February brings longing of that so close but not yet there spring weather, flowers, and sunshine. This month also causes dread in the heart of every military spouse who is planning for a summer PCS. As soon as your military member gets their official orders, it’s on. You dive into the online search 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 a home living on base (if there is base housing available), rent on the economy, or make the decision to buy a home? Let me take you through all the things.
You should know that around one third of military families choose to live in base housing. In fact, in some areas, base housing is mandatory unless you are given a release. I’ve lived this life twice now, on both coasts of the United States. There are pros and cons to this decision based on my experience PCS’ing eight times in 15 years.
More and more families are making the decision to live on the economy. A 2010 RAND study found that around 32% of families choose to rent a home out on the economy. We’ve done this ourselves four out of the eight times I’ve PCS’d. 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. Making the decision to rent gives you privacy, typically more space, and some design freedom.
Tips and tricks for successfully renting on the economy:
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 19-year career. The first time, we lived in it for 10 months because he was short-toured. Ten. Months.
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 an “oh no” fund if things break – and they will, probably, when your service member is deployed because, Murphy’s Law. Make sure if you are purchasing a home that you can afford it and all the things that come along with homeownership.
Now that I’ve scared you senseless, let’s talk about the epically amazing things about owning your own home.
If you’ve made the decision to buy, check out Caliber Home Loans. Caliber 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 of whom are military affiliated themselves.
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