Tag Archives: pcs

The Best Offense is a Good Defense

Whether it’s new to you or you’ve been doing it for 20 years, finding a career when you’re a military spouse can be truly challenging. You feel like you’ve finally settled in and found something you enjoy (or at least something that pays), and then your service member gets orders and off you go again. It’s a tough part of the lifestyle, but it’s what you signed up for when you said “I do”. While no one can offer you the end-all-be-all solution for this conundrum, I’ve put together some of my best advice to help you try to minimize the sting of giving up one job and looking for another.

  • Always Have the Mentality You’re PCSing Soon

This might be the last thing you want to do, especially right after you’ve completed one, but it will keep you competitive (not to mention less stressed). While your employer may not want to think about losing you as soon as they hire you, they know you’re a military spouse. So, bring it up. You never know if they may be able to work something out where you can work from a home satellite office, or if they have connections around the country that could help you in the future. The bottom line is you know moving is in your future somewhere, and so does your employer. Instead of running from it, embrace it and plan for it as well in advance as you can. There’s a lot to be said for taking the bull by the horns.

  • Don’t Get Lazy With Your Resume

Most people typically only update their resumes when they need to (ie looking for a job/about to leave a job). However, if you keep yours constantly up-to-date, you’ll be ready to strike the new job market as soon as you get word. Plus, your true skillset is likely to reflect more accurately when you update it in real time.

  • Take Advantage of Employment Resources

You may not have thought of using an employment or temp agency before, but it’s a great resource. In fact, many of these organizations have special programs exclusively meant for the military spouse. This should by no means be something to rest your laurels on, but these agencies are definitely people you want to be in contact with. While many of the temp jobs can turn into full-time positions, having a temporary paycheck is better than no paycheck at all.

  • Keep Your Eye Out for Career Fairs

Career fairs can be a little intimidating, but they’re a unique opportunity. Especially in today’s world in which employers typically request applications and resumes to be submitted online, it can be tough to get a face-to-face meeting. A career fair offers you the chance to see what’s out there and turn the charm on before they have a chance to say no. Nothing makes a competitive resume stand out more than a personal introduction.

  • Consider National Companies

National companies can be an ideal place for military spouses because they can offer some sense of security. While transfers are never guaranteed, if there is a branch/office/store near wherever you’re heading, there is a good chance you can have a job waiting for you when you get there. The moral here is to make sure you’re such a great employee that the company doesn’t want to lose you.

  • Network Like Crazy

Even if your job doesn’t require it, network all the time. Especially near a base, you never know when you might meet someone that will be a great connection for you in the future. Maybe they used to live where your new base is, or maybe they’ll PCS there long before you and be able to give you a head start on career prospects. The more people you know, the more you can call on to help you down the road when the military lifestyle calls.

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The Aftermath of PCSing

When you receive orders to a new base, you immediately think of all the big things to take care of – and for good reason. You need to start planning to move out of your current residence, find a new place to live, decide if you’re going to do a DITY move or have the government take care of it, take care of all the change-of-address hassles, take care of school for the kids, etc, etc etc. But when you actually arrive and the cloud of stress and constant activity begins to settle, you find yourself getting back to your real life. And in real life, you need more than boxes, packing tape and forms.

It doesn’t unravel all at once, but bit by bit you begin to realize that you need something you no longer have a person for. You need your hair cut, a massage (if you’re really lucky), an accountant, pest control services, heating and air professionals, a handyman, a plumber, a car repair shop, a shipping store, jeweler, gym… and the list goes on. All those errands and day-to-day things you did before the move still need to be done, but there’s the added burden of needing to figure out where to go and who’s reputable.

The tough part about finding many of these types of businesses is that “word of mouth” is generally thought of as the way new customers (ie you) are referred to them. And now you’re stuck between a rock and a hard place because when you just moved, you don’t know anybody! And those you do know, you just met. Sure, they might be willing to tell you who they use, but you don’t yet know them well enough to know if their “stamp of approval” matches up with yours.

