As an active-duty service member, you have a lot of decisions to make…like do you want to live on base where you have immediate access to housing and don’t have to pay rent or do you want to live off base and get more options? Before making this decision, it’s important to understand the pros and cons to determine which one is right for you and your situation.
Buying Off Base – Pros & Cons
- Chance to “Invest” Your BAH for Future Benefits: Buying off base allows you to leverage your BAH for mortgage payments and build equity. This option is very popular with families and is a great way to maximize the investment of your BAH each month.
- Access to More Housing Options: Being off base allows you to shop around to find the exact home your family needs while taking advantage of the culture and amenities of the surrounding city. Owning your own home can also provide a distinct separation between work on base and life at home.
- Unexpected PCS Orders Can Make Moving More Complex: New orders can disrupt your plans and add to the complexity of these changes by requiring you to sell or rent your off-base property.
- Not Knowing the Timing of Your Next Move Could Impact Your Returns: Any sudden need to move will put you at the mercy of fluctuating housing markets – which isn’t always a positive financial move.
Pros and Cons of Living On Base
- Avoid Extra Coordination During the Move: If you’re looking for a more simplified option, living on base will help you avoid the headache of finding a realtor and searching for and visiting available homes. Living on base also allows you the flexibility to move out quickly without the need to resell or rent out your property.
- No Rent While On Base: The biggest benefit is obviously paying no rent while living on base (if government owned). Even if it’s privately owned, your BAH will likely cover the entire month’s rent.
- Proximity to Work: Another huge benefit is proximity to work – no long commutes to get on and off base every day. If you have a family with children, you can take advantage of on-base school and childcare services.
- Being Isolated from the Culture of the City: There are some clear drawbacks such as being isolated from the culture or amenities of the city you’ve just moved to. Moving can give you access to new experiences and on base can limit that.
- Ability to Control Home Type: The ability to choose the type of home is also somewhat out of your control when moving on base. Housing is determined for you, with consideration to your pay and family. Whether you get sent to a single-family home or an apartment complex, there is an element of luck that comes with choosing to live on base.
No matter where you choose to live, you can access free tools and resources to help you find financial freedom, through GoVA’s Edge platform, available exclusively for military families. See how you can make all your financial decisions easier.