Living In Military Family Housing Or Living Off
Members who have dependents usually have the option of living on-base in the military family housing for free, or off-base and receive a monthly housing allowance. Members who are assigned to locations where dependents are not allowed to travel at government expense can live in the barracks for free, and still continue to receive the housing allowance , in order to provide a household for their family members.
At some bases, members may not have a choice. When I was stationed at Edwards Air Force Base, in California, all First Sergeants and many commanders were required by local regulation to live on-base. It is because the Wing Commander wanted his senior leadership readily available at all times. The closest livable off-base town is Lancaster, which is about 45 miles away from the main base.
Dear Military Spouse Says
Whew! Id be more than happy to answer your questions! I know you must feel overwhelmed! Again congrats on getting married.
How long before you will be able to get into military housing?The waiting list for housing is different everywhere. For some places there isnt a waiting list, others the waiting list may be a month long, and yet others, the waiting list can be 1 or 2 years long. Yes, you heard me right, I said years. The only way to know for sure is to call the housing office and ask. Your spot on the waiting list is determined by his rank and the number of dependents he has. This will also determine how many bedrooms he is given, so you will need to have this information handy when calling.
How quickly do you have to move into military housing once you get the house?If you put yourself on the waiting list and your number comes up he can either choose to accept the house or deny the house. If he accepts, he will need to sign for the house.
That doesnt necessarily mean you have to move into it right then, just be advised that even if you dont move into it right then, that his BAH will get taken out starting immediately. Also, you should plan to move into the house within at least a couple of weeks.
So lets assume he is already at his duty station. He comes home on leave, yall get married, he goes back and puts in for housing and gets housing right away or even 2 months later. If he wants any time off to move, he will need to take leave.
Is A Home Purchase While On Active Duty The Right Choice
Military personnel often get their duty stationed changed, sometimes as often as every three or four years. Frequent moves mean that for some members of the Armed Forces, purchasing a home may not make financial sense.
For others, however, there are circumstances that may make owning a home worthwhile. Perhaps youre reaching the end of your career and preparing to retire from the military. Perhaps you see the opportunity of buying a home as a commercial venture, planning on making improvements and reselling or renting the home out when you need to move again. Whatever the reason, your first step is to educate yourself.
Its a good idea for veterans to take a deep dive into what they think makes the most sense providing for their familys financial future, says Birk.
Being stationed overseas, in particular, means you are relinquishing control over many aspects of the home buying process and leaving the heavy lifting to a real estate agent. Things like touring homes, checking out the neighborhood, checking on property values, and comparing VA and non-VA approved homes are tasks you would normally do on your own.
Find information on the area where you want to buy to help you determine if a purchase is practical. Is it an up-and-coming neighborhood or on the way down? Does it have the schools and other amenities that are important to you? Is it close to base?
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Hire An Agent With A Military
One option is to funnel your nervous PCS energy into finding an experienced professional who will listen to your biggest worries and create an action plan you can trust.
The best time to contact a Realtor can be anywhere from three to six months before your house goes on the market. Chances are youre already in that window and shouldnt wait any longer to hire someone.
As plenty of local Realtors would gladly accept your business, youll need to discern whos the right person for the job. We recommend focusing on the following attributes:
Sells homes faster than average
When hiring an agent, military sellers should focus on a key stat in the agents track record: days on market .
Every city has an average days on market which refers to how quickly properties go from active to under contract .
Dont be afraid to ask your agent: Whats your typical DOM, and how does it compare to the area average?
You can find the average days on market for your city with a quick glance at your citys page. If the agents DOM is lower than whats typical for your city, thats a good sign that they have a strong network and solid marketing chops to find a buyer quickly.
If not, consider it a red flag.
Keep in mind, days on market is not the total time it takes to sell a home. You also have to factor in the closing period, which can take around 45 additional days.
Special designations, like military-relocation specialist
Overwhelmed by where to start your agent search?
Benefits Of The Minuteman Scholarship
The Minuteman Scholarship can provide up to full tuition OR $10,000 in room and board. This scholarship may also be used in conjunction with your existing scholarships. Additional benefits of the Minuteman Scholarship include:
- An annual book allowance of up to $1,200
- A monthly living stipend between $300-$500
- Placement in the Army Reserve after graduation and commissioning
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Determine Which Costs Are Reimbursable
Since the military is moving you and your family, the PCS is almost free of charge. Almost. Yes, the military will cover your move but there are some costs you may encounter and its better to prepare for them in case they pop up on your financial radar. On average, a service member can expect to pay nearly $2,000 in fees for non-reimbursable expenses.
