Exploring the 850: Welcome to Pensacola, FL

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You’ve finally gotten your orders, and surprise: you’re transferring to Pensacola, FL!

Wait a minute; I didn’t list Pensacola as one of my choices. I don’t know anything about that area, and now I’m moving my family there?

There’s an unwritten rule of military service: at some point, you’ll be sent somewhere you’ve never thought of going, and you’ll know nothing about that area.

But never fear: PCSMoves.com is going to help you figure out some of what you might need at your new duty station and how to get your family situated. Each month, we’ll cover different regions, served by the nationwide network of real estate professionals that make up PCSMoves.com

Pensacola is the westernmost city in the Florida Panhandle, a seaport on Pensacola Bay. The first Naval Air Station in the country, NAS Pensacola, is located southwest of Pensacola near Warrington. It’s the base of the Blue Angels flight demonstration team and the home of the National Naval Aviation Museum. The closest major city is Mobile, AL. As of 2010, Pensacola’s population was 51,923.

If you’re moving to Pensacola without an immediate place to live, check out the Navy Lodge Pensacola at the Air Station. Staying at the lodge for a week or two can take off some of the pressure you might be feeling while looking for a new place to live.

Off-base options near NAS Pensacola are diverse. The suburbs of Pensacola offer plenty of housing and include Brent, Bellview, Warrington, Ferry Pass, and Ensley. Pace and Milton are northeast of the city. The Naval housing website has links to nearby single-family rentals and apartments, as well as homes for sale by owner and through an agent.

According to the Naval housing website, “The average price of a home in Pensacola is about $157,100. In all of Escambia County, the average drops to $137,000. These are lower than the Florida state average of $171,000. Rent in the area ranges from $650 to $1100, depending on size.”

NAS Pensacola on-base housing is privately owned and operated by Balfour Beatty Communities. There are 871 single family, duplex, and townhome style units in 8 neighborhoods. Choosing base housing means you’ll forfeit your entire basic allowance for housing (BAH). If the appropriate home for your family's rank and size is not available, you may be placed on a waitlist. Call the Pensacola housing office to learn more about types of homes and availability, at (850) 452-4412. 

If you’ve made this PCS move with a military pack out, you're not worried about storing your personal belongings while you’re looking for a place to live. Your household belongings may take longer to get to you, but your items can be stored for you if they arrive while you are still looking for housing.

Or, if this as a personal move, chances are you didn’t bring everything with you that you owned in your previous home. If you need to pick up a few items for your new home, NAS Pensacola does have a thrift store. It’s open on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays, as well as the first Saturday of each month.

Pensacola even has the family pet covered. If you’re bringing the family pet along on your move, call the Lodge before you arrive to find out if they’re one of the select lodges where pets are allowed. If they aren’t, the staff may be able to give you some kennel information. If pets are allowed, be sure to ask if there will be a one-time, non-refundable pet fee due at check-in.

NAS Pensacola does have a veterinary clinic. Costs of services and the products provided there are typically lower than off-base veterinary care. The clinic takes cash, checks and all major credit cards.

They treat pets for a variety of illnesses but may need to refer pet owners to civilian vet clinics if the diagnosis or treatment is beyond the clinic’s capabilities. They also don’t board animals here. If boarding your pet is required for any reason, give the clinic a call and ask whom they would recommend.

Make sure you start getting plugged into your new community as soon as you can. NAS Pensacola and NASP Corry’s Morale, Welfare & Recreation (MWR) Department share a Facebook page and have an online directory of their facilities.

If you have young children that may need care because of your work schedule, be sure to look into NAS Pensacola’s Child Development Center.

Speaking of work, NAS Pensacola’s MWR Department also has a job website, if your spouse will need to look for a job.

But your new life in Pensacola can’t revolve around what’s on-base. Get off-base and live like a local! When you get a chance, check out McGuire’s Irish Pub. It’s Reuben Eggroll was featured by Chef Robert Irvine on Food Network’s, “The Best Thing I Ever Ate,” in 2011.

If you’re still looking for more of what Pensacola is like, follow PCSMoves on Pinterest and check out our “How To PCS Like A Pro” and our “Life in Pensacola” boards. Before long, you’ll be feeling right at home in Pensacola. You’ll know you’ve become a local once people stop and ask you for directions!

Where has been your favorite place to live? Share with us in the comments! Thinking about looking for a new home because of a PCS move? Start your search with us!

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