Even though many military families are used to moving at a moment's notice, each move brings the same question: should you live on or off the military base? Both on-base and off-base housing have distinct advantages and disadvantages. The final answer will ultimately depend on your preferences and personal situation. When deciding if your family should live on or off base, keep these things in mind.
1. Your Budget
Your budget is likely one of the most important factors that will influence whether your home is on or off base. If you decide to live on base, your basic housing allowance will go to the housing management company and cover your rent and many of your utilities. Should you opt for off-base lodging, you'll receive your basic housing allowance to put towards your lodging expenses.
Some individuals assume that living on base is automatically cheaper; this is likely because their basic housing allowance covers nearly all of their housing expenditures and they pay very little out-of-pocket. However, depending on the area and your personal housing needs, you may get more from your housing allowance by living off the base. This is often the case when homes on base provide more space than your family actually needs.
Assume that you receive $1,000 for your basic housing allowance. If you live on base, you'll have a 3-bedroom home for you and your spouse. However, if you live off base, a two-bedroom rental runs around $700. You can then use the remaining basic housing allowance for your other living expenses or save it.
In some areas, military homes on base may be cheaper. It's important to explore all your alternatives so you know your decision is right for your budget.
2. Your Preferences for Convenience
Many military families decide to live on the base because it's convenient. You or your spouse will be close to work, and you'll have access to the commissary.
However, if you have school-aged children or work far away from the base, on-base housing may lose a portion of its convenience. It's possible that an off base home will make commuting and running errands more convenient for your family.
3. Your Pets
Though pets are allowed on military bases, there may be breed restrictions or rules that limit how many animals you may have. If you have a breed that's prohibited in on-base housing or if you have more than the allowed number of pets, you'll need to pursue off-base housing with more lenient pet restrictions to keep your furry family intact.