I’m not going to pretend all those things are of paramount importance, but you do need them and it’s easy to forget that you do until your car starts to smoke or your hair starts to act the way it does when it’s time for a trim. So my recommendation? Use this resource as your jumping off point. The businesses that are listed are here for the sole reasons that they understand the value of the military community to their business, they want to say thank you, and they are reputable. I used this to find just about everything I needed when I arrived, and I have yet to be disappointed. So take a look around the Business and Professional Services section of any of our base guides, give these wonderful people a call, and let them know how you found them.

And if you wish, let us know how your experience was. Tweet us @militarymedia_ or leave us a message at Facebook.com/MilitaryMediaInc

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To Rent or To Buy? Part Two

It’s a beautiful (and extremely necessary) thing the military gives its service members: BAH. When we were trying to make the decision of what to do with it (rent an apartment or house, or buy a home), we had a lot of options to weigh. At the time, we decided to rent just because it was easier and we had never owned a home before. While it was the right decision for us then, we found ourselves with four months left in our lease deciding we wanted a bigger place. Though we initially had the intent to rent a house, we quickly realized buying in this area can really just make more sense. After all, I don’t think I’ve ever seen lower home prices… especially not a mile from the beach.

So, why did buying make more sense? Well, assuming you have a budget of about $1100/month, you can find a house in a decent neighborhood with anywhere from 1000 – 1500 square feet of living space. But with buying, we were able to find a home in very nice neighborhood that we could rent for about $1400 – $1500/month whenever we have to PCS again. And here’s the kicker – our mortgage, with insurance and property tax included, would be about $100 a month less than the rentals I was talking about. Especially considering the housing market is just now rebounding but still low, it’s a good investment.

On top of that, you should consider the area. This area is gorgeous, meaning you might very well want a property here either to vacation at or eventually retire to. Even if that’s not up your alley, look at the rent I mentioned above. While I will never say it will be “easy” to find a renter, there are a lot of military installations in this area. That means there will be constant influxes of new people coming in that guess what? Need homes to rent.

While I think buying, especially here in this market, is a great move, I’m not going to pretend home ownership is all flowers and roses. If something breaks in our home, we will have to fix it ourselves or hire a handyman – no more property management office to call for free. Whenever we do PCS, we’ll either need to find a buyer or a renter instead of just vacating and washing our hands of it, like with a rental. And there will be projects. All the time (even though they can definitely be fun).

So think long and hard about what you want to do with your BAH. Consider your needs and those of your family (if applicable), and then consult a realtor. There are tons of amazing ones listed in this section (I know ours was a lifesaver), and when you’re the buyer – totally free. They get their commission off the sale of the house. It’s like using a travel agent – it makes your life simpler and it costs you nothing. Enjoy living on the Emerald Coast!

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To Rent or To Buy? Part One

It’s the classic question from the time you move out of your parents’ house (or dorm) until seemingly forever: should I rent or should I buy? There are plenty of arguments one way or the other filled with facts and opinions galore, but at the end of the day, you need to make whatever decision is right for you. And since I didn’t start writing this article to tell you nothing, here are some of the pros of renting on the Emerald Coast.

  • It makes your life easier

When it all boils down, renting an apartment just plain simplifies things. Your shower/dishwasher/stove/window lock broke? Don’t pay for a handyman – just call the maintenance office. Think you need new carpet? Great – you won’t be paying for it when it gets installed. Time for the roof to be replaced? You might suffer through some noise, but your bank account won’t budge an inch. Owning a home comes with plenty of maintenance costs and headaches, all of which are built into your rent and taken care of by the property management staff. It’s a wonderful thing.

  • You get amenities

In this area more than any other I’ve lived in, most of the moderate to nice apartment complexes come with a lot of amenities that can make you feel like you’re in a great hotel (in a good way). It is not uncommon to find a complex that offers one or multiple pools, a sauna, a workout facility, a business center, free coffee and/or snacks in the clubhouse, playgrounds, putting greens, tennis courts, basketball courts, car wash stations, etc. It’s really pretty impressive. And the best part is the rent costs are much less than what you’ll find in most areas of the country.

