With every PCS, service members and their families choose between on and off post housing. Lifestyle, finances and availability all play a role in this important decision. AHRN.com has put together a simple list of pros and cons to consider as you make your next housing choice!
In any military community, you will often find strong opinions when it comes to living on or off post. With installations all over the world and in a variety of circumstances, it is important to research your options at each post to determine the best fit for your family. There are pros and cons to each options in a variety of areas, the best choice for you comes down to knowing your priorities and researching options.
Embrace the lifestyle vs. Getting Away
There are two sides to this coin: service member and spouse (if you’re married, that is). For service members, there are many advantages to living very close to work on the installation. Short commute times and the ability to come home after PT and for lunch can mean more time with family. But it also means that on your days off, you are conveniently close to the office. Some families love being surrounded by all things military and others need the distance to relax. If you prefer to shop at the PX and commissary and enjoy the amenities offered by MWR, then being conveniently located to those options would be a priority. Where do you feel most comfortable – on post or with some miles between you and work?
The financial aspects of living on post or off post are highly dependent on the specific installation and your rank. For some junior service members in areas with a high cost of living, on post housing will offer the most home for your BAH. In other areas or at higher ranks, living frugally in an off post home with a rent lower than your BAH can mean tremendous savings over the duration of an assignment. Know your BAH and utilize the Rent Smart feature on AHRN.com to assess the average rent costs for your rank and installation. When considering your housing budget, make sure to take into account the different fuel costs. Living on post will offer a very short commute while off post options can vary tremendously. AHRN.com allows you to search by distance from the installation if you fuel costs are something you want to minimize.
Your PCS budget and planning will also play a role. At many installations, there could be a wait list for your new home leaving you waiting in temporary housing. The military will reimburse you for 10 days of temporary housing in the PCS process, but any more than that will come out of your pocket.
How much of a priority is choice for your family? Living on post means fewer choices with regards to the size of your home, amount you will pay and schools your children will attend. Living off post allows you to choose a school district, only consider homes with a guest bedroom for visiting family or focus on locations that are close to preferred amenities like Starbucks or running trails. In either case, it comes down to which conveniences are the higher priority for you or your family.
Ready to consider your options? Build a profile of your ideal home at AHRN.com and see what’s available!