The Pros and Cons of Living On Base

Even though you’ve just started to really like the people next door, and you finally found a taco place that speaks to your heart, it’s time to move again! (Cue insomnia and anxiety!) Just kidding! Take a chill pill, friend. You’re going to slay this PCS. Plus, here at Daily Mom Military, we have tons of resources to help you get through this wild ride. But firstly, let’s address the first question that ran through your head – “Where are we going to live?” Didn’t Hamlet say something like, “On base or off base…that is the question!” To help you decide, let’s examine both the good and the bad about living on base.

The Great Things about Living on Base

The Pros And Cons Of Living On Base

The Community

On base (or post, as some say) living is quite unique from the ordinary. Imagine living in a gated community, but the gate is guarded by some of the country’s best-trained and best-looking individuals. (Did we mention that Daily Mom Military is proudly operated by a group of Military Spouses?) Those who live on base are almost exclusively active duty military families. This gives the community a feeling of comfort through commonality. It’s likely that your neighbors will come over to introduce themselves, throw a “Welcome” block party after PCS season, and bring over menus to all the best takeout places. It’s not uncommon to see flocks of little kids riding scooters and for parents to be congregated at the mailbox for extended periods of time. Virtually everyone understands the harsh realities of deployment and are likely to lend a hand to neighbors in times of need.

The Pros And Cons Of Living On Base

The Convenience

Another definite perk is the absence of utility bills. Everything you need to run the place (gas, water, electricity) is included in your rent. (And the program to charge you for extra usage has been suspended on Army installations.*) They often include lawn care and landscaping as well. You will also have access to community facilities, such as playgrounds, fitness centers, and pools. Besides these places, the rest of the base amenities will be nearby as well! The Commissary (grocery store), Exchange (tax-free department store), and library are all within a short drive. If you are lucky, your installation may even have a thrift store or a Starbucks, right down the block! One more convenience is the availability of reliable maintenance services that will fix things when they inevitably break.

*Editor’s note: We originally posted that the energy program had been suspended, and we have updated this to reflect that, so far, it has only be suspended on Army installations. We apologize and encourage you to report your problems with the program to your branch.

When living on base, Service Members have a significant time advantage over their colleagues living off base. Since they’re already on base, they get to skip gate traffic and will typically have a shorter commute. This is key for maximizing precious family time. And while we don’t recommend leaving your house unlocked, there is an added sense of security living behind the gates of the military installation.

The Not-so-Awesome Things about Living on Base

The Pros And Cons Of Living On Base

Daily Life Restrictions

Now let’s get into the nitty-gritty. While your neighbors may be lovely, and the commute to work short, these benefits come with a number of less than thrilling restrictions. Some are minor, while others may keep your family from committing to base living entirely. One of these is the fact that the Service Member(s) would never truly leave “work” when they come home. Since regulation haircuts, proper civilian attire, and a shaven face remain requirements for active duty personnel, and it’s harder to let that slide when living on base. Additionally, let’s say a higher member in your Chain of Command lives a few doors down. We’re guessing you’d be less likely to really let your hair down on the weekends. If this level of oversight would drive you bonkers, consider an alternative housing plan.

The Pros And Cons Of Living On Base

Are you a décor enthusiast and Fixer Upper fanatic? It may be disheartening to learn that the hardware is probably not going to be the fanciest. There’s no room for double rain showerheads in your tiny bathroom either. And sadly, the contracted housing companies make it clear that you are not allowed to make alterations to your home. At first you won’t mind, but let’s chat after a few months living with those hideous boob-light fixtures. We understand why this is good policy, but it should be noted for those to whom their home is their castle! Thankfully, there are a few sneaky, yet absolutely non-move-out-fee-incurring ways to spruce up your surroundings.

Pets and Safety

In most cases, Fido and Fluffy can come to your new hom on base, but there are some breeds that are typically banned. These usually include Pit Bulls, Rottweilers, Doberman Pinschers, Chow Chows, Wolf Hybrids, American Staffordshire Terriers, and Staffordshire Bull Terriers. Be sure to check with the installation you will be moving to for the most updated and accurate list. Sadly, you won’t be able to harvest your own fresh eggs either. Base housing prohibits farm animal friends as well. Any pets who make the cut will normally require a rabies vaccine and a microchip too.

More seriously, there have been a number of base housing safety concerns over the past several years. Water impurity due to the release of PFAS into the drinking supply, scary mold infestations, and other concerns are enough to make you turn and run. Additionally, some of the homes are very old with only a few layers of paint separating your family from lead and asbestos poisoning. There’s no need to assume that every home will be this way. Though we would strongly suggest conducting a careful investigation of the potential home before accepting it as your own

The Pros And Cons Of Living On Base

Budgetary Concerns with Living on Base

Living on base means that the housing company assumes the entirety of the BAH stipend (Basic Allowance for Housing). If you choose an off base housing option, that stipend goes directly to the Service Member to pay rent/mortgage. Many save money by living off base and finding a place to rent for less than BAH. Or you can make the BAH go further by renting or buying a house with nicer features or better location. Figuring out which is more financially intelligent is highly dependent upon the current housing market in your area.

Whether you choose base housing or not, we hope that you will love (or learn to love) your new duty station. Hopefully, this has shed light on which type of housing your family will be the most comfortable in as you ride out this next chapter of your military journey!

Check out this article on The Unmatched Sibling Bond of Military Kids

The Pros And Cons Of Living On Base

Photo Credits: Eastern Sky Photography NC



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Daily Mom Military
Daily Mom Military
Daily Mom Military is a resource dedicated to serving the unique needs of military moms. Through our website, we provide comprehensive advice for all things concerning military lives and families. Our mission is to equip these incredible women with the necessary tools, resources, and community to navigate the challenges of military life. We understand the unique struggles and triumphs that come with being a military mom and strive to be a one-stop-shop for advice, tips, and support.

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