  • You meet a lot of people

PCSing means leaving behind the friends you made at one duty station and finding new ones wherever you’re going. While you’ll still have neighbors living in a single family home, there are many more people living in an apartment complex. And from what I’ve seen around here, it makes meeting friendly people much easier. You’ll not only meet your immediate neighbors, but you might bump into other people at the mailboxes, the pool, the gym, etc. Apartment living offers a great opportunity to feel welcomed much more quickly after you arrive.

  • Military Discounts

Aside from the benefits of the VA loan for home buyers, you don’t exactly see military discounts offered off the purchase price of the home or your closing costs. But many rental apartments offer discounts that make the process of moving in more affordable. For instance, you could find you’re able to have your application fee waived, background check fees waived, and security and pet deposits cut in half. All in all, several hundred dollars of discounts. Not too shabby.

  • You can be in and out

Signing an apartment lease gives you a whole lot more flexibility and less stress when it comes to the possibility of getting orders again. It may be the last thing you want to think about when you’re in the process of PCSing, but you must always realize unexpected orders are a very real possibility in the military. When renting an apartment, it is quite simple to walk down to the leasing office with a copy of your orders and an intent to vacate letter and get on with your list of to-do’s. At that point, you can move on and wash your hands of it without any stress – something we all need when we’re preparing to move.

Like I said, everyone is different and you need to make the decision to the rent or buy question on your own. However, the above are what I have found (in my personal experience) to be important things to consider. So, take a look through the Apartments and Rental Properties sections in the Eglin Guide (eglinguideonline.com) and Emerald Coast Military Directory (ecmdonline.com) and check out some of the great communities offered here. I promise you won’t be disappointed!

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Not Your Typical Unicorns and Leprechauns Network

There are networks everywhere. But no matter how ubiquitous the term seems, each one seems to take on a form of its own. Some are pretty formal and some are so informal you’re pretty sure they don’t even really exist. It has gotten to the point that if someone mentions a “network”, all you’re sure of is that somewhere along the way a group of people got together and decided they should be called something.

In some respects, the Pro Military Business Network is no different. Some smart people in an office one day decided a bunch of businesses should come together and be called something. It’s tangible and it’s intangible. But, here’s the difference: it’s more than just a pretty name that makes you feel good inside. And, even better, it’s adapting, changing, expanding, and becoming something more useful to everyone involved. Because, let’s be honest here, with technology and business moving as it is today, this thing could have been created last week and already be outdated.

Before I go into what’s happening next, you might want to know what has happened already. The Pro Military Business Network (or PMBN as I like to call it… and I’m sure the acronym-centric military would, too) is a group of businesses that really exist, and that support and love our military community. They are of our same belief that without the military, they wouldn’t be here, and that needs to be recognized and celebrated. They have all come together through our super talented graphics department, sales department and marketing department to form a website. Now, I’ll stop boring you.

Let’s say you’re PCSing or TDYing, or you already live here and you’re looking for a salon, or a car repair shop, or a realtor… or anything. And there’s 52 types of the business you’re looking for. So, what do you do? Right now, you probably roll the dice or explore Yelp forever, and 9 times out of 10 end up at a place you really don’t want to be – trying really hard not to lose your temper with the person you feel you just wasted your money with. Maybe their service was sub-par, maybe they gave you that look you hate, or maybe they had an attitude when you asked if they had a military discount. All of those things are awful, and none of us want to deal with it. This is what the PMBN is here to avoid. If a business is a part of the PMBN, it means they have said they appreciate they military. It also means someone from this very company has personally gone to their location and made sure they’re the type of business we think we can stand behind. And it also means you have the convenience of having one place you can learn about them, view their ad, watch their video, and link to their website.

