Military Housing On vs Off Base

Military families have housing choices on or off base. This article offers a financial comparison of both options, helping service members make informed decisions about their living arrangements.

The decision to live in military housing on base or off base is a personal one and depends on various factors, including your preferences, family needs, and the policies of the specific military installation. Here are some considerations for both options:

On-Base Housing:

  1. Convenience: On-base housing is typically close to work, commissaries, exchanges, and other base amenities. This can reduce commuting time and make it easier to access services.

  2. Community: Living on base often means being part of a military community, which can provide a sense of belonging and support. You'll be surrounded by other military families who can relate to your lifestyle.

  3. Amenities: Many military bases offer amenities like playgrounds, schools, recreational facilities, and security. These can make life more convenient, especially for families with children.

  4. Rent and Utilities: In on-base housing, you may not pay rent, and some utilities (like basic electricity and water) are covered. However, you may still pay for excess electricity, natural gas, or other services.

  5. Maintenance: Maintenance and repairs are typically handled by the base housing office. You can report issues, and they will be fixed for you.

  6. Security: Military bases often have enhanced security measures, which can provide a sense of safety.

Off-Base Housing:

  1. Independence and Privacy: Living off base can provide more independence and privacy, as you're not subject to military housing rules and regulations.

  2. Housing Choices: You have more flexibility to choose the type of housing that suits your family's needs, whether it's an apartment, house, or townhouse.

  3. Location: You can select a location that suits your personal preferences, such as proximity to schools, shopping, and entertainment.

  4. Rent Negotiation: While you'll be responsible for rent and utilities, you can negotiate rental terms and potentially find housing that fits your budget.

  5. Maintenance: Maintenance and repairs are typically the responsibility of the tenant in off-base housing. You have control over how and when issues are addressed.

  6. Housing Allowance: Some service members may be eligible for a Basic Allowance for Housing (BAH) to help cover housing costs when living off base. The amount of BAH is determined by location and pay grade.

When deciding between on-base and off-base housing, consider your family's needs, financial situation, and lifestyle preferences. It's also essential to research housing options at your specific duty station, as policies and availability can vary. Many military installations have housing offices or relocation assistance programs that can provide information and guidance to help you make an informed decision.

A comparison of the financial aspects of military housing options..

There are two main types of military housing options: on-base housing and off-base housing. On-base housing is owned and operated by the military, while off-base housing is owned and operated by private individuals or companies.

There are a number of factors to consider when choosing between on-base housing and off-base housing, including financial considerations. Here is a comparison of the financial aspects of military housing options:

On-base housing

  • Pros:
    • Generally less expensive than off-base housing, especially for junior enlisted personnel.
    • Utilities are often included in the rent.
    • Maintenance and repairs are handled by the military.
    • Close to work and other amenities.
  • Cons:
    • Limited availability, especially in high-demand areas.
    • May be subject to stricter military regulations.
    • May be located in less desirable areas.

Off-base housing

  • Pros:
    • More availability than on-base housing.
    • More variety of housing options to choose from.
    • More flexibility in terms of location.
    • Not subject to military regulations.
  • Cons:
    • Generally more expensive than on-base housing.
    • Utilities are not typically included in the rent.
    • Maintenance and repairs are the responsibility of the tenant.
    • May be further from work and other amenities.

Which type of housing is right for you will depend on your individual circumstances and preferences. If you are looking for the most affordable housing option, on-base housing is generally the best choice. However, if you are looking for more flexibility or variety in your housing options, off-base housing may be a better choice.

Here are some additional tips for managing the financial aspects of military housing:

  • Compare costs carefully before making a decision. Be sure to factor in the cost of rent, utilities, and other expenses when comparing on-base and off-base housing options.
  • Consider your needs and preferences. Think about what is important to you in a home, such as location, size, and amenities.
  • Budget carefully. Once you have chosen a housing option, create a budget to help you stay on track.
  • Take advantage of military benefits. There are a number of military benefits that can help you save money on housing, such as the Basic Allowance for Housing (BAH) and the Overseas Housing Allowance (OHA).

If you are struggling to afford military housing, there are resources available to help you. You can talk to your financial advisor, the military housing office, or a local nonprofit organization.