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Monterey Vs Pacific Grove

19 September 2017 by

There are several cities near the Naval Post Graduate School, The Presidio of Monterey, and the US Coast Guard Station in which families can choose from when orders arrive (finally!) to move to Central California. Two of the most popular options are the communities of Monterey and Pacific Grove.  Both are ideally located for an easy commute, have stunning scenery, and in general, have a “boy I am lucky to live here vibe.” There a few factors that should be mentioned, however, when house hunting becomes part of the process.

Suggestions to Consider When PCSing to Monterey, California

Monterey vs Pacific Grove

A. Monterey

Monterey can be considered the livelier of the two, with a larger restaurant/bar and nightlife scene.  Locals don’t think there are enough of these options and there is always regular conversation as to how to rejuvenate and enhance the downtown areas to attract more business.  Although there are lovely neighborhoods in Monterey, younger and single soldiers tend to live in this area due to the variety of entertainment options and more affordable housing solutions.  It’s also here where you will find Del Monte Center, the area’s open air mall.

The Monterey Peninsula Unified School District (MPUSD) is the governing body of most schools in the city.  Although there are here and there exceptions to the rule, in general, Monterey schools have struggled to maintain their ratings, test scores, and overall reputation.  A quick search through MTA school reviews can give a more in depth description of current on goings.

A note about the very popular La Mesa military housing option:  Talking with other military families I know, I hear a 50/50 mix on its benefits and disadvantages.  The housing is new, attractive, and boasts a great neighborhood feel with loads of kids for your kids to play with.  The negative aspect is the school situation.  Its schools are under MPUSD and perform accordingly.  I am often told of the overcrowding in classrooms.   If you don’t have school age kids, prefer to home school, or want to pay for private education, La Mesa would be a great option providing you know the traditional ups and downs of living in ANY military housing neighborhood.

Monterey vs Pacific Grove NPS

Image from the City of Monterey website:

B. Pacific Grove

Pacific Grove is the quieter option with a pretty equal distribution between young families and older adults and retirees.  You will hear regularly how “Mayberry” it is living there. There are apartment dwellings and single family homes which tend to be on the smaller side and are older builds.  PG, as it is affectionately known, has its own quaint downtown with a few standout eateries and boutiques.   Most residents are in walking distance of downtown.

Pacific Grove Unified School District (PGUSD) has a very strong reputation with reviews and scores to back it up.  PGUSD encompasses two elementary schools, one middle school and one high school in addition to a few other specialty school programs.  Our experience was pleasant and I am pleased our elementary aged daughter was part of the system.  One negative attribute I have encountered were comments regarding the lack of diversity within the student body.

Monterey vs Pacific Grove, NPS

Image from the City of Pacific Grove Website

Both communities have so much going on during all months of the year.  Festivals of all sorts, outdoor activities, and many opportunities to just hang out and enjoy the Monterey Bay are abundant. For our family, our destination decision was made through my research of the schools in the area.  Although we choose PG schools, we were regular patrons of many businesses and activities in Monterey and in my opinion the time spent living in this area was greatly enhanced by accessing what both cities had to offer.

C. Military Housing on Base managed by The Parks at Monterey 

There are great options for military housing at Monterey Post Graduate SchoolMilitary 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. 

D. Off Base Neighborhood Information

Monterey is a gorgeous area to live and many choose to live off base if they can afford it. Find out the best areas to live by reading neighborhood reviews in Monterey. All reviews are written by military families!



About the Author



Dawn is a SAHM to one daughter and has been married to her husband and the Army for 15 years. PCS highlights include Monterey, CA, Fort Meade, MD, and the gathering of fabulous new friends. In addition, she is a freelance writer during the day with a serious habit of HGTV/House Hunters viewing at night. Not surprisingly, she also has a frequent case of wanderlust and is known to travel regularly. Finally, she is one of the last few who don't use Facebook, so you can email her at dawnmsmith1998(at)yahoo(dot)com.

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