Now, improvements. For those of you not stationed at a base that has Military Media run their guide, have you ever needed a phone number and had a really annoying time of finding it? Of course you have. I’m really super confident of that. Why? Because I had the wonderful, but necessary, task of looking for the phone numbers for EVERY SINGLE BASE in EVERY SINGLE BRANCH in the free country. It took forever, and it was terrible. But now, once we get our update done, you can go to the PMBN, find your state, click on your base, and boom – numbers. You’re welcome. I think I’m allowed to preemptively say that because it’s going to make you’re life wicked easy. I promise. Go get your hair cut with all the time the PMBN just saved you (salons are under Business and Professional Services).

All kidding aside, it’s an awesome resource – to be a part of, or to use. And, we love to hear from you. So if there’s something you want to see (or not see), or if you have a cool idea – sound off below in the comments and tell us! Seriously. We’re small enough that if we like it, there won’t be a mile and a half of red tape and corporate forms to file before it can happen. If we like it, it’s done. Welcome to the PMBN.

Oh, and here’s a link to one of our awesome Pro Military businesses. Check it out! :

pambonadonnacpa.promilitary.net

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Beachin’ Ain’t Easy

Ready to have your mind blown? Are you sitting down? Ok, here it goes…

Florida has great beaches.

Actually, that’s an undersell. They’re some of the most beautiful in the world. And yes, I know you’ve heard that. But no matter how common knowledge it is that people come here to lounge on the sand and play in the water, you’d be lying if you said you didn’t want to know more about it. As someone who has spent most of my life on one coast or another, I know just being in a town surrounded by great beaches doesn’t mean you’re going to find that great beach. My all time favorite beach back up where I’m from in Narragansett, RI is one which is off the radar unless someone tells you about it. I promise, you won’t find it on Google.

While I may not be willing to give up that secret, I’ve been compelled to give you the inside scoop on each region’s must-visit beach here in sunny Florida. Some might be hidden gems, some might not be hidden at all. But I promise, take my advice and you won’t leave disappointed that you didn’t find what you’ve spent months imagining in your head. Grab your sunscreen, folks.

North Florida:

James Lee Park

Destin

This beach is about as good as it gets. While you really can’t go wrong with a Destin beach, this one is my favorite. It’s a little ways of a drive from the bridge and down Scenic 98, but it’s well worth it. Trademark of this area, you are almost certain to find crystal clear, blue-green water and powdery, white sand beaches. The beach is kept up very well and seeing trash on the ground is few and far between. There is ample parking, convenient pavilions and picnic tables, and several dune walkovers that allow for a great view. The beach will get busy in the summer months, but I have never seen it to the point that there isn’t hardly any room to move. The water is perfect for surfing, paddle boarding, skim boarding, body surfing, snorkeling, etc. And when you get hungry or could go for a good libation, there is a local seafood restaurant right on the beach with a tiki bar and open-air deck. It is quite literally the perfect beach to lose track of the time on.

Central Florida:

Maximo Park

St. Petersburg

St. Pete is a treat in and of itself, but this beach is really something to talk about. Aside from the beautiful, soft white sand beach characteristic of the Gulf Coast, crystal clear, warm water and litany of water-related activities, this place has it all. First of all, it has seven boat ramps – things which are for some reason shockingly tough to find. Second of all, it has beachside, covered playgrounds for the kids, picnic areas and restrooms. But what makes Maximo Park really unique are all the extras that give you an unexpectedly fun break from basking on the shoreline. Bring a bike along and take advantage of the trails, or talk a walk along the nature trail and enjoy some of life’s simple beauty. For you history buffs, there’s a 70-acre archeological site to take advantage of. I won’t spoil the story for you, but Maximo Park has an intriguing backstory that most won’t find themselves yawning through. And then there’s my personal favorite non-water attraction – the 18-hole disc golf course. For those of you that haven’t played, it’s not necessarily easy, but it’s fun regardless of how terrible you may or may not be. And to finish it all off, take a hike to the top of the 50-foot observation tower that will help you soak in all the beauty and excitement you just experienced.

