Cameron is a born and raised Texan who graduated from Texas A&M University where she played soccer for the Aggies all four years. At A&M, she met her husband and married in 2004. After September 11, her husband decided to join the Navy. After 8 years in the Navy and many difficult moves, she decided to start MilitaryTownAdvisor.com. They have two small children and look forward to the new adventures in their lives.
It’s PCS season and we are getting new orders and I am frantically trying to figure out where we will live next. I start by looking on the internet for information about our new city and trying to find a house. When I begin looking for houses I gravitate to the gorgeous dream homes that I have always envisioned myself living in.
I click on the virtual tour and I begin to fall in love with the gorgeous kitchen with granite countertops, stainless steel appliances, and it even has a wine fridge. Then I move to the large Great Room with Bamboo floors and flat screen tvs on each wall. Then I travel to the master bedroom with large windows and a monstrous tub, two vessel sinks, and a glass shower with stone tiles. “Oh this is exactly where I want to live!” “This house was made for me, I am going to love this new town.” As I am enjoying my new home, I am suddenly yanked back into realty when my toddler starts pulling on my leg and my husband is telling me how to spell the name of his new base. “It’s Oceana, like Ocean with an ‘a’ at the end. It’s in Virginia Beach. Just google Virginia Beach.” This is when I close out the screen on my dream home and realize that one day we will have that home, but for now we need something that is do-able for the next 3 years.
That’s when I realize I need to change my entire search focus. I don’t need to start by looking at houses, but instead I need to gather information about good neighborhoods that fit my family’s needs. I definitely want something that is safe and family friendly. I’d like a social neighborhood because I’d like to be able to hang out and socialize while my husband is gone and I need to consider something in a good school district and a decent commute to base.
But where do I get all this information?
That’s when after 9 years in the Navy, I came up with the idea for www.MilitaryTownAdvisor.com. It’s a site where military families ‘tell’ other families about the good neighborhoods! It’s inside ‘gouge’ on where to live. It’s like TripAdvisor but for neighborhoods in military towns!
I am hoping to change the way military families look for homes. Like myself, they need to realize that good safe neighborhoods are more important than ‘dream home’ features. As my husband always tells me, “We will build our dream home later when we get out of the military”.
Here’s a NEW APPROACH to looking for a new home:
If you're using a realtor, it’s very important for a military family to find a military friendly realtor who understands that their needs are different than other buyers.
Research which neighborhoods and areas of town fit your family’s needs at www.MilitaryTownAdvisor.com and rank which neighborhood features are most important to you: Family friendly, social, quality of schools and location to base.
Read neighborhood reviews, sort by neighborhood feature and read what other military families have to say about neighborhoods and areas of town.
Make a list of these neighborhoods/areas that fit your family’s needs
Contact a Realtor and let them know what you are looking for in a house, but that you are willing to give up ‘dream home’ extras to be in the best neighborhoods. Give the realtor a list of your neighborhoods from MilitaryTownAdvisor.com.
Visit houses in your preferred neighborhoods with a Realtor.
Realtors are bound by what they can tell you about a neighborhood by the Fair Housing Act? They cannot suggest if one neighborhood is safer than another, they cannot tell you where certain demographics live, they can’t tell you where most military families live, so it’s very important to do your own research. MilitaryTownAdvisor.com consists of reviews written by military families and in these reviews, other military families can tell you which neighborhoods are the safest and which neighborhoods have a lot of military families already living there. The site is very useful because it can say what realtors cannot say.
If you're not using a realtor, start your home search by:
Searching for listings on ‘For Sale/Rent by Owner’ sites such as Military by Owner, Automated Housing Referral Network and Free Military Listing.
Reading reviews about the homes’ neighborhoods on Military Town Advisor.
Most ‘For sale/rent by owner’ websites do not have much information about the neighborhood, usually consisting of a map, nearby stores, and weather/demographics. This information doesn’t really tell you much so read reviews to find out what the neighborhood is really like.
Pay It Forward
Leave reviews for your current and past duty stations at www.MilitaryTownAdvisor.com. These reviews will help other military families trying to figure out where to live in that town. Remember, there are thousands of military families moving to places where you have already been. Your knowledge can help lots of other military families, so ‘pay it forward’ and leave a review today!