1. Everything you could ever need is within a short distance.
This will come as a huge relief to many – most bases have grocery stores, gyms, child care, and more directly on site. This will especially be helpful for young families with multiple children, limited options, and limited time.
However, this option can also be limiting in terms of buying power and what is available at the only stores on-base. For those whose expansive choice would weigh more heavily than convenience, this may not be a draw for you at all. In that case, you could explore your off-base options that would better suit your ideal living situation.
2. Housing options are limited.
There are a limited number of on-base housing options no matter where your family is stationed. This means scarcity in terms of design or room specifications, and could also mean that you don’t get to choose your neighbors. While on-base housing can be very nice and expansive, be prepared for the reality that you’re not choosing from an unlimited supply, and if you or your spouse is of lower rank, you’re not exactly getting the first choice either.
3. You may not get the privacy that many come to expect in living situations.
It may feel more difficult to truly relax after a long week at work whenever you still live right next to other service members and even your superiors. You can imagine that it would be easy to take a stressful day home when the physical distance isn’t far, but you can do things to help your family’s home feel like a peaceful place to relax and have reasonable privacy. This would help living on-base feel more like a viable long-term option.
4. Alterations are not permitted in most on-base housing situations.
That’s right. Thankfully there is a huge market for cheap and renter-friendly DIY ideas. You can definitely find a way to make the space feel like your own, even temporarily. But if you’re looking to truly make your house a home, maybe dipping one’s toes into homeownership as a possibility is a next step.
5 You receive none of the BAH.
For many families, renting cheaply off-base and using the rest of the Basic Allowance for Housing for other family costs is an attractive option. Unfortunately, if you choose to stay on base, none of the BAH comes back to you. This can make a huge difference in your bank account, and potentially sway many military families into living off-base. Again, with most things that a family might need provided right on campus, perhaps the cost of living is lower. Weigh your options and desires heavily and you’ll choose the right situation for you!