South Florida

Sombrero Beach

Marathon

This hidden gem on the Florida Keys island of Marathon may not have all the bells and whistles of the other beaches we’ve covered, but it is worth a day of your time. This is one of the most pristine, unspoiled beaches you will find anywhere in the world. Not your usual white sand beach, picking up a handful will reveal to you what makes it unique. You’ll find interestingly shaped grains, shells and characteristics of the special environment that exists in the area’s warm waters. Speaking of the water, it is calm, warm and almost unbelievably relaxing. Lay down on a raft for a bit, and watch in amazement of what is around you. You’ll see dolphins playing, unusual fish swimming the world below and people with a level of enjoyment on their faces you just don’t see anywhere else. There is a playground for the kids and an expansive stretch of land that won’t leave you feeling claustrophobic. Sombrero Beach is not filled with vendors, however, so bring a cooler and plan accordingly. Even if you always need action and to be on-the-go, take a chance on this beach. I promise you won’t regret it.

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Ever Get Directed to the Hardware Store When You Wanted an Ice Cream Parlor?

Assuming you’ve moved to a new region or gone on vacation, you’ve probably experienced what I like to call “the head tilt” (you probably just tilted your head there, didn’t you?). This is when you ask a question that seems perfectly simple, but the person you are asking tilts their head and looks confused, as if you’ve just randomly decided to start speaking Russian.

Far more sly than accents that are obvious and well-known, you are a victim of your lingo. If you’ve bounced around a lot, you’re used to this. But if not, there are a few things you should know that are giving you away as an “outsider” and confusing the new people you’re talking to.

You may choose to do what you wish with this information. I, for one, might be a little obnoxious and stuck in my ways, and continue to use my messed up New England vocabulary no matter where I live. What can I say, it’s built in and I love it. But, I know as soon as I say something that I might have to explain it. Or, you can choose to rule it out altogether to be nice and allow people to better understand you. It’s your call. But it might be fun to bring a little culture to wherever you go.

Kicking off this series is your New England translation guide. The first word is what a New Englander would say, the second is what the rest of the English-speaking world would understand. We’ll do a different region next time. Between my lovely co-workers and myself, we’ve lived in just about every part of the country – so I promise, it’ll be accurate (even though the call to mess with you guys is kind of tempting).

Note: For those of you using this to find out what other people have been saying, if any word below ends in “er”, replace the sound with “ah” to pronounce it correctly.

  • Bubbler → Drinking Fountain

I’ll never forget the horror on my eighth grade, Texas teacher’s face when I asked where the bubbler was.

  • Wicked → Very

Pretty commonly known, but this wouldn’t be complete without it.

  • Bureau → Dresser

Try shopping for furniture when you move… it’s an experience

  • Cabinet → Milkshake

Seriously, the housewares shopping thing. Nightmare

  • Downcellar → Basement

More of a directional than a place. If you left something in the cellar (sella), you left it “downsella” (spelling is accounting for the accent). But, you wouldn’t say “My house has a downsella”. That’s just wrong.

  • Grinder → Sandwich/Sub

Also more commonly known, but necessary.

  • I’m all set” → I’m good / I’m fine

This is accepted in some regions, but will get you a lot of weird looks in others.

  • Jimmies → Sprinkles

You gotta get the rainbow jimmies on your ice cream cone.

  • No suh!” → No Way

I really thought this would be self-explanatory when I first started moving around… but it wasn’t

  • Packy → Liquor Store

Another one that is used in a couple of places, but will get confused looks in most others.

  • Regular Coffee → With normal amounts of cream and sugar

If you were hoping this would get you coffee with the perfect amounts of cream and sugar, you’re out of luck. You actually have to say “coffee with cream and sugar”. Black coffee is regular coffee. And if you want your coffee “extra extra”, you actually have to say “with extra cream and extra sugar”. I know… it’s the worst. I’m still trying to train my local Florida coffee shops on the right (New England) ways of ordering.

  • Side by each” → Side by side

Yep, we just like being different

  • Stuffie → A Stuffed Clam

Instead of a beyond delicious appetizer, you will be given a stuffed animal in other parts of the country. Or more likely, you will be given a look telling you you’re crazy if you ask for this in a restaurant, like I imagine you would be.

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