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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.

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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