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Becoming a forces wife

(36 Posts)
Tippychick Wed 20-Aug-08 10:11:49


What would you tell someone about becoming a forces wife (specifically RAF)? I'm looking for someone to dish the dirt on accommodation or problems, explain how living on bases works - do you have your own furniture, can you keep pets and a garden? Is it like living in a goldfish bowl all the time or like a big happy community?

As a wife, can you work and/or study or is it not worth the hassle as you're likely to be moved regularly? And how regularly do you get moved usually?

Basically I'm finding it really hard to get information on what life as a RAF wife is really like and it's something I feel I need to know before my life possibly moves in that direction. Any advice much appreciated.

hf128219 Wed 20-Aug-08 13:25:51

I am a Army wife - and have been for 13 years. Am about to move for the 9th time. I am also a Civil Servant (currently on maternity leave) so I do have a job! army postings tend to be every 2 years - you get about 1K disturbance allowance every time you move and the cost of the removal paid.

It is possible to work - but only certain jobs are easily transportable. I have also studied with the OU - so of course you can study!

We have all our own furniture - and a cat and a garden!

The houses are (generally) fine but maybe I have been lucky - or aren't that fussy!

Living on an Army Patch can be like a goldfish bowl - your husband works with your neighbour's husband etc. Army wives can be pretty snooty too - but then again some are really nice!

sunnytimer Wed 20-Aug-08 14:00:52

Message withdrawn

mumof2222222222222222boys Wed 20-Aug-08 14:25:28

Well I am a Navy wife (and was in the Navy myself for 7 years but that was before I was a wife) and am also a solicitor. We had (have) our own house and lived in it until January this year when my husband was sent to the HQ near London.

We are now in SFA nearby and to be honest it is working really well. Before we moved up I hadn't worked for over 3 years due to 2DS, but was desperate to go back to work, while lacking a bit of confidence. Anyway I walked straight into a job (easy commute into London). The only thing is that as DH is away quite often, and we are not near any family we have had to get an aupair - which is ok and within the rules.

The house is ok, if not exactly to my taste and most things work (shower is like chinese water torture, but they won't fix it as we can get clean in the bath???) and they fix emergencies quickly, but non emergencies take a lot longer. eg when our loo got blocked they wouldn't come out for over a week as there was an alternative (next to baby's room so he woke up frequently). I could moan forever about the "customer service". The garden is great, although we had to buy a new mower.

We don't expect to move for several years, but whether you do or not will depend on the type of job / seniority of your husband.

As for furniture, yes most people have their own, but you can hire (not very nice) furniture for a modest sum. For your info, the cost of the house is the best thing. We pay less than £400 a month and that includes council tax.

mumof2222222222222222boys Wed 20-Aug-08 14:28:15

Oh and forgot to say that our house is on a normal road with some other SFA houses, but majority are normal civvy houses. We like that we are not in a goldfish bowl, as some houses undoubtedly are.

Notyummy Wed 20-Aug-08 14:32:15

Another RAF civil servant wife here! I used to be in the RAF, but left four years ago. Basically, you can definitely work or study if you wish....the OU helps! The things complicating the work factor are:

Your DH will either move, or go away on deployment, so you need to be able to work and look after dcs if necessary, and not everyone is prepared to do that.

Some RAF bases are reasonably isolated, and finding work which covers childcare sufficiently to make it worth your while can be difficult (depending on your skills and qualifications.)

It has to be said that the majority of RAF wives I know whose kids are pre-school do not work - I am quite unusual!

People are friendly (if you are welcoming to them as well!) and there is a generally a good ethos for trying to support families if people are unwell etc

We never had any probs with accommodation (although I have heard that the married quarters at Brize Norton are horrendous so try and avoid!)

Good luck! grin

hf128219 Wed 20-Aug-08 15:23:17

mumof2 - you're not in Stanmore are you?

mumof2222222222222222boys Wed 20-Aug-08 15:35:59

How did you guess? You prob know who I am!

hf128219 Wed 20-Aug-08 15:44:50

I used to live there! Left in February - so I don't know who you are!

mumof2222222222222222boys Wed 20-Aug-08 15:52:14

Well I hope it is working out for you wherever you are now! I did meet some very nice people during my first couple of months, but since I started working there is just no time...

and for Tippychick - most people (forces wives) I have met understand your situation and tend to be ok, in fact really nice, and not snooty. Our neighbours left last month and gave us loads of things for the garden, so while we were really sorry to see them go, there was an upside!

Blandmum Wed 20-Aug-08 15:55:25

You can have your own furnature, or you can hire some from stores....this is a help while you are setting up.

I was an RAF wife for 20 year and enjoyed it. Downsides moving a cannot expect to be stationed close to your family so you become very self sufficient
Upsides, I've made the most amazing friends, more like sisters.

Downside of being on base is that everyone knows your buisness

Downside is you have to cope with lots of time apart.

and at the risk of being utterly morbid the benefits if they die in service (which my dh did, of cancer) are exceptionally generous.

You can study and work, but it helps if you have a 'portable' job like teaching or nursing/medic

hf128219 Wed 20-Aug-08 16:03:37

Mumof2 - I loved the time I spent there! A great commute into town for work (and shopping!). You could just do your own thing there - when I lived on a regimental patch it was absolutely stifling - so much competition between wives!

