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Renting vs. Buying After a Relocation

Key placed in the door to new apartment

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.

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 offers a variety of protections for service members, including:

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.

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.

If you bought a home before entering military service, SCRA may allow you to limit the interest rate for your mortgage to 6%. 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. Check out the pros and cons of renting in the Office of Financial Readiness flyer: Is Renting Right for You?

Advantages of renting include:

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.

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.

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.

You won’t have to worry about selling your house when it’s time to move again.

The pros of buying

Buying a home is a big financial decision, but it can be a rewarding choice. Advantages of buying include:

You have the flexibility to personalize your own house and make it suit your tastes.

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.

As your home value increases over the years, you have the potential to make money when you sell it.

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?

Relocation support

Questions about financial goals?

Contact a Military OneSource financial counselor for free assistance.

Overseas? See OCONUS calling options

Prefer to live chat? Start now

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 homebuying 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.

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