Ft Wainwright Army Post Review

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Base Name:

Ft Wainwright

Base Location:

Fairbanks, AK

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. 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.

School System?

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.)

https://www.wainwrightcsc.org/index.html spouses club

https://home.army.mil/wainwright/index.php Ft. Wainwright

http://www.uaf.edu/ local university

http://www.newsminer.com/ local paper

http://www.co.fairbanks.ak.us/ParksandRecreation/PioneerPark/ pioneer park

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!)

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This article was written by a visitor to the site. All of our contributors served in the military, are married to someone who serves in the military, or have a child who serves in the military. These Army soldiers and/or family members enjoy helping others by sharing their experiences.

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  1. Maren,
    Thanks for all the tips on Wainwright. I appreciate it. My husband and I will be PCSing next summer and are starting to look thorough the housing options. I was wondering about the cabins for rent for the somewhat adventurous. I think I may look into it to explore the options. Do you have anymore information on that? Where might I find more details?

  2. Hey Ladies
    Its Oct. now and weve been up here since May…after spending a year in Florida with family during my husbands last deployment, I’m glad we came up in such a warm month initially. We have been in 7 years. Stationed at RTB in Dahlonega Ga, and Ft.Stewart Ga. Alaska was quite a new concept. We have 4 children under 6 and although we are an outdoor family there are some issues I’m finding for the lack of indoor activities to do with our 3 under 3 as it becomes colder outside (in the 20s now). Honestly if you have school aged children I don’t see their being an issue. My oldest in almost 7 and if we had 4 his age there would be more options. With my oldest I take him out bowling on post,to the movies,putt putt,lazer tag on post ect…when you get here check out THE LAST FRONTIER…I didnt find out about it for months expecially since we live off post. It has events there through the month for children and thier parents..this month there is family movie night Madagascar 3,free bouncy house night (children over 4),and the halloween party for families. Although they don’t hold as many things as I think they should, it is a good resource for info. for things to do with your kids….they have a toddler and baby playgroup that meet there for a “gym” type class on a small playground.
    Before comming up here I looked on this site trying to prepare myself for the new surroundings and used the first ladies post as a refferance…they are right about the shopping. Honestly I wish they had a TOYSRUS here because christmas is comming up and even if you go to Walmart around payday it has been picked through horribly…so get it while you can…and take advantage of store to store shipping (free) with walmart if you need things for the kiddos. The Barnes and Nobles here is awesome….Ive seen alot but never one like they have here…there is a HUGE starbucks and a fireplace with cozy chairs around it inside the store…I take my 3 year old daughter there when the weather is bad…we sip a frap and read books…their childrens section is pretty large. WARNING! when it starts to get cold…sanitize your hands EVERYWHERE even more than usual….all of the military families I know, got the most horrible FLU…we just got over it…if your not from around here your body doesnt have the immunities built to the localized colds/virus…not to mention all of the ppl flying in for business bringing it from other areas…lots of military=lots of sick ppl and spreading this in stores as well….take it seriously please..and get your FLU shot on arriving ASAP…
    We live off post and have a sled team/sled….although I am nervous about the Darkness/Cold…there are things to look forward to in winter such as Snowboarding/skiing/sledding…and I hear they make playgrounds out of ice here for the kids. Also the North Poles Santa house was neat for the kids….If you come in summer the Daylight will be hard to get used to at first….and the mosquitos! WOW! but suprisingly the OFF fans do work…if you dont have reppelent on be prepared to even get bit through your clothes…once the daylight starts to go away, you will probably miss it as I did….It was beautiful and fishing was amazing….Autumn was just as beautiful if not more…We got some amazing pictures! And the drives where priceless 🙂 still havent made it to Denali, but its definatley on the checklist. OH! also the ppl are very friendly here…you have crabby ppl everwhere you live I’m sure….but for the most part I find them very friendly, our neighbors…as well as our sons school are very nice. The standards in school are lower than the lower 48, more like I remember it as a kid. More play, less homework…Florida was crazy with their workload, even the teachers thought it was nuts. My son is definatly happier here

    1. Hello, thanks for the information!!!! My husband is currently deployed and just got orders to Fort Wainwright for June 2013… we are EXCITED!
      However I am very nervous about the trip… we have 3 children ages are 1, 7 and 8 year old. Now ive read alot of posts saying they drove there….. i dont think i can do that lol. We are currently at Fort Stewart and Im a lil bummed leaving this place , but i was wondering if we would be able to fly instead of driving ?? I dont know the details quite yet but will know more when DH returns. How are the housing on-post ? Do u like living off-post?

