Unaccompanied Orders - to Go or Stay?

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Your MCAS Cherry Point Area Guide

Area Guides

New assignment MCAS Cherry Point? Lucky You! Being stationed at MCAS Cherry Point means enjoying all the highlights of coastal Carolina in one setting.



Cherry Point, home of 2nd Marine Aircraft Wing, is firmly rooted in the Croatan National Forest near Havelock between Morehead City on the Atlantic Ocean and colonial New Bern on the banks of the Neuse and Trent Rivers. The pine trees along Highway 70 to the north and south mean the landscape is green year-round.


At MCAS Cherry Point you will find those who are fiercely fond of living on-base and those who are equally in favor of living off base. Having more than one good housing option means families can choose the situation that best meets their needs.

Cherry Point housing is one of those bases that is often referred to as "Mayberry". Neighborhood kids riding bikes and neighbors enjoying each other's company paints an idyllic picture of times past. AMCC manages a mix of historic and new homes.

Cherry Point O1 To O8 Grants Landing

Those who live in on-base housing love the convenience of the service member's short commute to work. Popular options for living off base run the length of Highway 70 from the James City area of New Bern to the communities surrounding Atlantic Beach.

To read housing reviews written by fellow mil-families for Cherry Point, visit PCSgrades.com.


The base offers the typical lineup of services including an exchange, commissary, uniform shop, food court, Marine Marts, auto hobby shop, dry cleaner, and three inns. Need to see the doc? The Naval Health Clinic Cherry Point offers primary and specialty outpatient care to service and family members.


Craven and Carteret counties serve students on and around Cherry Point. Bus service is available to children K-12 in base housing communities as there are no schools aboard Cherry Point itself. The Cherry Tree House is available for before- and after-school care. For those service members with children, school rating websites and word of mouth can often influence where families choose to live. The School Liaison is an excellent, unbiased resource in helping to find a good fit for your child's personality and/or educational needs.


Summer temps average in the mid-80's. Winters are relatively mild. During the winter months of December, January and February the temperatures usually hover above 40 degrees with the occasional dip below freezing. Pollen, hurricanes, humidity, as well as dramatic thunderstorms, are seasonal companions.



To say this area is proud of its vinegar-based barbecue would be an understatement. The shredded, savory pork can be found all across eastern North Carolina both as an entrée and as an ingredient in other dishes. Seafood, another highlight of the region, can be found in every town adjacent to water. Farm-to-table restaurants highlighting locally-grown produce and meat are on the rise. But not to worry—there are plenty of the fast-food options you know and love both on and off base. The tea here is sweet like corn syrup.


Eastern North Carolina is home to mammals ranging from opossums to nutria (think rodents of unusual size from "The Princess Bride") to black bears. Alligators and snakes also love the swampy, coastal landscape. Bull sharks are among the most feared predators and can be found in both the ocean and the inter-coastal waterway. Whales can be spotted offshore during migration season.


North Carolina loves a good festival. Additionally, they are a great way to get acquainted with the area's natural resources. The North Carolina Seafood Festival is held every October in Morehead City and headlines, you guessed it, our abundant supply and love of seafood! MumFest is held annually in downtown New Bern as well as the Mullet Festival (yep, another fish) in Swansboro. Christmas is particularly enchanting with the beautifully-decorated historic districts, tree lightings, and Christmas flotillas. Churches are abundant here but much more diverse in theology and worship style than the steepled country variety portrayed in Southern movies.


New Bern—Founded in 1710 by German and Swiss immigrants, New Bern is home to the colonial Tryon Palace and Gardens as well as the birthplace of Pepsi-Cola. This unique town is only about a half hour from base.

North Carolina Aquarium Pine Knoll Shores —The aquarium makes a great half-day trip on sunny and rainy days alike.

The Minnesott-Cherry Branch Ferry—Take a free, 20-minute ride in your car or the ferry cabin across the Neuse River to Minnesott Beach. The surrounding historic squares look to be straight out of a Nicholas Sparks novel.

Atlantic Beach— You can enjoy the sand, souvenir shops, and fishing piers here in less than a 45 minute trip from base.

Beaufort— Drive approximately 25 miles south down Rt 101 and you can walk this historic town that was once home to Blackbeard.


As Cherry Point is located on the Neuse River in the state's only coastal forest. It boasts a marina, numerous tent and RV camping options, launching sites for canoes and kayaks, as well as abundant fishing. swim lessons, and junior lifeguard camp. Open and lap swim and fitness classes are available among the three pools on base. Cherry Point boasts four gyms: Devil Dog, Hancock, Hancock Aerobics and Spin Center, and the Marine Dome. A paintball is also available on base.

Best wishes for your time aboard MCAS Cherry Point! Once you feel settled in the local area, read about more nearby adventures on PCSgrades.com.

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


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


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.

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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.


  • 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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