What to expect of life at Panzer Kaserne - Germany

U.S. military housing, facilities, lifestyle

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AuburnNavy
Hello All,

I am a Navy O-4 (select) currently at the Pentagon in Washington, DC and will be going to new duty at Panzer Kaserne for a 2-year tour in early 2010. I am married and have twin 2-year old boys (they will be just turning 3 when we arrive, so schools will come into account after about a year there). If possible, we would like to put them into a German program to emmerse them into the language.

I am seeking advise about housing, schools and lifestyle. My wife an I would really like to soak up the foreign (German) experience and not live near a bunch of US military people, but we are not German speakers. I lived in London for 2 years (2000-01) and LOVED the lifestyle, but I was by myself with no children almost 10 years ago, so things have changed in my life!! I am not looking for the single lifestyle (clubs/bars), but would like to be in an area/town where we can enjoy wonderful local restaurants for a nice quality quite dinner, sit in a square and enjoy some coffee on the weekends, and every once in a while hit the pub for a few pints...nothing crazy.

We would like to live in a single family home (at least 3 bedrooms) if possible in a smaller town out from Stuttgart but have easy access to great restaurants and pubs and local markets...in essence, have a true German experience for our 2 years before returning to the states.

On the internet, my research makes Tubingen and Herrenburg look like good places. On google, it says they are 16 and 13 miles respectively away from Panzer Kaserne which equates to around a 30 minute commute. This is a breeze by American/DC standards!!! I wouldn't bat an eye at a 30 mintue commute. Can anyone confirm this statistic and please recommend regions/towns to live in that aren't too expensive (around the OHA) and would be a wonderful place to live yet still commute friendly to PK.

Very much appreciated for any advise!!

-Mark
keepingtime
I would say about 30- 40 minutes from either of the towns you mentioned. A lot depends upon traffic and that is a huge issue from either of those places. Did you check out the Search Engine that is on this website? It is in the upper right hand corner of the screen. If you type in "moving to Stuttgart" you might have many of your questions all answered. Hope your move goes well.
AuburnNavy
keepingtime,

Thank you very much for the helpful insight. Yes, I have been reading through all the different posts using the search engine. Most US military people are dealing with going to Patch, Kelley or Robinson (EUCOM & AFRICOM). I won't be there, but further west at Panzer Kaserne, so I didn't think those posts really apply to my situation.

Can you attest to the "quaintness" of the towns I mentioned? I have also read that Ludwigsburg is a really nice place. Any thoughts?

V/r,
Mark
UberOld
First, most of the answers to your questions can be addressed but it will depend on availability and opportunity once you are here. Hopefully, you will have a sponsor that can help you with most of this. If you live on the economy, you'll have the opportunity to experience Germany. As for the commute, your mileage may vary depending on the time of day. As you approach Boblingen from the south, the traffic piles up due to the autobahn going from three lanes to two lanes. 30 minutes may be the nominal. It also depends on your route to the autobahn. If you have to drive through two or three small villages, it could add several minutes due to the winding streets and slower speeds ... and blitz cams. Good luck.
keepingtime
All of the bases are very close together. The towns that are south and west of Panzer all have their own quaintness. It does not take much of a drive going away from downtown Stuttgart to be in a "small town" atmosphere.

So, It seems you have almost a year to plan and search out towns. Most have their own websites and many of them are in English.

Ludwigsburg is beautiful and has the palace and gardens. But, that is in a completely different direction than the towns you mentioned. It would be great to just study on Google Earth where all the places are and how far you are willing to drive. Traffic is a mess and can back up for hours.
HEM
and blitz cams.
In case OP is wondering what these are - they make poor quality (but expensive) photos of your car...
AuburnNavy
Does anyone have any advise on living in Tubingen? It would entail a commute on the HWY (L 1208) through the Schönbuch nature reserve and a few small villages/towns like Holgerlingen approaching PK from the south, but I suspect when commuting in at 0500-0600, the traffic isn't probably too bad??? Also, it must be an enjoyable commute compared to the Capitol Beltway!!

