I enjoy sharing my experience in living at various Air Force bases.
Air Force Base Reviews
When you fill out your "dream sheet," you are forced to list 10 stateside bases as well as 10 overseas bases. So it is best to be prepared. Keep in mind that you may not get anything on your list (my wife and I didn't). However, I enjoy the prospect of increasing my odds of being stationed somewhere deemed suitable. I would like to indicate that I will not be listing bases that are considered "deployments." Should you make a base of preference, that will be your assigned duty station for the next two years.
Best Air Force Bases Overseas
Here are some of the best bases you will find overseas.
1. Kadena, Japan
This is a large base that does not have a lot of Westernized shopping. If you can’t fit in smaller sized clothing, you will be forced to order online. The commissary isn’t great and the types of food are limited. The weather is tropical and can become very humid in the summer. Nevertheless, it is great during the winter.
If you want to experience the culture, you will need to learn to drive on the opposite side of the road and cope with the narrow roadways. There is a lot to do on the island and the people are very friendly. It is a great place if your spouse does not want to work. Overall, it seems that everyone enjoyed their time at Kadena, despite some of the drawbacks.
- Good weather in the winter.
- Great cultural surroundings.
- Friendly neighbors.
2. Incirlik, Turkey
You’ll have occasional lockdowns and curfews imposed, but most people seem to enjoy their time spent here. They have a DOD school that serves 9th-12th grade and recently built a new BX. The base is small but accommodating. You are able to get gardeners and maids for a fairly cheap price to come clean and do yard work once a week (about $50 for both).
- A DOD school that serves 9th-12th grade.
- Fascinating cultural surroundings.
- Good staff.
3. Andersen, Guam
The base is small and it only takes about 45 minutes to travel from the north side of the island to the south. There are many small villages that are very friendly. The weather is great as well as the beaches. One review compared it to Hawaii but without the crowds. Travel comes easy as you can reach Japan and Korea in a few short hours.
- Easy to travel around the island.
- Very friendly villages.
- Great weather with beautiful beaches.
What Makes a Great Air Force Base?
All air force and military bases are not made the same. Some are devoid of entertainment, are run by unfit staff, have horrible food, or have horrible amenities. While we don't join the military to feel comfortable and pampered, considering how stressful the job is, it's nice to have some fun around.
What to Look for in an Air Force Base
- Great camaraderie.
- An experienced staff.
- A nearby town or city with fun things to do.
- Good weather.
Highly Rated Military Bases Worldwide
Hunter Army Airfield
El Paso, Texas
Bossier City, Louisiana
St. Clair County, Illinois
Fairfax County, Virginia
West Point, NY
Castello d'Aviano PN, Italy
Jefferson County, New York
Worst Air Force Bases Overseas
Here are some of the worst overseas bases.
1. Aviano, Italy
For the most part, you will have to live off base and may feel that Italian houses are not up to par with Western style housing. One review did happen to indicate that there is government housing, but there is usually a one to two-year wait. The base often runs out of supplies at the PX and has been considered not family friendly. Traveling can be a pain due to traffic, the on-base facilities are spread out and can be cumbersome to travel around. Typically, nothing is open in the city from noon to three. One review went as far as to refer to it as “the gates of hell,” but did not indicate much more than that. They simply said, "Do not come here!" The majority of the reviews do indicate their dislike for this assignment. There was one positive review that indicates that, for the right price, you can find a nice place to live. They also said that traveling was easy.
- You will have to live off base.
- The base often runs out of supplies.
- Traveling can be a pain due to traffic.
2. Volkel, Netherlands
It isn’t technically an AFB, so they don’t have the “normal” base facilities that you would typically see. You are forced to travel to an Army base an hour and a half away to go to the commissary or shop. You have to shop using the Euro. Savings may be hard to come by, as local shopping and driving are both very expensive. If you have children, they will have to drive roughly an hour to the nearest international school.
- Not easy to travel.
- Schools are far away.
- Not a lot of nearby entertainment.
3. Ramstein, Germany
What I am seeing from the majority of reviews indicates that Ramstein is very unsanitary. Offbase housing is nice, but expensive. The Americans there are rude and are begging to leave. One review stated that the school system is out of date (but I am unsure as to what that means).
- Expensive housing.
- Unfriendly neighbors.
Why Are Some Air Force Bases Awful?
Regardless of how tough our soldiers are, no one should feel completely discounted at their military base. There are, of course, many things we cannot control for when joining the military, but some bases are just worse than others.
Some reasons why some bases are terrible include:
- Horrible weather
- Old and broken down facilities
- An unfit staff
- Lack of comradery
More Terribly Rated Military Bases
Fort Bragg, Pope Airfield
Fayetteville, North Carolina
Naval Air Station Lemoore
Jacksonville, North Carolina
Fort Drum, New York
Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center Twentynine Palms
Twentynine Palms, California
Fort Irwin National Training Center
Fort Irwin, California
Cannon Air Force Base
Clovis, New Mexico
Minot Air Force Base
Minot, North Dakota
This content reflects the personal opinions of the author. It is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and should not be substituted for impartial fact or advice in legal, political, or personal matters.
