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Military Housing vs Offbase Housing

By Edited Nov 13, 2013 2 8
Military Housing(41766)

The days of military housing being managed by the government are long gone. Now, it's being managed by private contractors. The Department of Defense has made it mandatory that, all military housing will be privatized. Most are already privatized, so If you are joining the military, or already an enlisted soldier, and is torn between living in military housing or off base housing, you are not alone. This is a decision that could affect your finances and your family's lifestyle. So, whether you are considering moving out of  army, navy or air force living quarters or is just coming in; you should keep a few things in mind before taking the plunge. Here are some pros and cons of both on post and off post living.

Pros: On Base

  1. Utilities Covered. Soldiers with a family are usually given basic allowance for housing (BAH). This extra money will cover rent and utilities such as electricity, water and heat.
  2. Family size. The size of your home as far as bed rooms go, will depend on the size of your family. Kids usually get their own rooms. If they can't give each child a room, you can get on the waiting list until a larger house is available.
  3. Credit check. Soldiers aren't required to submit a credit check.
  4. No security deposit. If you choose to live on base, you don't need to put a security deposit of first month and last month's rent if you agree to pay by allotment through electronic fund transfer (EFT).
  5. Property maintenance. Most military housing are operated by private contractors or real estate companies. Most, if not all, maintain the properties and provide lawn care, pest control, trash pick up and more.
  6. Pets allowed. This has to be one of the top reasons why most families choose to live on base. Your pets, such as cats, dogs, and small domesticated animals are usually allowed to live on base. Keep in mind you might have to pay a pet deposit. Depending on the property manager, it may be refundable at the end of the lease.
  7. Short commute. Living on base, you will have short commutes to work and surrounding amenities. Which will save you money on gas and time.
  8. Renters Insurance. Most private contractors also offer renters insurance.

Cons: On Base

  1. BAH (Basic Allowance for Housing). Because housing on base is privatized, all your allowance goes to the contractor or Realtor managing the property. It doesn't matter your rank or the size of your house. All your BAH goes to the company.
  2. Duplexes. All most all the houses are duplexes. So if you are the type of person who don't like your neighbors too close, then maybe you should consider off base housing. There is no question that privacy will be compromised.

Pros: Off Base

  1. Housing allowance. Your housing allowance, if you plan wisely, can be more than enough to pay for off base rent and utilities, with a little left over for dinner and a movie. This will depend on the cost of living where you are stationed.
  2. Privacy. Again, depending on the cost of living where your military installation is, you may be able to rent an affordable single family home which will give you more privacy than the duplexes on base.

 Cons: Off Base

  1. Credit check. Most, if not all outside apartment rental managers will check your credit and everyone else in your family that's over 18. So if you're credit is challenged, you may have a hard time renting.
  2. Security deposit. If you choose to live off base, 99 percent of the time you will be required to put a security deposit down. Sometimes there are incentives if you have excellent credit.
  3. Pets. Most apartment complexes or Realtors do not allow pets. There are a few who do, but often takes a lot of research to find them.
  4. Lawn maintenance. Most property managers require you to take care of your own lawn.
  5. Utilities not covered. You are more than likely have to pay for your own utilities. This includes water, heat and power bill.
  6. Commute. Traveling back and forth to work on base, can be costly as far as gas is concerned and time consuming also when fighting the morning and evening rush of traffic.
  7. Renters insurance. Usually outside rental properties do not offer renters insurance.

Hopefully from the information provided here, you are able to make the best decision for you and your family. Happy on base or off base hunting!




Feb 23, 2011 2:01pm
One of our daughters and her Navy husband lived in military housing with their children for several years. Not only was it a great experience, but she became close to many of the other wives when her husband was out at sea. In fact, she is still friends with some of them, even though that was over three years ago! Very informative article.
Feb 24, 2011 9:26am
Thanks Deb! As a veteran and a military spouse and mom, that is one of the many things I love about the military, meeting people and becoming longtime friends. I'm glad you found this piece informative. Thanks for commenting.
Feb 23, 2011 4:04pm
Good information and very well written. I'm sure it will help many military families!
Feb 24, 2011 9:27am
Thanks Introspective! I appreciate it.
Feb 25, 2011 3:31am
In the UK MOD housing costs are quite low. This is enabling my nephew to save to buy his own house.He is thinking in advance of when he leaves the army and settles into civvy life. However he is abroad at the moment and we are praying for all those on active service abroad.
Feb 25, 2011 4:15am
Your nephew is a smart guy to think in advance, especially in this economy. Thanks for commenting!
Feb 25, 2011 9:37am
Interesting article on military housing vs offbase housing. Our brave men and women in the military deserve the best housing possible. Thanks for giving us an overview of the pros and cons. Thanks for your service to our country,too.
Feb 25, 2011 10:06am
Thank you for commenting southerngirl09!
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