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.
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.