Jump to content
Baseops Forums
Sign in to follow this  
The Kayla

RAF Lakenheath/Mildenhall info

Recommended Posts

Don't bring a nicer car and park it on Cambridge streets: the drunken cyclist and mirror clipped by lorrie (truck) threats are large.

I bought beaters and then sold them as I deployed to save insurance money.

Edited by Dupe

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Just found out I’ll be headed to Mildenhall early next year. I would appreciate any/all current info on life over there (last post was over 5 years ago), and how to navigate an OCONUS move. I have a few specific questions:

1. Electronics - Will my stuff (laptop, stereo) work with just a socket adapter? I seem to remember people using transformers with their stuff. 

2. Phone/Cable - Currently have T-Mobile but looking for advice on swapping out SIM card or should I just start a whole new plan for my wife and myself. I was planning on using a VPN and just keeping my Hulu and Netflix, any advice for or against?

3. Housing - I’m looking to live off base and know about the houses are much smaller thing, any idea if I could get a decent sized place close to American standards with O-4 OHA? Any suggestions on how to look for a place to rent, app/agent?

4. Car - I’m thinking about shipping my wife’s 4-Runner and selling my truck here and getting a beater for while I’m there. Is having a left-hand drive SUV a pain in the ass over there?

5. Ops Tempo - I’ve heard the 135 guys out there are pretty busy right now, any update on what to expect?

Thanks in advance for anything anyone has to offer. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
1 hour ago, Thelunchables said:

Just found out I’ll be headed to Mildenhall early next year. I would appreciate any/all current info on life over there (last post was over 5 years ago), and how to navigate an OCONUS move. I have a few specific questions:

1. Electronics - Will my stuff (laptop, stereo) work with just a socket adapter? I seem to remember people using transformers with their stuff. 

2. Phone/Cable - Currently have T-Mobile but looking for advice on swapping out SIM card or should I just start a whole new plan for my wife and myself. I was planning on using a VPN and just keeping my Hulu and Netflix, any advice for or against?

3. Housing - I’m looking to live off base and know about the houses are much smaller thing, any idea if I could get a decent sized place close to American standards with O-4 OHA? Any suggestions on how to look for a place to rent, app/agent?

4. Car - I’m thinking about shipping my wife’s 4-Runner and selling my truck here and getting a beater for while I’m there. Is having a left-hand drive SUV a pain in the ass over there?

5. Ops Tempo - I’ve heard the 135 guys out there are pretty busy right now, any update on what to expect?

Thanks in advance for anything anyone has to offer. 

PCSd out here in Feb/March.  If you're a facebooker look up Mildenhall/Lakenheath Q&A, yard sales, for sale, auto lemon lot etc. lots of info there.

1. Electronics - Look at every electronic device.  Somewhere on the power cord, device manual, power brick, or internet you will find a voltage/frequency rating.  If it does not show an input within this range, I would consider ditching or storing it unless you really need it:

England 230 V 50 Hz (source: GOOGLE)

You'll get transformers provided (on base also has dual power) but they're loud, power hungry, and in our case, tripped the current protection in our home everytime we cycled it.  We're almost entirely on 230 capable electronics and only had to swap out 1 TV and pick up local lamps/ac machine/fans plus a toaster.  Plugs are different and some electronics are even mainland European style which makes for a lot of fun.

2. Phone/Cable - Your phone is probably unlocked.  Take a look at 3 or Vodafone sim cards/plans.  Prices are ridiculously cheap for unlimited talk/text etc to the point where I used a monthly sim card and a phone with wifi sharing as a router until our internet was up and running.  We use express VPN.  It works great.

3. Housing - We got here off PCS season but still found plenty of housing that supported a 4 member + 2 cat + 2 car O-4 cap in rural, suburban, and city areas.  Every property uses their own realtors (in some cases multiple per property) and some realtors are more DOD experienced/friendly than others.  I won't recommend any particular one, to include ours but you can spend days on AHRN getting leads and tracking down relevant realtors also listing the properties.

