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PCS to NAS Pensacola Navy Base | Florida

Getting a PCS order means you have to leave the life you are used to behind and start planning to adjust to an entirely new environment. While it can be hectic, the proper guidance can reduce your burden and stress of moving.

If you have received a PCS order to NAS Pensacola navy base in Florida, this article provides all the information you need to make your transition more manageable.

Read on to learn about PCS moves, house-hunting tips, and the best neighborhoods near the NAS Pensacola navy base.

What Is a Permanent Change of Station (PCS) in the Military?

A Permanent Change of Station (PCS) in the military refers to a transfer order to move to a new station more than 50 miles away. It can also mean moving between your final duty station to your home after retirement or discharge.

PCS orders are long-term assignments lasting between 2 and 4 years, although they apply to assignments over 20 weeks. Since PCS orders usually require you to relocate and you have no choice but to comply with the orders, the government must cover your relocation costs.

The terms and regulations of your move typically include your destination, who you can bring along, and even what you can take with you. PCS moves can be CONUS (within the continental United States) or OCONUS(outside the continental United states).

Most PCS moves are usually accompanied, meaning you move with your entire family. However, your move may be unaccompanied if you are relocating to a military base that is not conducive for families. Most PCS orders are issued during summer, commonly from May 15th to September 30th.

What Does PCS Move Entail?

The details of your PCS move will depend on whether you choose a personally procured move (PPM) or a Transportation Service Provider (TSP).

Here is a breakdown of what each type of move entails.

Personal Procured Move

In this type of move, you are in charge of handling your packing and moving costs. You can then ask for reimbursement from the government, which will give you back 95% of the amount it would cost if a Transportation Service Provider had done the job.

The moving cost is usually dependent on weight restrictions. Therefore, if your move costs less than the military handled the process, you get to keep the balance. Also, a PPM allows you to decide your moving schedule and dates.

Transportation Service Provider

You have to plan your moving schedule and begin your request to the United States Transportation Command. The military will then get a Transport Service Provider to pack and move your belongings. Using a TSP means the government handles the packing and relocating of your belongings to your new duty station.

When using a TSP, your rank determines the weight restrictions on your items. You also have limitations on what you can include in your shipment. For example, if you decide to move with a pet, you will have to do so at your cost.

The House Hunting Process for the Military Families

Once you get an order to transfer, you only have ten days to look for a house and complete your house-hunting activities. Given your short time, knowing the right way to go about the process can make it quicker and smoother for you.

Use these tips during your house-hunting for a hassle-free process.

Work with a Budget

The first step when looking for a house is to create a budget. Draw up how much you can spend in a home before setting out on your search. Your budget will narrow down your options and determine the neighborhoods you live in since prices vary depending on location.

Once you evaluate your financial capabilities, get a mortgage pre-approval. This way, you know how much you can comfortably spend on a home.

As a military member, you can take advantage of VA loans available to finance your dream home. The loan doesn't require a downpayment, has low credit score requirements, and zero mortgage insurance premiums. You also get access to flexible loan terms that are better than traditional mortgages.

The good thing is that the loan is tailored to your unique situation and is specifically available for military members. However, you can only get a VA loan to finance a home that will be your primary residence.

Prioritize Your Needs

Once you have a budget, you should assess your needs and prioritize what is important to you. This will help you know what neighborhoods to go house-hunting in. For example, if you have school-going kids, you should find a place close to a school.

A list of other essential factors to consider when looking for a home include security and crime rates, accessibility to social amenities for convenience, and transport.

Besides the location of your new home, you also need to consider your housing needs. The size and composition of your family will determine the house features to look for, such as the number of rooms.

If you have a pet, you must confirm whether there are any pet restrictions in your new home or any other pet regulations that may determine whether you move with your furry friend.

Once you have all your essential needs, you can list them from the most important and make them your benchmark when house-hunting. This way, you know what you can compromise on when you need to be flexible in case you have limited choices.

Consult Real Estate Agents

With limited time to go through the house-hunting process, you need all the help you can get. Consulting a real estate agent is one of the best ways to simplify and make the process short.

The agents understand the current market prices and know the best neighborhoods for you, depending on your financial ability and needs. You can even leave the entire process to them as you focus on other pressing matters.

Ask for referrals from friends and family on the best real estate agents to work with. Be sure to do your due diligence to hire the best talent to deliver the services you need. Check their website, online profiles, and customer reviews to know what to expect.

It is also necessary to conduct an interview with your potential realtor and ask them questions about their experience as well as skills. Remember to compare different agents and settle on one that matches your needs and one you can comfortably work with.

Involve Your Kids in the Process

As with any move, your family gets affected, including your children. Your kids will have to make a new transition and leave behind the life they were familiar with. This includes leaving their neighborhood friends, joining new schools, and adapting to a new environment, all of which can be difficult to process. Involve your kids in the moving process by preparing them early and explaining why the move is necessary.

Use simple language to communicate and also ask for their opinions and ideas. The kids will feel included and helpful, and it will also help ease their anxiety about the change. Also, consider your child's needs when choosing a home by ensuring it is close to school and recreational areas like parks or any other activities they enjoy.

White wooden model home on fence with house key

The Benefits of Living Off Base

Once you get orders to move, you may wonder whether to live on or off base. Your decision will boil down to your preference and a variety of personal factors, including proximity to work.

However, living off base comes with perks that you may miss out on while living within the base. Here are a few benefits that make living off-base more attractive.

