Retirees, Civilians, Want to Live in Base Housing? Yes, You Can!

Happy neighbourhood

We all know that military members with families are eligible to live in base housing when it is available, while single troops are relegated to living in barracks, onboard ships or, if lucky enough, off base.

Did you know that the general public can also live in base housing?

Specifically, they can live in "privatized military housing."

As part of the base housing privatization process legislated by Public Law 104-106, the Defense Department says that, when the number of vacant homes on any base rises above a certain level, the contractor can rent them to anyone it likes. The program is available on only some bases. Check with your local housing office for details.

While all of the housing areas are different -- some have yard maintenance and utilities included, while some don't; some will rent only to DoD civilians and military retirees, while others may rent to anyone; each housing company has its own set of rules, but they generally follow the federal guidelines.

If you're interested in living in a place where you may not have to worry about home or yard maintenance, paying utility bills or homeowners association fees, base housing may be for you. In fact, some of the companies that run the privatized housing call living on base "the ultimate gated community."

You normally lease a house for one year at a time. Military families get first dibs on any available housing, so if you are living there and your lease comes up for renewal, you may have to move to make room for an active-duty family.

To qualify, you must pay for a credit and background check for each adult living in the home and show proof of employment and income. You also have to pay a security deposit.

What does that mean for active-duty members? Well, since all military housing in the U.S. is undergoing the privatization process, your next on-base neighbor just could be a pot-smoking, long-haired, pansexual, anti-military type. And that will be just fine.

While much of the privatized housing is outside the gates, some of it is actually on base. If you live in housing located inside the gates, you get a base access card that is good for the term of your lease. This would get you through the gates but not give you access to the commissary, exchange or other facilities that require a military ID card.

The rent is usually based on the local Basic Allowance for Housing, but can be much less than comparable homes in the area. And the fact that utilities may be paid, maintenance is included, the housing is pet-friendly, and much of it is pretty new makes living on base a good option for some people.

If you are a DoD civilian working on base, it may be a very good deal -- cutting your commute time and allowing you to live near people with similar interests. If you're a retiree, it will make shopping on base and visiting medical facilities that much easier.

Of course, you could also live next to a 19-year-old with six kids whose spouse has just deployed for the first time.

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