By Rebecca Alwine, Army Spouse

As a military family, one of our main concerns is where are we going to live. Over the course of the last ten years, we’ve had to make many housing decisions ranging from living on or off the installation, renting or buying, and even apartment or a house.

Deciding Between an Apartment or a House

Several things play into our decisions regarding housing, and I’d imagine the same is true with your family. Some of those things include:

Cost

While renting an apartment may be less expensive than renting a house, the constant rotation of putting down deposits before the next one is returned can be an unexpected financial burden.

Personalizing

When you buy a house, you can do whatever you want with it! This is a huge plus after years of living in sterilized military housing.

Extras

While apartment complexes often come with extras like pools and maintenance, you may miss the garage and the yard a house has to offer.

Apartment living often seems glorious. I imagine my younger days with much less stuff. Sort of a carefree attitude that comes with no yard to care for, and no garage full of stuff. It reminds me of the years we spent at the beginning of our military adventure, slowly filling rooms with new-to-us furniture, and then children. Eating off a card table and watching TV sitting on a futon.

Hold On!

On our last move, we were excited to move into an apartment. We had a very short tour and thought apartment living would be a great adventure. I remember hanging up the phone after talking to the manager and being very excited about summer afternoons spent at the pool I didn’t have to maintain. Imagining my morning coffee on the balcony looking out over some trees and a small pond.

Then I remember some of the headaches of apartment living. While ten years ago we had no children, now we had three. And a dog. Plus, “stuff” that lives in the garage. And two cars to park. Oh, the groceries would have to be carried up three flights of stairs, and the dog walked down them several times a day.

My fantasy of simple, apartment living came to a crashing halt.

Switching Gears

So we moved into a house. A lovely, sensible three bedroom, two bath house with a fenced in backyard, a two car garage, and located in a good school district. No, we didn’t have a pool to visit, but we had enough room for our things. We did have a yard to mow, but we also didn’t have to walk the dog up and down the stairs at all hours of the night.

As I look forward, I imagine us once again living in an apartment, or maybe a townhome, when we are on the flip side of the military. Maybe when we can bicycle to work, or don’t have kids at home. When we can downsize the footlockers in the garage to maybe one in a storage unit. When life becomes inherently simpler, yet possibly a bit lonelier.

Depend on Reviews from the Military Community

Just like with any aspect of military life and moving, the opinions and experiences of other military families who’ve done it are welcome. Which is why each time I move, I scope out the reviews of the areas I’m interested in. Reviews ranging from installation housing to housing in the community, and even apartments are available on PCSgrades.com. While you’re there, leave one for your current housing situation.

PCSgradesPCSgrades AuthorRebecca Alwine is a freelance writer, army wife, and mother of three. She’s also a contributing writer for ARMY Magazine, a regular contributor for several publications including to Homefront United Network, PCSgrades, ESME, and has also been published in Ms. Magazine and The Atlantic. You can follow her online at www.whatrebeccathinks.com.