EuroVet on January 05, 2019:
These folks are on something if they think Incirlik is prime. Did TDY rotation there. Maybe one of the worst places on Earth.
MandaPie on November 29, 2018:
I disagree, I was stationed at Aviano and it was AMAZING. Living off-base is what made it so great.
OvertheAF on January 15, 2017:
I haven't been stationed at Ramstein, but I can pass along info from friends who have, along with what I've seen from the couple of times I've visited.
There's a Chili's on base
The BX is huge
There is a gas station on base, which is convenient
It's a very busy base, so that's a drawback for many
The locals do seem rude
A friend's landlord was openly racist against black people and wouldn't rent to them
We've been in Aviano for 2.5 years now and we are more than ready to return stateside. Everything off base is closed from 12-3 and then closed after 7:30. Restaurants are open from about 11-2 and then 5 or 6-11. Most places are closed on Sunday with the exception of malls and some restaurants, which will instead be closed on a Monday or Tuesday (sometimes both). The Italians are super shitty drivers. They have a serious staring problem and have been known to talk bad about Americans in Italian right in front of them, sometimes getting caught by the Americans that can understand them. There is no on base housing so you're pretty isolated, which can really affect you before you realize it. The base is broken up into a few different areas, but there are 2 main bases, Area F & Area 1 which are a few minutes away from each other. The med group is great but the OB ward (which is still relatively new) is being phased out which is a huge disappointment considering the nearest hospital is a hit-or-miss, usually trying super hard to bank off of Americans' insurance. Car insurance here is grossly expensive due to the high rate of accidents, including when Italians bump your car and act like nothing happened. Basically the only great things about this base are the travel opportunities and the food. Other than that, you live in an area where most locals don't like you, there is very little convenience, the Internet connection will always suck, you find scorpions in your shoes, get eaten by crazy ass mosquitoes in the summer, and you may get your car broken into at some point (depending on where you live).
Tom on January 08, 2017:
Luke AFB Sucks, stationed there 5 years. Was a 7 level NCO had no decision power had to wait for civilians. It's a AFB in name only.
Cristina on May 27, 2016:
Was in Germany for six months. Most of the bad juju there are from crappy AF morale, not living in the right places--back stateside you have racist, less desirable places to live than other cities just like anywhere else. The medical group was outstanding, the travel was incredible, the local children's hospital saved my son's life. As a young woman that was raised to be respectful, I received a lot of respect and common decency right back. As far as u sanitary goes, it is no where even close to Lajes AFB since all the trash is left on the street for pick up and wild cats come in and rip to shreds everything. If you leave recyclables in the trash( clear bags), they won't pick it up. So, if you don't recycle, you probably will have a rough time. The electric and gas wasn't as expensive as Portugal and housing is decently priced.
Lajes is no longer accompanied but was a great duty station.
Rstein and Landstuhl was wonderful.
Osan was phenomenal once you get past the main gate city and idiot airmen. Great food, great shopping, heavenly outdoor activities.
Those are the only ones I lived in. Ramstein is great outside of work and jaded idiot airmen and dependas. Osan is also great if you are like me and enjoy kimchi, outdoors, historical sites, and dollar stores.
SSGT HamNEggs on March 17, 2016:
Ramstein was amazing when I was there. Folk might have a hard time if they themselves are rude and do not appreciate different cultures. It astounds me that there are folk who live in Germany and NOT find it awe inspiring. I loved talking and hanging out with the German folk. Things are quite a bit more expensive off base in some stores, but they have better structure, work environment, and travel than my experiences in PACAF. Well, Osan AB was a pretty great base, too. I just couldn't stand most of the single airmen.
Shannon Cowart on May 06, 2015:
Yes, Germany is great. Traveling around Germany is lovely, However RAB is NOT a great base. We were there for four years and I just couldn't stand how that base was ran. Mostly based on my husbands squadron and the low morale that his squadron had. I heard from a lot of spouses that morale was low in most squadrons. That being said. I don't think I'd ever want to be stationed at Ramstein ever again.
If looking at the outside of base, the cost of living is high and COLA doesn't even begin to cover it. Travel isn't as "easy" and "Cheap" as some make it sound. Yeah you can find SOME bargains but when it comes down to off base housing, the land lords have the inside word and pretty much can raise and lower the rent from just looking at what my husband was given for housing allowence, I mean even to the point where there is a blacklist for land lords trying to screw people out of money.
I can't say that all Germans were rude. I had met some amazingly kind Germans who really were VERY helpful when asked in a respectful manner. It has it's up's and down's but if my husband were to be given orders there again I'd cry.
