The choice to live on post or off post is a personal one, depending on the military family, the location, and financial goals. What works for one family, might not work for another.
During your time as a military spouse, you might enjoy living on post in some places, and prefer living off post in others. Some families find they prefer to always live on post and others would rather always stay off.
When it comes to making the decision to live on or off post, it is best to know what you are getting into, what your options truly are, and weigh your pros and cons.
Here are a few questions to ask yourself before making that decision:
Will you save money living on post?
Saving money is one of the most common reasons why people choose to either live on or off post. You have to figure out what will work best for you based on where you live, your BAH, and what type of home you will be living in. Not everyone is going to come to the same conclusion, even at the same duty station.
You would need to figure out what type of home you would be given on post, and compare that to what you could afford off post. Look at what your BAH would be to help figure out your budget. You need to make sure to include utilities, gas to drive to post, and any other fees you might not have to pay if you live on post.
How long will it take each of you to get to work?
Think about your commute time. If you are on post, your service member could live just a few minutes from work. If you are off post, you might be a few minutes from your job. Think about how much you might pay in gas, how long you want to be in the car, and weigh the pros and cons.
How are the schools on post vs off?
Schools are super important when you have children. You want to send them to the best place possible. When it comes to which schools are better, either on or off post schools, it really depends. You can look at school ratings but your best bet is asking people whose children have actually attended those schools.
If you are not in the area yet, you can easily ask this kind of thing in local Facebook groups. Just keep in mind that one bad experience does not make for a horrible school and there could be different factors as to why each person had the experience they did. Having special needs kids and knowing what is available to them is also a big factor in making this decision.
What type of home do you want?
This is another big factor in deciding if you will live on or off post at your duty station. Are you okay living in an apartment, condo or duplex? Do you want land? Do you want to build your own house?
At some duty stations, you might be more limited than others based on what you can get on post. Sometimes there can be long waiting lists for housing and you have to take what you can get if you do want to live on post.
How much military do you want in your daily life?
If you live on post, the military is going to be a bigger part of your daily life than if you live off post. If you live off post, you, as a spouse, might not even have to go on post all that often. So this totally depends on what you want.
Your service member might want a little bit of space from work as well. They might want to drive 15 minutes in order to get home instead of feeling like they live right next to their daily job. Being on post means you will be closer to everything military related, but ask yourself if that is a good or a bad thing.
Does your family prefer to live on or off post? Or on or off base for those who are not Army spouses 🙂