Living overseas has its challenges, and a commonly agreed upon one is finding that perfect place to live. To help those of us who are curious about the different options for living on Okinawa, readers have answered some of the most frequently asked questions about on-base housing. If you live in an on-base house that has not yet been featured on this site, please contact our Submissions Manager for the template.
Here’s a great link to access, too, if you’re on the fence as to whether to live on-base or off-base.
CONTRIBUTED BY JOELLE
Living On A Military Base:
1. What military base is your home located on? Kadena Air Force Base
2. What area of the island is your home located on (i.e. North Island, Central Island, etc.)? Central, near Chatan
3. What is the name of the neighborhood in which your home is located? Stillwell Park near the NCO Club
4. Generally speaking, most on-base homes are approved for occupancy based on government or military rank. If you would like, please provided the range of ranks that your home is approved for? I don’t know the range. We are E-6 with 2 kids. I had to show “proof” I was pregnant when we went to Housing (I was LARGELY 6 months pregnant so proof was sort of silly).
5. What DoDDS school district is your home attached to? Is there a school bus system available? Stearley Heights Elementary; Ryukyu Middle School; Kadena High School. No buses.
6. Please describe the “feel” of your neighborhood (i.e. pet-friendly, child-friendly, level of safety, spacious, etc.). These are the new multi-plexes (ours is a 4-plex, some are 6-plex). We have a pretty decent amount of yard behind us and it is pet-friendly – as in we’re allowed to have them — but you have to have a fence put in if you want to allow the dog free run. It’s VERY kid friendly and my son begs to go out to play with his friends every afternoon.
7. Please describe the style of your home (i.e. detached home, townhome, apartment, duplex, etc.). Multi-plex as mentioned and BRAND new. These are 2 story units with uncovered parking in front.
8. Please give general information about your home such as age, square footage, number of bedrooms and baths, number of stories/levels, special amenities, etc.). Oh dear…sq. ft.? Again, maybe someone else can help out who knows. But there is a long living/dining room (20′ x 16′), kitchen with area for a small table, 1/2 bath & washer/dryer room downstairs. Also an enclosed patio area (not covered) that is probably 14 x 14. Upstairs is 2 bedrooms (9′ x 9′ & 10′ x 11′), full bath with tub, master bedroom (11′ x 14′) with big walk-in closet and full bath (shower) in the room. No carpet, but i bought nice large carpets (up to 12×18) from the Home Store on Foster.
We brought our own bed because my husband is picky about mattresses, but we had very little furniture in our shipment. We bought a bunk bed when we arrived and a small table for the kitchen. Otherwise, we have government sofa/chair, dining table, computer desk, dresser drawers, and twin mattresses.
9. What places of services are available near your home such as restaurants, parks, shops, commissary, playgrounds, etc.? There are small playgrounds between every couple set of multiplexes. The Youth Center (with nice playground) is a couple blocks away. The NCO club is one street up and the shoppette/Burger King/video store area is within easy walking distance. The commissary is about a mile away.
10. How is parking provided for your home? There are six parking places out front for the 4 homes – we worked out with the neighbors who gets which.
11. Are there any outdoor spaces or yards provided for your home? We are in an end unit next to the street so we have the largest front and back yard. Our yard faces another set of houses and in that “in between” space the kids basically live and play. There is no fencing provided, but you can get permission to put it up.
12. What do you feel is special about your home or neighborhood – what makes it feel like “home” here on Okinawa? At our previous posting, we lived on a farm off base near NO one (also overseas). That was lovely for many reasons, but I had gotten a bit tired of being on our own – of being “the Americans who lived at the farm.” Here I’m surrounded by young families with kids the same age as mine. It was like I got a built in support group just by walking through the front door. The kids share their toys (most of the time), the adults share movies, one neighbor has a 12 year old who’s become the resident babysitter, we had potluck Thanksgiving in the back yard area, and we’re sharing Christmas lights!
The other thing that makes it feel homey to me is that I requested permission to plant flowers out front. My mom helped me do it while she was here this summer – so I have a lovely little flower garden out front (and veggies growing in planters on the patio).