To find out what is considered a reimbursable expense or what the military will pay for, find out in advance by contacting the family center. The military will hire a commercial mover to pack up your household goods and move them to your new station at no charge to you.
What Are The Logistics Of Moving
There are so many choices you have to make when you move, and a lot of paperwork, too. If you move overseas, there is even more to do. Some helpful tips and acronym translation are found on Military.com. But when you are moving within the United States, here are some of the steps:
- Once the service member has orders, he or she can take a class on base about the moving process. Paperwork and details will be reviewed there.
- Go to move.mil to set up an account, enter your orders, and set up your packing dates and moving details. Any problems should be discussed with your local Transportation office.
- At IPAC , you can request some of your moving allowance to be paid to you ahead of time. This is called Advance Pay, to help you pay for renting vehicles and hotel rooms, since the military reimbursement will take at least a month. You can choose how much pay to receive in advance, but remember that it will paid back with automatic deductions from the service memberâs salary.
- As you prepare to move, save receipts for any moving expenses. Most charges now are supposed to go on a Government Travel Credit Card, but if this is not issued, then the service member will need to request reimbursement.
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You Can Do This And Help Is Out There
Avoiding a stressful PCS is a top priority for military sellers, especially first-timers. You have real-world responsibilities to your family and military colleagues that simply cannot be put on hold while sorting the logistics of a PCS move.
Thankfully, there are real estate experts who understand the ins and outs of your unique situation, and you have lots of benefits to claim as a result of you or your spouses service to this country.
Take advantage of whatever offerings youre granted, ask for help when you need it, and youll be well on your way to selling a home with confidence.
That way, you can focus on everything this next chapter of life in a new location has to offer.
Who knows? Maybe itll be an adventure.
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Do Military Members Pay Real Estate Taxes
The United States military pays Basic Allowance for Housing to members approved to live off base. Though meant to cover rental expenses more than homeownership expenses, BAH is frequently used by military members to purchase homes. Using BAH, a military servicemember can also pay for ongoing homeownership expenses such as home maintenance as well as any real estate taxes. Military homeowners are also sometimes protected from foreclosure for delinquent real estate taxes they may owe.
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Applying For The Rotc Program And Scholarships
When completing your ROTC application, we encourage you to reach out to the ROTC enrollment officer at the school you plan to attend. They have years of experience in the application process and can help improve your chances of being selected for the scholarship. Click here to find colleges with ROTC programs or to learn more about the ROTC program.
Stop The Clock’ Clause
Since PCS moves are a normal part of military life, IRS Publication 523 contains a specific clause for military personnel, referred to in IRS Publication 523 as stop the clock. What this means is that you can suspend the two year use requirement for up to 10 years if you are on qualified active duty & ordered to move at least 50 miles from your residence. When combined with the 5 year test period, stop the clock’ can encompass up to 15 years. Keep in mind, this only applies if you meet the criteria for qualified extended duty.’ If you end up moving back within 50 miles of the house, or are no longer on active duty, this clause is no longer in effect. This is an important consideration for your transition.
For example, you buy a home in 2005, then live in it until 2007. In 2007, you receive orders to move outside of your permanent station. Normally, the IRS would require you to sell by 2010, but with the 10 year suspension, you can sell by 2020 and still meet the use requirements. IRS Publication 523 contains more details.
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Bah Rates Below Actual Housing Cost
After a congressionally mandated change, BAH rates were slowly reduced over time to sit at 5% below actual housing costs. That process was finished in 2019, when the nearly one million troops who receive BAH will absorb between $70 to $158 of their housing costs monthly, DoD officials said. Rates will continue to sit at 95% of actual cost going forward.
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How To Find A Tenant Or House Sitter
Here are resources to help you find someone to live in your home while youre away:
- Installation housing office Your housing office can include your property in the rental listings that it provides service members.
- Network of friends and family Ask if they know anyone who needs a place to live or is willing to move out of their own place to stay temporarily at yours.
- Realtor Call around to realtors in your area to find one willing to list your property as a short-term rental.
- Local or installation newspaper Advertise in your local newspaper in the rentals section of the classified ads.
- Online Post an ad on reputable local websites.
