Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Kirtland AFB Family Housing

The first order of business for this blog is to give prospective newcomers to Kirtland AFB a personal overview of family housing. Pictured below is the standard floor plan for incoming couples (with no children) whose rank is E-1 through E-4. The floor plan for those with children is very similar - instead of a bulk storage space, that area is extended over the ''patio" area to create a third bedroom upstairs, and a larger living room/dining room downstairs.

My husband and I were stationed at Kirtland AFB for a little over four years before receiving orders moving us to Ramstein AB in Germany. We have (during our time here), been in two different family housing accomodations and bought and sold a house in the Albuquerque area.

The most important thing I or anyone else could possibly tell you about Kirtland Family Housing is to fill out your 24-hour maintenance review sheet as thoroughly as possible. I can not stress this enough - exaggerate everything. The first time my husband and I moved on to base housing, there were small things here and there about the house that we really didn't feel the need to mention. But come move-out time, those who do a final inspection with you after you've had a chance to scrub, spackle and re-paint, will find those small things and charge you for each one. A single crimped blind will cost you $37.00 - good luck if there is more than one (we suggest replacing the blinds yourself). The white calcium build-up under faucet handles will cost you another $25.00 per occurance. Spots in the carpet, depending on the number and severity, can add up quickly. And don't forget to trim back whatever may be growing in your backyard - we were charged $25.00 because knee-high weeds had sprouted after some heavy rains. By far the most expensive items to check upon move-in are the front and back doors as well as the garage door. If these are dented and you fail to mention it on your maintenance review sheet, you will be monetarily responsible for the damage upon move-out.

My largest complaint with the base housing here is that it was constructed by a company that is more used to building on a commercial scale than a residential scale. As such, we have found that things like entryways, cabinets, and closets tend to let in cold air in Winter and let out cool air in the Summer. There was also not a large effort to rid the building sites of such pleasant creatures as mice and a host of insects (namely Black Widow spiders).

That being said, it seems the longer the houses are occupied (the newer housing was completed in 2004/05), the fewer "wildlife" complaints we have. Our heating and cooling bills do not seem to be over par by much considering the areas of poorer insulation. And overall, it is a nice neighborhood setting. If you have the choice to live either on or off base, we suggest on base. The neighborhood just beyond the four main gates of Kirtland is lovingly referred to by those who live in Albuquerque as "The War Zone." It is packed full of nice, cheap apartments that house some of the police department's more active clients, including drug dealers and illegal gun owners, many of whom are gang members. Despite the description above, Albuquerque is a very nice city. I have lived in Albuquerque all my life, and have seen my share of other U.S. cities, and like all cities, we have our beautiful areas and some areas that need work.

Here are some other photos of base housing (Please note that these photos are of a 3 bedroom unit - reserved for members with at least one child):

If you have any other questions, feel free to email me - I would be more than happy to answer any questions you have about the city or Kirtland AFB.


  1. Thank you so much for the info. My hubby and I will be PCSing from England to ABQ in February. We are so excited! We are thinking that living on base would be best. We don't have any children yet and are hoping that won't limit our opportunities in the newer housing. Was your house on base within the gates? Also, how is privatized housing different than normal base housing?

  2. Hi Katrina,

    Wow - England! We're definitely jealous! Albuquerque is a great city and I think you will enjoy it - much different than England (especially the climate), but very rich with culture and activity.

    We lived both on base and off base in Albuquerque. While the commute isn't bad from anywhere in the city, we found that it was just much more convenient living on base to be near my husband's work, the commissary, BX, etc. The truth of the matter is that Kirtland AFB happens to be in a so-so neighborhood - not dangerous by any means - just a bit run down/poorer population. So if you wanted to live in a nice neighborhood, you'll have to end up commuting to and from the base. The base itself is beautifully kept up - the housing especially was well maintained when we were there - landscaping, maintenance, etc. So we really recommend living on base. I'm not exactly clear on what you mean by privatized vs. normal base housing. All the housing on Kirtland is leased out through a 3rd-party company called Hunt. You sign a one-year lease at a time (with the understanding that Orders trump a lease). We never had any problems with them - they have a main office located within the housing itself which made it easy to place maintenance requests, extend leases, etc. Utilities were handled through a company called Ista - again, no problems - the houses seemed very efficient - we always ended up getting money back at the end of each year.