4. Car - I would advise against bringing the LHD larger vehicle.  We've got a RHD Mitsubishi SUV of a similar size and a LHD Mustang.  Between hood sliding to escape parking garages gates to fearing toll roads when driving alone it's not a great experience most days.  Some dudes and their spouses don't mind keeping one for the local stuff.  Roads are also garbage and parking is a nightmare but if you really don't care about the 4 runner go for it (resell will be hard if you don't intend to take it home).  You can find comparable models here for $2-6K.

5. Ops Tempo - No real input here.  I see a lot of them parked on the ramp all day and can't keep our guys AAR current so they must be doing something... somewhere... hopefully.

Feel free to PM as well.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

To add to what AFSock said,

Electronics- We were provided a transformer for US electronics, e.g. kitchen appliances, TV.  Found it to be more of a pain than it's worth.  Laptops are generally 240 V compatible, but for those items that aren't we found it easier to just buy stuff when that could be plugged directly into the socket.  The transformers are bulky, heavy and hum pretty loud.  They are not just something you plug into the socket between your item and the electrical grid.  They are a small electric sub-station on their own- probably ended up costing us a bit of money to use them as well.

Car- Left hand drive is a pain.  Harder to navigate roundabouts since you yield to the right you're always looking across the windshield and the front passenger side barrier gets in the way.  Plus, the British are anal about auto regulations.  There's a good chance you'll have to have exterior lights moved around to meet their specs.  Not expensive, but as AFSock said, there are plenty of used cars available from people PCSing out.  We paid around 3000 pounds for a used car and pretty much sold it for the same when we left.  Also, as mentioned, roads and parking lots are small.  And it's fun (for the first few months) to go and open the left hand door only to realize that you are on the wrong side of the car.

One other word of advice based on personal experience.  Keep a careful on when they are unpacking your items.  We had a couple of things go missing even though we saw them get unpacked.

The UK was frustrating in many ways, but overall it was a good experience.  It's like learning to live all over again since everything seems to be backwards.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

PCS’d out of Mildenhall 2 years ago.  Best assignment of my career!  

“2” on AFsock’s recommendations. Either store or sell your nice vehicles and buy a beater!  The side roads are brutal because they are built on farm/drained marshlands.  I bought a reliable 7 year old car for $2K and sold it for the same when I left.  

If you’re a 135 guy you’ll be busy, but the missions are challenging and rewarding and mostly priority 1 and 2. Over my 4 years I did 4 “deployments” to locations where your family will want to come where you’ll be supporting French ops in AFRICOM.

Enjoy!  I’d swap places with you in a heartbeat!

  • Like 1
  • Upvote 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

If you or your spouse sew (my wife is a quilter), don’t use a US machine on 50hz. It’ll jack up the timing, even with a transformer.  Check the label to make sure it’s 50/60hz before plugging it in. 

Edited by HU&W
  • Upvote 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Living here is great. There will be enough gouge from your unit to help cover most of your questions. I'll throw my two cents in for a few of em.

1. Power. Don't worry about using the transformers with regards to $. They will make certain appliances like hair driers and hair clippers scream louder than a cat in heat. Not an electrician/engineer but probably something with the Hz? Anything that is dual voltage is GTG with an adapter, most TVs and computers these days are dual power.

2. When looking for a house, not all villages have cell signal. The lack of reliable cell coverage is one of the most frustrating things here in the UK. Use this site to see what is available where you live: https://www.signalchecker.co.uk/

3A. Housing. Timing and luck! I found a 2600sq/ft place that is well inside O4 OHA on pure luck. Also, ask around for letting agencies to avoid. There are some real a-holes out there. Most people are spread between Bury St Edmonds, Redlodge/Newmarket, Cambridge, and Ely. Pros and Cons to all. Ask around your unit. Go check them out yourself to see if the drive is something you want to do. Each drive is 'unique.' When you do find a place...you are certainly not stuck in it. I've had many friends move while they are here for various reasons. Obviously it is out of your own pocket to move.

