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PCS Season in an Off-Base Neighborhood – Not the Same

It is the first PCS (summer) season we haven’t moved in the last three years. It is also the first time since we were first married that we have lived off base. Since we live in a “normal” neighborhood (i.e. a mix of retired, active duty and civilians) I didn’t expect to see much change around the neighborhood. But since we returned from a vacation a couple weeks ago, I am surprised by the number of “for rent or for sale” and “annual rental property” signs around our community. It seems like every other house had been emptied by one family and waiting for a new family to move in.  

I hate to admit it, but I do not know a lot of my neighbors. It is a quiet neighborhood-no sidewalks, pool or playgrounds (note to self for next move - closer playgrounds!) There has been a friendly hello or nod as we pass each other, but for the most part, everyone seems to keep to themselves. Most days, I feel like I am the only stay-at-home mom (with toddlers) around my circle, which is a new feeling. When we lived on base, I felt like the demographics were different. Everyone was similar to myself – they were a working spouse or new mom with one or two kids at home. There were always kids at the playground or moms walking or running with strollers. It was easy to make friends. When a family moved, the home was quickly repainted and filled with a new family.

But here in a “real” neighborhood, PCS season isn’t the same. The streets are quiet, there are not many kids riding bikes around or families taking after dinner walks. And the houses are not always quickly filled with a new family. Some of them have been empty for months. Some will be someone’s forever home.  I am not quite sure if we will make new friends this summer. And although we have a good routine here, and good friends in our lives around town, it would still be nice to feel that community vibe while walking around our own neighborhood.

Don’t get me wrong, I have some awesome neighbors! But, I miss the small talk and making stops in every other driveway to catch up with friendly faces. I miss the playmates for my kiddos at the playground, the constant sound of giggles or screams of kids scooting by on bikes and skateboards and fresh baked goods being delivered from another spouse as a welcome to the neighborhood.  

I can’t believe I miss living on base during PCS season. Most times it’s a difficult time of year to say, ‘See ya later’. But I am missing the predictability of one family moving and another arriving, almost immediately. It is always a new chance to make new friends with a possibility of long lasting friendships.  

I am not so sure what to expect in a normal neighborhood from here on out. But you don’t have to be a military family to have common courtesy or make new friends. Neighbors - military or not - are always going to be there, living on base or off. So this year, I will have my friendliest military spouse face on with store bought cookies (baking is just not my thing, as we have learned!) and hope to make some new friends in our neighborhood.

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