There are just under 60 active U.S. Air Force bases in the country.
Additionally, the USAF maintains hundreds of military bases around the globe in more than 70 countries.
What are the best Air Force bases in the United States?
Read the article to learn more about the top Air Force bases in the country and overseas, along with specific demographics like best for singles or families.
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Best Air Force Bases in the U.S. – Overall
The United States currently operates 59 active Air Force bases.
Ranking the premier Air Force bases in the United States is not an easy task as there are several worthy of top honors.
The purpose of any great military base is to serve the country yet the location should also boost morale by offering amenities and other perks.
Here are the top Air Force bases in the nation:
Note: These rankings have been procured from a Military Times special report, which you can see here.
#1 – Scott Air Force Base, IL
Located in St. Clair County, Illinois, Scott Air Force Base tops the list of the best Air Force Bases in the U.S. overall.
It’s a great base to live on whether you’re single, married, or have kids, as there’s a lot to do in your downtime.
The unassuming military base in small-town Illinois is a “hidden gem” based on those who have served at the location.
Those that prefer a small town or rural lifestyle can find plenty of housing in the area for their families.
Meanwhile, others like single personnel have quick access to St. Louis and a variety of entertainment options.
#2 – Joint Base San Antonio Lackland, TX
Joint Base San Antonio is in the suburb of Lackland, Texas.
San Antonio is one of the most underrated cities in the United States with mild year-round temperatures, entertainment options, and a thriving nightlife.
Part of the reason Lackland ranks so high is because of its superior medical facilities which are important to a lot of military families.
Additionally, Joint Base San Antonio Lackland offers its own mall on the base and several other amenities.
Housing is also surprisingly affordable in parts of San Antonio and soldiers that are single will cherish the live music scene in nearby Austin.
Outdoor activities are also abundant given all the natural features in the area.
#3 – Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, OH
Wright-Patterson AFB just makes the cut among many other competing military bases for top honors.
It is one of the finest Air Force bases in the country similar to Scott Air Force Base and Joint Base San Antonio Lackland because of low housing, superb medical facilities, and a large commissary.
Military residents appreciate the rural and quiet surroundings of east Dayton yet with quick access to metropolises like Cincinnati, Cleveland, Detroit, Columbus, and Indianapolis.
Dayton also supports its military demographic with plenty of exclusive discounts and promotions for service members and families.
The hospitality doesn’t go unnoticed by military personnel making it a great place to feel welcomed.
Best Air Force Bases – Overseas
Did you know that there are nearly 800 Air Force bases around the globe?
The number remains high and far above any other country in the world despite closing down hundreds of bases recently in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Consequently, narrowing down a list of hundreds of overseas USAF bases is not a simple matter.
Yet these are the top Air Force bases overseas relying on the same factors as the top-rated in the U.S.:
#1 – Andersen Air Force Base, Guam
Anderson AFB also serves as naval headquarters yet is largely considered the premier place to live and serve overseas in the USAF.
The remote base is on the little island of Guam in the middle of nowhere on the Pacific.
However, what helps Guam is that it’s a territory of the United States with English as the predominant language.
The secludedness makes you feel like you have an island to yourself with phenomenal beaches and splendid weather.
Nature enthusiasts want to spend their time hiking while they tour jungle land with numerous waterfalls.
The overseas location is also instrumental to military operations on the Western Pacific.
#2 – RAF Lakenheath, England
RAF Lakenheath is in Suffolk, England.
The base is rural yet only about an hour from London as well as other countries in the area like Scotland.
The military site hosts the Royal Air Force but also supports U.S. personnel including the 48th Fighter Wing.
Housing near Lakenheath is among the best with plenty of new and trendy options.
The quiet countryside serves as a quick escape from the hectic nature of the military base.
Though the weather isn’t terrific it’s still a fantastic place to get stationed if you have to go outside the United States.
#3 – Kadena Air Base, Japan
Kadena Air Base is another location in Asia to get lost in along with Guam.
The overseas USAF base is top-notch even if it lacks modernized shopping.
Locals are friendly to soldiers serving in the USAF 18th Wing, 353rd Special Operations Group, and other units.
The massive base serves 20,000 American service members and families so you’ll never feel alone.
The weather is tropical yet really pleasant in the winters if you’re not a fan of the cold or snow.
Best Air Force Bases for Couples
Everyone has interests based on where they are in life.
What someone that serves the military and is single wants is drastically different from a service member with a wife and kids.
These are the highest ranking Air Force bases for couples:
#1 – Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Hawaii
Do you really need an excuse to live in Hawaii?
While families may find Hawaii expensive and difficult to spend time with extended family, most military couples love getting stationed on one of the islands.
Hickam Air Force Base is the highest rated Air Force base in Hawaii yet not for everyone which is why it doesn’t rank tremendously high overall.
However, couples will love everything millions of vacationers find a reason to visit Hawaii each year including spectacular scenery and fantastic weather.
#2 – McGuire Air Force Base, New Jersey
McGuire Air Force Base is part of joint base operations with the United States Air Force.
It is in Burlington County, New Jersey which might not sound all that terrific for young couples but keep in mind its proximity to New York City and Philadelphia.
Therefore, if you really like city life then you’ll find many of the USAF bases on the list problematic for their rural settings.
