For many military families, much of the stress that comes with a Permanent Change of Station (PCS) stems from choosing the right home. To help you simplify the process of finding the best military housing for your family, check out our Home Search Checklist and Questionnaire.
Even the most resilient and flexible military members feel better with an established home base. Our home search checklist will assist you in keeping all of your housing preferences organized. This way, when it comes time to schedule showings, you’ll have everything you need to make an informed decision that is right for you and your family!
Join A Military Housing Website
Housing options at military installations vary greatly in type, size and quality. Understandably, this can be quite overwhelming to military families hoping to find a home perfect for their situation.
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 in a home. AHRN is a military housing website designed to help service members efficiently find homes within their price range and preference.
Before you begin building your military housing website profile, you must first pinpoint your unique needs and preferences in a home. AHRN can assist by delivering quality listings right to your dashboard. From there, you can then contact landlords or real estate agents and schedule showings.
Build Your Military Housing 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 availability in your new community. Let’s break down what factors you should consider in building your list.
How much can you comfortably 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 how far your rent needs to be under your Basic Housing Allowance (BAH).
This way, you can ensure every cost relevant to housing is sufficiently covered with that BAH benefit. If you are considering living a considerable distance from your new installation, you’ll also want to consider the cost of your commute since the price of fuel can add up fast.
Military Family Size
How much room do you need for your military family? Take some time to visualize how many bedrooms your family will need. In addition, you’ll want to take into account any special accommodations you may need, such as a one-floor home or downstairs bedroom for an elderly parent.
PCSing with Pets
If you are PCSing with pets, you’ll also want to picture how your home would ideally be set up to accommodate them as well. For many families, a fenced yard for dogs to play in is a driving factor in their housing choices.
Some also like to have an extra room or nook where they can keep pet supplies, feed their pet or kennel the animal. Nowadays, you can anticipate some sort of pet deposit when renting, so it’s best that you work that into your military housing budget as well.
Type of Home
In most communities, you will have a selection of home types running from studio apartments and condos to townhomes and single-family homes. Their price ranges vary based on the home’s size, location and added amenities.
Before you set your mind on a type of home, think about your installation’s location. For example, in some urban assignments, like the DC Metro area, an apartment or townhome may be a more convenient option than a suburban single-family home.
Military Installation Commute
One decision you’ll have to make is whether or not you want to commute to your military base. It may be overwhelming to find the right home within reasonable distance of your assigned base.
When you sign up for military housing resources at AHRN, you will be able to set your profile to only show homes within a specified commuting distance. This way, you can streamline the home hunting process by making sure you are only looking at properties within the distance you are willing to drive every day.
Schools and Childcare
If you have military kids, establish your preferences for school or daycare choices. Are you looking for options that also happen to be on the same route as the installation? Do your children thrive in a particular type of learning environment?
While many military families take advantage of on-base education opportunities, others prefer to send their children to public or private schools. Scouting out ideal daycares and schools ahead of time will help you be more efficient in finding your new home.
Sometimes, it’s the military housing that can make or break a service member’s perception of their current duty assignment. If a home doesn’t fit your taste, has an inconvenient layout or isn’t located in an ideal area, all of those small details can add up to be a huge hassle over time.
If your home is a source of regular frustration or discontent, those feelings eat away at any positives you may have had about your new future. Think about aspects such as:
- Do you prefer a quiet neighborhood?
- Are bustling cities with plenty of amenities more your style?
- Are you a huge foodie that requires a large kitchen?
- Is a giant backyard for your dog a must?
- Are you willing to compromise on the size of the home as long as it has a garage?
While these features may seem trivial at first, it’s important for your long-term happiness to seriously consider your own personal preferences. From road noise and traffic congestion to a lack of easily accessible shopping options, this list will vary from person to person as much as personal preferences do. By knowing what you absolutely do not want, you will be able to quickly eliminate options that don’t fit.
More Like This: The key to a stress-free PCS comes down to organization. Get organized with our free downloadable PCS toolkit!
Needs vs. Wants
No one understands “compromise” more than a military family. Housing decisions are generally rife with opportunities to decide what is a must-have and what isn’t. Knowing your absolute needs ahead of time will help to make the home search quick and efficient.
It comes down to being strictly honest about needs. For example, four bedrooms for a family of five may be a need, whereas a garage might go in the nice-to-have category. When you print your downloadable home search checklist, you’ll have 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 single-family home is ideal, but you would be willing to compromise and rent a townhome if it was in a good school district.
Ready to Find Your Next Military Home?
Start by downloading your personal home search checklist! Take a little time to fill out the questionnaire and narrow down your preferences. Then, you can log in to AHRN and begin building your home profile. See what is available in your new community, and don’t forget to revise your priorities and budget until you find something that fits your needs!