Also, I have to admit I had my share of “local” living at our last posting. I like the idea of a tatami mat room (etc), but for a couple of years with very small kids it’s just nice to be surrounded by the familiar (appliances, especially). I’m just making sure we get involved in off-base cultural activities like Japanese preschool and other stuff I’ve found out about on Okinawa Hai!
13. Generally speaking, on-base housing provides for the costs of rent, utilities, and appliances. Have there been any fees or special expenses that you have had to pay for while living on a military base? Just paying someone to mow your lawn — if you’re lazy like us!
We do not receive an extra housing allowance like you do if you you’re off-base – so there is no way to make extra money (the potential huge downside). But at the same time, I have VERY few variable expenses which is great for my budget. The cable/internet is al
ways $75 and the phone bill is never more than $64. And that’s all we pay. Water, electricity and trash are included. Refrigerator, stove, dishwasher, washer/dryer are provided. We did have to buy our own microwave.
14. Are you satisfied with the maintenance that is provided for on-base housing? Haven’t had any issues yet as they are brand new. Things got cleaned up quickly after the typhoons – but we didn’t lose power at all, so I can’t comment on that type of thing.
15. And finally, please provide any thoughts on the advantages and disadvantages of living on a military base here in Okinawa? I was 6 months pregnant when we arrived and wasn’t due til the middle of what I’d heard would be a very hot summer – and we had a very large dog. So we decided that if possible we just wanted to be on base for the ease of not having to look and look for a place to live that would be right for us (and take dogs) AND for the ability to run the A/C day and night during my most swollen times!
I admit we were very lucky to get into new housing. I’ve heard horror stories about the mold issues in some of the old housing. But they are building more of these new complexes every day, so it might be a possibility for anyone arriving in the next year.
The biggest disadvantage is that we are not “out there” in the community. My kids don’t have Japanese neighbor kids to play with in the back yard. I have learned little-to-no Japanese since arriving largely because of living on base. But, for us, coming from an overseas posting, it was really nice at first to immerse ourselves in what seemed to us to be “America”. I know that might sound strange – but our previous base was so small there wasn’t even a gas station – so to have Chili’s and Taco Bell was like heaven at first. Now that has worn off a bit and I’m getting the itch (after 7 months) to learn more about Japan. And I know I’m going to have to work harder at it than I would if I was off base. But that’s on me. 🙂
16. Please provide any COMMENTS that you feel would be helpful for others about living on a military base. I love our house. I’m very happy with my on-base accommodations. But that’s just me. My biggest suggestion for people moving on island would be to get your paperwork turned in before you arrive so that you are high on the housing list and then just see what they offer you. It may be terrible, or it may be perfect like ours was for us. I think it’s all about keeping your options open. If they’d offered us two different towers options (which don’t allow pets), I’d be living off- base and writing this with a very different perspective – but we lucked out. 🙂
Want to see more? Take a look at this video by The Lovelys, who have included an example of this housing area in their Okinawa Military Housing Compilation video on YouTube from May 2016:
If you live in on-base housing OR off-base housing that has not been featured on Okinawa Hai, or in housing that has been renovated since its last post, please contact our Content Manager for the on-base housing template and instructions on how to share your little slice of Okinawa with the rest of us.
Sheena, we have a storage space just off the back porch attached to the house. It has a separate door. Unfortunately, when you open the door you feel like you’re being attacked by mold spores! There is no ventilation in the storage area and it’s YUCKY. However, we have left some things in there anyway. A few neighbors run a dehumidifier in theirs, but that is “overkill” to me (especially since there is no outlet in the room, so an extension cord has to be run). But inside the house we have one large storage space that runs completely underneath the stairs. We can fit a LOT of stuff in there. Also, our master bedroom has a walk-in closet (easily 12 ft long).
Hi Sheena, OHA usually covers what people are looking for. However, there is limited storage off base. I have seen storage units (like they have in the states) Look for a post in the near future regarding those. Hopefully, that will help you with your decision.
Thanks so much for taking the time to share pictures and detailed info on your house, especially the room dimensions, how many kids you have and your husband’s rank. We’re trying to decide if we’d rather live on or off base before PCSing and I think we’ll end up in Stillwell Park if we live on base.
