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Your Nellis Air Force Base Area Guide

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Welcome to Nellis AFB, Home of the Thunderbirds! Las Vegas is a melting pot of people and cultures. Finding a native can be difficult. With most of the residents working in hospitality or for the military, this town has a very friendly feel. Let's dive in and learn more about your new duty station.


Nellis AFB is located in Southern Nevada about 20 minutes away from downtown Las Vegas. Nellis offers a unique base set up. It is divided into two bases: Main side and Hospital side. Main base includes the dorms, Nellis AFB lodging, and most operation job sites and offices. Hospital side includes the Nellis AFB commissary, hospital, the newly renovated athletic facility, the BX, and all your basic family needs. It is a busy base with many airmen on temporary deployment to and from and the base. The neighboring communities are also home to over 70,000 veterans. There is a newly built VA hospital five miles from Nellis AFB.


Living on base here feels like a vacation. Temporary housing is found on both the Main and Hospital side. Housing on main side includes two-bedroom houses and the dorms. Hospital side includes the Nellis AFB hospital and all other housing (3+ bedroom). The housing on hospital side is newly renovated along with the housing office and pool. The pool on hospital side includes a splash pad and a hot tub. Driving around hospital side has a resort feel with palm trees, Spanish tile roofing and a fresh new feel to the neighborhood.

Submit reviews of your Nellis AFB housing HERE


An extremely impoverished area surrounds Nellis AFB so off-base housing is several miles from base. If you are interested in living off base, check out North Las Vegas and Aliante. These are great neighborhoods that are about 15-20 minutes away from base. Centennial Hills is a beautiful area about 25-35 minutes from base and Summerlin is about 40 minutes away. Summerlin is where most of the private schooling is located. All of these areas offer quick access to grocery stores, daycares, restaurants, and other stores that provide everyday necessities.


The newly renovated Nellis AFB gym on Main side is a wonderful added feature to this already great base. Nellis is also home to the Thunderbirds celebrated in a pretty great museum on Main side. The Nellis AFB hospital is a full accommodation facility. Due to a large veteran community in Las Vegas, the hospital offers a wide variety of services. There are two pharmacies on base; one located in the hospital and a satellite pharmacy on Main base. The community center offers gymnastics, dancing, and jujitsu. The youth center hosts a wide variety of activities for kids of all ages. There is also a home-school group on base that meets every Tuesday at the housing center on Hospital side. Make sure to plan at least a month out to register your children for any of these activities.


Your BAH should go far while stationed at Nellis AFB. The cost of living is very reasonable and home ownership is an attainable goal for many while stationed here. The median home cost is $264,300. Need to find a REALTOR® in the Las Vegas area? Your fellow military and veteran community has reviewed them for you at PCSgrades.com.


It's hot and dry! Pack your lip protectant, lotion, hats, sunglasses, water bottles and cooling towels. You can expect 60-degree weather on Thanksgiving and Christmas and pretty perfect nights all year round. From June to September expect temperatures to exceed 100 degrees. There is usually no humidity, which is helpful but make no mistake, it's hot.


Take the family out to the famous Las Vegas neon sign and stop by the Neon Museum for a scenic tour of all the neon signs that once decorated the strip. Warning, this is an outdoor tour.

The Las Vegas Motor Speedway sits across the street from Nellis AFB and hosts an elaborate holiday lighting at Christmas time (free for military). The race track also hosts music events, marathon races, air races, and it can convert to a golf course, and a trade show venue.

Expect to see lizards and geckos everywhere! These little fiends can be seen scurrying across walking paths and racing across the brick walls that line the neighborhood streets. Along with these quick friends are chipmunks and bunny rabbits. Hummingbirds dance from plant to plant and can be found anywhere in town. The koi ponds at the local parks are home to many turtles. You will find lots of geese and other birds there, too.


Las Vegas has every cuisine you could dream of! As the strip is a short 14.2 miles south of Nellis AFB and home to many world-renowned chefs, you can find something for the whole family. If you would like to stay closer to base, Las Vegas has a plethora of mom and pop taco shops, some delicious pho and noodles shops, ice cream parlors, sushi any way you like it (rolls/wraps/bowls/burritos), and of course, the famous IN and OUT burger.


The Grand Canyon is 252 miles or about 4 hours of Nellis AFB. There is a Grand Canyon West Rim and Hoover Dam Tour from Las Vegas with optional Skywalk for about $140 per person. There are many day tours to, in and around the Grand Canyon depending on your budget.

The Hoover Dam is only 33.8 miles (about an hour) from Nellis AFB which sits on the Colorado River that runs through Lake Mead. Lake Mead offers biking, boating, fishing, hunting, educational classes "parks as classrooms," wildlife, marinas, canoeing, kayaking, camping and resorts if you are more of a "glamper."


Bring your camping and hiking gear as Las Vegas has much to offer. From hiking the many scenic trails provided by Red Rocks to snow skiing at Mount Charleston and Lake Mead, these are just a few options to entertain the family outdoors. Enjoy one of the many National parks surrounding Las Vegas, either staying in Nevada or venturing out to California, Utah or Arizona. Longdale Trails, about an hour north of Nellis AFB, includes dry camping and lots of family fun. Brian Head, Utah is a small ski town with nearby camping areas including Mammoth Creek, Duck Creek, and Panguitch Lake. And then there is the Pahrump Winery which is a fun, perhaps more mature, destination. Catch a hockey game! Las Vegas is home to the brand-new hockey team, The Golden Knights. The Knights made it to the Stanley Cup in 2018 with odds of 500 to 1. Although the Knights did not win the Stanley Cup, fans are excited for their return next season.


Las Vegas has many different parks all over the Clark County. Most parks include a splash pad which are designated watering areas operated by a large button. When pressed, water spills out from buckets, tubes and other metal fixtures. Parks are located in or right next to every community. There are little "pack a picnic and play" parks, as well as, parks featuring amphitheaters, koi ponds, dog parks, unique toys and learning, and more. The Springs Preserve is a nature exhibit that offers kids camps in the summer, and nature and wildlife activities and events all year round. Shark Reef and Secret Garden and Dolphin Habitat are two fabulous aquariums in the area. Clark County Wetland Park provides educational, recreational, and research opportunities to the public, and, it's free! Nellis AFB is a unique duty station so enjoy your time here by creating memories to last a lifetime.

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


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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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.


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".


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.


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.