shutterstock_146530919.jpgMoving comes with many decisions, but one of the most important will be deciding whether you would like to live on or off post. Housing options are different depending on where your next assignment brings you, but there are a few things you should consider while making your decision.


Your Financial Goals

Can you afford to live off post? Are there housing options that can be covered by your housing allowance? Do not forget to factor in utility bills when making your decision to live off post.



Living on post allows you to be in a welcoming and understanding military community. You can always count on a neighbor to know exactly what you are going through. You also have the advantage of being close to all of the family readiness activities and on-base amenities, like the gym, the exchange and the commissary. You should also consider the additional safety factor on-base housing affords you. It is nice to live in a community that is protected.


On the other hand, if you wish to live a more private life and feel the need to have a little distance from the military community, maybe renting or buying a home in town is for you. This will allow you to make some non-military friends and neighbors.


Issue Resolution

On post living will undoubtedly make it easier to solve housing issues. The management companies hired to maintain on-post housing are professional and well organized (well, they should be). However, I cannot guarantee that the property manager in your town will be as professional or responsive to your needs. While orders will allow you to break your lease without penalty, sometimes the non-military homeowners are not as flexible and understanding as you would hope.


I have not had the opportunity to live on base. So far the places we have been assigned to either do not offer on-base housing, or they have been full. When we moved to Lemoore, there was a six month waiting list for housing, so we made a decision to live in town. There are days where I wish we lived on base. Many of our friends live on base and it would be so nice to just walk over to their homes for a visit, or only be a short drive from the gym and commissary. However, there are other days I know my husband is thankful for the drive home from base to decompress and have a chance to leave work at work.


I would love to hear from those of you who have lived on and off and the advantages and disadvantages of both.


What will you choose on your next PCS?

New Member
I have lived both on base and off and it has been my experience that off base housing is best. On base has its benefits: mainly driving distance from home to work/base amenities. Additionally, you save money in free utilities! The ultimate benefit for any family is having quick access to emergency services and healthcare if someone in the family suffers from any conditions that may require constant care. However, there are disadvantages as well, such as some security protocols that people don't fully grasp until it affects them. For example, if someone escapes from the Base Exchange with stolen merchandise or there is a threat called in, the entire base is shut down- no on is allowed in or off base until the situation is handled by police. This can leave you either trapped in your home or stranded at the gate waiting to get home. Off base living is great and allows one to decompress and leave work behind. Literally. It's very helpful in that it lets you keep your private life and military life separate as well as gives your family the opportunity to live pseudo-civilian lives. Making friends off base is crucial to creating a functional network with the surrounding community. It allows our civilian neighbors to get to know us and appreciate what we do for their community both economically and personally. This relationship builds into a sort of secondary defense structure around the base which helps buffer outside attacks from both anti-military (or anti-American overseas) fanatics and from Congressionally-mandated base closures. Having the local community backing you is the best base defense in my book. At the end of the day it is your decision whether on base is best for your needs, but if you ask me, off base is where you want to be.
Briana Hartzell USAA

Thank you for your feedback Fuegotanio. I think you raise some really great points! I feel lucky to live in the type of community you seem to, one with very supportive locals!


I concur,

I have lived both on base and off. I know in my case I was able to relax more being off base as I actually felt "Off the Clock" so to speak. While base life has advantages, as with anything else it has it's issues as well. It's really a matter of choice.

I think for junior folks it is a good place to start as there are more resources available, and like minded people to help you. As you grow in your career off base has it's benefits as well, and you need less adult supervision. Living on base gives juniors time to get a handle on finances and budgeting.


Just my .02 cents