Finding the right home can be stressful for everyone involved in the process. Taking time upfront to evaluate your wants and needs can help to focus your home search and reduce stress. AHRN.com has created this downloadable Housing Choices worksheet to help with your next housing decision.
There are often many housing options at military installations. This is a good problem but can make your housing decision more difficult. From city apartments, on-base housing, to suburban neighborhoods, finding the best fit for you starts with knowing what you need, what you want, and what you don’t want.
Building Your Profile
At its most basic, your housing profile is a wish list of qualities you prioritize in your home. Your choices reflect personal taste, hobbies, family size, finances and housing availability in your new community. Let’s break down what factors you should consider in building your profile.
Finances – How much are you able to spend on rent? Your BAH is intended to cover 95% of housing costs (rent and utilities). Remember that utility costs can vary widely from installation to installation so be sure they are included in your housing budget.
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 single-floor home or a 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 key factor in their housing decisions. Pet deposits and policies must also be considered.
Type of Home – What kind of home do you prefer? In many communities, you will have a wide range of choices from studio apartments to townhomes to single-family homes in a variety of locations, sizes and price points. Keep in mind your location. Housing stock varies by location, the housing you had at your previous assignment may not be available at your new installation. For example, in the DC Metro area, an apartment or townhome may be more attractive than it would be at a more rural or suburban installation.
Commute Length – Does driving home give you an opportunity to relax and distance yourself from work or does sitting in traffic make you tense and tired? Does coming home after PT or for lunch positively contribute to your daily life?
Schools/Daycare – If you have children, determine your school/daycare needs. 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 a priority?
Personal Preference – Evaluate your personal lifestyle. Do you prefer a quiet neighborhood or a bustling area with plentiful amenities? How do you enjoy spending your free time and weekends? Be sure your housing choice supports your free time! 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 works for you and your family.
Need vs. Want
Choices between wants and needs are part of every housing decision. Knowing ahead of time what are absolute needs vs. wants or nice to haves will help make the home search less stressful. It comes down to being strictly honest about needs: pets will require an accommodating pet policy, whereas a garage may be a nice-to-have as long as safe parking is available.
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 a 3 bedroom home would suffice to get into your first choice school district. While you may find that these priorities change once you’re looking at your options, start the conversation now so you know where you stand as you start the search.
What You Don’t Want
It’s just as important to know what you don’t want as what you do. From road noise to traffic congestion to a lack of easily accessible shopping options, this list will vary 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 worksheet. Take a little time to fill out the worksheet 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.
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. Just log in to your AHRN account and click on the Housing Profile link located in the Housing Inventory section.