Post from MilitaryByOwner
It’s that time again. You’ve watched your friends take their turn last year and the one before that. But this time, you’re the one holding the PCS orders. It’s your turn to uproot and find a new place to call home at your next duty station.
But that doesn’t always mean buying a home. Sometimes the location, the market, your budget, and other variables just don’t align. And finding a rental is a much more appealing decision.
1. Research the area
Getting intimate with the area is important when finding a rental as it is when buying a property. Though the commitment is often shorter when renting, you’re still looking for a place to call home.
Learn the good and bad areas of town. Find out where other military families choose to live and why. Figuring out where people with your similar interests live will help give you an idea of where to look.
2. Set a budget
No, your BAH isn’t your budget. It’s the allowance the government gives you to compensate for the cost of living in your area. But that doesn’t mean that it’s the amount you have to spend if you’re looking for a rental off base. You could spend less or more.
With your BAH in mind, take a look at rental prices in the area. You might find that there are decent rentals with a smaller price tag and decide that it’s worth forgoing the more expensive rental with that gorgeous kitchen in order to save a little extra.
Or, maybe the rental with all the bells and whistles you want is just over the housing allotment. Is it worth paying out of pocket? That’s for you to decide. Think about how long you expect to be at the duty station and what’s most important for your time there. Consider debt that you may want to tackle aggressively or how much time you plan to be at home that will justify paying a little more.
No one can make these decisions for you. Just make sure that if you’re looking with a spouse or a partner that you’re both on the same page!
3. Establish priorities
Things to consider and prioritize:
Price. No need to reiterate too much here, but your budget should greatly affect your rental search. From here, you can prioritize any remaining variables.
Location. You should, of course, decide how close you want to be to base. Take a look at traffic and figure out what kind of commute you’re looking at. Are you comfortable with living further away from work in order to create some space?
Another factor to consider is proximity to other areas of interest. While the military claims a large portion of your life, you do have other interests like maybe the beach, a larger town, or nicer neighborhoods.
Amenities. Pools, community gym, nearby playgrounds, dog park, and type and size of home are all things to think about. And chances are you can’t have it all.
If you’re going to live in Alabama or Florida in the summer, a pool might be a deal-breaker. And that one feature might dictate which homes you pursue. Is having access to the pool at the apartment complex more important than the single-family home with the yard?
4. Look for a military-friendly landlord
Finding a military-friendly landlord isn’t completely necessary. While the military clause and SCRA cover you should you receive orders to PCS or deploy (if you meet the requirements), a landlord who understands military life can save you a few headaches. They tend to appreciate the unknowns and inconsistencies and put less pressure on their tenants.
5. Be willing to negotiate.
A common misconception associated with renting is that you can’t negotiate. Let’s be clear. Everything is negotiable. The landlord may not entertain every offer, but it doesn’t hurt to make an offer. If the market is slow, homeowners will likely be eager to get cash flowing again. They’ll want to fill the property and therefore be more willing to lower the rental price, waive fees, or reduce a pet deposit.
On the flip side, if the market is heavily saturated with available renters, then you might need to be flexible. Make yourself more appealing by offering to sign a longer lease or move in immediately. Don’t be afraid to share the fact that you’re military. If they’ve had military tenants before, then they’ll likely find comfort in your job security.
6. Keep your eyes and ears open
Don’t underestimate the usefulness of social media! If you’re getting ready to move, chances are, so is someone else. Military homeowners will most likely be eager to fill property when they move. And there’s a good possibility that they’ll share their home advertisement in a local Facebook group. Talk to friends in the area and scan the social groups for insider information and a link to their online listing.
Ready to find your next rental? Kick off your rental search with MilitaryByOwner. With a handful of advanced search options, we hope you’ll find the perfect rental in no time!