3B. If you go into TLF here heads up. The housing office gets really pushy with their policies. I.E. they only give you 30 days in TLF and then you HAVE to go into base housing (which could be at Lakenheath or Feltwell) or an off base TLF. Pro-tip...if you sign up for an off base TLF, it is essentially a rental property. Your overseas entitlements will start when you go into it. I did it...started that extra cash flow early. Folks in your squadron should help you out with this gouge.

4. We drive all over the UK in our LHD vehicle. Doesn't bother us a bit....you just learn to adapt and overcome. Sometimes it helps on narrow streets because you can get SUPER close to parked cars. We have two RHD cars as well. Beaters are fun. Our technique was to go cheap and dispose when they break. My $900 special is still going strong after a year! There are some cheap rental companies right off base that will get you through while you search for a car.

Other things to think about:

Banking

You cannot pay rent/utility/ect with US based banks...unless you are pulling heaps of cash every month. You'll have to get a British account when you get here. This could be through Community Bank on base, through an actual British bank, or through some non-standard banking such as Transferwise & Monzo. PM me if you want more gouge on this subject.

Travel

Easy and cheap. Flew to/from Scotland for $30 round trip recently. Almost all of western Europe is within a 3 hour flight.

Pets

Are you bringing pets? There is a process. PM if so.

Side notes:

Once you do find a place, don't expect anything to happen quickly with utilities, cable/internet, ect. My example: I signed up on line for a cable/internet provider. Had to wait two weeks for the setup appointment. When they came, they found that some of the wiring in the phone lines was bad....despite it being this particular company's equipment...the technician was not allowed to work on the lines. So we had to make another appointment for the 'line guy' to come out...another week delay. I could not make another setup appointment until the work was done. So another week long wait. Took a damn month.

Everything here has a 'scheme' which is just British for "we are going to charge you more money for no reason."

  • Upvote 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Don’t use community bank on base!!  They charge like 3% for the conversion from $ to £.  Cost me literally a thousand dollars out of pocket using them for a year.

It’s a little bit of a pain to set up but I’d highly recommend a Lloyd’s or Barclays account.  Then get a contactless debit card and it makes life easy.  (Also set up contactless lay on your iPhone, otherwise you’ll be signing for everything).

Transferwise is a website / app that makes it super easy / cheap / fast to move money between my US Bank and Lloyd’s.  Recommend this too.

Find a credit card that doesn’t have foreign transaction fees.

Heads up on the cell phone contracts - there’s no real US military clause etc..  so if you leave early you’ll be held responsible for paying out like half your contract or something ridiculous.

Have fun!  It’s awesome.

 

 

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
9 hours ago, billy pilgrim said:

Heads up on the cell phone contracts - there’s no real US military clause etc..  so if you leave early you’ll be held responsible for paying out like half your contract or something ridiculous.

Have fun!  It’s awesome.

 

 

 

Being stationed at EGUN was an awesome experience. We loved every minute of it even though the ops tempo was pretty rough. And for context so I'm not seen as the whining USAFE tanker dude, my assignment prior to EGUN was McConnell.

We ended up going with 3 for cell service that was pay as you go monthly so no early termination fee, plus they were extremely cheap on the continent. 3 would charge extra kind of like roaming, but some countries did not have roaming charges (Italy and Germany IIRC). Cell coverage is spotty in the UK, but 3 was the only company that allowed wi-fi phone calls to and from your 3 UK phone number. That was as of 2016 so more companies may have started that also.

Enjoy England, it was a great assignment!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Don’t use community bank on base!!  They charge like 3% for the conversion from $ to £.  Cost me literally a thousand dollars out of pocket using them for a year.
 
 

Everyone going overseas needs to know this. Huge fee for convenience. I had 6,000 Euros I needed to convert to $ when I left, BOA took $~250 to do it.

Get a local bank account, minimize BOA use. It’s a screw-job


Sent from my iPhone using Baseops Network mobile app

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.
Note: Your post will require moderator approval before it will be visible.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

Sign in to follow this  



×
×
  • Create New...