This sprawling training base occupies over 125,000 acres of land, including 17 miles of undeveloped land on the picturesque Southern California coastline. The base’s diverse terrain offers amphibious and sea-to-shore training opportunities in addition to many large desert “tactical playgrounds.” It is located in the northern reaches of San Diego County, with downtown San Diego just 38 miles to the south. Los Angeles is roughly 82 miles to the north, but many Orange County attractions are just a short drive away.
Camp Pendleton is home to the I Marine Expeditionary Force (‘Eye’ MEF), which primarily includes the 1st Marine Division, 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing, and 1st Marine Logistics Group. Other major commands at Camp Pendleton are Marine Corps Installations-West, 1st Marine Special Operations Battalion, Marine Corps Tactical Systems Support Activity, Wounded Warrior Battalion West, Marine Corps Recruit Depot, San Diego’s Weapons & Field Training Battalion, and Naval Hospital Camp Pendleton, just to name a few. Several training courses are hosted here as well, with the School of Infantry being the most notable.
Spanish explorers and Franciscan missionaries settled in the area of present-day Camp Pendleton in 1769 and christened it Santa Margarita. Soon after, “ranchos” were handed out via land grants to favored families and retired soldiers for settlement and cultivation of the land. Descendants of these Spanish rancheros were dubbed the “Californios” and became the region’s ruling families. Even after Mexico gained its independence from Spain, Rancho Santa Margarita y Las Flores remained mostly undeveloped and intact for over 120 years. Following the onset of World War II there was a push to establish an amphibious training area and this mass of land on the Southern California coastline was ideal. The ranch was acquired for just over $4 million and Camp Pendleton was established in 1942. It became a permanent base in 1946.
Camp Pendleton is a gigantic installation, with a significant amount of its mountainous land reserved for training exercises. While this keeps the “Mainside” compact and navigable, traversing the base from north to south can take up to an hour. Generally speaking, most of the infantry units are located on the north side, and the aviation and support units are located in the south. No matter which side of base you or your spouse may commute to, there are several commissaries, exchanges, and other amenities fairly evenly dispersed. Camp Pendleton boasts two beaches with cottage rentals, a dive shop, several pools, fitness centers, a bowling alley, movie theater, and of course, a horse stable.
Living on base is very popular due to the high cost of living in California. However, BAH at Camp Pendleton is higher than many other California bases — including those in neighboring San Diego. Most of the housing has been renovated or is in the process of being remodeled, and a lot of it is concentrated at the southern end of the base. Utilities are included with on post housing, which is a major consideration in this costly region. Homes in neighborhoods close to the water may not have central A/C because of the opportunity to capture ocean breezes, but that may take some getting used to during the hotter summer months.Newer and renovated homes in the valley or desert usually have A/C, but you can also add 10 to 20 degrees to the average temperature once you move away from the coast.
All of California is at your fingertips from Camp Pendleton and there are some postcard-worthy communities beyond the base to call home if you so choose. There are two airports and several trains that serve the area, making travel up and down the coast a breeze. Family friendly attractions such as SeaWorld, the world-famous San Diego Zoo and its Safari Park, and LEGOLAND are conveniently located in nearby San Diego. Neighboring towns provide a chill, oh-so-California vibe with surf shops and beaches. Enjoy the sunshine, year-round mild temperatures, the great outdoors, and the Cali way of life!
Main Housing Office
Oceanside, CA 92055
Hours: M - F: 0730 to 1700
Marine Family ServicesLocation: 13150 C St.
Camp Pendleton, CA 92055
Hours: M - F: 0730 to 1630
Lincoln Military Housing - Camp Pendleton
Oceanside, CA 92055
DeLuz Family Housing
Oceanside, CA (888) 273-9024
School Liaison OfficeLocation: Building 1160
Camp Pendleton, CA 92055