    2. I was curious about housing as well! My husband will be PCSing there in mid-July, and I was hoping there would
      a.) be more info on housing
      b.) be a more active MWR/Army Spouses club as we will be a freshly minted married couple at the end of this month and eeeeeek is this army stuff new to me!

  3. Sarah
    There are several realtors that you can contact and just surfing on line might find you something
    If you go with a realtor I’d avoid West Madden
    Every thing I have heard about him is negative, nearly no positive

    If you are big outdoorsie I’d advise seriesly looking at a 4wheerer or a snow machine(snow mobile), with a long winter these can be great opertunities to get outside and have some fun
    Definly bring lots of warm winter gear, big coat, snow pants, winter boots (dispute looks bunny boots are amazing), several pairs of hats and gloves (expect to lose several sets), and finally allways be prepared
    Keep enough spare gear in your cars to take care of your passengers in case of an emergency, winter can be very cold and if you breakdown you should always be prepared, emergency services can take some time to respond and even 10 mins of exposure to -30 to -40 can be extremely harmful, don’t let that scare you though, with just a little preparation you can have a wouderful time enjoying to beauty of the harsh Alaskan winters

    In summery, realtors (but not West), ATVs, and ALWAYS be prepaited (even a spare set of gloves can prevent much suffering)

    PS being adventurous is fun and all during the summer but when winter hits, having to use an outhouse during -20 with wind is just miserably, dispute the attractions of the cheaper cost you will pay the difference in quality of living, so enjoy your cabin during to summer but move to an appertment well before winter comes

    PPS. Alaska Is a great place to live, I’ve mostly addressed the parts to avoid, but to see a taste of the good all you have to do is look at some of the tourist stuff, Alaska, and Fairbanks is a beautiful place to live, I’ve been here more then 7 years and hope to never leave

  4. We are in Savannah, Ga. (near Ft. Stewart) with orders for Ft. Wainwright in April. This is as far north as I’ve ever lived, so the thought of Alaska rendered me speechless for a few days! We’ve never lived on post but are strongly considering it this time. We are in the ‘kids grown, now we have little dogs’ stage of our lives. I would love your opinions on housing options in town/post for people who will be entirely out of their element.
    Thank you for the shopping advice! We will definitely stock up on everything before the packers arrive. Your experience with UAF was informative as well. I was perusing a couple of their graduate programs in hopes of making the best use of my time while there. (I’m an architectural historian – not much in the way of work for me in Fairbanks.) We always look at these moves as great adventures but this one has me nervous. I really appreciate all of your insight – it is such a relief to know we won’t be dumped on a sheet of ice between a bear and a moose with nothing but a woobie!

  5. My husband and I are suppose to leave here in 13 days! I’m freaking out! We have yet to find housing and all the hotels/motels seem to be a bit pricy! We have a horse coming up at the end of May so we are looking to live off post so that we don’t have to pay an arm and a leg for board! We have been looking in Fairbanks and North Pole, this is the first I’ve heard of NP being a bad area. Our friends have all lived there and recommended it. Have things just changed?

  6. am from the island and i have 2 kids a 3 year old girl and a 6 month year old boy and my fiance is still in
    training, but they assigned him to alaska, so will be going there in 4 months from now, we are so us to the hot sun
    and am just worried sick of my kids not being use to the cold. advice please do you think its gna be good for my kids..

  7. Hello ladies,
    My husband,kids, and I should be in wainwright in a few weeks. So far my experience from Texas and contacting those on post housing division leisons etc has been exceptional. If your lost on stuff to do alaska has a clan derived they put out every year in January with all scheduled events and such. We just found out we were going to alaska and I cried but then with a little research the excitement has kicked in… well all except trying to figure out how the heck I am gonna adjust to the temp different between texas and alaska lol…till we can join you 🙂 happy wind chills ladies

  8. Hi! my fiancé has been at Fort wainwright for about 4 months now and we are getting married this summer. I will be moving up with him in July. All of his things (car, minimal furniture, etc.) are here with me in Indiana… Will the army pay to ship it to Alaska since he will no longer be in the barracks and basically has nothing right now? Sorry ladies I have no idea where to get answers to my questions!

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