Would you mind telling me if you have an indoor storage room and if so the dimensions of it?
We are leaning towards off-base housing but we really need at least one storage area and off-base housing, from what I’ve seen so far, is REALLY expensive (more than what our OHA would cover).
Thank you so much for this info. We are do to move there in Feb 2009.
We are considering a move to Kadena but I have cats-is it a big expense and problem to take pets to Japan? Thanks
Hey Stephanie! I didn’t realize it until someone else told me, but I guess the housing application for here is the same one for the housing within the states! So, you can go to your local housing office and fill that out and then fax it. When I re-applied for larger housing here I found one off the internet and they accepted that one:) I hope this helps. Oh and I spent an arm and a leg faxing stuff over to them when I guess you can do it for free at your husband’s command??? That’s something to check into also! It would have saved me at least $100 when all was said and done. Joelle…I LOVE your house! I was really wishing we could get into one of those but it looks like we can’t go beyond Shields b/c my husband works at Hansen:(
This fact sheet gives the DSN #’s for the housing offices: http://www.kadena.af.mil/library/factsheets/factsheet.asp?id=7283
If you call them, they can email you the form (I don’t remember the # of the form). It can be turned in as early as you want but you only get your name on the list 30 days before you arrive. So it doesn’t do any good to get it in 4 months before.
Thanks for all the great info. I’ll be arriving in February or March. How do I fill out papers early for the on base wait list?
Probably should add one thing to my own post in reference to the things Jennifer mentioned: We have a small storage space that has a door off of the patio. It has NO ventilation and the few things we initially put in there were moldy & yicky within weeks. Now there is nothing in there that isn’t metal. We have plenty of storage in the rest of the house, so it’s not too much of a problem… The other problems mentioned I haven’t had at all. Knock on wood. 🙂
Thanks Joelle! Very informative description and great pictures. We’re also arriving in April or May (not sure when yet). Also, a huge thanks for telling us what rank your husband is. It does really help for those of us wondering exactly what housing typical for our husband’s rank will look like. I love seeing pictures of off-base housing, but I get frustrated because I don’t know if we could afford something similar or not.
It sounds like you love it on base and I’ve heard the sense of community in Okinawa is better there than it is here. We’ve had some bad experiences in base housing with bad neighbors so we’re thinking about living off-base this time, but you’re right – there’s so much to get used to and it might be nice to have our home feel more comfortable and familiar. So much to think about! 🙂
Thanks for the help ladies. I guess we’ll figure it all out when we get there. Either way were going to have a blast. (-:
I really cannot wait!
Driving time from Foster to Kadena is about 15-20 minutes without traffic. I don’t usually run into traffic but maybe that’s because my schedule with the boys doesn’t typically coincide with the work time commute.
I don’t know much about the base housing or schools so I can’t help you there.
Tara-Just wanted to let you know that the housing for the bases here on Okinawa are run through the Kadena office. What I mean by that is that even though you may work on Foster, they may offer you housing on Kadena or Courtney (just an example). There are 4 bedroom units (individual and townhouse type). I think the wait list is the longest for these since they are the fewest. Not sure though. Good luck though with your move here!
I am glad to hear that the person posting this isn’t having any problems with their place. I also live in Stillwell Park, but in the older housing. I have a few friends who live in the new housing and all I hear is how they hate it. I have heard there is a major mold problem (I know that delayed them moving people into the new units) and people also told me it isn’t the best construction (door frames separating from the walls, etc). Hopefully they get all of the issues fixed before they open up the next development and again I am glad that all the units are not dealing with that.
Thank you so much! The pictures and information were so very helpful. It is wonderful to know what to expect when we arrive in May. Your garden is beautiful!
We are due to arive April 10th. I so appreciate you all putting up pics and the comments. How great is this blog!
Looks like my husband will be working on Foster (we thought it was Torri). We are an Army fam. He is an E-8 and we have 4 kids. Will probably be bringing our dog. Any advice on housing on Foster, are there many 4 bedrooms there or better chances somewhere else. How far is the drive between Kadena and Foster and how do the schools seems to be on either.
I really didn’t mean to ask so MANY questions. We are super excited to get there.