Would you ever choose to live apart from your spouse in different houses? In the military community, this happens more often than you might think.

It happens enough that there is a term specific to this situation. The service member is referred to as living as a geographical bachelor, or “geo-bachelor.” The military makes it hard to do, so it’s not often the best option. But sometimes it is. And for those of us who have never done it, we look at those situations with doubt or awe.

A service member becomes a geo-bachelor when they PCS without their family, voluntarily splitting the family into two different locations. This is different from getting unaccompanied orders or going TDY for a training school, because in those situations the family does not have a choice to accompany the service member. 

Common reasons families choose to geo-bach:

  • To keep their children in the same school
  • So the spouse can keep their job
  • To care for ailing parents or other family members
  • Because a custody agreement won’t allow them to move their child

No matter the reason for the geo-bachelor situation, there are several areas of impact that need careful consideration. And most of them come down to money. The military is simply not going to pay for you to stay in one place and your spouse to live somewhere else. Yes, there are exceptions to every rule, but even those exceptions are not going to get you two sets of BAH.

For all of the rules regarding moving, check the Joint Travel Regulation. And keep the ibuprofen handy.

Two households when you geo-bach

What we want to focus on in particular is the housing situation. You’re going to need two households now! Your family will probably stay in the house they currently are in, but if you live on a military installation, you will have to move off. (Cha-ching, expense.) Your service member may or may not be authorized a room in the barracks. (Cha-ching, another expense.)

So now you’re looking at two housing payments with one, fixed BAH amount. At this point, many geo-bachelors look for a roommate to share a furnished apartment. This is often the best financial decision looking at a separation of this kind. There are many apartments available close to military installations, but they are not all created equal.

Geo-bachelor expenses

In addition to the double housing payments, you’ll have double the costs for utilities and food. You will also have increased travel costs as you’ll want to see your spouse as often as possible. You may also have additional childcare or pet care costs. If you’re used to one spouse taking on the lawn care, you may need to hire someone to do that.

The bottom line is, while there are strong arguments for each situation that could end with geo-bachelor being the best choice, it’s not designed to be easy. Or cheap. The military does not want this to become the norm.

The PCSgrades Factor

PCSgrades makes it easy to learn about the housing options at each place you are considering. From apartments in town to housing on the installation, you can see reviews from other military families who have been in your situation. Pay it forward by leaving a review on your past apartments, base housing, or neighborhoods.