Military life is very different from civilian life. One of the most significant distinctions is that much of your life is determined for you, and you do not control many aspects. The job you work, the city you live in, the clothes you wear, and more are all determined mainly by the Department of Defense. It can take some time to understand all the differences and get used to this new way of life.

Therefore, it shouldn’t be surprising that your housing choices in the military are also controlled. You cannot just pick up and move to a new city, and your rank may determine what type of housing you are allowed to live in. But once you understand the basics of military housing, you will see that there is quite a bit of freedom of choice, and there are actually quite a few benefits.

Let’s take a look at a few of the rules and regulations regarding your options for housing while being a service member in the United States Military.

Do Service Members Have to Live on Base?

One of the benefits of being a military member is that government housing is available to you. On base, housing consists of dorms or barracks and family housing. These homes are located on or near the military property and managed by private companies as determined by the Military Housing Privatization Initiative. These homes are available for you and dependent family members to live in and are paid with your BAH (Basic allowance for housing.)

Each base has different availability and regulations determined by the base commander. Typically, rank and family size determines your housing placement. For instance, unaccompanied members of lower rank are required to live in base housing for some period of time. Those of higher ranks and those with dependents, though, are given the freedom to determine if they would like to live on base, in privatized housing, or off base in a local neighborhood.

On most bases, the housing office is available to you to answer all questions about the specific base requirements and guide you through the process of determining where you would like to live and signing a lease.

Do Service Members Have to Rent if They Live Off Base?

The basic answer is no. If you decide not to live in military housing, you can choose to rent or purchase your own home. The decision is entirely up to you. Due to the frequency of reassignment and moving, many military families choose to rent when living off base because it is easier to manage with military moves and is less responsibility on you than caring for your own home. Additionally, wait lists for on-base housing may be quite long.

But if you desire to own your home, that option is available to you. Purchasing a home rather than renting is a good choice if you are looking for investment property or will be living in the location for an extended period.

Can Service Members Buy a Home Using BAH?

If you choose to live in privatized housing or rent a home off base, your BAH pay is used to cover the rent of the house. But is the same true if you choose to purchase a home? Yes. You can use your Basic Allowance for Housing to pay for your monthly mortgage payments if you buy a home. This is one of the greatest perks of military life and a contributing factor to why many service members choose to purchase a home rather than rent, even if renting may be easier to manage when moving to a new location.

Need Help Purchasing a Home?

As you can see, there aren’t very many military housing rules and regulations when it comes to purchasing a home. If you have decided that buying a home near Luke Air Force base or Davis Monthan Air Force Base is the best choice for your family, our team at Desert Heroes can help. As military-affiliated agents, we understand the differences between military and civilian life and can help you walk through the additional questions and hurdles.

Are you ready to find the home of your dreams? Call us today.