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Off Base vs. On Base Housing for Military Families


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Military families know all too well what it’s like to be on the move for relocation. When new orders come in, and new locations are determined, the first thing a family must consider is military housing. 

A change of environment when shifting to a new military installation takes some getting used to, so it's essential you find a place where you can truly feel at home.

A significant transition such as this poses a series of questions. 

  • What’s the housing budget? 
  • How temporary is the move? 
  • How long will the commute to work be? 
  • Should you choose military housing off base or on-base housing? 

These are among the various concerns or challenges that need to be considered when deciding to move.

Military or not, there are pros and cons to any housing option, but this additional factor can weigh heavy on the decision-making. In many cases, the decision must be made quickly. Those quick-fill PCS orders can cause an extra layer of stress. But that doesn't mean you have to rush the decision. We recommend writing out a pro/con list to help you and your family decide what's best. 

Benefits of On Base Housing

For those who choose to live on base, there are several benefits, such as housing allowance, a sense of community, and quality housing options.

Regardless of whether you choose to live on or off base, you can start planning your military housing budget determined by your basic allowance for housing (BAH). This compensation is determined by estimated housing costs for off-base housing in your area. It’s likely one of the highest family expenses you’ll have, so it’s best to ensure you set aside enough to secure a comfortable place for your family.

Another benefit of living on base in military housing is the community you'll find on-base. Here, you’ll have the opportunity to interact and form relationships with other military families who understand the rigors and day-to-day of military life. While it may not be considered a “normal” routine to civilian families, you and those who understand military living can relate under this common thread.

The last main benefit of choosing to live on base is how easy it is to find a home. Depending on where you're moving and what kind of housing is available, you might not be required to provide a deposit or have your credit checked. Also, many units come with utilities and renters insurance as part of the rental price. This can make it easier to create a budget for your monthly expenses.

Benefits of Off Base Housing

A benefit to off-base housing is permanent residency. If you’re in the market to buy property, the option of military housing off base gives you the chance to own the place you live. Military housing provides necessary accommodations, but choosing a home to own means you can fully customize it to your design preferences and make it truly feel like home.

Finally, your family may want a change of pace from regular military housing communities. Military bases around the country are located in cities with diverse neighborhoods worth checking out to make your family feel more excited about the move and the upcoming adventure of living in a new town.

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