Every Permanent Change of Station (PCS) move, military families need to decide whether to live on base or rent or buy in the civilian community. The question is a little more complicated by the fact that many privatized base housing companies offer special prices on military housing, as a way to make base housing more attractive to new residents. Understanding the details of the various promotions is essential when trying to decide what choice is best for your family.
If you're not familiar with how government housing works, you generally pay the amount of your Basic Allowance for Housing (BAH) to the privatized housing company, and that payment covers your rent and utilities (or a utility allowance.) Accepting a promotional deal may let you keep a portion of your housing allowance. Whether or not these deals make economic sense depend on your rank and associated BAH, your family size, and the options available off base.
When considering whether to move into base housing because of reduced rent, you need to know two main things: how long the initial period of reduced rent will last, and what the rent will be after the reduced rent period.
Term of Reduced RentThe most frequent promotion is to offer reduced rent for one year. Obviously, the value of reduced rent is different if the reduced rent is offered for a shorter or longer period. This may be a set rent, such as $1095 for all two bedroom houses, a reduction, such as $200 off rent, or a period of free rent, such as four week's free.
Rent After PromotionThis part is a lot trickier. First of all, there's a good chance that the company can't predict what promotions will be offered in a year. Sometimes, you can renew at another promotional rate. Other times, you'll have to renew at the current BAH rate.
The rental payment you are offered at the end of your original promotional term can be different depending on whether you sign another lease or roll into a month-to-month lease. For example, you may be offered $200 reduced rent for another lease or asked to pay full BAH if you go month-to-month.
I've heard a lot of people complaining that their privatized housing company is "raising rent" at the end of the original term. While it is true that the rental amount is increasing, it isn't really being raised so much as returning to its market rate (or the current promotional amount.)
Taking advantage of a special being offered by base housing may be a great way to put a little extra money in your pocket, but be sure to factor in all the details before making a decision, and also be sure to remember that the promotion won't always last for the entire time that you live in the housing.