Married to Love

Getting Housing on Base: Our PCS Adventure

After arriving in our new duty station and checking into the Navy Lodge, we quickly got into a jump of all the things we needed to accomplish.

The first thing was signing up for AOB (Area Orientation Briefing). We wanted to get it over with because it was still mandatory thing we had to attend. We only had to attend the first day of the brief because we transferred from within Japan and because we attended same (for most parts) brief when we checked into Yokosuka but for anyone who PCS from outside of Japan (or from Okinawa), you’re required to attend the whole week.

The second thing was going to the housing office to check what was available for us. We were told by friends who transferred to Atsugi before us that we were likely to live on base because everyone with families are required to. I was looking forward to moving to a house on base because I was over living off base like we did in Yokosuka.

Tip: Stop by the housing office as soon as possible cause availability of units differ everyday so a day can make a difference. Specially, if you move during PCS season.

We were lucky enough to move when a lot of units were vacant cause families from a command were moving to Iwakuni. We brought our requirements and talked to the associate in the morning and by the end of the day, she already emailed us to stop by the next day cause she already had options for us. Due to our family composition, we only qualified for a two bedroom one bath house. We had two options, one was a tower unit and the other was a garden apartment. We were allowed to go and see the actual units before we made a decision.

We’re acquainted with base housing since we’re coming from Yokosuka so we knew what to expect. Even before moving the husband already made up his mind that he wanted to live in a garden apartment cause that’s what our friends have here. He liked the layout and feel of the house so when he found out that a garden apartment was one of our options he was overjoyed and I could sense that he had already made his decision even before going to see the unit itself. His mind was so made up that he didn’t want to check the tower option at all. I wanted to see both options but he was so stubborn that I just gave in.

The garden apartment option was on the ground floor and was in a building that only housed four units. The building is totally isolated from the other buildings and is on a very quiet street and six parking slots is just in-front of the building. Each unit is assign a single slot and the other two are reserved for visitors. As expected the layout of the unit is similar to our friends. You enter right into a decent sized living room that has sliding doors that leads into the yard. A wall separates the kitchen and dining area. Laundry is located in the kitchen. The bathroom is between the two bedrooms right off the living room. The two bedrooms aren’t that big. You can fit a king in one bedroom but not much else if you do. There’s a storage area by the front door.

Pros:

  • There is a designated area to put a dinning table something we never had. We lived without a formal dinning area for three years in our off base house in Yokosuka because we didn’t have room for it. It would be nice to not eat on the couch every night.
  • It’s on a the ground floor. We don’t have to worry about our very active toddler that loves to run around, jump on and off things, bang the floor with his toys inconveniencing the downstairs neighbors.
  • Parking is just outside the building, we don’t have to go up stairs or elevators with our groceries and stroller all the time.
  • There’s a yard which means we can have a dog (finally!), the husband can get a grill, and Liam gets extra space to play.
  • We don’t directly share a wall with any of our neighbors. We’re Filipino and we raise our voices a lot.

Cons:

  • The laundry is the kitchen which just makes no sense cause when you do laundry you’re dirty/clean clothes end up on the kitchen floor. You can’t be doing laundry when you have people over or when you’re cooking cause your clothes will end up smelling like food which may or may not be a bad thing altogether.
  • When you’re in the kitchen you’re separate from the living room, which is not ideal when you have an active toddler. It’s hard to keep track on him when you’re cooking.
  • It’s located in the very edge of the housing area.

The tower option was a 7th floor unit in the building near the Child Development Center. Closets line the entrance from the front door. It had a pretty open concept layout with the living and dinning area being together. The kitchen is right by the front door entrance, it overlooks the dining/living area. There’s a small balcony off the living room where you can fit a decent size grill. There’s a separate laundry room across the bathroom. The two bedroom are on opposite sides at the end of the unit.

Pros:

  • There’s a designated laundry area. I can just hide my (literal) dirty laundry there and forget about it till it’s actually time to do them.
  • It’s pretty open concept, I can be in the kitchen cooking and still see what Liam’s up to in the living room.
  • We don’t have to maintain a yard.
  • We have a nice view of the base from the unit.

Cons:

  • We’re not allowed to have a dog cause they’re only allowed on the first and second floors of towers.
  • Not only do we  share all our walls with neighbors but also the floors.
  • We’ll be on the 7th floor. We’ll have to drag our groceries and bring the stroller up and down the elevator every time.
  • We have to go up and down the building every time we throw the trash. (we’re very lazy people)
  •  The parking slot is no where near the entrance of the building.
  • We won’t have enough space for a big dinning table it shares the area with the living room and we have a big bulky sectional.
  • The kitchen is very small and narrow.

 

Technically, if you’re not please with the first options given to you by housing, you can refuse but it still doesn’t guarantee that you’ll be offered anything different. In the end, the husband got what he wanted. We took the garden apartment option because it’s the most convent option for us and because we might want to get a dog soon.

As soon as we made the decision, we talked to  our housing associate and she set up our move in date. There really isn’t anything complicated about setting up when to move in as long as the unit is ready which our garden apartment was. Most people, move in and get loaner furniture from the government till their household shipment arrives but since ours is just sitting in Yokosuka in their storage, we just had to see when the earliest day of shipment is and move in then. We called them on a Friday and we’re told that they’ll be able to deliver our shipment the following Tuesday with wasn’t bad at all.

 

With this being our PCS, it was all smooth sailing, minor hiccups along the way but nothing major. We stayed in the Lodge here in Atsugi for a total of six days, not even a week and we were able to move into our house. It’s been a good two months or so since moving in and we’re finally settled in.

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