Ellsworth Air Force Base – A Guide For Your PCS
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.
Here is the link to the on-base housing office if you’re wanting to move on base.
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 car garage, a quiet neighborhood, and finally…nobody telling you to cut your grass when it’s a half inch to tall!
Gold Key Realty & Auctions
You can NOT go wrong with Gold Key Realty. The owners Jim, Ida , and their son Casey are three 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 when you buy a home with them. 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”. Example; if you buy a house for $220,000 you will receive $1,650 the day you close on your home. They offer the lowest commission that I have seen..or even heard of in western South Dakota when you use them to sell your home….4.75%. Other realtors are 6%…this will save you thousands of dollars.
So, if you’re here…you are smart. Most people just fill out the Realtor.com form and get funneled to a local realtor who is paying them to state they are the “best in the area” when they aren’t…all while charging you extra!
Lastly, I am not getting a kickback from Gold Key Realty & Auctions. They are just great folks who will treat you right.
You can send Jim and Ida a message on their Facebook Page 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.
All About The VA Loan
I’m not an expert with the VA loan process, but the below link will take you to the VA home website. Before you make an offer on your new home, you will need to see what the bank will loan you. This has everything to do with your credit score, your net worth, your debts, etc… So please do your research first! VA HOME LOAN WEBSITE
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