McGuire Air Force Base, on the other hand, is very close to NYC, Philadelphia, and New Jersey for nightlife.
#3 – Eglin Air Force Base, Florida
Eglin Air Force Base is another excellent choice for military couples.
The military facility is in the Fort Walton and Destin area with direct access to the Gulf of Mexico.
The coastal military base provides that Florida weather with plenty of charm.
Eglin Air Force Base also consistently ranks among the top 10 Air Force bases in the United States so you can’t go wrong with all its offerings.
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Best Air Force Bases for Singles
Single life has its advantages and disadvantages.
Many people join the military to travel and see the world which is most desirable for active-duty members that are single.
While there are numerous overseas locations worth considering for singles, this list focuses on bases in the United States.
Here are the best places for singles:
#1 – Joint Base San Antonio Lackland, Texas
Joint Base San Antonio Lackland is such a great place to get stationed that it makes the list twice.
The military base has multiple things going for it as mentioned above.
It’s a great base for singles because of its proximity to downtown San Antonio and Austin which are paradises for this type of crowd.
You’ll never regret a day at Lackland if you are single and looking to mingle.
#2 – MacDill Air Force Base, Florida
MacDill AFB is another prime location for the single crowd.
It is minutes from downtown Tampa near the bay leading out to the Gulf of Mexico.
Orlando is also within a long day’s drive from MacDill Air Force Base.
The military base serves as the host for the 6th Air Refueling Wing.
#3 – Nellis Air Force Base
Nellis Air Force Base is right outside North Las Vegas – need we say more?
While relocating to Las Vegas is maybe a good or bad thing it’s impossible to resist the urge for young singles of the USAF.
Nellis AFB features more military schools and squadrons than any other Air Force base in the country.
Therefore, it’s plausible that you will get to spend time at Nellis and ideally when you are young and single.
Best Air Force Bases for Families
Everyone has to settle down eventually, right?
Though military life is extremely hard on families there are thousands that make it work every year.
You can increase your odds of success by helping your family relocate to a place with affordable housing, family-friend amenities, good schools, and low crime rates.
Here are the leading bases for families:
#1 – Grand Forks Air Force Base, North Dakota
Grand Forks Air Force Base is a hidden gem in North Dakota.
While the state is usually not the top choice for many military families you’ll find a welcoming community with plenty of support.
Grand Forks AFB continuously ranks among the top 10 USAF bases in the United States.
Housing is affordable with high-quality schools and excellent features on the base.
#2 – Luke Air Force Base, Arizona
Luke Air Force Base has an excellent location west of Glendale and the greater Phoenix metro area.
You may or may not like the summers, but the rest of the year offers some of the best mild temperatures in the United States.
Luke AFB is a major training facility for the military branch and has excellent amenities.
It regularly ranks in the Top 5 Air Force bases in the country.
Low housing costs and phenomenal support from the local community makes Luke AFB an ideal place for military families.
The military base is also close to the Grand Canyon and Joshua Tree National Park for family vacations when the time allows.
#3 – Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska
Though the concept of moving to Alaska may overwhelm some families it is a once in a lifetime opportunity.
Along with having the great wilderness as your backyard (more on that, below), it’s a great assignment for military families.
Keep in mind it’s very competitive to get stationed at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson but savor the opportunity if it presents itself.
Fairbanks is near the base which also provides an outstanding commissary and exchange with a mall and shoppette.
Families also benefit from no state income or sales tax in the Anchorage area.
Best Air Force Bases for Outdoors
There is nothing like spending leisure time in the outdoors.
Thankfully, many of the USAF bases in the United States have quick access to the outdoors and are in rural locations.
Here are the finest locations for the outdoors:
#1 – Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska
One word: Alaska.
What else could you want in an outdoor paradise than Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson and its incredible backyard to the Great Outdoors?
It’s competitive to get stationed at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson but worth giving it a shot.
The scenery is not only gorgeous but the weather is decent (by Alaska standards) and wildlife is abundant.
If that is not enough, consider that Elmendorf-Richardson has its own ski area.
#2 – Schriever Air Force Base, Colorado
Schriever AFB is among several USAF bases in the Colorado Springs metropolitan.
The area, along with many parts of Colorado, is rapidly growing and forecasts to eventually replace Denver in terms of population.
The amenities at the military base are excellent and Colorado Springs is an excellent community to call home since so many residents are either active duty or retired military personnel.
Colorado Springs is also home to the scenic Air Force Academy and right along the southern edge of the Rocky Mountains.
Pikes Peak, among the many ’14ers’ in the state of Colorado, is right in your backyard.
#3 – Holloman Air Force Base, New Mexico
New Mexico is underrated when it comes to its outdoors.
Holloman AFB is deserving even if Luke AFB and MacDill AFB also need to get considered on this list.
Holloman AFB is between White Sands National Park and Lincoln National Forest.
Service members also have the choice of journeying north to Alburqurqe and many destinations in Colorado for extended leave vacations.
The Grand Canyon and Carlsbad Caverns National Park are also within reason.
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Creating a list of the best Air Force bases in the nation is not an easy task.
There are several military bases that have a lot to offer to military personnel and their families.
Serving the United States Air Force could land you in one of these premium locations depending on what you are seeking during service.