As PCS season approaches and stop movement orders are lifted, many families will find their lives packed up into moving trucks and uprooted to their next duty station.
New PCS orders means figuring out where your family will live is usually at the top of your family’s to-do list. The first decision you will make is: will your family live on- or off-base?
We’ve put together a list of pros and cons to help you decide whether living on base is right (or wrong) for your family:
Shorter commute times: Being closer to your spouse’s workplace is definitely a plus! A shorter commute can mean more time spent together when your spouse is at home station, as well as save you a pretty penny on gas!
Convenience: When you live on base, you also live really close to the amenities your station has to offer. The commissary, the Exchange, the gym, and the food court, just to name a few, are likely within (or just outside) walking distance.
Community: The military fosters a sense of community unlike any other. Having people in close proximity who “get it” is super comforting. Whether you need someone to lend you a cup of milk or to watch out for your house while you’re on vacation, on-base neighbors are an invaluable resource – and a great reason to live on base!
It’s Safer: Being behind large wrought-iron fences with armed guards at every entrance definitely fosters a sense of safety. Lower speed limits and frequent patrols through the neighborhood also help to keep streets safe enough for kids to play and everyone to enjoy.
Housing rules: Base privatized housing has strict rules regarding personalization of your home. While you can paint rooms or decorate, you can’t, for example, knock down a wall or remodel a kitchen. Designs and appliances tend to be outdated. Some bases don’t even allow you to have a pool in your yard, and you cannot have more than two pets per household.
Maintenance issues: I’m not saying that maintenance is all bad. But if you have a major issue like, for example, mold in your home or a broken air conditioner, be prepared for a lot of “bandaid” fixes before the bigger issues are solved.
Cost effectiveness: For a younger couple or family starting out, base housing is a great option when your BAH won’t go very far off base. But as your spouse rises through the ranks and your BAH rate increases, all of your BAH will still go to housing, so you won’t be saving any money. If you’re a more established military family, you may consider moving off-base to save money.
Noise: Let’s face it – military bases are noisy, and most of the time, it isn’t your neighbors! Sonic booms, planes flying directly overhead, firing ranges, and (yes this happens!) bomb tests can not only rattle your house, but your eardrums! While some may find the noise comforting, there are others who won’t be thrilled with all of the noises on a military base.
While this list may not be all inclusive, we hope that it helps in your family’s decision! To all of the families PCSing this season, we wish you good health and safe travels!