    We didn't have children either when we lived there - the way it worked then was a two-bedroom condo (duplex?) was given to couples without children and a three-bedroom was given to those with children. Again - things might have changed since we were there 1.5 years ago.

    Let me know if you have any other questions! I would be happy to answer to the best of my knowledge!

  3. Thank you so much for the help! I'm sure more questions will arise as our PCS date gets closer :)

  4. We recently moved from Kirtland AFB and the things their trying to charge us for normal wear and tear. Anyone with similar experiences?

  5. Thank you so much for your blog! We were told today that we will be leaving Little Rock AFB and moving to Kirtland AFB this Summer and what you wrote is really valuable information to us! We own a house here in Cabot which is just 10 min away from the base and with the housing market being what it is, don't want to be stuck in New Mexico with a house so we are thinking of living on base. I am a bit concerned about the area where Kirtland AFB is as far as school goes...our daughter is 10 and will be going to middle school which I assume won't be on base? I would love to talk to you more...

  6. I would be happy to talk with you about your move :) I'm not sure exactly what you'd like to know. There is an elementary school on the base, but no middle school. There are several excellent middle schools in Albuquerque and, depending on what you consider a long drive, most are within a reasonable driving distance from the base. Because of the way the freeway system is set up within Albuquerque, it is fairly easy to commute from one side to the other within 20 - 25 minutes (the North/South and East/West freeways cross in the heart of the city, giving you a quick route no matter where you live).

    Where you live will depend on your priorities. If you live on base, you will be close to the service member's work. If you live off base, you could live close to the school of your choice and other "hubs" of the city.

    There is some good information online about base housing at http://www.kirtlandfamilyhousing.com/

    If you are interested in living off base, this is a great site: http://ahrn.com/ - it's free and fairly easy to set up an account, and well worth having one if you are considering living off base. You'll find that newer houses are more readily available in a suburb called Rio Rancho (87114, 87121, 87120, 87124), but don't be fooled, your commute time is automatically tripled because it is located across the Rio Grande river and there are only 3-4 bridges that cross it - these are PACKED with traffic trying to get from their nice new homes to their jobs in the city. This goes for schools as well - if the river is between you and where you need to go, be ready to sit in traffic.

    I realize I'm rambling a bit off topic - sorry about that :). Let me know what other questions you have. My email address is megsamadhi@yahoo.com if you want to get in touch with me.

  7. Megan thanks so much for all of the great information. My husband and I are both AD military and moving to Kirtland 1 June, which isn't too far away. We have 3 kids and are torn between Rio Rancho and living on base. From the sounds of it the commute sucks, but from what I've heard the schools in Rio Rancho are the best. We own a home in Virginia and have never lived in base housing. Can you tell me how it works with paying rent and utilities? Did your husband get BAH and then you guys paid the bills or did Hunt take it straight out of his pay? When you said you always got money back at the end of the year what did you mean by that? Any help would be greatly appreciated, thanks Shanna.

  8. Thank you so much for this blog we are moving to kirtland in october and we were really debating on living on base or off. My husband was born and resided in New Mexico for 20 years and he was unsure of what base housing was like, but your blog was very discriptive and helped us make our decision.

    For anyone else moving to New Mexico and wants off base housing my husband also says area code 87112 and 87113 are also decent areas. Anyways thank you!

  9. was that home right next to a park because if it was then i lived in that very same one

  10. What a helpful post!! Thank you SO much as these are really the only photos of KAFB housing available online. You ROCK!

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  26. Hello
    I'm not sure if you answered this question or not but my husband, 8 month old daughter and I moved into our on base house 2 months ago. My husband was sitting on the couch when he turned his head to see a black widow right next to him! I'm super worried and paranoid for my daughter because I read a black widow bite can be fatal to babies. Is there anything I can do or any suggestions?! Thank you!