We’ve always lived on-base housing for the fifteen years my husband has been in the Air Force. Until now. We decided to purchase a home when my husband was stationed at Joint Base San Antonio and right away I’m noticing some differences between living off-base versus on-base housing.
The Difference Between On-Base and Off-Base Housing
1. On base my daughter would leave her bike at the top of the driveway and it would always be there in the morning. Off base? Well. Someone took her bike. I should have known better, but sometimes I forget that some people are horrible.
2. You’re more vigilant off base. If there’s a mysterious car driving slowly around the neighborhood, it usually gets posted about in the local neighborhood Facebook page. This rarely happened when I was on base.
3. At least I don’t have to deal with on base traffic! I remember trying to leave the base during lunchtime, and it was a complete zoo. Granted, I do have to deal with the traffic AROUND my new neighborhood, but at least I can drive through it and not get completely backed up.
4. My husband says now he can completely feel like he’s not working when he’s home. He says when we lived on base that he always felt like he was at work. If something went wrong in the office, he’d usually be the one that had to go in and deal with it since he was one of the few that lived on base.
5. Sadly, you don’t hear the National Anthem play. On base during the week you’ll hear the National Anthem at 5. (Or around there. FE Warren AFB in Wyoming played it at 430.) Everyone is supposed to stop if they are driving to pay respect. I miss this. It was always a reminder for me of the people who died for their country and the people who are currently fighting for my freedom.
6. On base all your utilities are on and ready to go. Buy a house? You have to call all the companies. I nearly forgot about this. At the last minute I remembered to ask my realtor what we needed to do because we had never done it before.
7. Don’t forget to call the trash people! On base they show up every week. Off base you must call to set it up. Otherwise, no one is taking your trash.
8. I miss the free bulk pickup on base! Off base you have to pay someone to take your oversized junk.
9. Off base, you can make your house the way YOU want it. On base you aren’t allowed to paint the walls.
10. You have to deal with people selling stuff off base. I keep getting Kirby people at my door. I keep telling them no thank you. I even have a no soliciting sign, yet they still show up. Granted, on base I still had kids knocking on doors trying to sell stuff at school fundraisers even though it wasn’t allowed. I would buy from one, and then that was it. I can’t shell out $15 for a tin of cookie dough for 12 kids.
11. There’s generally more space in homes off base. On base we were usually cramped in a 1600 square foot (or less) house. When we first found out we were headed to Joint Base Lackland we actually thought about living on base at first and they home we were offered was 1300 square feet. Wasn’t going to work.
12. You feel like you’re getting more with the BAH off base. We were paying the same amount for a tiny on base house. Now our home is about 21oo square feet and much nicer. My husband feels like the BAH he gets is actually going towards something of value.
So do you live on base or off? Or have you done both? What did you prefer?
Amber Myers is a proud military wife and mother to two kids who drive her to eat lots of chocolate. She blogs over at Airing My Laundry. You can find her on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest.
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We’ve only ever lived off base 🙂 The majority of the reason is the same way that your husband feels! My husband doesn’t want to feel like he’s not still “on duty” when he goes home at night. I do feel like we miss out on some opportunities on base but overall I enjoy living off base 🙂 I still go to base enough that I don’t feel like it’s too much of a sacrifice!
You made excellent points though. I really enjoyed reading this!
Yes, I still go on base as well. I go to the commissary and if there are fun activities I’ll take the kids. For example the base is having an Oktober fest that we’ll probably check out.
We love living on post. My husband is in the Army though, so maybe things are different for us, but our house is plenty big and we are allowed to paint and make alterations. We mainly choose to live on post because, like you said, traffic is a nightmare. My husband can sleep in a little longer because it takes a half hour just to get through the gate in the morning. And he usually has time to come home for lunch! Plus, I love the community. Everyone is dealing with the same thing. We have a neighborhood Facebook page so all our neighbors are connected. And when we renewed our lease, our rent was lowered so we get to pocket some BAH!
Yes, I’ve always loved living on base as well. This is our first time off base and while I like it, I do miss the community.
We are at Joint Base Elemendorf Richardson in Anchorage, I am so glad we live on base. I just feel safer in general, my husband comes home for lunch most days because our house is close to his office. The house is bigger then we need and the community is awesome. So much to don in this base. However this is a bigger base then most and we will probably live off base for our next assignment unless it is overseas.
Hello! My soon to be husband and I will be at Fort Richardson within the next month-two months. Could you give me some pointers? We are both from Virginia so this is a very new environment for us! I would really appreciate it!
Hi! I am a new military spouse and personally have never been to that base but i have been to a near by base in alaksa and my pointers are blackout blinds! they should be included but if not you should invest in them, the sun stays up for almost all summer and it can be hard to get any sleep. Get winter tires, they can be spendy but its worth it, roads in alaska in winter can be horrible. Find something to do on base indoors so you dont get cabin fever in the winter. During the summer use the on base rec to rent fun things to do like ATVs or even campers, and explore the cities near by. I suggest Valdez, its beautiful. Be prepared for moose, they are allot bigger than you think and they can be deadly, dont hit them with your car, you will die. Dont get to close to a moose. In the summer fire hazards are very high so be careful with what you do, ciggaretts or camp fires. IT gets cold in the winter but it is a diffrent kind of cold and you wont need as much equiptment but do invest in high wuality gloves.
Hey there! My husband and I just got orders to Lackland. I heard that you have to live in base for your kids to attend DOD schools. We will more than likely live on base for this as well as other conviences. Currently we are stationed overseas in a small MUNNS base and don’t have base housing. It would be so beneficial if we did! Especially cause we have a very small community of military personnel at this base.
Hi everybody! I just got married and my husband just deployed. I currently am living with my family for the mean time till he comes back. My husband wants to live on base but I want to live off. We have no kids, it’s just us two so I think we should live off base and possibly save some BAH. I am huge freedom person and feel like living of base would be better. What do you guys think? Thank you in advance for your helpful tips and advice.
P.s. we live in California and my husband is based at Camp Pendleton.
My husband and I decided to start with on base houseing because it seemed the easiest option for newlyweds to start (everything always paid, no paying Bill’s, emergency maintenance and we felt it safer) we soon realized we both hated it, my husband also always felt like he was at work, and there was so much drama between neighbors, we decided to live off base. Except, where we were stationed we did not receive enough BAH to pay for any house so we needed up paying more, but it was worth it !