If you are one of the more than 650,000 service members that PCS every year, you have to deal with quality of life issues like neighborhoods, house or apartment, rent or buy, schools, access to healthcare, and transportation. And the logistical and economic issues of the physical move make it more complicated.
The process starts with knowing what your base allowance for housing is going to be. Go to the BAH Calculator to find your monthly allowance for your pay grade in your new base location.
Once you have an idea of what your budget is, go to AHRN military housing to explore the various military friendly renters, sellers, and neighborhoods that meet your criteria, and fit within your base allowance for housing. Your BAH is a set number so it’s possible that you could find a house or apartment rental that is less than your BAH, allowing you to pocket the difference.
Finding a home and dealing with moving companies are simple tasks compared to what’s involved in actually setting up the new location, specifically dealing with all of the utilities you will need – gas, water, electric, internet, cable, etc. Many areas have begun deregulating energy – giving people a choice of providers – so just finding out what the options are can be troublesome. Currently, there are nine states where both electric and gas are deregulated and another 20 where either electric or gas is.
If you’re a typical PCS family, it is likely that the major responsibility for a smooth move will be up to the spouse. The amount of time that it takes to track down all of the information and options, to navigate websites, or be on the phone waiting for the next available operator because they are experiencing larger than normal call volume, can easily add up to many hours.
Here is one way to easily and quickly find out what utility providers are available near your base and compare services. You don’t want to show up on move-in day without electric or gas or determine later that you could have found a more budget-friendly provider.
And don’t overlook the “other” utilities like cable and Internet. Most likely, you’ll discover that these options are numerous, confusing, and difficult to compare. Because life revolves so much around Internet connectivity these days, be sure to ask questions ahead of time and find the best internet providers in my area. Finding the most economical package is especially important because the BAH includes basic utilities (electric, gas, water, heating fuel, and sewer) but NOT Internet and cable.
A PCS can be stressful and utility rates can vary greatly and make or break a monthly budget, making the stress level higher. If you use the right tools, the process can be easy and quick, as well as stress-free. And, who knows – you might even be able to save enough BAH money to pay for a few faster Internet or premium cable TV channels.