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PCS season is a time of excitement, too much coffee and a whole lot of internet searching. As soon as your military member gets their official orders, it’s on. You dive into the online research of the area around your soon to be duty station, many of you relying on various Facebook groups to help you navigate the good, the bad and the ugly. Once you’ve settled on an area, you have to make a big decision before anything else. Do you rent someone else’s home or buy your own?

Renting a home
More and more families are making the decision to live on the economy and rent their temporary homes. A 2010 RAND study found that around 32% of families choose to rent a home out. You are given your BAH and advised to find something that you can afford. Your BAH should cover your rent, water, electric, and trash costs. It is best practice to look for a home to rent that is roughly around $300 under your BAH to account for your utilities.

Tips and tricks for successfully renting on the economy:

  1. Talk to your MilSpouse community. They will give you details on all the things. They will share lessons learned and things to watch out for when making your decision. Lean on them!
  2. Ensure that there is a military clause in your lease when you make the decision to rent. This protects you in the event you get short toured due to new orders.
  3. Check out AHRN, this website will specifically search for rentals around your base. This makes the work of looking for rentals so much easier!
  4. Military by Owner is another great resource to rent from other military families. This is a great option and one that allows you to have a landlord that understands your lifestyle and will work with you. This option also allows you to search around your base, ensuring the commute for your military member is manageable.

The good:

  • If something breaks your landlord or leasing agency will get it fixed because it isn’t your responsibility. This can be super handy, especially if you are on a tighter budget.
  • Your financial budget will be more consistent since your rent will most likely remain the same throughout your rental agreement contract time.
  • For those who don’t want to worry about decorating, paint or creating a space – renting someone else’s home makes it easy. You can move in as is without any added work.

The bad:

  • Don’t like that purple carpet? Too bad, can’t change it – even if you have the budget to update it. Forget about painting over that hideous wall color either.
  • You are renting someone else’s house, not yours so what they say goes, leaving you little room to make changes or object.
  • Sometimes it never truly feels like home, something military families look for with a life filled with so much instability.

Are you ready to buy your own home?
Okay – you’ve done your research and have made the decision that you are ready to buy. This is a big step and one that many military families choose to take. Our family has purchased a home twice in my husband’s nineteen-year career. The first time we lived in it for ten months because he was short-toured. Ten. Short. Months.

Yeah, it was not expected.

Thankfully, we were able to turn around and rent it to another military family for two years before we sold it. This is the risk you run when you buy a home; the military will call. There will also be times you may not be able to sell the home right away. This means you need to be prepared and able to be a landlord – and typically from far away, or hire a property management company.

Buying a home also comes with added responsibilities, like having a “oh no” fund in the event that things break – and they will, probably when your service member is deployed. Because, Murphy’s Law. Make sure if you are purchasing a home you can afford it and all the things that come along with homeownership. Consider exploring home warranties as this can be a benefit when something needs repair.

Now, let’s talk about the epically amazing things about owning your own home.

  1. Are you a DIY master? Decorator extraordinaire? This will be your JAM!
  2. If you have pets, you don’t have to stress! Gone are the days of worrying about finding a pet friendly rental or paying extra fees. Fido will fit right in.
  3. You’ll have an added tax deduction from the interest you pay on your mortgage
  4. You’ll have all the privacy you want!
  5. For the military families who sometimes feel like they don’t belong, home ownership gives you stake in the game. You will now be a tax paying resident with a voice and stake in your community. Welcome home!\

If you've made the decision to buy, check out Caliber Home Loans. Calber has been awarded the Military Friendly® brand four years in a row! They have an entire team of dedicated professionals in their Military Lending Program, many who are military affiliated themselves.