The Real Pros and Cons of Living on a Military Base

Cardinal Financial November 9, 2016 | 3 min read
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Is life on base all it’s cracked up to be?

With new servicemembers joining every day and hundreds of military bases available in the U.S. alone, the decision to live on or off base can be intimidating. Not sure which is better? We’re here to help settle the debate. This is our list of the pros and cons of living on a military base.

The pros

When it comes to living on a military base, the pros are indisputable. Your housing does not require rent, utilities, pet fees, or other fluctuating costs. Everyone living on base rents, so there are no down payments or mortgages. If you live in military housing, you’re never stuck in a lease contract. You have the ability to break a lease without warning if you have to leave or move to a different base. In fact, you don’t even have to sell your house if you get deployed—your home will be there when you return.

Military housing offers a wide variety of homes. You are guaranteed a house that is adequate for the size and needs of your family. Military housing is convenient for a lot of reasons—24-hour maintenance, relatively inexpensive full-time daycare, and a short commute to your job, just to name a few.

When living on a military base, the sense of community is strong and tight-knit. Everyone there understands your situation because they’re living on base for similar reasons. In general, your neighbors are your peers—close in age and living through the same stage. In this close community, there’s a presence of safety. Kids can safely play outside and unruly neighbors are usually respectful if you raise a complaint.

The cons

Living on a military base sounds like a utopia, right? Not exactly. This style of living has its negative facets as well. For one thing, you don’t own your home. This means you may not be able to paint or decorate exactly the way you may want nor are you building home equity. When it comes to military housing, you don’t get much of a say in where you live: You are given whatever housing is available that matches your criteria (such as family size). That being said, most military bases will put you on a wait list—a wait that is sometimes up to a year long!

As with any community-style living, your privacy is limited. The housing is organized like townhouses or apartments so you will share walls with your neighbors—some of whom could be potentially annoying. Your house is inspected yearly and, although a warrant is required, the military police can easily enter your home if they deem it necessary. Some servicemembers would say that living on a military base requires you to adhere to many rules, such as lights out at a certain time. This fact coupled with close quarters with your neighbors can be a deal breaker for those who are unwilling to give up some degree of privacy and freedom of self-expression.

In sum

While living on a military base may not be the most glamorous lifestyle, it is certainly accommodating. Pros and cons will vary among military bases and personal opinions, but a careful look at the comparisons should help any potential military base residents make an educated decision.

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