We’re moving back into military housing.
If you remember the last time we did this, you might wonder why we made this decision again, so I’m going to walk you through the thought process. The pros, the cons, and why we ultimately went this route (at least for now) may help you through your own housing choices.
Or it might be ridiculously dull.
Either way, it’s what you get this week.
Pros of Military Housing
No deposit necessary. Depending on your budget, this can make a huge difference. You don’t have to pay the first month’s rent up front, either, just the pro-rated dates for the month you move in and then allotments come straight from military pay. Easy peasy.
Flat rate rent. There aren’t going to be any unexpected rent hikes. It also usually includes all of your utilities, which is fantastic when you’re running air conditioning in southern California.
A military-friendly community. There’s a lot to be said for a community of people who understand things like deployments and weird moving schedules and the like. (This isn’t really a factor for me, but for many people it’s a huge check in the PRO list.)
It’s bigger on the inside. Okay, not really, but often with military housing you can get more space than you’d be able to afford on the civilian rental side. This isn’t always true, though (case in point: Great Lakes housing is TINY.)
Cons of Military Housing
A military-only community. This may not seem like a con to some people, but I prefer living with a mix of neighbors, rather than all military. The vibe is different, as are the lifestyles.
High turnover in your neighborhood. It comes with the turf. People transfer all the time. Your neighbors won’t stay consistent. The good news is that a bad neighbor may very well leave soon. The bad news is the good neighbor will, too.
Flat rate rent is your whole Basic Allowance for Housing (BAH). Even though rent won’t change on you suddenly, it will probably take your whole BAH. For some people this is a deal breaker.
Not much pet friendly space. One thing we run into a lot is that instead of taking pets on a case-by-case basis, much military housing is blanket “pet friendly” in this neighborhood and “no pets allowed” in that one. It severely limits options* with our cats, and means we’re only allowed to live in certain neighborhoods. These also tend to be the older, less up-to-date homes.
Choosing Military Housing
So why did we choose military housing? The current housing market in San Diego is ideal for sellers, which means renters (like we would be) run a high risk of having a rental sold and having to pay out of pocket to move. We did that in Chicago and don’t want to do it again right away.
We don’t want to live an hour out of town. That housing market I mentioned? Rent prices have gone up by ~$600+ a month since we were there 3 years ago, and we’ve been mostly priced out of the San Diego neighborhoods we would have wanted to live in.
We’re moving over the holidays, and trying to get in touch with agents or owners who can show us homes and take the time we need would be a challenge in the week between Christmas and New Year’s.
We’ve also been in apartments and condos for most of the last decade (with a 3 year exception in a duplex home), and are ready to not share walls (or floors or ceilings) with other people for a little while. Given that we wanted a little more space, it was worth asking the question, and sure enough they offered us a (pet friendly!) house that’s big enough for what we need and only about a 10-15 minute drive from the base.
….so we’ve got a house!
We’re moving in at the end of December, and it’s SUCH a relief to know we have a place to go and don’t have to go through the house-hunting process this go-round. If we stay in San Diego longer than 3 years, I don’t know that we’ll stay in military housing, but for now it’s a good fit for our current situation.
*Military families are notorious for ditching pets when they PCS, and this policy does NOT help– making it more difficult to find housing because you have a pet is setting some animals up for being dumped. But that’s a soapbox for another day.