Living off base – pros and cons

Life of soldiers includes many sacrifices, and living on a military base is usually one of them. Fortunately, soldiers with more rank can generally to move out of the barracks or dormitories and live in an apartment, house, or condominium. This also includes receiving a housing and food allowance. This relocation represents a huge change in ones’ life and it is always easier with a company that can provide you with professional military move service. If you are planning or thinking about living off base, we have made a list of pros and cons you should be aware of.

The biggest advantage of all is freedom, but it comes with a price

What living off base really means? Basically, soldiers often give your private housing contractor your entire Basic Allowance for Housing payment each month. Good news is that this amount typically covers most utilities and some yard maintenance services on top of actual rent. But on the other hand, it can feel like you are giving a lot of money for housing. Additionally, there are things BAH on base doesn’t cover, such as renters insurance or home internet. Hence, be prepared to pay out of pocket for those things.

Girl standing on a balcony with her arms open thinking about living off base
The biggest advantage of living off base is the freedom to choose where and how to live

However, when choosing to live off base, you have the freedom to choose the place to live. This means that by picking a house or apartment priced below what you receive in BAH, you get to save part of your housing allowance. Depending on the state and the city or town you are moving to, saving money is much easier in some areas than others. But whatever you choose, it feels really good to know that you have control over where that money goes and how much of it will you spend on rent. Therefore, by choosing a cheap place to live and finding the best moving rates, you get to use your money on things that make you happy. Whether that’s your hobby, traveling or shopping, you will certainly enjoy it!

It’s convenient, and you deserve it!

Living on base has its advantages, such as proximity to work and always handy military commissary. But it comes with plenty of inconvenient things as well. It is generally harder to keep in touch with family and friends. And although your family members have military ID cards, you still need to get a pass for all other visitors that come to see you. Also, while every base has at least one 24-hour gate, your housing may be near a gate that closes at an early hour. Or it could be closed on holidays. This means wasting a lot of time driving to any trips off base. Yes, moving off base require that you learn how to compare moving quotes and choose the best housing option. It won’t be easy but it will certainly be worth it. When you choose to live off base you will get nice and easy access to your house for you and your visitors.

A soldier holding two kids and kissing them
If you have kids, off post housing could be the best option for you and your family

Questions you should ask yourself to decide if living off base is for you

  • Are you on a waiting list for on-base housing? This is a very important question. Nowadays, many bases have waiting lists ranging from a few weeks to a few months for on-post accommodation. So, if you are waiting, you should definitely find off base solution until on-post housing opens up.
  • How will you be at this duty station? When renting a house or apartment, you will probably need to agree on a long-term lease. Short term leases, for periods of less than a year, are never easy to find. So, if you are not sure how long you will be stationed at a particular base, on-post may be a better option.
  • Do you have any children? If the answer is yes, especially if you have more than one child, living off base could be bliss. Chances are that you will get a townhome or family house. And most likely, you will get it for the same money as a small apartment. Sound good? There is more. You will probably have access to nearby playgrounds, pools and other families amenities. Most importantly, you’ll rest easy knowing that your community is safe.
  • What are the housing costs in the area around your base? Some places have very high rental costs, which make living on-base a more economical solution. While in other areas, it can go another way around, and you could save money living off base.
  • What do you like? Do you like to be surrounded by the military community, or would you prefer to have a daily rest from military life? Some find the atmosphere and the lifestyle of a military base comforting and supporting. Others find it restrictive and exhausting. And while many families wish to be part of a larger community, others appreciate having friends nearby who are going through the same challenges. So, ask yourself what are your preferences?
Suburbs with houses and trees
One of the pros is being part of the local community

Buying a house

Buying a house is one of the main reasons some people choose living off base. Having something of their own is different than living inside the military community. Generally, people often avoid buying a house while in the military. The reason for this is the change of assignment that might happen. Once you receive a change of assignment, you will need to sell a house to move. This can be a bit complicated, so no wonder soldiers more likely rent than buy a place. On the other hand, if you have the information you will be settled in one place for a longer period, there is no reason not to buy a home. 

If you feel like “going home” after work and changing your environment, you should definitely try off base living. Being part of some local community could be a great experience for you, especially if you have a family. Whatever you choose, enjoy it to the fullest!

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