A Guide For Your PCS To Ellsworth AFB!
So, you have orders to Ellsworth AFB! You are either pretty excited, or completely bummed. Don’t be bummed! Ellsworth Air Force Base is a diamond in the rough. There are so many things to do here and western South Dakota is full of history! Even if you are from a big city, this is the place to branch out! We have more hiking trails in the Black Hills than you could possibly imagine! There are thousands of square miles of trails to ride quads, UTV’s, and dirt bikes. There are 18 plus lakes where you can camp, hike, fish, or just enjoy the outdoors! Rapid City has a LOT to offer if you willing to explore…and the list goes on! Check out the other sections of our website to learn more about what to do in Rapid City and the Black Hills! So don’t be bummed, be stoked because you just landed an awesome assignment!
Ellsworth AFB Weather
Yes, Ellsworth AFB weather can be brutal at times. The temperature will drop to negative 40 and the wind will blow 60 miles per hour but this isn’t all winter long. This is really only during January and February. Once March and April arrive we will get blizzards, but they usually melt within a day or two because it will be back in the 50’s and 60’s the following day or two after. May, June, and July are unbelievable! Everything turns bright green, the weather usually hovers around the mid 70’s and 80’s and the Black Hills come alive! Rapid City hosts a Thursday night community gathering with live bands, and the entire area just become amazing! You just have to get out and experience it! So…yes, a few weeks a year it gets extremely cold. Aside from that it’s not nearly as bad as you might have heard.
What Can I Expect From The Base?
Depending on where you are coming from it might be pretty slow. However, our mission is vitally important. I won’t get into details here, due to FOUO, but you’re more than welcome to send me a message with questions. This is the place to start, or finish your personal and professional Air Force goals. You will have the time to really hone in on your job if you’re coming from a DSD or really busy base, you can complete your degree, get involved with base organizations, and network across the 28th Bomb Wing. We have a decent sized BX with a Burger King, Charlies, GNC, a barber shop, etc. You can check out their website here. Ellsworth also has a really nice commissary, an outdoor running track that circles around our base lakes, a movie theater, a library, a shoppette, and pretty much everything else you would expect to find on an Air Force Base. If you want to learn more about Ellsworth AFB’s history, check out this link here.
Buying A House – What To Expect
As you might have already heard, Ellsworth AFB will be the first location to receive the new B-21 bomber. Because of this, Rapid City and Box Elder are expected to grow exponentially! So, in this case, I would say BUY BUY BUY! We have so many awesome realtors in our area, with some of them being prior military themselves. You can buy a home, stay for a few years, sell it…and make 10 or 15 plus thousand dollars! Why rent and throw your money away? Your home WILL sell! Not to mention, you will have exactly what you want, you won’t have to wait 3 to 6 months to get on base, you can get a two plus garage, a quiet neighborhood, and finally…nobody telling you to cut your grass when it’s a half inch to tall!
As the owner of Black Hills AVP, I work with many realtors as I specialize in Real Estate doing Photography, Videography, Marketing, and Advertising. Please send me a message at email@example.com before you are “funneled” to a realtor that isn’t going to have your best interest in mind. The new craze here is the Homes for Heroes program which is great, but this company at a national level is giving heroes very little back in comparison to what they are receiving from us. Some of the realtors are doing it ethically, some are not.
Choose These Realtors and Get the Best Deal/Service
Just tell the below Realtors I (Keith Heimericks) sent you over there way and you will be VERY well taken care of! I have gone above and beyond for them and have established a VERY good relationship. Once again…I’m not getting a kickback. I do photography and sometimes videos for them…but that’s about it. They are just great folks and you deserve the best. I will continue to add to this list if more people are worthy.
Gold Key Realty & Auctions
You can NOT go wrong with Gold Key Realty. The owners Jim and Ida are two of the most down to earth/genuine people you could ever meet. Jim has been in the Real Estate business longer than I have been alive! They also offer the best military rebate that I have seen, and you will get your cash at closing (0.75 percent of the home cost)…”no waiting a month for a check after your home closes”. They also offer the lowest commission to buy or sell your home that I have seen at 4.75 percent. The 0.75 percent rebate comes out of their already super low 4.75 percent commission. Example; if you buy a house for $220,000 you will receive $1,650 the day you close on your home.
You can send Jim and Ida a message on their Facebook Page here.
The Real Estate Group
Another great local agency in our area is The Real Estate Group. They are the highest rated agency in our area and for good reason. They focus on customer relationships and not a bottom line. This means that your wants and needs are going to come first and you won’t be rushed to buy or sell a home. Justin Carlyle, “the owner” is also prior Army!!
