1. Monterey, CA
Base(s): Naval Postgraduate School Monterey (Navy, Marine Corps, Coast Guard, Air Force); Defense Language Institute (Army)
Best reason to be stationed there: Monterey is large enough to offer good dining, nightlife, and shopping; small enough to create a coherent sense of community; and well situated enough to provide easy access to San Francisco, Big Sur, and Yosemite. Your mother would totally approve.
Best base amenity: Free time. Since the bases are schoolhouses, military personnel mostly work on a student schedule. This means reasonable work hours and zero deployments. But, we mean, who would even want that?
Why you wouldn't want to live there: Depending on the branch of service, some military members are allowed to wear civilian clothes to work, which may be disorienting for those who like to dress to match their friends -- or desert creatures.
Final word: It’s easy to be outside in Monterey. But more importantly, it’s easy to run into Clint Eastwood (he lives just down the road in Carmel-By-the Sea) -- so, if you're a huge Eastwood fan, this is an obvious selling point. If you didn't enjoy Grand Tarino and/or his chat with an empty chair, but are an avid golfer -- Pebble Beach Golf Course will be a convenient haven for you.
And now... want to know what it's like growing up as a kid in the military? Here are 15 things you can't understand unless you did.
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Bekah DiFelice is a writer, military spouse, and recovering addict to the word "literally." You can find her riding her Vespa around San Diego, on Facebook and Instagram at @bekahdifelice, or on her blog bekahdifelice.com.