This is always my first step when I know where we’ll be headed to. I am a planner (not easy when your spouse is Active Duty) but even if the orders change, I always plan as far ahead as I can, at least one year out if possible. House-hunting can be one of the most exciting and stressful parts of moving to a new duty station. With a lot of research, however, you can make it as stress-free and smooth as possible.
Off Post Housing
I highly recommend using AHRN , the Automated Housing Referral Network, a vetted military housing site which allows you to both list homes and find homes for sale or rent. Search by military base, BAH allowance, home size, etc. and save your favorites to refer back to.
I always start with AHRN when house hunting, and then widen my search by looking at the listing company website for other houses that may not be listed on AHRN, but are managed by the same military-friendly company.
We found our first home through AHRN, and it was a very positive experience. I would highly recommend the site to anyone looking at off-base housing, especially if you are moving to an area you are unfamiliar with.
Be sure to clarify with any rental company or individual you rent from the terms of the lease. Make sure there is a military clause in the rental agreement to protect you, and the terms for receiving your deposit back are clear. Also remember that when turning off and on utilities, the company will most likely come as late in the day as they can to turn on your utilities, but they will turn them off as early as they can on the day you specify. Don’t make the mistake we did and have to clean your house with extension cords and flashlights from your neighbors because the electric company switched off your electricity too soon!
We currently live on-post at Fort Bragg, and have enjoyed our on-base housing experience. We were very fortunate to move on-post when there were a lot of open houses available. We actually were shown a 4 bedroom, 2.5 bath two-story new build duplex, got put on the waiting list, and signed the lease for the home we viewed all in the same day! I know that our story is not typical, and during the busy PCS season some families wait weeks or even months on a waiting list before being placed in a home, but we definitely lucked out. Most, if not all, on-base housing has been privatized and is not directly managed by the military base they serve.
Fort Bragg uses Corvias Military Living a company that also services Fort Riley, Fort Rucker, Fort Sill, Fort Polk, Aberdeen Proving Ground, Fort Meade, Reece Crossings, Eielson AFB, Edwards AFB, McConnell AFB, Hurlburt Field, Eglin AFB, and Seymour Johnson AFB. I have had great luck with Corvias and am very happy with the quality and level of services they provide.
Remember that when living on-post, the housing company will take all of your spouse’s basic allowance for housing (BAH) directly out of your spouse’s check. The BAH will cover your rent, electricity, yard maintenance, trash service, and water bills. You may be charged extra for electricity if your usage is above the average rate for the month, so remember to conserve just like you would if you paid the electric bill yourself. Cable or satellite television and internet are extra expenses that are not included in your BAH, and you will have to pay extra for those services. You will also be expected to follow your base’s housing restrictions: usually only 2 pets per household, only certain sizes and types of fences in the back yard, restrictions on yard work and gardening, outdoor structures, where you can park vehicles, etc. Leases for on-post housing normally start with a 1 year lease, and then continue on a month-to-month basis until you give a 30 day notice to vacate.
Some people love on-post housing and some people hate it. I find myself in the middle; I enjoy the convenience of being close to work and the PX, the size of our home, being surrounded by other military families, the security of living on-base, the ease of the moving process, and not having to worry about individual utility expenses. I dislike the lack of personalization in the houses, being surrounded by other military families, living in a duplex, having to go through the gate every time to get home, being restricted to two pets, and the general feeling of lack of privacy and individual space.
You’ll have to discover for yourself which you prefer, but know there’s only one certainty in the military-moving!