One of the highlights of full time military life for me is the chance our family has to travel and experience living in different parts of the country. When we received the news that Tim had been accepted into the AGR program, we had forty-eight hours to decide if we were in or out. Part of that decision was figuring out if we were game for living in Arkansas. Tim was less than thrilled and so was I. In the end we told ourselves we needed to be flexible with things if we were going to live this lifestyle, so we accepted. Then the Army was like “Haha! Just kidding. It was a test. We’re really sending you to Long Island.”
After all of the excitement of Tim’s promotion selection, we immediately started thinking about all the places we would want to move. I made Tim pull up a list of all the open positions in the Army so we could get a better idea of what was a possibility. I’m not saying I’m a psychic or anything but I had this feeling we needed to get our wish list together sooner rather than later. We spent all of Thursday night researching BAH rates and housing costs & school districts in particular areas and lusting after houses. Tim told me not to get too ahead of myself because the Army takes forever to do anything. Joke’s on him though…they sent out an email first thing the next day for a list of our two stateside (CONUS) and one foreign posting (OCONUS) choices. Since we had already talked this over the night before, he was ready and quickly submitted our wish list. But of course, now we wait.
In the meantime though, I thought it would be fun to share with you where we’re dreaming of and why.
Every time I think of Alaska I hear Sandra Bullock in “The Proposal” saying it.
One of the joys of having military friends is wherever you go; you’re never alone. I’m fairly certain I know someone or know someone who knows someone in every state. Alaska is no exception. I know two people in two different areas of Alaska in fact! When the Air Force stationed my good internet friend Kristin and her family in Alaska I was like “Ohmigawd, I’m so sorry!”. When she told me two years later they were going to live there forever after her husband left the Air Force I was like “Whhhhhyyyyyyy?” But you know what? I’m quickly coming around to the idea, at least for a few years.
(Several houses we’ve been lusting over have similar views. Whaaattt?!)
For the military, Alaska is considered a foreign assignment so we could volunteer for this posting and decrease our chances of an assignment in an actual foreign country. I’m all for living in Germany or the UK but with the state of the world right now, it feels like a safer bet to stay in the United States. I’ll still be excited if we ever get the chance to go to Europe but we won’t be volunteering for it.
Long Island has really brought out my outdoorsiness. Weird, right? We as a family are getting into hiking (easy as it may be for the kids’ sake) and camping. You know what is a big deal in Alaska? Doing outdoor things like hiking and camping. And there’s the glaciers and the kayaking and the fresh fish.
When searching for complaints about Alaska, everyone seems to mention the high cost of living. Guess what…it’s still cheaper than living here! It’s hilarious and horrifying all at the same time. Sure it’s cold but it doesn’t snow nearly as much as I thought it did (3-5 feet per year depending on where you live). Much better than the thirty feet I expected.
If we’re going to travel for the military, I’d really like to make it past the Mississippi River. I’ve been to Dallas for thirty-six hours but I never saw anything other than Freddie Mac, the corporate hotel park, and the chain restaurant we ate at so I don’t really count it. Tim has family in Colorado and loves it out there. I’ve never been but would love to get out there. The pictures of the area I’ve seen from his family are gorgeous.
Colorado is basically Alaska-lite for us. There’s lots of outdoor things to do with the benefit of not being 6,000 miles from family. It also has a low cost of living which makes our income go so much farther than it does here. And bears…Tim feels bears are fewer and /or less of a danger to humans than they are in Alaska.
(Click on the picture for the full listing. It’s GORGEOUS and half the rent we’re paying here.)
Culture shock won’t be so harsh here either. Going from New York to Alaska could be the biggest whiplash of our lives but Colorado would be an easier way to ease into colder temperatures. The political climate isn’t so divisive there than on the East Coast and other high population areas. That’s not to say I think it’ll be all kumbaya but it seems to be more chill than where we come from. Maybe it’s all the pot? Although that is not a draw for us.
CONUS: New Jersey
I think we’d be stupid if we didn’t try to go back home. I mean it’s not really “home” anymore but our immediate family and much of our extended family lives there and the food is the best. We already know how to live in the area so the time to acclimate is non-existent. It also provides some stability for the kids, which they won’t always get. Plusalso, grandparents are in high supply here and grandparents equal free babysitters.
We would most likely not move back into our house in New Jersey. We currently have it rented out and it’s an hour away from the base, the most likely place Tim would be assigned. We also need some more room than that house provides. Knowing which areas to seek out for a home take away a huge burden when moving. And now that we’re on our way to becoming a family of adventurers we’d be sure to take advantage of all the nearby camping and hiking that the area provides.
(Wharton State Forest. This is what my New Jersey looks like.)
Where would we ultimately like to end up on the next assignment? I’m torn between Alaska and Colorado. I feel like we’ll only have one opportunity to try living in Alaska without having to commit ourselves and our money long term. Ultimately though, I realize these are just wish list items and we could end up somewhere completely different like Guam or Arkansas, both not bad options just not dream choices.
Where’s the most interesting or exciting place you’ve ever lived?