We’re at just over eight weeks from our PCS to Korea, and it has me reflecting on our three years being stationed at JBLM. It’s been a crazy ride, if we’re being honest, and it’s been a mixed bag (as are most duty stations, I think). For those of you who’ve followed me for some time, you know that I didn’t want to move here when we first found it. My first reaction was not a happy one, and we definitely struggled our first year here living off post. Once we moved on post though, we found our proverbial “sea legs,” and we started to branch out and explore beyond the cities. That’s when we learned and found the beauty of this duty station.
So You’re Being Stationed at JBLM
I’m truly the type of person who believes that a duty station is what you make of it, and being stationed at JBLM definitely pushed me out of my comfort zone. In doing so, however, I learned to love the incredible region in which we’ve had the opportunity to live, and being stationed here gave us an unprecedented chance to explore with our kids. We hiked, we’ve camped, we’ve visited museums, gone on ferries, seen and done so much since we’ve been here, and I’m forever grateful. Since I wanted a list like this when we moved out here in 2018, I wanted to create a list of the best and worst parts of being stationed at JBLM.
The Best Parts of JBLM
- You are close to some of the most beautiful outdoor spaces in the world like Mt. Rainier National Park, Snoqualmie, and the Olympics Region
- There is a ton of incredible cuisine out here ranging from food trucks to five-star restaurants in Tacoma, Seattle, Olympia, and beyond
- Summers here are glorious, and it rarely rains; it’s temperate, the sun is exceptional, and it’s 100% worth exploring every second of summer here
- On-post living is great; obviously, this might depend on your service member’s rank because housing is separated as such, but we’ve had the best experience living on post the past two years
- JBLM has a brand-new state-of-the-art PX (Post Exchange) that rivals any good mall with everything from Bath & Body Works to Starbucks and more
- The coffee is abundant – and amazing – but my pro-tip is to branch out from Starbucks and go to the little drive-thru huts, or Galaxy Coffee (our fav!)
- American Lake and Summer Cove deserve their own callout because they’re a hit and literally a five-minute drive from our home on North Fort
- You have access to the JBLM Passenger Terminal, which means that Space A is easier than ever (note that it’s been closed since the pandemic though)
The Worst Parts of JBLM
- i5 traffic is as bad as they say it is – and there’s really no good alternative route
- The cost of living is extremely high
- Fire season is a thing, and we’ve experienced it every here at JBLM around late August (see our post about the wildfires in 2020)
- Depending on your service member’s MOS, op-tempo can be extremely challenging; Ryan did seven TDYs last year…and was deployed the year prior
- Rainy season runs from about October through March, and yes, it’s gray; invest in rain gear and make the best of it, no matter what
- If you live on post, just know that UberEats doesn’t deliver on post, and yes, it’s a dang shame
- If you plan to live off post, the housing market is insanely competitive. Houses are listed and sold within hours, and rent is expensive and often hard to come by
- While there aren’t a ton of traditional deployments here, rotations to Korea and Pacific Pathways are pretty common
Living at JBLM
Ultimately, when I look back on our time at JBLM, I will remember it fondly. The challenges will seem less challenging, and the good will far outweigh the bad. Mieke was born here, and we created two beautiful homes here. JBLM may have been a challenge, but I’m forever grateful for that challenge!
Tell me – have you ever lived somewhere that was a challenge for you?