June 10, 2011

Who Wants to Live in Military Housing? Raise Your Hand!

I open my eyes as the morning light streams in between my curtains. I roll over and look at the clock. It's early so my kids still must be asleep. My husband has already left for work so I have a quiet house to myself for a little while. 

I rub the sleep from my eyes, and head into the kitchen to turn on the coffee. The smell of the freshly brewing caffeinated beverage is like the fountain of youth for me. I pour myself a cup and revel in the blissful few minutes I have to myself this morning.

I walk across our living room without bothering to turn on the tv. There is probably nothing on anyway. At least nothing that I want to watch. I open the sliding glass door to our patio and step out into the calm morning air. I sip my coffee while I gaze out over the turquoise waters of the East China Sea. I sit in my deck chair while I watch the morning ocean rise and fall. This is my life.

This is what I pictured for myself and my family when my husband said, "We've got Okinawa!". After all we will be living on a sub-tropical island south of Japan's main island. I've looked at several rental agency websites and grown more excited by what I've seen. But as our move approaches we must ask ourselves the eternal PCS question. Do we live off post? Or on?

In this situation I feel that it's important to consider all of our options, and weigh all of the pro's and con's to living in military or civilian housing. And there is a lot of weighing to do. Where will we be spending most of our time? How expensive is it to rent? Is an off post neighborhood safe? I am almost certain that living off post will be more challenging for me at first. But in the end I also feel that it will be a more rewarding experience. After all I didn't haul my children and myself halfway around the world to live on yet another military post. We've lived on post before and while I did enjoy the experience, and the closeness of the families, I am leaning toward a full immersion in our host culture.

At the same time though I also consider the security and familiarity of living on post. It will be easier to make friends, my son can walk to school, I will have easy access to the commissary, gas stations, and fitness facilities. I will probably feel safer when my husband deploys. I also know that I will probably not get my ocean view living on post.

I think our wisest course of action is to make a final decision when we get there, where will be able to better evaluate and consider all of our options. For now I think I would rather go the off post route. While it will probably be a larger adjustment, and a bigger culture shock, that is really what I am looking for. I want to make the most of my experience in Japan, the culture, the people, the life.

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