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Renting vs Buying After a Relocation4 minute read • May 20, 2022
For members of the military, deciding whether to rent or buy a home is a financial decision not to be taken lightly. Part of mastering your move is finding the best home for you, your family and your budget in your new location.
Questions about financial goals?
Contact a Military OneSource financial counselor for free assistance.
Overseas? See OCONUS calling options
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Understanding your legal rights
Before you begin exploring housing options, it’s important to know your legal rights so you can protect yourself.
The Servicemembers Civil Relief Act, or SCRA offers a variety of protections for service members, including:
- Renter’s rights: Under SCRA you can terminate your lease without penalty due to deployment or PCS. If you’re unable to pay your rent because of reasons related to your service, this law also prohibits your landlord from evicting you.
- Military clause: Depending on where you live and your property manager, many leases have an additional clause that provides further protection for military families who rent and may need to break their lease. Before signing a lease, read any existing clause and consider asking for an additional clause if there isn’t one already. If you have questions, contact your installation legal services/JAG office or use the Armed Forces Legal Services Locator tool to find an office near you.
- Homeowner’s rights: If you bought a home before entering military service, SCRA may allow you to limit the interest rate for your mortgage to six percent. In some situations, you may be protected from foreclosure if you can’t maintain your mortgage because of your military service.
The pros of renting
If you move frequently, you may want to consider renting. Advantages of renting include:
- Low maintenance responsibilities: Your landlord or complex manager should handle any repairs or upkeep, which is one less thing on your to-do list. Check your lease to make sure you understand your responsibilities.
- Lower up-front costs: Most rentals require a security deposit and two months’ rent — first and last — but that’s typically less than the down payment and closing costs required when buying a house.
- Lower monthly costs: Though it depends on where you live, rent may be cheaper than a mortgage, but your basic allowance for housing will be the same. If your rent is less than your allowance, you can automatically save money each month.
- Greater flexibility: You won’t have to worry about selling your house when it’s time to move again.
Check out the pros and cons of renting in the Office of Financial Readiness flyer: Is Renting Right for You?
The pros of buying
Buying a home is a big financial decision, but it can be a rewarding choice. Advantages of buying include:
- Renovation: You have the flexibility to personalize your own house and make it suit your tastes.
- VA Home Loans: The Department of Veterans Affairs Home Loan Program is a substantial benefit earned with military service. These invaluable loans require no down payment, no private mortgage insurance, and have low interest rates.
- Equity opportunity: As your home value increases over the years, you have the potential to make money when you sell it.
- No landlords: You have the freedom to make renovations and changes without having to get approval from a landlord. However, you may want to check to see if you have any Homeowners Association rules and regulations.
Check out the pros and cons of buying in the Office of Financial Readiness flyer: Is Buying Right for You?
If you’re not sure how much house you can afford or you have loan questions, reach out for support. Free financial counseling is available by phone or online from Military OneSource, and in person through your installation personal financial management services office. Financial counselors can help you weigh your housing options and answer your financing questions. You might also check with your installation Military and Family Support Center to see if they offer a home buying class.
More moving questions? Military OneSource consultants are available 24/7 to answer your questions and connect you with the support you need to master your move. Call 800-342-9647, use OCONUS calling options, or start a live chat.