Every PCS, military families are faced with the same questions: Should we live on base? Should we try to buy a house? Should we rent a house off base? Occasionally, the choices are limited - maybe the wait for base housing is longer than your tour, or maybe you aren't in a position to buy a house. Other times, you have to carefully consider all three choices and figure out which is going to work out best for you.
Admittedly, civilian families have to make the same choices when they move. However, they don't tend to move as often or as far as military families. Society seems to emphasize home ownership as economically sound and immensely rewarding, but there are many factors that can make buying a home more expensive and more stressful than renting or living on a military base. There are numerous online calculators that can help you crunch the numbers, but what other things do you need to think about before you choose your new home? There are a million questions to ask yourself; here are a few to get you thinking.
What is your housing allowance?
How much is rent in your new community?
How much do houses cost in your new community?
Do you have savings? Will you still have savings after a down payment? Do you have debt?
How long will you be in the area? How sure are you?
What are taxes? How much will they rise? What about other fees & mandatory utilities?
If you have children, how are the schools?
How far is it from work?
Will you be absent frequently? What about security?
Do you enjoy privacy or a neighborly atmosphere?
Do you know how to do maintenance? Do you enjoy it?
Do you have pets?
How much room do you need? Could you use less? Could you use more?
Do you have a large family? Are you single? A couple with no children?
Do you like to entertain large groups?
Do you like amenities such as a pool or exercise rooms?
What kind of military housing is available? Where is it located? Is it near your work? Is it in a safe area?
These are just a few of the questions that you need to ask yourself before you make a decision. There are many websites that discuss the pros and cons of each, but so far I haven't found any that address military member's unique situation. Even with the guidance of such sites, the choice is a very personal decision based on so many factors. My family has chosen each option at least twice in the 9 places we've lived and we have to make a new decision each time we move.