JBLM Living FAQs

JBLM Living FAQs


JBLM Living FAQs Frequently asked questions by CAF families posted to JBLM

Q.: What is the weather like in the JBLM area?
A.: On average, there are 141 sunny days per year in Tacoma, Washington. The July high is around 77 degrees Fahrenheit with the January low at 37 degrees Fahrenheit. Sperling's comfort index for Tacoma is a 79 out of 100, where a higher score indicates a more comfortable year-around climate. The U.S. average for the comfort index is 54. The index is based on the total number of days annually within the comfort range of 70-80 degrees, and it also applied a penalty for days of excessive humidity. Tacoma, Washington, gets 44 inches of rain per year. The U.S. average is 39. Snowfall is 3 inches. The number of days with any measurable precipitation is 146.

Q.: How easy is it for kids to access French education at JBLM?
A.: Washington is mostly an English speaking State. French is not prominent and therefore accessing French Second Language Training can be challenging. For kids you will find private tutors mostly located in Olympia, Tacoma and Seattle. As of now, we know two high schools that offer French Classes. We recommend families to contact schools ahead to confirm availability.

Q.: I am a francophone moving in Washington, what are my options to learn English?
A.: For adults, MFS U.S. offers Rosetta Stone Licenses (limited quantities). Joint Base Lewis-McChord also has a partnership with Piece College and have a program for newcomers needing English class for a reduce fee.

Q.: What are the public schools in the area like?
A.: Four learning goals provide the foundation for the development of all academic learning standards in Washington state: Read with comprehension, write effectively, and communicate successfully in a variety of ways and settings and with a variety of audiences; Know and apply the core concepts and principles of mathematics; social, physical, and life sciences; civics and history, including different cultures and participation in representative government; geography; arts; and health and fitness; Think analytically, logically, and creatively, and to integrate technology literacy and fluency as well as different experiences and knowledge to form reasoned judgments and solve problems; and Understand the importance of work and finance and how performance, effort, and decisions directly affect future career and educational opportunities.
For more information we invite you to visit the Washington State Office of Superintendant of Public Instruction website.

Q.:  How easy is it to navigate Interstate 5?
A.: Traffic: The I-5 is a very busy highway connecting California to British Columbia. It is often jammed with Traffic and it can be frustrating at times. The State announced construction to be done in 2017 and traveling delays may impact some families’ daily commute. We recommend families to visit the Washington State Department of Transport website for more information.
Road Conditions: Although Washington State rarely gets snow, icy road are common during winter months. The rain on the roads can also cause hydroplaning.
Q.: Are there any Natural disaster threats in Tacoma?
A.: Washington State is prone to earthquakes; the State has an Emergency Plan for all residents in case of a massive Cascadia Subduction Zone earthquake.
Washington has five major volcanoes: Mount Baker, Glacier Peak, Mount Rainier, Mount St. Helens, and Mount Adams. These volcanoes are part of the Cascade Range and are located far enough from JBLM. If you choose to live close by you will see Evacuation Signs on the road.

Q.:  What is the crime rate like in the area?
A.: Overall Canadian Families living in the area find it safe. Some locations have a higher crime rate such as some parts of Lakewood, Tacoma and the other areas surrounding the base. You will find many gated communities in the area as well.

Q.: What services are offered at JBLM?
 A.: Joint Base Lewis-McChord is one of the five biggest bases in United States. JBLM offers a wide variety of services. For more information visit the JBLM MWR website.
Q.: How easy is it to find a rental property?
 A.: There is a very low inventory of houses for rent; HHTs can be very stressful and challenging. As soon as you receive your posting message you should contact your MFRC and/or the unit for more details.


Most families live in:
  • Lacey: 20 minutes from the Base, close to all amenities, great schools, and very family oriented.
  • Dupont: 10 minutes or less from the Base, small town feel and very good for families.
  • Lakewood: 15 minutes from the Base, nice houses on lakes.
  • Tacoma: 15-20 minutes from the base, large city, great restaurants, art gallery and more.
  • Puyallup: 20-25 minutes from the base, many amenities, closer to Seattle, great family neighbourhood, great views from Mt. Rainier.
  • Spanaway & Steilacoom are also towns of interest.
  • Gig Harbor: Wonderful water views, great family neighbourhood. 
Q.: How easy is it to access medical services?
 A.: JBLM has a major hospital on the base; Madigan Army Hospital. The hospital is accessible to all Canadian Families as long as they are registered. Active Duty members have priority therefore some services are over booked and referral off base is common. Families have to be careful as they are not fully covered under Tricare in civilian hospitals. Families are encouraged to read the Canadian Contingency brochure available on our Website page.

Q.: What do I need to register my children to the on base daycare and sport?
A.: Canadian Families have access to reduced rate childcare and activities on base. In order to access the services, families have to follow the registration process. For more information visit JBLM MWR.

Q.: What do people do for activities in JBLM?
A.: Washington State is famous for its breathtaking scenery. Canadian families enjoy outdoor activities including camping and hiking opportunities. There are a lot of local Breweries and Wineries to discover during your stay here. The Pacific Northwest welcomes tons of well known artists, and the residents are big time sports supporters. Let yourself be moved by the 12th man wave and experience sports like never before.