For many military families, much of the stress that accompanies a PCS stems from figuring out how to choose the right home. Even the most resilient and flexible among us feel better with an established home base. AHRN.com has put together this downloadable questionnaire to help you simplify your next PCS.
Housing options at military installations are extreme and often bewildering in their variety. From city apartments to suburban neighborhoods, finding the best fit for you starts with knowing what you need, what you want and what you don’t want. On AHRN.com, you can build a profile outlining what kind of home you are looking for and listings fitting those criteria are delivered to your dashboard. But first, you have to identify your unique criteria!
Building Your Profile
At its most basic, your housing profile is a wish list of qualities you prioritize in your home. Your choices will reflect your personal taste, hobbies, family size, finances and the availability in your new community. Let’s break down what factors you should consider in building your list.
Finances – How much are you able to spend on your rent? Remember to keep in mind that the cost of utilities can vary widely from installation to installation. Those costs need to be built into the housing budget to determine if you need to rent far enough under your BAH to help cover utilities. Finances will also play into your decisions regarding commute length when you consider the price of fuel.
Family Size – How much room do you need? If you have children, do they share a room? Does your family have any specific needs – like a one floor home or downstairs bedroom for an elderly parent? How many bedrooms, bathrooms, and garage spaces do you need?
Pets – Do you have pets? If so, do they have any space considerations? For many families, a fenced yard for dogs to play in is a driving factor in their housing choices. At the same time, pet deposits and policies must also be considered.
Type of Home – Based on the above considerations, what kind of home do you prefer? In many communities, you will have a spectrum of choices ranging from studio apartments to town homes with or without garages to single family homes in a variety of sizes and price points. Keep in mind your location. At some urban assignments, like the DC Metro area, an apartment or town home may be more attractive than it would at a more suburban location.
Commute Length – For the service member, does driving home give you an opportunity to distance yourself from the frustrations of the day or does sitting in the inevitable traffic make you tense and tired? Would being able to come home after PT or for lunch positively contribute to your daily life? On AHRN.com, you will be able to set your profile to look for homes within a specified commuting distance; know what works best for you.
Schools/Daycare – If you have children, establish your preferences for school or daycare choices. Are you looking for options within a certain distance to your home? Do you children thrive in a particular type of environment? Is proximity to private education options a priority?
Personal Preference – My personal experience is that my satisfaction with the smaller details of home contributes tremendously to my perception of that duty assignment. If my home fits my personal taste, then I am much more free to enjoy the amenities the community offers. If my home is a source of regular frustration or discontent, those feelings eat away at any positives. Do you prefer a quiet neighborhood or a bustling area with plentiful amenities? Are you an enthusiastic foodie who loves to cook? Then you’ll need a kitchen that you enjoy being in. While these may seem trivial, if you know what is most important to your daily happiness you are more likely to make a housing choice that sets your family up for success.
Need vs. Want
No one understands compromise like a military family. Housing decisions are generally rife with opportunities to decide what is a must-have. Knowing ahead of time what are absolute needs will help to make the home search quick and efficient. It comes down to being strictly honest about needs: pets will require an accommodating pet policy, whereas a garage maybe a nice-to-have as long as safe parking is available. When you print your downloadable home search checklist, you’ll be to prioritize the factors you identified above as playing a role in your housing choice.
Once you have established your need and want lists, prioritize each. What aspects are most important and where do you have some flexibility? Maybe a 4 bedroom is what you need, but you would be willing to make do with a 3 bedroom home to get into your first choice school district. While you may find that these priorities change once you’re looking at your options, get the conversation out of the way now so you know where you stand as you start your search.
What You Don’t Want
In the grand scheme of things it is just as important to know what you don’t want as what you do. From road noise to traffic congestion to lack of easily accessible shopping options, this list will vary from person to person as much as preferences do. By knowing what you absolutely don’t want you will be able to quickly eliminate options that don’t fit.
Ready to find your next home?
Start by downloading our home search checklist. Take a little time to fill out the questionnaire and narrow down your preferences. Log in to AHRN.com to build your home profile and see what is available in your new community. This will be a great next step in your research and help you to revise your priorities and budget.
Is your move part of a PCS? Get organized and stay on budget with AHRN.com’s PCS Toolkit.