (NCIS), Marine One and the Quantico Marine Corps Band are also located at MCB Quantico. The Air-Ground Museum, the National Museum of the Marine Corps, and the Quantico National Cemetery are all located on or near MCB Quantico.
WHERE IS QUANTICO VIRGINIA?
Marine Corps Base Quantico is located in northern Virginia and is part of the National Capital Region. The base sits approximately 37 miles south of Washington D.C. and 24 miles north of Fredericksburg.
Base housing on MCB Quantico is managed by Lincoln Military Housing. Lincoln offers more than 1,000 three- and four-bedroom homes within nine communities on Quantico. Neighborhood amenities include swimming pools, playgrounds, basketball courts, and a large 15,000 square foot community center with an Internet café and fitness facility. They also offer 24/7 maintenance and community events throughout the year. There can often be a long waitlist for housing, and many opt to live off base.
The options for off-base housing in Northern Virginia can be overwhelming! When searching for a home, make sure to research schools as well as commute times. The areas north of base include Montclair, Southbridge and Lake Ridge which are located in Prince William County. Areas south of Quantico to consider are Garrisonville, Stafford, and Fredericksburg. If you have school-age children consider Stafford and Spotsylvania counties which have excellent school systems. The further north you go the less affordable housing will become. Lorton and Springfield are options in the southern part of Fairfax County, which also has a highly rated school system.
QUANTICO VA WEATHER
There are four distinct seasons in the Northern Virginia area. Winters are relatively mild with an average snowfall of 11 inches at with most falling in January and February. Springtime is beautiful in Virginia! Be sure to take a trip into D.C. to enjoy the cherry blossoms by the Tidal Basin. Summers can be very humid with temperatures rising above 100 on some days in July and August. In September and October, the temperatures become milder, and the leaves start to change. It's a great time to take a drive to the Blue Ridge Mountains to enjoy the fall foliage.
BAH & COST OF LIVING
Your BAH will definitely stretch further in the Quantico area than it will if you live further north in Fairfax County. The median home value in Stafford County is $340,900. Home values for the area surrounding Quantico have gone up 4.0% over the past year and it's expected that home values will continue to rise another 3.3% within the next year.
ON BASE AMENITIES
MCB Quantico amenities include a commissary, MCX, the Inns of the Corps lodging, the Clubs at Quantico and Crossroads Events Center, and the Medal of Honor Golf Course with Mulligan's restaurant. The Barber Physical Activity Center (BPAC) is a 57,000 square foot facility with group exercise rooms, a spin studio, three racquetball courts, weights and machines, a TV and Wi-Fi lounge, smoothie bar, child care, and saunas.
The base also includes an Auto Skills Center, bowling center, a marina on the Potomac River with over 100 slips, Olympic size swimming pool with slide and diving boards, REC and ITT services, and a base theater. Medical services are provided through the Naval Health Clinic Quantico with three clinics on base that provide many non-emergency services.
CULTURE & CUSTOMS
With so many people living in and around Northern Virginia and the D.C. area that are originally from somewhere else, there are many restaurants serving international cuisine.Date night is a great opportunity to explore the flavors of the world by visiting the many restaurants in the area. Regional specialties to the area include blue crabs from Maryland, and peanuts and country ham from Virginia. Northern Virginia has a large number of wineries that produce every wine that Virginia offers. Be sure to take a trip to wine country and enjoy some Virginia wines!
THE NATIONAL MARINE CORPS MUSEUM
The National Museum of the Marine Corps is located just outside the gates and has many interactive exhibits and artifacts that pay tribute to the U.S. Marines of the past, present, and future.
LEESYLVANIA STATE PARK
This state park is located along the Potomac River in Prince William County. It is the ancestral home of the Lee and Fairfax families and is listed on the National Register of Historic Landmarks. The park offers many land and water activities. It has a fishing pier, playground, boat launch, a snack bar and store, gift shop, and canoe and kayak rentals.
Located along the Occoquan River, this small town has a rich history and boasts many restaurants and shops to enjoy. It also hosts two Arts and Crafts shows a year, one in June and one in September.
PRINCE WILLIAM FOREST PARK
One of Northern Virginia's best kept secrets; Prince William Park offers many hiking trails, bike accessible roads and trails, campgrounds and over 100 cabins.
LOCUST SHADE PARK
Located near the Marine Corps Heritage Museum, this park has an eight-acre pond and marina with boat rentals, a 400-seat amphitheater with family entertainment in the summer, as well tennis courts, mini golf, a driving range, and nature trails.
MANASSAS NATIONAL BATTLEFIELD PARK
A 5,000-acre park that was the scene of two major Civil War battles offers ranger tours throughout the year and living history demonstrations during the summer months.
There are so many things to do in D.C.! Visit the monuments or museums, take a White House or Capitol tour, explore Chinatown or the Eastern Market, the options are limitless. Make sure to check out some of D.C.'s great restaurants while you are there. A visit to D.C. during the Cherry Blossom Festival is a must! Throughout the year there are many free, family-friendly festivals in the nation's capital to enjoy, make sure to check some out!
OLD TOWN ALEXANDRIA
Located along the Potomac River, Old Town is a nationally designated historic district and has over 200 restaurants and shops. Be sure to also visit the Torpedo Factory and enjoy the works of local artists. Take a walk along King Street, recognized as one of the 'Great Streets' of America.
Located halfway between Richmond and D.C., Fredericksburg has a large downtown historic district with many restaurants and shops. Be sure to visit the Fredericksburg and Spotsylvania National Military Park.
Visit Historic Downtown Leesburg and enjoy the unique shops and restaurants. Additionally, the Marshall House, Morven Park, Ball's Bluff Battlefield and National Cemetery are in the area and offer a glimpse at the rich history of the area. Be sure to visit the over 40 wineries and tasting rooms located in nearby Loudoun County.
SHENANDOAH NATIONAL PARK
Take a drive along the 105-mile long Skyline Drive in Shenandoah National Park. There are many trails and recreational activities within the park to enjoy the beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains.
If you are into sports, D.C. is the city for you! The Washington Nationals baseball team, D.C. United soccer, Washington Redskins football, Washington Wizards and Mystics basketball, and Washington Capitals hockey all call D.C. home. Enjoy a game and also take advantage of special events and military discounts that the local teams have to offer.
The Jeff Rouse Swim and Sports Center on Mine Road in Stafford offers recreational and competitive swimming pools, over 5,000 square feet of workout space to include cardiovascular equipment, strength/functional training machines, and free weights.
There are also several local club sports available to include the Stafford Soccer Club and the Fish Swim Club. Stafford County Parks & Recreation also offers team sports for youth to include baseball, basketball, cheerleading, football, gymnastics, lacrosse, soccer and volleyball.
This post 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.