What is Military Housing? Pros and Cons of Military Housing
Deciding where to live when you or your loved one is a military service member can be challenging. However, the choice typically comes down to whether you will live on the military base in military housing or choose to live off-base in private housing.
While there are advantages and disadvantages to both options, it's crucial to use that information to determine whether a military apartment is the right choice for you and your family.
This guide will teach you everything you need to know about military apartments. Let’s dive in!
What is a Military Apartment?
A military apartment is a housing option available to military service members and their families. Military housing is typically located on a military base (usually whichever one the service member is stationed on).
As military service members may be relocated to different stations across the world, military bases have multiple housing options. Military housing options range from barracks during active training to single-family homes for senior-ranked officials.
Military housing may be similar to college dorm living, where there are many shared common spaces and individual rooms that are shared by roommates. Military housing may also be more similar to that of renting a traditional apartment without roommates.
Generally, the higher your rank, the better your accommodations. That said, the private sector is the primary source of housing for military service members.
For service members who choose to live off base, the military provides a Basic Allowance for Housing (BAH) that is used to cover at least a portion of housing expenses.
Pros and Cons of Military Housing
Due to the 24/7 on-call nature of military employment, living in military housing is a free and convenient housing option. That said, there are many benefits to living off-post, namely the separation of work and play.
In short, making the decision to live in military housing or off-post housing can be difficult. Luckily, the decision becomes much easier if you have an in-depth knowledge of the advantages and disadvantages of military housing.
We’ve got you covered.
Here’s a breakdown of the pros and cons of military housing.
- A Strong, Close-Knit Community: Military culture and lifestyle is vastly different from that of civilian lifestyle. As military posts are filled with military employees and service members who work and live together, the community is often close-knit, helping residents connect. Moreover, for those service members with families, military housing is typically family-friendly.
- Proximity to Base/Work: Most people would rather not spend their time slogging through a lengthy commute. One of the practical benefits of living on a military base is that your commute will likely be exceptionally short.
- Convenience: Military housing can have the same convenience as living in a mini-city. Everything is a short car’s drive or walk away. You’ll have easy access to amenities such as gyms, grocery stores, and other essentials.
- Safely: Living on a military base is safe. Military bases are usually fortified and access is strictly regulated. Many service member families prefer living on military bases because of the safety factor, especially if their family consists of younger children.
- Price: Generally, military housing on-base is provided to active service members free of charge. You will also receive free meals in addition to housing.
- Lack of Privacy: You may run into a superior officer at the grocery store. Not to mention, you and your family will be required to follow strict regulations as you live on the base. In short, living on a military base can mean foregoing the privacy you would enjoy when living off-base.
- Work Life balance: The one drawback to living where you work is that work-life balance doesn’t exist. It can be hard to get out of “work mode” when you are surrounded by the same environment you work in all the time.
- Not Typically Pet-Friendly: Although military bases are very family-friendly, they aren’t usually welcoming to your four-legged friends. You may not be able to bring your pet with you when you move onto a military base.
- Strict Regulations: Military bases are strictly regulated, even for those service member families living within its borders. From attire to lawn maintenance, there will be regulations that you must adhere to. If you fail to follow military base regulations, you risk significant penalties.
Living On-Base vs. Renting Off-Base?
So, should you live on-base in military housing? Or rent off-base in private housing?
Well, the decision comes down to your preferences and your individual needs.
Military housing offers close proximity to work, a safe environment for families, and closeby amenities. Moreover, active service members receive free housing and meals when they live on-base, so it’s a financially beneficial decision.
That said, living on a military base isn’t right for all service members and their families. Even the most dedicated service member may not want to live on a military base in a military apartment. With little to no privacy, work-life balance, and many regulations to follow, even when you are off-duty, living on-base can be stifling.
That said, living off-base can be a financially beneficial decision as well. Military service members are allotted a monthly BAH to help cover the cost of housing. So, while it’s not free, your off-base housing will be significantly discounted.
Use the BAH Calculator to determine how much you can expect in BAH payments monthly.
Moreover, when you live off-base, you’re much less likely to run into your superior officers. If you live close enough to the base, however, you can still connect with your on-base friends.
In short, off-base renting allows you to balance the military lifestyle and culture with the civilian lifestyle and culture. For example, if you don’t intend to be a lifetime service member, it’s important to maintain connections with the civilian community, as well as the military community.
Better yet, you can choose from a wider variety of housing options when you live off-base, including different apartment amenities, neighborhoods, more space, and whether or not you want to have roommates.
To decide whether living in military housing or renting off-base is the right move for you and your family, you’ll have to consider the pros and cons of each option.
If you have family members, check with them. They can express their own preferences and help you make a decision that works best for you all.
While military housing makes financial sense for most active service members, it’s not necessarily the best choice for all active service members.
If you find yourself contemplating the private, off-base renting option, be sure to start in the right place to avoid wasted time and effort.
Apartment List can help you find the right apartment for you and your family. Our platform connects you with apartments that match your preferences, whether you are looking for an apartment near your base or an apartment in a neighborhood with the best schools for your children.
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