When a military family is facing a PCS move, one of the biggest decisions they make will be to live on their new installation, or in a neighborhood off base. This decision can be difficult as families weed through base housing websites and Facebook groups. But these forums might not have all the information you need to make the best decision for your family.
We asked our incredible social media community why they actually chose to live on base, and what they really enjoy about the experience. We ended up with some great insights for you to consider the next time you make a PCS move!
8 Reasons Military Families Enjoy Base Housing
Many families have a greater sense of security when they live in base housing, especially if that housing is within the confines of a military installation. Allowing kids to play outside and feeling more secure when a spouse is deployed, or otherwise gone for training, is a big factor for some military families when considering on base living. As Bell J. told us, “I love base housing for security when my husband deploys, which has been pretty much every year except for the last three-four due to I&I and then PCSing.”
While some families say that living off base is a money saver, in many areas it is simply too expensive to live out in town. The savings can add up when you consider a shorter commute time to work and being closer to the commissary. Jenah W. is not currently able to live on base because of breed restrictions with her pets. But, if given the chance, she would love to live on base. “The housing is decent. The community environment on post is great. And it’s such a small post that we could be a one car family so easily. We would also save money on post here versus living off base, which is unique to this area.”
This was a big one. Ever had to wait in a line for an hour just to get on base in the morning? Service members who live on base often have a much easier time with traffic during peak hours. Living close to schools, parks, shopping, etc. is a great benefit to many. Bianca S. shared, “Honestly, we barely left the base – it had everything we needed, from the commissary to youth sports, to a swimming pool and gorgeous parks.” Heather H. also told us, “It’s just nice being close to things and not having to worry about paying another bill. At least for us it is. It’s just one less thing to worry about. There’s plenty to do and see on post, so living close to all that is nice.”
Some military families choose to live on base because they like being around other military families who understand the lifestyle. Destiny R. says, “In CA, when we were quickly evacuated 3 different times during the fires, neighbors drove up and down the streets making sure none of us needed help with our kids and pets. We were all especially focused on the women who had spouses gone. You don’t always find that out in town. It’s very much about the military friendships.” Ingrid Y. also loves the community aspect, “Living on base we had instant community. My boys and I had fast friends there. This was crucial for us when he deployed for a year. Everything we needed was there, and everyone understood.”
Many families report schools as a reason to choose housing off base. But in some duty stations, the schools that serve the on base population can be a better fit. Military kids new to the area might find it more comfortable to around other milkids. Lakesha M. and MJ B. both told us that schools were a big factor in their decision to live on base, either because of the size or because their installations had DODEA schools.
Sometimes military bases offer things that are not offered out in town, such as a commissary, bowling alley, swimming pools, chapel, community events… all are usually close by on a military installation. Many families really enjoy these perks. As Stephanie M. pointed out, “There are amenities galore! A beach at the end of the street, splash pad across the street, nice community centers to use for any events, concerts in the park from our patio, being within walking/biking distance to everything, the convenience of free house maintenance, community appreciation events like free car washes and movies in the park!” Jessica S. had us sold with this simple sentence: “Starbucks within walking distance is probably my favorite thing when we are living on base!”
More Family Time
When a service member works only a few short miles from home, it can mean more family time together. They might come home for lunch, or make it home earlier in the evening without a commute. Nichole W. says, “Traffic can be terrible, especially at Fort Hood. So instead of a 20 or 30 minute commute, my husband had only a five minute drive.”
Better Quality Homes
Some off base locations offer larger or nicer homes for the same amount of BAH. Base housing has been rebuilt or renovated at some locations. Rebecca A. shared, “The housing is really nice and we get more for our BAH than we would off post in this area.”
One of our favorite quotes comes from Stacey F. “Sure there are frustrations with a small community, but as adults we can chose to put silly behaviors aside and enjoy where we are. I’m not sure we would have given base housing a chance before this. But now I truly do believe that where you live does matter, but how you chose to live there is what matters the most!”
Have a positive or negative experience with on-base housing? Let your voice be heard and pay it forward to your fellow military community! Go to PCSgrades.com and leave a review for the base housing neighborhood you live in!