Decision Making: Living On or Off Base

By Briana Hartzell, Community Manager, USAA

This post  was originally published on the USAA Member Community blog. Find it at usaa.com 

Moving comes with many decisions, but one of the most important will be deciding whether you would like to live on or off post. Housing options are different depending on where your next assignment brings you, but there are a few things you should consider while making your decision.

Your Financial Goals

Can you afford to live off post? Are there housing options that can be covered by your housing allowance? Do not forget to factor in utility bills when making your decision to live off post.

Community

Living on post allows you to be in a welcoming and understanding military community. You can always count on a neighbor to know exactly what you are going through. You also have the advantage of being close to all of the family readiness activities and on-base amenities, like the gym, the exchange and the commissary. You should also consider the additional safety factor on-base housing affords you. It is nice to live in a community that is protected.

On the other hand, if you wish to live a more private life and feel the need to have a little distance from the military community, maybe renting or buying a home in town is for you. This will allow you to make some non-military friends and neighbors.

Issue Resolution

On post living will undoubtedly make it easier to solve housing issues. The management companies hired to maintain on-post housing are professional and well organized (well, they should be). However, I cannot guarantee that the property manager in your town will be as professional or responsive to your needs. While orders will allow you to break your lease without penalty, sometimes the non-military homeowners are not as flexible and understanding as you would hope.

I have not had the opportunity to live on base. So far the places we have been assigned to either do not offer on-base housing, or they have been full. When we moved to Lemoore, there was a six month waiting list for housing, so we made a decision to live in town. There are days where I wish we lived on base. Many of our friends live on base and it would be so nice to just walk over to their homes for a visit, or only be a short drive from the gym and commissary. However, there are other days I know my husband is thankful for the drive home from base to decompress and have a chance to leave work at work.  

I would love to hear from those of you who have lived on and off and the advantages and disadvantages of both.

What will you choose on your next PCS?