Monterey, Pacific Grove, Carmel, and Pebble Beach Area
Things I Wish I Knew Before Moving to Monterey and Surrounding Areas
We truly thought because we PCS’d from the Washington DC area we would be prepared for the cost of living increases that occurred when moving to CA. We were wrong. People told us it would be expensive and also told us the weather was crazy, and we took heed, but were still shocked by our new financial obligations and weather patterns; especially for East Coasters like us who had no experience living out west. Read living in Pacific Grove vs Monterey, while stationed at NPS.
To begin, many military families are going to notice a reduction in monthly pay of some sort due to the nature of NPS/DLI being a school situation. For us, we lost “jump pay.” For those families in which Monterey is a permanent assignment, they may not incur those types of losses. It is also very likely families will pay above their housing allowance to rent in desirable areas.
I definitely recommend making full use of the commissary located out on the old Fort Ord. Grocery prices are noticeably cheaper and well worth the 15 minutes to get there. Next to the commissary is the largest PX in the area with a Shoppette for gas runs, which makes a big difference too. Lastly, the city near Fort Ord (Marina) is growing and is where the newest and nicest Target, Bed Bath and Beyond, Best Buy, Old Navy, Michaels and REI can be found. I like to hit both shopping areas before heading back home.
Before moving to CA we lived on base at Fort Meade and were fortunate to pay minimal utility bills. The bills in our PG rental home were an unhappy surprise. An average power bill nears $200.00 per month as does our water bill, and we are very good about conserving both! Water consumption is a huge source of controversy in these parts and the public outcry continues against the constant rate increases from the current water provider. I would also mention that many, many folks around here pay for water delivery because the drinking water does have the taste you would expect when living near the shore.
Part of the reason our energy bills were so high was because of our home’s inefficient doors and windows. Which is a problem you could think you could avoid by renting a newer home, but those are very hard to come by. Landlords are not quick to update the rentals they turnover every 18 months or so. I have friends who lived in Pebble Beach, Monterey, and Carmel who all share the same sentiments. You would also infer that the lack of homes with central air conditioning would keep power expenses at bay and to a degree it does, but the AC also dries out any moisture in a home, which leads to my next group of tips.
As coastal towns, these areas stay humid all year round, about 60-70 percent. It isn’t miserable because the temperatures rise only to about 65-68 degrees. It can near 73 or so on the infrequent “hot” days. Without AC, humidity is a challenge to fight daily. I recommend room size dehumidifiers. We have two and they really help with the dampness. For smaller areas, I suggest the line of Damp Rid products which I found mostly at Home Depot. I have experienced my own scenarios and heard dozens of stories of mold and mildew damage. One particularly sad case was a friend of mine who lived in Pebble Beach and lost her battle with mildew in a big way. Mildew ate her packed wedding dress!
So you are moving to California and think its sunshine and warm weather all year round? Not really. The weather comes in long streaks: Many sunny days in a row, and lots of dark days in succession. The first two months I lived here it rained EVERYDAY. If it didn’t rain it was overcast, foggy, or both. Admittedly, living in PG these scenarios are worse than say, in Monterey. Monterey gets more sunshine then we did. We often joked about driving the two miles down the hill to get out of the clouds. It’s also a backwards weather pattern in this area. Summers are cooler and fall and winter months are the warmest. This past Christmas was over 70 degrees and sunny.
Because the weather is so mild and there are many agencies that care for them, transients and homeless people are regularly seen throughout Monterey and Pacific Grove in particular. It’s an issue the local governments grapple with and citizens debate often. In general, I don’t think it inhibited us from doing anything while living here. However it was noticeable and we had regular discussions with our daughter about all the concepts homelessness encompasses.
There are great options for military housing at Monterey Post Graduate School. Military housing is available for Service Members with families, single Service Members, at La Mesa and Ord Military Community (OMC); the properties are managed by the Parks at Monterey Bay - Michaels Organization.
Please feel free to leave me a message below in the comments section!