What are the benefits of living in base military housing? At the Part Time Investor I have never lived in base military housing, I went from the barracks to renting an apartment, to home ownership. There are, however, some great benefits to living in military housing, whether on base or off. Most of my opinions are though the lens of being enlisted and stationed in Okinawa, Japan; Pensacola, Florida; and San Diego, California.
- Convenient commute to work
- Access to military only amenities
- Utilities included*
- Typically no credit check and deposit
- Community network of military families
- Safe atmosphere for kids and family
- Responsive property management
- BAH is not being used to build equity
- Your employer (the active duty members Commanding Officer) can be notified of any complaint against you
- Surrounded by the same people you work with
- Family members have to abide by base orders and directives that affect civilians
A few times a year I sit down with Marines and go over the pros and cons of military housing. Each Marine has a unique situation and sometimes living off base makes sense while other times living on base is a better option. As the type of housing is based on rank and the size of the family this usually creates a lot of different scenarios.
A young Private with a spouse and kid on the way I would probably encourage to live in base housing. The couple is most likely to be new to the area and need to get familiar with military life before making the decision to live out in town. Plus, there is a large support network for the young family to take advantage of.
A Sergeant with a working spouse and less than 2 kids I would probably encourage to live out in town, probably an apartment until they save enough for a down payment on a home. (Getting an apartment first and paying rent should create good bill paying habits to successfully transition to owning a home.) This should set them up as a family and start building equity.
However, careerists with large families of say 3 or more children and a stay at home parent I would probably encourage to live in base housing. Why? Because the size of the home the government will give you is much larger than what can be afforded on a single income with a housing allowance. Plus there are the community benefits such as spouse networks for play dates and babysitting, convenient and safe parks, and close proximity to military only gas stations or convenience stores.
As a final note; not all military housing is on base. In San Diego most housing can be found off base creating different living atmospheres. This base housing is integrated with all branches and run by Lincoln Military Housing.
*DoD does charge for excess electricity usage.