5 Dream Destinations for Your Next PCS

1. Anywhere in Germany
2. Anywhere on Oahu, Hawaii
3. Charleston AFB, S.C.
4. Fort Carson, Colo.
5. Anywhere around San Diego

 

By Janet Farley 

It’s true you don’t always get a choice in selecting your next assignment. That doesn’t stop you from creating your own dream sheet, does it? You never know, someone with decision-making authority might ask you where you would like to go, listen to you, and even take you seriously.

So just what makes one duty station better over another one? Everyone has his or her own answer; ages, career stages, and family members (or the lack thereof) are all factors in making one place win out over another. Your ideal assignment might be based on the mission at hand, earning the next rank or the commute time to the nearest beach or border.

That said, some places certainly have more to offer than others, and there is no denying the locational allure found in the following five places. 

1. Anywhere in Germany

The Good: There are some assignments for every branch of service, even the Navy, in Germany. Whether you find yourself in the “Little America” environs of Ramstein Air Base or further south in Stuttgart, Grafenworhr, or at the base of the country’s largest mountain -- the Zugspitze -- in Garmisch, you can’t go wrong with PCS orders to anywhere in Germany.

Aside from being centrally located to many European countries (making travel to them less expensive), Germany offers it own culture that begs to be experienced. The country comes complete with big cities, small villages, world-class nightlife, and no nightlife at all. Whatever your preference, you can find it easily in Germany -- and only a short train ride away from wherever you are stationed.

The Bad: You can’t escape the pathetic dollar-to-Euro rate. On the average, one dollar is equal to about .70 Euro cents (and that’s on a good day!). Even with the added military allowances, off-installation purchases and rents can be expensive. Like monetary rate, the weather patterns also are often less than desirable. If you blink, you could miss spring and summer and find yourself stuck in fall and winter year-round.

For More Information:

2. Anywhere on Oahu, Hawaii

 

  Oahu Hawaii turtle image  
Photo from Flickr, by user puukibeach.

The Good: Have fun in the sun year-round. Hike Diamond Head in the morning, surf in the afternoon, and party all night in Waikiki. Cruise over to the windward side of the island and experience the island sans touristy mobs. When you’re not wearing the uniform, you can convince yourself you’re on an extended vacation with the added bonus of BAH/BAS/COLA. Expect long-lost friends and relatives to come out of the proverbial woodwork to visit you. (Of course, sometimes that can be a bad thing.)

The Bad: Living in paradise doesn’t come cheaply: The cost of living is above the national average. Oahu, for all its beauty, is an island and there are only so many places you can go without getting on boat or a plane. Too many tourists year-round, ever-increasing traffic, and a growing homeless population add to the reported negativity. Poorly graded public schools and discrimination against non-locals also often are cited as cons.

For More Information: 

3. Charleston AFB, S.C.

The Good: Spanish moss drapes lazily off the trees, inviting you to put one foot back in history and another firmly on the ground in the present. The City of Charleston is rich in both history and modern day culture. The average age of residents in Charleston is 33 years old, and the ambience of the community connects to that demographic. Mild temperatures, restaurants full of fresh seafood, bars, and beaches abound — all accented with unmistakable Southern hospitality. It’s a good thing.

The Bad: Summertime humidity anywhere in the South is painful, and creepy-crawly bugs residing below the Mason-Dixon Line tend to be oversized and squishy upon swatting. Enough said.

For More Information:

 

Pikes Peak Image
Pikes Peak photo by Flickr user Beverly & Pack.

4. Fort Carson, Colo.

The Good: When world events are not sending you off to places known and otherwise, life at Fort Carson can be enticing, particularly for those who are outdoor-minded. All things snow dominate the winter months, and summer has ample hiking, biking, camping, and rafting opportunities. In 2010, Colorado Springs (the nearest off-installation community) was voted the friendliest bike city in America, and metro Denver is a mere hour’s drive away.

The Bad: If the outdoors isn’t your thing or you don’t want to drive an hour away for a larger nightlife, Fort Carson may not be your top choice.

For More Information:  

5. Anywhere around San Diego

The Good: Famous for its year-round warm temperatures, San Diego by the sea offers surfers, golfers, scuba divers, and fishing aficionados ample opportunities to enjoy their sports. Non-sportsters will love the number of nearby attractions that don’t require massive amount of sunscreen. Must-see destinations for your to-do list while stationed in the area include family friendly Balboa Park, the party-friendly Gaslamp Quarter, and anything involving food or drink near La Jolla.

The Bad: On the flip side, San Diego offers its inhabitants traffic ad nauseam and a high cost of living.

For More Information:


About the author: Janet Farley is author of The Military Spouse's Complete Guide to Career Success (Impact Publications, 2007) and The Military-to-Civilian Career Transition Guide (Jist, 2004).

Copyright Janet Farley and Military Officers Association of America. All rights reserved.