Should I buy or rent a house? Active duty military families are asking themselves this question across the United States. In many cases, you may be asking yourself this question every couple of years when you are PCS’d somewhere new. The debate can be exhausting, yet you want to ensure you make the best choice for yourself and your family with every move you make.

Many families choose to get a VA loan and use their BAH pay (basic allowance for housing) to cover mortgage payments while living near base. Then when they move again, they choose to rent the house as an investment property.

Other families decide it is more economical and less of a hassle to simply rent a home near base for a few years and then brush off their boots when it is time to move again.

Here we have a quick guide to help you weigh the pros and cons of renting or buying a home as a military service member.

Living on Base

Before deciding whether you should rent or buy off-base, you must first decide you are indeed going to live off-base. With each move, you have the option to choose to live in military housing on-base as well. This option comes with its own advantages and disadvantages. For instance, the commute to work for the military member cannot be beaten when living on-base. Also, the sense of community and security that come along with living on base are comforting.

On the downside, base housing tends to be smaller than what you can get off-base, and your choice of location and availability is limited. Additionally, if you have children, the on-base schools or zoned schools may not be a good fit for your family.

After considering the pros and cons of base housing, you must then decide to rent or buy a home if you choose to live off-base.

Pros and Cons of Renting a Home

The advantages of renting a home as a military service member are similar to those of non-military families. Typically, it is less time-consuming to find an available rental home and a much quicker process to sign an agreement and move in. Your costs up-front are significantly lower than when purchasing and most home repairs fall on the landlord’s responsibility rather than your own pocket. Additionally, you have the opportunity to try out different areas if you are unsure of what location you’d like to be in or if you’d like to switch school districts.

But unfortunately, renting is not always a breeze. Sometimes, landlords can be picky, stingy, and difficult to deal with. Furthermore, because the house is not your own, you will not be able to make many permanent changes to the home, reminding you that it is only temporary, which can sometimes make the moving process more mentally taxing. Some also see renting as a missed opportunity to build equity.

Pros and Cons of Purchasing a Home

The main advantage of purchasing a home as a military service member is that it is a great investment opportunity. Some view using BAH pay to cover mortgage payments as “free money” that helps to put money in your own pocket and aid your retirement. Additionally, living in your own home with each move can make military life seem less tumultuous.

The drawbacks to purchasing a home as a service member are mainly due to the cost and hassle it causes when it is time to move again. For instance, you must either sell, thus canceling out your option of using the home as a rental for an investment opportunity, or you must hire a property management company to oversee the home in your absence. You must also deal with the complications that come along with finding tenants or making payments if the home remains empty for a few months between tenants. If you do choose to keep the investment, you must come up with the money for your downpayment and closing costs on your next purchase as well because there will not be a sale to draw from.

Finding a Home with Desert Heroes

When it comes to answering the question, “should I buy or rent a house,” for military families, the decision is more complicated than in civilian life. Therefore, you want to work with a real estate agent who understands the territory that comes with military life.

At Desert Heroes, we understand all the challenges that come with moving as a military family because we have been in your shoes. We also understand the housing markets near Luke Airforce Base and Davis Monthan Airforce Base. This makes us your perfect choice if you are looking to buy or sell a home in the area.

There are a lot of unknowns when moving to a new area, but one thing you can know for certain is that we have your best interest in mind. Call us today, we look forward to helping you find your next home.