- Installation bulletin board You can sometimes post your listing on a bulletin board on the installation. Check with your housing office to find out if they allow it.
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Crucial Tips For Military Home Sellers
As you get ready to sell, follow some of the advice from real estate agent Chris Norton, a decorated veteran, and top-producer in Trenton, New Jersey. He sells homes 49% quicker than the average Trenton, New Jersey, agent, and his client list often includes active duty members and veterans.
Because he is a retired Army Reservist, Norton has personal experience with a vast variety of unknowns that come with military life and the challenges military sellers encounter. Hes been known to go the extra mile for his military clients, including a recent incident when he contacted local police about the need for a property checkup because his client is located several hours away.
He has offered the following advice to military sellers:
Federal Perkins Loan Cancellation Program
If you have already been to college and you are currently serving on active duty, you may qualify for a cancellation of your student loans.
The Federal Perkins Loan Cancellation Program gives Soldiers who have served in combat situations the chance to cancel up to 100 percent of their Federal Perkins Loans or National Direct Student Loans. This benefit does not apply to Stafford loans or PLUS loans.
Active-duty Soldiers in hostile fire or imminent danger pay areas for at least one year are eligible for cancellation of their Federal Perkins Loan Program student loans.
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Basic Allowance For Housing And Va Loans
When it comes to your income and purchasing power, active duty military members can often count military allowances as effective income toward getting a mortgage. Probably the single most powerful allowance out there is Basic Allowance for Housing .
This monthly allowance is for qualified service members stationed in areas where government quarters aren’t provided. It’s a stipend that helps service members keep up with housing costs if they’re living off-post or off-base. There aren’t restrictions on BAH that limit service members to renting. You can use this monthly allowance to help you qualify for a VA loan and buy a home.
And your BAH could cover most or even all of your monthly mortgage payment.
Now, to be sure, everybody’s situation is different, and homeownership isn’t the right fit for every active duty military member. But if you’re getting BAH and you’re interested in buying a home, it’s a pretty incredible opportunity if the pieces come together.
Cons Of Living Off Base
- You have to make sure the military clause is in the lease so you can legally break it if you get orders elsewhere.
- If the landlord doesnt renew your lease or requires you to vacate before your tour ends, you have to find a new rental property. If you move to another off-base property, youre on your own with moving resources and expenses.
- Though BAH and OHA rates often cover the majority of the costs of off-base rent, it doesnt always fully cover the cost, so you may pay some out of pocket .
- If renting while OCONUS, you have to deal with currency conversion. Though the military does give an overseas cost of living allowance to members living abroad to account for the extra expenses, depending on where you live and what the currency version is like, its not always enough. For example, being stationed in England is notoriously expensive for American service members due to the punishing currency conversion rate.
- You may be forced to buy or sell a property during a disadvantageous housing market due to the time frame of your assignment.
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What Rotc Scholarships Are Available
ROTC scholarships are awarded based on a students merit and grades, not financial need. They are offered in the following forms:
- Two-, three-, and four-year scholarship options based on the time remaining to complete your degree
- Full-tuition scholarships
- Options for room and board in place of tuition, if you qualify
- Additional allowances for books and fees
What To Do With Your Home
Lets say that you decided to go ahead and finally take advantage of your VA home loan benefit and bought your first home. You found a VA lender, obtained your approval and moved in, all with no money down. Sometimes though, you find yourself suddenly leaving the area for a deployment, PCS, or other relocation. What do you do with your current home?
There are choices and each has its own unique advantages but you need to be aware of all your options before you decide.
Heres what you need to know about each option.
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Differences Between Stateside And Overseas
Before diving further into housing options, its critical to know how housing varies whether youre stationed in the Continental United States or outside itfor example, overseas .
When youre stationed CONUS, unless you live in government-owned base housing, youll receive a monthly BAH payment as part of your paycheck. The amount you receive is determined by your rank/pay grade, geographic location, and if you have dependents. Its up to you to use that money to pay your rent and any utilities if you have money left over.
If you find a place that costs less than your BAH, you can pocket the difference, so this can be a smart option in affordable areas. For example, if your BAH is $1,200 but your rent is $1,000, you still get the extra $200 and can spend it however you want. Conversely, in more expensive areas, you may end up paying some out of pocket. Though the BAH is calculated to cover rent but not mortgage payments, some service members choose to buy homes in order to build equity. Just be aware that the BAH doesnt account for costs of homeownership such as property taxes or insurance.