Save Your BAH

When you live off base, you can keep your housing allowance and have total control over its use. You won't have to give up your BAH to the private housing contractor for a home that, at times, may not fit your preference or serve you adequately.

By living off base, you can find a home priced below the amount you get in housing allowance, which allows you to save part of your money. Even if you don't get a house that costs less than your allowance, you will still have peace of mind knowing where your BAH goes.

Access to More Housing Variety

Living on base gives you little control over the type of house your get. Depending on your family size and rank, you can be stuck with a duplex without a yard, a single-family home, or an old and unrenovated home. Living off base offers you more neighborhood options and varieties of housing.

You can decide to live in a quiet rural area if you value a serene environment or opt for the heart of the town if you want to experience lively urban life. Similarly, your housing choices range from stand-alone homes with lots of land to condos and single-family homes. Whether you want a single or double-story home depends on your taste and preference.

Access to More and Better Amenities

Like housing, living off base allows you to choose which amenities mean the most to you. You don't have much choice in what you find in an on-base home. By opting for off-base housing options, you can find the amenities and features you need for convenience and comfort.

For example, you can choose a home with a swimming pool, fireplace, a more spacious garage, and even central heating and AC. These features may not be available in your on-base home.

Besides the housing features, you can position yourself near facilities that improve your quality of life. For example, if you have kids, you can find a home that borders a recreational park or walking distance to facilities like golf clubs if you are a golfer.

Separate Your Military Life from Personal Life

Living on base means being next-door neighbors with other military families and constantly being exposed to the military way of life. Living off base is your best option if you want to have a private life and separate it from your professional life.

You and your family will enjoy the privacy you need in a neighborhood where your life is not tied to your job. This way, it becomes easier to gain a work-life balance, which positively impacts your career.

Fewer Moves

On base, your housing depends on your rank and family size. With this in mind, you may have to move every time a military service member moves up the grade or your family changes in size. Consider living off base to avoid the inconveniences and hassle of moving houses regularly.

This way, you can only move houses whenever you want or after a PCS order. Occurrences like promotions or a new baby will not impact your housing option.

Non-Family Guests Can Visit Easily

For every visitor without an ID to your home within the base, you must get them a pass and pick them up. This can be cumbersome, especially when you are not in a position to attend to them immediately. With off-base housing, your guests without IDs can visit you anytime without the inconvenience of passes.

Also, there are no time restrictions about when to get back to your home. Note that if you live on the base near a gate that is not open for 24 hours, you will have to plan your activities around the closing times.

Five Best Places to Live Near NAS Pensacola Navy Base

Many neighborhoods near NAS Pensacola navy base offer affordable living, adequate amenities, and proximity to work.

Below are the best places near NAS Pensacola that provide a perfect balance of off-base living and a short commute.

East Hill

East Hill is a vibrant community with a family-friendly environment characterized by historic buildings and Victorian-style homes. It overlooks Pensacola Bay and is about 21 minutes from NAS Pensacola.

The median price of homes here is $ 569900, some being waterfront homes. East Hill offers a variety of recreational activities for your family, from walking and tennis to movies and shopping.


Pace is about 15 miles from NAS Pensacola and will take about 20 minutes to get to work. The short commute and excellent schools make it an ideal destination for military members looking for off-base housing in a thriving suburb. It is also among the safest neighborhoods in Pensacola, with a low crime rate.

If you are a nature lover, Benny Russell Park offers your family nature activities to engage in. You can also play golf at the nearby Stonebrook Golf Course or watch movies at the Ridge 8. Home listings at Pace have a median price of $349900.


Located only 4 miles from the NAS Pensacola, Warrington town offers you a serene living environment with a short commute to work. You will find various home options to choose from, be it three-bedroom houses or one-bedroom apartments, depending on your needs.

The median price of homes at Warrington is $237,000. If you decide to settle in Warrington, consider visiting the Pensacola Lighthouse and Museum for their lighthouse tours, including Light of The Moon and ghost tours.

Ferry Pass

Within a 35-minute drive from NAS Pensacola, Ferry Pass is only about 15 miles from the base. It is among the best places to live off base, thanks to its kind, small and friendly community that makes even visitors feel at home. You also enjoy a low cost of living, with decent family homes costing an average of $149000.

Ferry Pass has a family-friendly atmosphere, low crime rates, and excellent schools, making it an ideal location to raise a family. You will also be within walking distance from amenities and recreational facilities like bowling alleys, shops, and the mall. During weekends, you can spend quality time with your family in the numerous parks or visit the nearby Pensacola Beach.

Downtown Pensacola

Situated only 8 miles from NAS Pensacola, Downtown Pensacola is one of the best neighborhoods to live off base. It is your best option for experiencing all the action in Pensacola.

Downtown boasts numerous eateries, outdoor cafes, bars, and shops for your convenience. You can also access an art museum if you love learning about history. Downtown houses have a median price of $418000.

Received a PCS Order? Don't Worry

A PSC order to NAS Pensacola should not be a source of panic, even if you have never been there before. With the above information, you can relocate quickly and adjust to your new environment in no time.

If financing your relocation is a problem, VA loans can help you acquire your dream home and secure your family's housing needs.

With over 50 years of mortgage industry experience, we are here to help you achieve the American dream of owning a home. We strive to provide the best education before, during, and after you buy a home. Our advice is based on experience with Phil Ganz and Team closing over One billion dollars and helping countless families.

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