Mex on June 29, 2014:
Compared to the other GSUs of Spangdahlem, Volkel has the best facilities and host nation support. Additionally the Queen of the Netherlands provides them with free coffee and small Xmas gifts every year. Volkel also has an AAFES shoppette whereas Buechel, Kleine Brogel, and Ghedi do not.
This list isn't very comprehensive... Missing a ton of bases.
radar4ever from Waddell, Arizona on March 30, 2014:
How many of these were double-checked against the infamous PCS-tool every servicemember uses to plan their next move? SITES or STANDARD INSTALLATION TOPIC EXCHANGE SERVICE has a wealth of budget and lifestyle comparison data. You just gotta be on your DoD computer network to access...
radar4ever from Waddell, Arizona on March 30, 2014:
What the heck is wrong with your data collecting for OCONUS bases? I have traveled extensively throughout European and Korean air bases, including all the main operating bases (Lakenheath/Mildenhal, Spangdahlem, Ramstein, Aviano, Incirlik, Osan, and Kunsan), then many of the smaller stations, kasernes, and posts in Germany. I spent nine years in Germany, PCS-ing, visiting, shopping, and working at many of these places, so I have an exceptionally good idea of what is available and what it costs military members to live there. Ask someone next time...
Ready to go on March 30, 2014:
How Kadena is tops is beyond me. Curfew for the last 1.5 years due to TDY Navy guys who were accused of raping a woman here (that story was still a little suspicious). Besides the ocean (which gets old) and scuba, there isn't a whole lot to do. After a year of being here, you have done it, ate it, and seen it all. Depending on the Yen rate, it can be expensive. The people are looking to rip you off whenever possible. I pay $2000+ for my apartment that would cost half the price in the states. I understand the economy is different here, but they won't negotiate on certain houses because they know who will pay for them. If you are mil to mil they love that because they will try to put you in a house that's around $3500-4000 a month (which is the max OHA for mil to mil depending on rank). Traffic is horrible and pray you don't get into an accident with a local because no matter what, you will pay some kind of deductible due to their laws. The people here drive RIDICULOUS. I've never seen someone make a right turn from the far-left lane on a 6-lane road before. If you mess up here it will be broadcast all over the papers. The only friendly people here are the ones who want your money (i.e. restaurants and shops) the rest could care that we are here. They constantly protest about Americans on island. The weather is nice and the food is good, but not worth the curfew or the limitations we have. For being a grown adult I've never felt so stripped of my freedoms as I have here. As an NCO I'd expect more freedom to come and go rather than worry about having my commander called because I drove up to the gate after midnight (has happened)
momofthree on March 30, 2014:
I lived in germany for sometime and yall are giving Greg such a hard time. Living in germany we have met very few who like it there as well. Trust me my husband and I always try to be positive and look for the good in everything and I honestly have to say I agree with greg. My husband works with a lot of germans and he has told me crazy things about there work ethics as well.... also we lived off base and decided to move on due to our landlords daughter and son in law harassing us no stop. Even to the point of them telling my littles that they were stupid Americans. We have never been rude or nasty in any way. It is dirty I agree they do not have garage cans anywhere. ... traveling is nice but expensive considering the dollar is worth less plus 19% tax yes they have vat forms to get ride of the tax but you still have to pay for those as well. We are making the best out of it but unfortunately greg is correct.
Bill on March 30, 2014:
Greg, you sound like a typical ROAD Sgt who has nothing better to do but complain. Have you ever given it a thought and said hey, maybe the locals are rude because the U.S soldiers before have displayed worse behavior?? I remember the Army guys stationed there a few years ago went a around starting bar fights and so on so yes the locals are going to label any uniform wearing person as a bad person. For being overseas for 20 years and in the military for 23 years you sure sound ungrateful and unappreciative of the things you could have enjoyed while being overseas.
Joan on March 27, 2014:
Greg, how come you spent that many years overseas, if it is that awful??? The extra money was too good, huh? You would think that living in a different country would open your mind and get a different view on things, but not in your case!
Nicole on March 27, 2014:
Ramstein is unsanitary hahaha that is a joke! And if you want rude people come to Aviano lol
Greg on March 26, 2014:
I have been overseas for 20 of my 23 years in the AF. Ramstein is by far the worst base. The locals are the rudest people I have ever met and there is no such thing as good customer service anywhere around the base. The people are a little better when you travel away from the base but let's face it, you spend the majority of your time close to the base. I don't even want to get started on their work ethic either. Don't make them mad or they will be on sick leave forever! I had one guy move desks in October, the next day he had a sick slip for one week. It is now March and he still hasn't came back to work. This place will be beautiful in my rear view mirror!
Jace on July 31, 2013:
I lived in Spangdahlem, and we went to Ramstein a lot, I don't know anyone whuo hates living in Germany period. It isn't like America, but what do you expect, it is Europe. I would do it again in a heart beat, anywhere in Europe.
SSgt Olson on May 04, 2013:
I loved Ramstein and lived in Landstuhl. So much to do there