The Real Estate Group consists of many agents…50 or 60 plus, but I want to list a few here that I have worked with that I know for a FACT are amazing people.
When I started Black Hills AVP Justin and John were there from the get go. I was just some random person with a camera, a plan, and loads of drive, they believed in me, gave me the time of day, and ALWAYS listened. It is paying off for them as I am the one who positioned them to the number one spot in Western South Dakota…and it is VERY well deserved. I hope they grow 50 times larger because they are just good people who truly believe in helping others and not focusing solely on the almighty dollar.
Send John a message on Facebook HERE.
Send Just a message on Facebook HERE.
Realtor commissions and how they work.
For example, you have three Realtors who are trying to get your business by trying to either sell your current home, or are trying to find a home and represent you as a buyer. You definitely want to use a realtor due to the contracts and legalities…not to mention the marketing and advertising you get with a good one.
So, you found your home for $220,000.
Realtor A charges a 6 percent commission (Never EVER use a realtor that charges more than this). Commissions are almost always negotiable. If someone says there commission is worth more than 6 percent they are scamming you in my opinion. Anyway…6 percent of $220,000 is $13,200.
Realtor B charges 5.25%. 5.25 percent of $220,000 is $11,550.
Realtor C charges 4.75%. 4.75 percent of $220,000 is $10,450.
As you can plainly see the realtors commission makes a huge difference on the price of your home whether buying or selling. This can be paid in cash if you have the money, factored into your home loan if you are buying, or lastly taken from your net profit when selling your home.
Renting a Home or Apartment
However, I get it…some people don’t want to buy. In that case, I do have to say the rental market in Rapid City and Box Elder isn’t the best. For houses anyway. It is definitely getting better though. Especially with the B-21 coming to Ellsworth AFB. There are quite a few really nice apartments that can be rented for $1K plus, but the houses available to rent in Rapid City are lacking. The below links are apartment complexes that are not only really nice, but within your BAH budget. They are all located in Rapid City which is only 7 miles from Ellsworth AFB. Click on each one/follow the link to see more details:
- Harmony Heights: 20 – 25 minutes from the main gate.
- Copper Ridge Apartments: 20 – 25 Minutes from the main gate.
- The Pines: 20 – 25 Minutes from the main gate.
- Gateway Apartments: 20 – 25 Minutes from the main gate.
- Alps Park Apartments: 20 – 25 Minutes from the main gate
If you don’t want to rent an apartment, there are quite a few homes for rent in Antelope Ridge. This is the old base housing that went contract 5 years or so ago. The majority of these homes only have a one car garage, but are very spacious inside. The rent is going to eat up almost all of your BAH. There are quite a few playgrounds for the kids, and it is less than 5 minutes to the main gate. If that’s your thing, you will enjoy it! This is also a great location for single people as you can split the cost of the rental and save money! You can get in contact with the housing office for Antelope Ridge here.
What About Child Care?
The Child Development Center located on Ellsworth AFB is top notch! As with any CDC, the price goes off of your rank. Check out their website here. There are also a plethora of off base day cares that are very reputable. I would suggest reaching out the the Ellsworth Families Facebook page to find a great location for your kiddos off base. It can be found by following this link.
My Sponsor Isn’t Returning My Emails or Phone Calls! HELP!!!
If you can’t get a’hold of your sponsor, you can reach out to your unit directly using the base phone book here. If you are still having issues, just send me a Facebook message here and I will get you hooked up with the right people!
Is There A Newcomers Packet Anywhere?
You should have one in your email that was sent to you by your sponsor! However, if for whatever reason you didn’t get one you can always check out the Ellsworth AFB website/Newcomers located here! This should answer the rest of your questions! If it doesn’t, just send me a message.
Congrats on your new assignment! I truly mean that! If you get out and explore the area, this will be one of the coolest assignments you will have ever experienced. There is a ton of history here, hundreds of thousands of acres of Black Hills National Forest to explore, or maybe you want to head east and check out the Badlands! If you’re a motorcycle rider you hit the jackpot! Sturgis South Dakota is 30 miles away and is home to the nations largest motorcycle rally. If you like to fish, welcome to paradise! My advice…learn how to fly fish! If you like to shop…Rapid City has so much to offer…or just drive to Denver Colorado! It’s only a 6 hour trip. So…don’t be bummed. Have a blast and make some great memories that you will cherish for a lifetime while stationed here!
Keith A. Heimericks
MSgt/Owner of Black Hills AVP