My Review on Living in Military Housing
I have waited months to write and publish a review of the military housing on Fort Ord in Monterey, California. Please note this is my opinion, and everyone will have a different experience and opinion. We moved out of military housing in April 2017.
Let me first start by saying, my husband has been in the military for 15 years and this was our first time living in military housing. We thought it was going to be easier just to live in military housing for the 2 years we were stationed in Monterey. We made the decision when we moved from Hawaii to Monterey mainly because we sold our Hawaii home in less than 3 weeks, had a 15 month old daughter that husband needed to get reacquainted with, and my husband returned from a 7 month deployment three weeks before we were leaving the island. The decision to move into military Housing eliminated the countless hours we would have spent looking for rentals and adding another stressful event.
We have now moved out of military housing and are in our next duty station. Let me begin by explaining, from the beginning, our experience with housing.
Review of Our Military Leasing Process:
First and foremost, when we arrived, we had already signed paperwork while we were in Hawaii to hold a home sight unseen. We had a lease signing date set up prior to moving. However, when we called the day before to confirm the signing, were told the home was not ready so the housing office pushed our meeting back a few days to give them time to prepare the home. Now remember, we are living in a hotel with a toddler and extending our stay was not ideal! When we arrived at our next signing appointment, were told the house still was not ready but there were two other available homes they could show us. We looked at the homes, but both were two story homes and we decided we wanted the one story we already selected. One of the biggest reasons we wanted the one-story was having a 15 month old and stairs is a lot of work! Also, we really liked the large backyard and the location because the you could walk into the woods just by walking out your back door. Anyways, after waiting a week we were finally able to move into the one story home.
Once we moved in the house, we immediately realized how, let’s say, well lived in it was. We didn’t recognize how dirty the house was at the walk through since we were in and out the home within 5-10 minutes. Now my rule of thumb is to carry a paper towel, wet the paper towel and drag the towel on the ground, countertops, etc to really see how dirty and dusty everything is. Right after we got in the house, I had to run out and buy cleaning supplies because the level of cleanliness was not up to par and our household goods were not available yet. Specifically, the carpet was old and worn out, and after a month I mentioned to housing and they were stern that the carpet was in better condition than most. Also, the mailbox key and the mailbox they told us to pick up our mail from never worked. It took two weeks for the leasing office to tell us they told us the wrong mailbox and gave us the wrong key.
A few months later, the housing company had a contract change and a new company came in to manage military housing. To say it was not a seamless handover, is being kind. I think the biggest thing was the outgoing company forgot to mention that there was a upcoming change in contract for the trash, so we were without trash pick up for like a month while they figured all that out! However, on the plus side, I did notice the new company changed things and was trying to make the community better. The new company dumped a lot of money into home improvements like solar panels, new exterior paint, new fences (for some neighborhoods), new roofs and more. Another nice change the last management company took 5-6 months to send me the community newsletter, but once the new company took over I started to receive via email weekly.
Monterey, California Military Communities:
The Monterey area has two big military communities with small neighborhoods within the community – La Mesa and Fort Ord. Both communities are managed by the same company and have the same floor plans. La Mesa is located in the city and homes newer but they are also closer together, but there less inventory than in Fort Ord. Also, La Mesa is closer to both NPS and DLI in Monterey and Fort Ord is closer to all the shopping areas like Target, the commissary, exchange, civilian grocery stores, etc. Fort Ord’s sought after neighborhoods are Doe Park and Fitch Park. Doe Park has the newest homes and is closer to the fitness center, the “super park”, CDC, Commissary, Exchange, and pool. Most people prefer to live in La Mesa and, strangely enough, talk down about Fort Ord homes and location like it was some sort of status symbol…it was very odd.
What to Really Expect in the Housing:
I feel if they take your entire BAH for 2-3 years, they can at least afford to replace the carpet before each new lessee. I mean, lets take an O2 with dependents who is receiving $3,135 in BAH per month. If they live in Monterey military housing for two years, they will pay over 75k in rent! And if you have allergies to pets – make sure to tell them in advance since you can almost guarantee pet dander will be in carpet because they only change it every 5-6 years. Personally, I am allergic to dog dander and suffered with hives the entire time we lived there. Also, you can expect that you will get the cheapest appliances, the cheapest carpet and flooring available. There will be no upgraded items in the home, however, our home had ceiling fans in every room but this was rare and many friends did not. There was very little closet space and overall everything just felt old and outdated. Now I don’t want to feel like I am complaining, but the backyards left much to be desired. Now it is not really their fault that California is a desert but they stopped landscaping the backyards and as a result our yard was just dirt and weeds (see picture below where we laid faux grass). What we ended up doing was we bought artificial grass for about half the yard and covered the rest in wood chips. Lastly, not that you will need it very often, but the homes have no air conditioners. So on those rare hot days, just plan to leave the home and hang out at Target or other stores that do have air conditioners.
We feel we overpaid for what we were getting and did not enjoy our military housing experience; it was our first time and probably our last time. We had friends that lived out in town and paid a lot less. My suggestion is to spend the time to look for rentals, and if you have a pet, talk to the landlord and ask for an exception to the no pet policy (most rentals in Monterey do not allow pets). However, if you do go through Military housing in Monterey, make sure you inspect the home to make sure cleaned and cleaned recently. We noticed that many homes sat empty for months, if not a year or more. Again, this is my opinion, and a run down of my own experience, YMMV. Good luck and let me know if you have questions about where to look in the Monterey area.