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Your MCRD Parris Island Area Guide

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Parris Island is mostly known as the place where approximately 16,000 Marines pass through boot camp each year. Yes, it has the beautiful cypress trees and spanish moss this area of South Carolina is known for, but training Marines is the focal point.

The second-oldest city in South Carolina, nearby Beaufort is in the heart of the Sea Islands and South Carolina Lowcountry.

WHERE IS PARRIS ISLAND?

MCRD Parris Island is approximately five miles south of the city of Beaufort. Enlisted male Marine recruits living east of the Mississippi River train here. All enlisted female recruits also come here for their initial training.

The nearby Marine Corps Air Station is three miles northwest of downtown Beaufort. It is home to five Marine Corps F/A-18 Hornet fighter-attack squadrons and one F-35B Fleet Replacement Squadron.

Marines were first assigned to Parris Island in 1891, in the form of a small security detachment. Twenty-four years later, it was officially designated a Marine Corps Recruit Depot and training was continued from then on.

In 1929, the causeway and a bridge over Archer's Creek were completed. Prior to 1929, a ferry provided all transportation to and from the island.


MCRD PARRIS ISLAND HOUSING

There are a variety of housing options in and around Parris Island. You have the option of living on base, buying or renting in the surrounding community, living in a gated community or in a home with water views.

Military housing at Parris Island consists of 260 single family and duplex style homes. Privatized, on-base housing located in three communities is provided by Atlantic Marine Corps Communities at Tri-Command.

Off-base housing offers a variety of choices including apartments, townhouses, and single-family homes. There is new construction available, as well as homes full of local, historic charm.

BAH & COST OF LIVING

The cost of living along coastal South Carolina is pretty reasonable. Most military families are able to stretch their BAH to cover expenses. The median home price in Beaufort is $210,400. Home values have gone up 7.9% over the past year. Real estate experts predict home values will continue to rise another 1.4% this year.

ON-BASE AMENITIES

There is a Marine Corps Exchange as well as a Commissary on Parris Island. Military families enjoy spending time at the Parris Island R.V. Park. There are 18 sites with the following amenities:

  • Full hook up for water, sewer, and electricity (electrical hook-up provides 20/30/50 amp plug)
  • Bathroom and showers
  • Coin operated laundry
  • Picnic tables at each lot
  • Convenient location to Parris Island locations such as the MCX and Museum
  • Minutes from downtown Beaufort

The General Gray Marine Warrior Library provides a comprehensive collection of U.S. military history with particular emphasis on the history of the Marine Corps. You can also explore the long and rich legacy of the Marine Corps at the Parris Island Museum. The 10,000-square-foot facility features exhibits which focus on the long and honored history and traditions of the Marine Corps.

Located in the Douglas Visitors' Center, the Java Café serves hot and cold beverages, Starbucks coffee, and grab and go snacks, light sandwiches and pizza on Thursdays. The café is closed on non-grad weeks.

The Legends Golf Course at Parris Island features a par-72 layout. This challenging course is also a scenic course, winding its way along salt marsh wetlands and deep-water creeks.

The MCRD Parris Island Brig & Brew is run by the Single Marine and Sailors program. This historic recreation facility offers a variety of weekly social and outdoor events.

Indoor Recreation

  • 25 TVs with ESPN Game Plan and NFL Ticket
  • Movie theater
  • Two pool tables
  • Darts
  • Xbox One and PS4 video game consoles
  • Media room with stadium seating, tablets, and printers
  • Free Wi-Fi

Outdoor Recreation

  • Horseshoe Pits
  • Cornhole
  • Volleyball court
  • BBQ Pit

Bars

  • Sports and snack bar

Brig & Brew can be reserved for PME sessions. One stage is available for bands, functions or special events.

PARRIS ISLAND WEATHER

Hurricanes are the most significant weather threat in coastal South Carolina. Hurricane season begins June 1 and ends November 30. It is essential to familiarize yourself and your family about what to do if a storm is threatening.

The MCRD Parris Island & MCAS Beaufort Hurricane Hotline is 800-343-0639.

Storm Checklist

  • A minimum of 1 gallon of water per person, per day for 3-7 days
  • 3-7 days of non-perishable food including food for infants and pet food
  • A first aid kit and any prescribed medication
  • A flashlight
  • Batteries
  • Battery operated radio
  • Cash
  • Cell phone with solar charger
  • Basic essentials such as:
  • A non-electric can opener
  • Paper plates and plastic utensils
  • Blankets and pillows
  • Toiletries and hygiene items
  • Clothing
  • Toys, books, and games for children
  • Important documents such as insurance, medical, and bank records stored in a waterproof container/bag.

The summers are hot and oppressive running from May through September. The winters are relatively short, cold, and windy.

CULTURE & CUSTOMS

Those who love history will enjoy their time here in coastal South Carolina. Additionally, the nearby city of Beaufort is known for its antebellum mansions and sweet southern charm. This area was a staging area for both Confederate and Union troops during the Civil War. Civil War era antebellum homes and elegant plantation homes still line Bay Street overlooking the Beaufort River.

The Beaufort Arsenal, home of the Beaufort Volunteer Artillery, was constructed in 1798. After the Civil War, the Arsenal became a place for hosting social events as well as military ceremonies. Horse-drawn carriage rides offer another opportunity to learn about the history of Beaufort.

In the Lowcountry of South Carolina, shrimp and grits is a favored southern dish and can be found at pretty much any one of Beaufort's local restaurants. Lowcountry Produce offers a southern breakfast and lunch menu and has a great selection of homemade jams, pickled goodies, fresh produce, and even local art. The Chocolate Tree, a local store, does an all-you-can-eat night once a year in the summer. Locals say it's an event not to be missed!

AREA ATTRACTIONS

In addition to the antebellum mansions and sweet southern charm, one of the most recognizable and most beloved local landmarks is the historic Hunting Island Lighthouse. Additionally, it is the only lighthouse in the state where you can climb all the way to the top.

Several big-name movies were filmed in and around Beaufort. Those films include The Prince of Tides, The Big Chill, Forrest Gump, and The Great Santini. A Hollywood Movie Site guide is available at the Beaufort Visitor's Center. The downtown area also offers many great boutiques and locally owned restaurants.

The Port Royal Cypress Wetlands is a bird watcher's paradise. Snowy white egrets, herons, hawks, eagles, owls, falcons, geese, and ducks all call these wetlands home. Kayaking and paddle boarding are also popular outdoor activities.

The Henry C. Chambers Waterfront Park features shopping, art galleries, and lots of dining options. This park is also the site for many of Beaufort's annual festivals and events. Some of the larger events include the Beaufort Shrimp Festival, A Taste of Beaufort, and the Beaufort Water Festival.

Have you been to Parris Island area? Fellow Mil-Fams need your help! Leave reviews on your housing, moving company, neighborhood, and more at PCSgrades.com.

This post was sponsored by PCSgrades.

Photo by Cpl Isabella Ortega
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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