What is Tubingen like...anyone?? More expnsive or less than the Stuttgart/Boblingen area? Would the commute from Tubingen to PK be helacious?
tinkerbel9
Hi. Yes, all the posts to Kelley, Patch, and Panzer apply to you. They are all close enough. Patch is just down a slow road, 8 mins. or the autobahn, 3 mins. Kelley to Patch, 6 mins.
keepingtime
I am sure you would enjoy Tubingen. It is a university town with much to offer. The old town is nice to walk around in also. The drive should not be that bad except maybe in the winter you might take the autobahn. The towns of Holzgerlingen, Weil im Schonbuch, Dettenhausen, Babenhausen, are all within commuting distance for you and are small quaint towns.
tinkerbel9
Forgot to mention. Traffic is hell here. If you are leaving from Tubingen it is not a 30 min. commute even on a smooth sunday. It is hell around 8-9. So add a good hour onto your cummute. My husband leaves at 5:30 to get around that traffic and to get on the base without a massive line out the base gate. Things are not sweet here. Talk to the brass there at the Petagon to do something about the population problem on kelly, patch, and your soon to be new home, Panzer.
Nicole
Panzer is a small base by US standards, It has quite a bit of stairwell housing, a PX and an elementary and middle school which right now are horrendously overcrowded. Patch Bks and Panzer are very close together (10 min drive), Patch has the commissary and the majority of personnel. Robinson Bks is about 30 mins from both bases and has more stairwell accommodation, and finally there is Kelley Bks, home to AFRICOM, more housing and about a 20 min drive to Patch and Panzer.

As you may have discovered if you've flicked through some of the threads is that there is quite a housing shortage due to the influx of people coming to AFRICOM. It has affected everything from parking places on base, medical care, school overcrowding and a feeling of general unrest within the community. Saying that this is a great area to live in once you are settled into a house and have overcome the initial PCS problems.

Finding somewhere to live depends on your willingness to be flexible, most people are searching for the holy grail of a house within walking distance to the bases, these are rare like hens teeth. The further out you go the better the chance of finding something slightly larger and less expensive. You may also be offered base housing, Some of it is very nice, newly renovated and there are still a few units that are a bit grotty, that is the luck of the draw and they older places are being renovated all the time. Living in Tubingen which is a university town would be nice, however the B27 is notorious for getting backed up in the rush hour and can easily take 45 mins to an hour to get to work. Herrenberg is home to many Americans and a popular area to live. Ludwigsburg is lovely, a city of palaces with a nice Marktplatz with a weekly market and outdoor cafes to sit out at in the summer. Best bet is to arrive here with an open mind and see what is available when you get here. You might want to be aware that if you are unable to find somewhere suitable, you can use a Realtor, most seem to have a deal with the housing office and can charge 2 or even 3 months rent as their fee. You could have to shell out 10,000 Euros in realtor fees plus deposits and one month in advance.

Downtown Stuttgart is great, child friendly and offers a lot in the way of street cafes and little restaurants, there is great zoo in Bad Canstatt and usually a playground for the kids in every town.

Were you at Navy London or West Ruislip, we lived there for 5 years (RAF Uxbridge) and loved it. All closed down now though!!
AuburnNavy
What is the best driving option for Americans? I think the US gov't ships one vehicle (we have 2...BMW and SUV). As a family with young kids, we use the SUV most often. Should we have the SUV shipped over the Germany or the BMW?

Is it to ostentatious to drive a big American SUV (GMC Yukon Denali) in Europe or should we look at taking the BMW? I would imagine it is easier to have the BMW worked on there...as well as the better gas mileage.

Are there gas stations on Panzer Kaserne at US prices?
keepingtime
Nicole is very wise as to what to expect.
Nicole
Gas station at Patch (10 mins from Panzer) or Kelley. We also get gas rations to buy off base at Esso stations. Prices slightly higher than in the US but still cheaper than German prices.
There are plenty of big American trucks here, have no idea where you'd get a Yukon serviced though!!
keepingtime
Your choice on vehicles. Your BMW has American specs. which is different from the European specs. Which might not be so easy to get parts even from your local BMW here. Your Yukon would be good for snowy days like we had this year and parts and gas and oil are up to you on that one.
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