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  • Writer's pictureLeila Gillette

Living On-Base vs. Off-Base

Updated: Apr 21, 2022

Which one is really “better”?!

One of the never-ending military debates. Should people live on-base (or post) or off-base??

Which one is better? Which one is easier? Which one is harder?

This is definitely a question we asked ourselves many times throughout each PCS and something I looked into A LOT when we moved to our first base. The concensus I have come to? Well there is no right or wrong answer. And there is no option that will be perfect. I think it depends on several factors such as the base/town you are moving to, house prices, commute times, finances, safety concerns and on and on. I think it also vey much depends on what you and your spouse/family value and what kinds of things are important to you in your daily lives. So to help anyone in this current dilemma or for those just wondering what option really is “better” for you, here is an easy pros and cons list! There are pros and cons for each, and of course some of these are dependent on the area and personal situations but hopefullly this can help narrow down your decision!

On-Base Pros

On-Base Cons

Safety/security- obviously things can happen regardless of where you live or who you live around, however living on base is essentially like a gated community which can help make you feel more secure, especially when spouses are deployed or TDY

You are in a military “bubble”- which can be great! But this also can make it harder to feel a part of your town’s community, it may be harder to engage in the towns events, activities and limit the people you meet & interact with.

Surrounded by other military families who understand this life.There is a common understanding of the help and support needed amongst military families and living close to others going through the same thing can give a great sense of community.

Spouse can feel like they “live at work”. This was a big one for us. My husband never liked coming home 2 minutes after work, being called in for any emergencies/issues and felt like he didn’t really have a space that wasn’t associated with the military.

Amenities! This was always a big perk for me, most bases you’ll have easy access to playgrounds, pool, gym, bowling alley, daycare, etc.

Dealing with military housing. Whether the housing goes through the government or is privatized, unfortunately typically neither are super fun to deal with, often the houses aren’t great quality requiring repairs or issues that constantly need addressed.

Essentially no commute- meaning your spouse may be home more, may even be able to come home for breaks/lunch which can help save money and give the family more time together

Surrounded with other families/kids. Now don’t get me wrong this can be a huge pro! But the bases I have lived at have homes either connected or very close together and often this means close contact to other families and kids being anywhere & everywhere. This can means lots of fun but can also be something that doesn’t allow for a quiet, peaceful environment if that’s something you value in a home.

Off-Base Pros

Off-Base Cons

Having more options when house hunting to find a home that fits your family well and has everything you love in it! You can have more control in the style, quality, appliances, yard, etc. that you want in a home.

May be more difficult to meet people/other military families. I have found at our new base it has been harder to meet people living off base. On base you have very easy access to other spouses and families, off base you do have to make more of an efffort to get out and meet people.

More privacy- of course that could be dependent on where you live off base but typically you will find yourself with more yardage and space around you and in our experience a much quieter street!

Longer work commutes- depending on where you live in relation to the base your spouse could have a longer commute meaning more wear & tear on your vehicle, gas costs and less time they are home.

More autonomy from the military- while the perks and amenities on base are awesome, living off base gives you the ability to integrate more with your local town, your spouse may enjoy having a break from the base and you may have more options in terms of work, shopping, activities, etc.

Harder access to military resources/events. Most things associated with the military are on base, meaning it may be harder to hear about them and you will now have to drive to base for any military events, hosted get-togethers, doctor visits, etc.

Saving money- now this one again could be dependent on the home you buy or rent but when you live on base typically the military takes your entire BAH (housing allowance). If you live off base you get this allowance and if your payments are cheaper then the allowance, you pocket the rest!

Maintaining your home- may depend if you buy or rent but when you live on base typically any issues with the home are taken care of by the housing office. Some bases even offer lawn care and landscaping. If you live off base you typically will have to put in more work to maintain & upkeep your home.

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