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Housing Options for Service Members and Families

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Moving as part of your military life means that you will likely have a number of housing options to choose from once you reach your new location. Each housing option has upsides and downsides, so be sure to consider them all carefully to decide which is the best fit for you and your family.

What are my military housing choices?

Moving can be both exciting and challenging, and the military provides a variety of resources to help you master your move. Contact your installation Relocation Assistance Program office for information about comprehensive relocation services and connections to other offices available to assist you throughout your move.

For housing assistance, contact your installation housing office. Here are some basic housing facts to consider:

  • Government-owned military installation housing is owned and maintained by the Defense Department. Your basic allowance for housing is used for rent and most utilities. With this government-provided housing option, you will not receive a basic allowance for housing.
  • Single or unaccompanied military installation housing is often referred to as the “barracks”, “dorms” or “bachelor quarters.” These dormitories are not always private. Some service members share a room or a bathroom. The upside: this housing option comes rent free. Learn more about living in the barracks.
  • Privatized military housing allows military members and their families to live in a home built and maintained by a private-sector company. You can live in this housing and use your basic allowance for housing to pay for your rent. You will be expected to pay for your own utilities. Educate yourself on renters insurance to help you understand various policy options and coverage to meet your needs.
  • You can rent a home off the military installation. Review the pros and cons of renting in the infographic Is Renting Right for You? Learn more in this short article Renting vs. Buying After a Relocation. Before signing a rental contract, review carefully and ensure the contract has a military clause in it that allows you to break the lease in case you are reassigned or deployed. If you aren’t sure if your lease has this clause, contact your housing office for assistance. If you have questions about a rental agreement and breaking a lease, contact your installation legal services/JAG office. You can use the Armed Forces Legal Assistance Legal Services Locator to find the closest legal assistance office.
  • You can buy a home off-installation. If you are considering buying your first home, contact an installation personal financial counselor, usually located in your Military and Family Support Center for information on financing. If you are considering buying you will also need to consider if you are comfortable with the possibility of having to sell or rent it relatively quickly if you are reassigned or deployed. Review the pros and cons of buying a house in this infographic Is Buying Right for You? You can also learn more in this Office of Financial Readiness course on Home Buying.
  • If your family has special needs or extenuating circumstances such as a spouse enrolled in a degree program or children in elementary or secondary school, you may be eligible for housing flexibility options before and during a PCS move. Learn more about eligibility criteria and authorized housing flexibility options during PCS moves.

Still have questions or need help finding housing information? Military OneSource consultants are available 24/7/365 to answer your questions and connect you with the resources you need to master your move. Call 800-342-9647, use OCONUS calling options, or start a live chat.

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