Your Name (if you would like it to appear):
How long have you been here? (give years please, ex. 2003-present)
May 2007- present
What is housing like? On-post? (waiting list, conditions, etc.) Off-post? Any areas to stay away from? Average price to rent or buy?
We live off post and really prefer it. We have a two bedroom, one bathroom apartment right between the University and post. We pay $925 +electric. Prices in town can be a bit steep. For a 2 bedroom 1 bath apartment you can expected anywhere from $800 to $1200 a month. For the more adventurous you can rent cabins for $150 – $400 a month, but many don’t have water. I would stay away from North Pole and South Cushman. There tends to be a lot of violence and drug use in both areas from my understanding. The new homes on post seem very nice, but the older places I have only heard complaints about. One of my friends has an older place and in the basement she has pipes labeled “caution: asbestos.” If you don’t have kids I would suggest avoiding living on post, you can find a cheaper place in town that’s more suitable for two people
Rate the PX & Commissary.
The PX is pricy and small. If you need something, go to Walmart or Freddies. Often the PX doesn’t have things that you need anyways (like power steering fluid… those lines break a lot in winter) The commissary is cheap, but like the PX there is a lot that you can’t get there either. And definitely go to Walmart for milk. On post it is around $5 a gallon, at Walmart it is $3 a gallon. Be prepared to be run over a lot if you go to the commissary.
Activities on base?
If you look you can find it. People off post aren’t told about the opportunities as much. The gym is rather nice and there is open hockey and skating in the winter time at their indoor rink. There are sports leagues you can get involved with, a ski hill that doubles as a skeet range in summer, a golf course, a river, and countless hiking, cross country skiing, snowmobiling and 4×4 trails on birch hill.
Active Spouses Club?
The officers wives club recently turned into a general spouses club, but they can be elusive. I only found out about them through http://www.myspace.com/ftwainwrightwives an offshoot club of the spouses club. The spouses club has its own webpage, but is very rarely updated.
Things to do in area?
Outdoors in the summer is amazing. There is hiking all over the hills (oh by the way, there are no mountains in the Fairbanks area just hills or “domes”) there is floating on the Chena, Nenana, or Tanana rivers. Pioneer park can be a fun little place to take the kids or to shop for your family back in the 48. The MWR offers many programs in the summer and winter. Winter in Fairbanks is different. There is skiing, snowshoeing, dog sledding, and snowmobiling, but expect to be cold. There is a lot of drinking in town due to lack of things to do. Fort Wainwright has the highest amount of DUI’s out of all military bases. Your indoor activities are limited pretty much to going to hockey games, indoor glow in the dark mini golf, and going to the movies. There isn’t much shopping either if you are a shopper. Walmart, Fred Meyers, Old Navy, Sportsmans Warehouse, Barnes and Noble, Gotschalts, Sears, American Eagle, Pac Sun, Hot Topic, and Game Stop. That’s basically the entire list of shopping in town. If you are from a populated place, this is going to be a culture shock.
No idea. No kids, no plans on them.
Any colleges in area?
The University of Alaska Fairbanks. You get instate tuition with your military ID, but I do not like this school, they have been nothing but difficult. Fall term starts the first Thursday of September, I personally didn’t receive my financial Aide until the first week of November and they charged me late fees in the mean time. Parking is horrible. Unless you pay the hundreds of dollars for preferred parking, you will more than likely be in a dirt covered, un plowed parking lot about ¼ mile from the main classroom buildings. They do have shuttle buses though, but I have heard a rumor that they are going to start charging for them.
Jobs? (on post and off)
On post the PX and commissary are always hiring. Off post, everywhere is hiring. Jobs are not hard to come by up here. Good paying jobs can be a problem though.
Favorite aspect of this base/surrounding city?
It’s beautiful in the summer time! If you love the outdoors you will love this place.
Least favorite aspect?
Neither my husband nor I like Alaska. It is cold, prices on everything are high, and Fairbanks is rather isolated. There really isn’t much to do either. If you don’t have a good car being taken up here, be prepared to go into debt. Well even if you do have a good car make sure you have savings to fix it. The cold is brutal on your car. You need winterization, auto start is recommended (usually between $300 to $900), lines and wires will snap in the cold, and 4 wheel drive is very highly recommended. And after years of locals and natives driving in the winter up here, they still don’t know how to drive, there are a lot of wrecks. Internet service assigns you only so much in downloading a month and if you go over, be prepared to pay big time. Be prepared, as oil prices skyrocket, so is the heating fuel, the main source of heating. Overall we find Alaska to be more of a hassle than fun.
As for the base, its nice, but its very very spread out. The opportunities for spouses are often rather uncoordinated and under publicized. The only way I ever found out about our FRG was by accidentally meeting the FRG leader at the nail salon! I still haven’t found contacts for the spouses club other than postal mail. The events and groups that are easy to find seem to be mostly aimed towards families with children. Although childless families can usually participate, they don’t really fit in. For other events that the soldiers are told about, they are often told of them too late or on very short notice. We had a 4 day notice for 1-24’s annual ball.
Local websites? (base, chamber, newspaper, schools, etc.)
http://wainwrightcsc.org/1801.html spouses club
http://www.wainwright.army.mil/sites/local/ Ft. Wainwright
http://www.uaf.edu/ local university
http://www.newsminer.com/ local paper
Any other tips?
Stay active! It’s easy in the three months of summer, but its harder in the winter. Probably 80% of the new comers to this state that I have met have gained about 10 pounds within a year of being up here (I went from 118 to 129) also shop for as much as you can in the lower 48 before coming up here. Clothes and such are expensive and there isn’t much selection up here. Many online stores won’t ship to Alaska or the prices are much higher (Victoria secret for example, add and additional 50% on to regular shipping prices!)