I tend to forget that less than 1% of the population serves in the military; that means there are even fewer military spouses! There is a reason it seems like we live in such a small world and that was proven when I was pleasantly surprised to meet Cameron, founder of MilitaryTownAdvisor.com, at the Military.com's Military Blogger Conference. Not only is she a fellow Navy spouse; she is a fellow Texan and graduate of Texas A&M University! Whoop! Even without all we have in common, I am excited about the site she has founded and all of the help it can be to families while preparing for a PCS!
Here is a little about Cameron:
My husband and I met at Texas A&M our senior year. We shared the same major and started dating. After school was out, we both moved to Houston and my husband began working for his family and I worked at a bank. After experiencing the 'real' world and being unsatisfied, my husband decided to fly for the Navy. We married and moved to Kingsville, Texas for his advanced training in jet aviation. We both are Texans and have enjoyed moving around with the Navy, but hope to move back to Texas one day where we can have grandparent close by to help raise our kids.
How did you come up with the concept for Military Town Military Town Advisor.com?
As newlyweds, my husband and I were stationed in Kingsville, Texas. I was new to military life and the only information I knew was that we were either going to a base on the East or the West Coast. I immediately began researching both coasts and attempted to gather as much information as possible. I quickly learned that the majority of information that can be found on the internet about towns and areas are tourist guides and statistics about the demographics of the area. I felt my only other option was to go on Facebook and ask other military families; they always suggested areas that were good for their lifestyle, not areas that fit my family's needs. I ended up discouraged and resigned to the fact that I could not go any further in my research until we received our orders.
When we got our orders and were headed to Virginia Beach, we spent seven days looking for a place to live. We contacted a realtor and she started showing us homes. She took us all over Hampton Roads and didn't really listen to our needs. This took up a lot of time and we wanted to buy a house all in a week's time frame. Needless to say, we were extremely nervous about picking a house in the right area. Luckily, we found a house in a great area, close to the base, with good school districts; however, this was not the outcome for many of our fellow military families. Some of our new friends chose homes far from base where it may have been more cost effective, but they ended up regretting being so far from the activities that are centered on the base. Also, others chose neighborhoods that were close to the base but did not end up feeling safe in those areas, especially during deployments. As each new family told me their story, the concept of MilitaryTownAdvisor.com was born. I knew that military families were the best resource for other military families. I understand the uncertainty and fear that can come with a quick move to a new part of the country, the lack of readily available information, and the need for each of us to be able to learn from each others' missteps and successes.
How is your site different from some of the other base guides out there?
First, all of MilitaryTownAdvisor's content is written by other military families in the form of reviews. It's like Trip Advisor for military towns! The reviews focus on neighborhoods, areas of towns, and schools. Military families are different than other home buyers because they aren't looking to purchase their 'dream' home. They want their families in safe, family friendly, social neighborhoods that are in good school districts and within a decent commute to base. Military families are willing to give up 'dream home' extras for a good neighborhood. The site is a way for other military families to share their knowledge about where to live.
When you get your new orders, go to MilitaryTownAdvisor.com and search for reviews near your base. Read the reviews and make note of neighborhoods that fit your family's lifestyle and needs, then use the knowledge you have gained as a base to finding a new place. I encourage you all to review some of the neighborhoods you have lived in! You never know how much your knowledge sharing could help a new military spouse!
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