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JBER Post Review (Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson)

1. Your name (as you would like it to appear):

Sunshine

2. Army Post Location:

Anchorage, AK

3. Dates When You Lived Here (please include year):

2013-present

4. How is housing? On-post? Off-post?

In my opinion, if you have the money and are enlisted then definitely live off post.

On-Post: It’s a crapshoot.  There are brand new houses, updated houses, old houses, and ridiculously old houses.

New appliances or barely working 1980’s appliances, central heating, floorboard heating; gas ran, electric ran, electric and gas ran houses; big backyards, small backyards, new decks, old decks that literally fall apart under your feet; basement, no basement; jr. enlisted in sr enlisted housing, sr. enlisted in jr. enlisted housing.

Aurora Military Housing runs it all pretty poorly.  They definitely do not adhere to any normal regulations of rank or family size.

Our house was filthy when we moved in, even though their move-in inspection stated it was all new and clean.  AMH is slippery that way. Make sure you document everything when you move in and take pictures.

There are a ton of “banned dog breeds”, trash in the playgrounds, unsupervised kids, multiple couples doubling up in on-post housing.  And there is an epidemic of people doing everything in their front yards as opposed to the back: bbq, parties, firepits, spouse smoking groups, etc.

This is our first time living on-post so maybe it’s just par for the course, but we will definitely be moving as soon as our 1 year lease is up.

Off-Post:  Anchorage, Eagle River, Chugiak all have amazing neighborhoods.  Anchorage has its bad areas Mtn. View, City View, Dimond, Mid-Town are questionable, I would not live there; however, driving through in the daytime, shopping, and going to restaurants are all fine.

Palmer, Wasilla, and Girdwood are extremely beautiful areas all about 45 minutes away.

5. Rate the PX and Commissary.

Commissary is great.  Beef is extremely inexpensive and of good quality.  All the local fish and crab are outrageously priced on and off base?!

We buy our organic milk and yogurt at Walmart as it’s significantly cheaper.  Produce is usually good.  There are a lot of great organic markets and a farmer’s market in town as well.

PX….sigh…no Bueno.  Clothes, furniture, household goods, basic products are just sad.  Cosmetics, electronics, guns, AK merchandise is better,  It’s like they send all the stuff the lower 48 didn’t want to  AK.

6. Are there activities on post? Is there lodging on post?

Yes.  Just like with most things in AK, everything is about enjoying the outdoors.  They have Hillberg Ski Area, Otter Lake Recreational Area, Cottonwood Park, and a ton of sports fields and parks.

They have an indoor play area for kids called Arctic Oasis, 2 gyms each with a pool, indoor virtual hunting, and golfing game.

The events we’ve been to on-post have been consistently mediocre. Luckily, there are many of the same celebrations happening in town that have been fun and well planned.

7. What is there to do in the area?

It’s Endless really.  Hiking, Biking, Running, Ski/Snowboarding, Climbing, Glaciers, Cruises, Kayaking, Berry Picking, Forging, Play Groups, Camping, Hunting, and fishing.  There are great restaurants, shows, and community events.

8. Rate the school system.

I know Eagle River, Chugiak and Girdwood have amazing school ratings.  There is a variety of Montessori, Waldorf, and other private schools.

9. Are there colleges in the area? Please list.

UAA and APU are the only ones I know of besides a beauty and massage school.

10. How is the job situation? What types of jobs are in the area for spouses?

It’s like anywhere if you’re educated/trained in a certain area or trade, it will be easier to find a job.  There are always jobs on NAF, USAJobs, and Craigslist.

11. Favorite aspect of the post and surrounding area?

We really love it here.  We are an extremely outdoor-oriented family so it’s Heaven for us.  The Aurora Borealis is awesome.  The wildlife is exciting.

The overall vibe with the locals is happy and laid back.  Great microbreweries too!

12. Least favorite aspect?

The dark is challenging.

13. Any other tips or information?

Get out and explore.  Try new things.  Start buying cold-weather gear before you get here otherwise it’s a really big expense all at once.

Get a “happy light”.  Enjoy and take full advantage of living somewhere so extraordinary.

Learn AK history, it may surprise you as it did and continues to surprise me.

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