Should You Live On-Post? Pros and Cons

There are many factors that go into choosing military vs. civilian housing. Money and housing quality are just two. Credit: Colorado Association of REALTORS.

Making the decision of whether to live on-post or off can be a daunting one. While getting assigned to base housing may seem like the easier or less expensive route, you’ll want to evaluate if it’s really the right option for you and your family.

Here are some pros and cons of living on-post:

 

Pros:

Safety & security

You won’t find a safer neighborhood anywhere in the civilian world. This is a great perk if you have kids, or for spouses whose partner is often on duty or deployed.

Proximity

For service members, work is probably not far, so there’s essentially zero commute. You’re also nearby gyms, and a commissary — which doesn’t tax sales.

No rent or utilities

Your monthly rent and utilities are automatically covered by the military, so you don’t have to worry about paying it. It’s basically free room and board.

Sense of community

All your neighbors are active service members, military spouses and their kids. They can all relate to you, and give you a sense of community you might not have in the civilian world (especially if you are a spouse with a deployed service member).

Bypasses the hassle

You don’t have to worry about the housing market or high home value in your area — and you really shouldn’t have to, since the military sent you there anyway. On-post housing is assigned, making your move that much easier.

 

Cons:

Lower quality housing

On-post housing tends to be older and less well-kept. The military uses outside contractors to manage their housing communities, which means they are not necessarily “up to standard”. This is exemplified in the very recent and horrifying military housing crisis.

Harder for civilians to access

If you’ve got friends or family who want to visit, you’ll need to go off base and escort them back on with your military ID. Civilians who are not dependents can’t access on-post housing.

Less choice

Since on-post housing is assigned, you pretty much get what you get. You’re not allowed to modify your house either. Additionally, if there’s a school on base, your kid has to attend (even if you don’t like the district). It also may be harder to house your pets on-post.

Proximity

Even though this was listed as a pro, it can also be a con. Service members who are nearby work often get called in more and have to take on extra duty.

No leftover BAH

Military families who live off-post can use their BAH (Basic Housing Allowance) however they want; if they play their cards right, it can cover rent, utilities, internet and even food costs. Unfortunately, when you’re living in on-post housing, it only covers your rent and utilities, so there’s no option for leftover allowance.

Cut off from society

Spouses — especially when they’ve just PSCed to a new area, or their service member is away — can feel separate from society. Military bases are like their own little world, and it can be very isolating if you don’t have a support system.

 

Only you can decide if living on-post is right for you or not. Every base is different, so talk to other service members or spouses who know the area before making a final decision.

Do you have any pros or cons to add? Leave a comment below — we’d love to hear from you!

Check out this article on 12 tips for a (relatively) painless PCS.

 

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