Military Housing Conditions: What is Housing On-Base Like?

Written by AHRN Team Updated on December 22, 2023

Especially if you are preparing to go through your first Permanent Change of Station (PCS), it’s understandable for you to be curious about the conditions of on-base housing. After all, you want to make sure you are making the right decision for you and your military family!

Although base websites give an overview of their on-base military housing options, the conditions of those spaces can be a bit of a mystery before you arrive.

We’re here to pass along the information that may be missing or tough to decipher from installation websites. Here are the positive aspects of military housing conditions as well as some of the minor drawbacks you can expect to encounter.

Benefits of Military Base Housing

It’s no secret that every military installation in the United States and across seas varies when it comes to on-base housing. However, there are common positive traits among all of them that military members and their families can look forward to.

Unmatched Security

As you can imagine, living on base comes with a heightened level of security. With the entrances, exits and all parameters of a military base being constantly guarded, those living inside naturally benefit from the added security.

Many service members find that on-base military housing gives them the peace of mind they need to relax, knowing that their family is completely safe. Military families that live off base often have to take on security measures themselves, such as cameras, flood lights and no trespassing signs.

Affordable and Convenient

Those who live on base avoid many of the expenses that often come with moving into a new rental. Security deposits, credit checks, utility hookups and other fees associated with renting are not required when you opt to live on base at your new installation. Since these living spaces are associated with the military, extra savings are passed on to the service members who choose to live on base.

On-base military housing also comes with the convenience of routine and all-call maintenance. Does something in your unit need to be fixed? Contact the Housing Office associated with your installation or follow the assigned steps to submit a maintenance request. While those living off base are at the mercy of their landlord, those living on base benefit from the convenience of military-backed maintenance.

Close Military Community

Military members living on base enjoy the perks that come with having like-minded neighbors and a close-knit community. Living close to those you also work with naturally fosters an environment where you can get to know each other much quicker than if you were to live off base.

Since military members move every few years, knowing that you are moving to a community where you can make fast friends is a comfort that many look forward to.

Hot Tip: Not sure if on-base or off-base housing is in your budget? Complete your own PCS Moving Budget to determine how much it’s going to cost to move. This will help you determine if off-base housing is an option!

Military Base Housing Drawbacks

Depending on your priorities for military housing, certain disadvantages of on-base living might dissuade you permanently from this lifestyle. Or, you might find that these aspects are relatively minor issues compared to the challenges of living off base. Ultimately, it comes down to your individual preferences and what you value most in your living arrangements.

Cookie-Cutter Base Housing

You can expect there to be little variety when it comes to on-base housing. Although home styles may vary in today’s market, the living quarters on each individual installation won’t differ much. This is true for the barracks as well as family hous

While this trait won’t bother everyone, it could be a deal breaker for a handful. If having a home that is unique from your neighbors is a top priority, you’ll want to definitely consider off-base housing. Many find that the affordability of on-base housing outweighs the disadvantage of living in a cookie-cutter home.

Living in the Barracks

As you probably know, single military members are often placed in unaccompanied military housing. These living spaces are called the “barracks” and are sometimes referred to as “dorms.” These areas are known for being a bit cramped, with privacy never being promised.

On some installations, you may be paired with another service member to share a room. On others, you might be assigned your own room, with your bathroom being a shared space. Military members who don’t require privacy and don’t mind sharing their space benefit from living in the barracks for free!

More Like This: Learn more about your PCS Entitlements to ensure you are saving the most money during your next military move!

Little Work-Life Balance

Many service members testify that living on base makes it difficult to strike a balance between work and their personal lives. By living on base, you are essentially residing at work. Even though you can retreat to your on-base military housing for some peace and quiet, you never truly leave the area in which you put in the hours to get paid.

All military members have assigned hours of duty, but it can be tough to leave when you live so close. Likewise, supervisors who know that you live on base may take advantage of your time and close proximity. Understandably, many service members find this to be a red flag that leads them to rent off installation.

Considering Living Off Base?

Is off-base military housing more your style? If you’re looking forward to the privacy and independence that comes with living off base, sign up for AHRN to begin home hunting. Whether you are hoping to purchase a home or just looking to rent for now, we can connect you with personalized military housing solutions.

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A part of the military's trusted source for off-base housing, our editorial team is here to share tips and tricks to moving, PCS, home loans, and renting for military families.

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