By Tara Smith
SpouseLink Ambassador
& Guest Blogger

I’ve been a military spouse since 2013. In the past 10 years, we’ve had three PCSs, moved four times, and my husband has lived OCONUS for two years during that time. One of the many things my civilian friends have said to me is that “you knew what you were getting into when you married him.” Well, folks, no, I didn’t. I’ve had to learn how to navigate this crazy military life and trust me, it is not for the faint of heart, that’s for sure.

I’ve had to learn how to deal with the change in lifestyle and accommodations. Military living is drastically different from civilian living. In the military, we get to live in several locations, which is great. But there are setbacks regarding the new location: whether it is military-friendly, family-friendly, or whether it supports any chance of having a civilian lifestyle similar to the one we once had. I’ve had to struggle with knowing that not all locations are going to be accommodating, while some will.  

Taking all that into account, here are 4 reasons I chose to live off-base: 

  1. Wanting to have both a military and a civilian lifestyle. For example, I wanted to continue working in town and I wanted both of us to have a decent commute.  
  1. More housing options. One of my biggest frustrations with the military was the quality and availability of base housing. We have heard that wait times for base housing can be up to a year and a half.
  1. Ability to live within your means. We’ve learned to be savvy about BAH and living within your means. Having our rent be lower than our BAH has meant we can save money and use it for other expenses.
  1. Location, location, location. In isolated areas, such as 29 Palms, it made sense to live on base, although I wanted to explore the area. When we were in Tampa, FL, base housing was very limited on MacDill AFB, therefore, the waitlist was long. In North Carolina, several of the base homes were destroyed, condemned, or infested with mold due to Hurricane Florence, limiting e housing selection. The waitlist was long, and we didn’t have much time before my husband had to check in.   

Convenience, pricing, and location motivated our choices for selecting housing. Ultimately, you get to decide where you live. I encourage you to do your research, be open, and make the choice that works best for your family. Moving is not always easy, but with time, you will see the perks of moving with the military. Best of Luck and tell us about your moving experiences!

Tara is an active-duty Marine Corps spouse of 10 years. She is also a Licensed Clinical Social Worker who provides therapy to children and their families. Tara is a SpouseLink Ambassador, an expecting mother, and has one horse and two dogs. In her spare time, you will find her working out, walking her dogs, and spending time with her horse. 

Unique Military Life Decisions to Make:

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