We move again to Surrey in 5 weeks.

mumof2222222222222222boys Wed 20-Aug-08 16:11:35

Agree hf! It is a great location in many ways. I think if I was in the middle of Scotland or on a rural patch in Lincolnshire I would find life a lot harder - but then I know plenty that would disagree with me. Talking of rural though, we've got more blackberries and apples in the garden than I know what to do with!

Romy7 Wed 20-Aug-08 16:23:49

hf - where ya going? i'm 5 mins from pirbright and camberley grin
<dangerous stalker emoticon>

OP - but they are about (!) to build loads of new SFA at Brize, so you might be lucky. the rest of it should be condemned though.

it's what you make it. possible to work and study (have done both - i'm exRAF and now army wife) but you have to be v organised in terms of childcare and deployments etc...

goldfish bowl or community? depends where you are and when, really...

pets - always had dogs and carted them round the world (pet passports) but the RAF don't get far these days lol. i'm only allowed 2 dogs in SFA though, apparently. not sure what would happen if i got another one, think it breaks the terms of the agreement or something, but don't know how it works in reality. i know people who've had chickens, scorpions, all sorts in SFA.

hf128219 Wed 20-Aug-08 16:46:40

Romy - oh dear, oh dear you can be my stalker!!!

priceyp Wed 20-Aug-08 17:35:25

It's what you make of it. Keep yourself to yourself and people will leave you alone. But if you know that DH/DP will be away a lot and you want to make friends and have fun, then go to everything, meet everyone and make your own judgements about snobby/not snobby/competative people. IME the majority of wives/same sex partners that I have met have been welcoming, friendly, sarcastic, educated, interesting people from all over the UK with wide and varied opinions and interests.

Our SFA (married quarters) have always been a mixed bag, but once you get your own things in, or paint a few walls it feels like home. I am always ready to move on at the end of a tour, but always very sad!! Married for 8 years now and moved 5 times so far! I have never struggled to find work (I guess it depends if you are very specialised in something), but sometimes it is easier to meet other people if you have kids. Been on both sides of that now.

The bottom line is, don't be put off marriage because of what you think it will be like.

The best part of being part of this goldfish bowl community, is that I have made friends for life wherever we've been posted and keep coming across them again!

Bit rambling and prob no help at all, but good luck with whatever you choose!

sal1309 Wed 20-Aug-08 21:59:40

I love it to be honest. it as what you make it though.

yes you can study have a job ect. we have a nice house havent had a bad one yet although sometimes they are on the small side. have a garden and 2 dogs and some fish lol

we have been at 3 camps in 7 years so not too bad.

down sides you get moved around, if you dont put the effort in you wont meet anyone, everyone does know your business its like a gold fish bowl (but this sometimes does have its advantages)

plus sides you make some fantastic friends, they pay for you to move when you have to. cheap beer if you go to the families bar lol

Tippychick Fri 22-Aug-08 09:04:46

Wow, thanks for all the replies. It really helps. I wasn't sure at all how things would work but that's much more positive.
How do you find not being able to choose where you live, are you all miles away from family and friends? Are there strict visiting restrictions?
The studying thing is a biggy, I start a degree this year with the aim of being a primary school teacher so while it would be transferable anywhere with a university that runs the course I guess, it may not be an OU kind of thing because of the practical element. But I guess you have to play some things by ear........
I read that the rent on SFA (get me with he lingo) is around £150-280 pcm - is that right? But I presume you have all the normal water/council/tv licence rates too, even on a base?

Blandmum Fri 22-Aug-08 09:07:41

You can do a secondary PGCE with the OU....not sure if they run a primary one.

I did my PGCE with the OU while dh was out in the second gulf war. Stressful but worth it in the end

hf128219 Fri 22-Aug-08 09:12:32

The rent on a SFA depends on the size and grade of the married quarter - that is allocated by rank. I have all the costs in a folder beside me if you want to know!

The council tax charge is taken at the same time as the rent. Well in the Army it is anyway. No water charge either. Gas/Elec/TV etc is up to you.

Tippychick Fri 22-Aug-08 09:32:03

Thanks hf, I don't have a scooby where we'd be so a guesstimate at the rents is the best I can hope for. But they are significantly lower than market rents anyway. And no water charges is a bonus.
And, sorry for all the grilling, are you sure to get a house as a married couple with children or is there a waiting list?

hf128219 Fri 22-Aug-08 09:35:47

You will definitely get a house - if (in the very unlikely situation) there were none available within a 10 mile radius of the posting they will get you a private rented house - you would still pay forces rates and the MOD pick up the difference.

The rents are the same regardless of where you are posted.

Blandmum Fri 22-Aug-08 09:42:48

hf, I once lived in a 400 year old cottage with a beautiful garden in a stunning village thanks to excess rental!

hf128219 Fri 22-Aug-08 09:44:29

Martian - sounds lovely! We are about to move into a lovely house due to no MQ's being available - we even chose it ourself!!

I am so excited!

Blandmum Fri 22-Aug-08 09:45:40

Nice to have some variety, isn't it? smile

That was when dh was posted to High Wycombe.

Mind you, some of the places we saw when looking for a house were well rough!

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