You may be facing a Permanent Change of Station (PCS) move to Fort Campbell, or you may currently reside on post and are weighing your options. With the military extending tours and budget cuts halting PCS moves, the decision to live on or off post is becoming even more important. So I will do the work for you! Lets talk about the pros and cons of living on or off post. Thanks to input provided by the ladies of the Fort Campbell Wives Group, I am going to give you as much of an unbiased, informational blog post as possible! For the sake of not writing a book, I am going to compare living on post versus purchasing a home off post. Some of the same pros and cons may or may not apply to renting a home off post, but either way, the information is good to have if you are faced with a housing decision in the future. For the pros and cons of renting versus buying a home, click for my Buy or Rent? Chart.
Pros of living ON post:
- There may be less traffic and a shorter commute which can enable the service member to come home for meals or breaks.
- With less traffic and a shorter commute, you may save on gas.
- You will be in relatively close proximity to the Post Exchange (PX) and commissary.
- If this is your first time living on your own, you can ease into learning the ins and outs of budgeting and paying bills.
- You are allotted a certain usage amount for electric and gas, and if you conserve you may get a small refund. Trash and water are included.
- Your lawn maintenance may be provided to an extent.
- You can call maintenance if you need something fixed.
- There may be more of a community feel with other military families and resources available.
Cons of living ON post:
- Your whole Basic Allowance for Housing (BAH) is deducted.
- Homes may not be as energy efficient.
- You are not able to have a home inspector inspect your home before moving in.
- You do not have control over preventative maintenance or how long it takes to resolve a maintenance request.
- You are allotted a usage amount for gas and electric. If you go over, you may have to pay out of pocket.
- Move-out inspections may be more in depth.
- You may be subject to surprise inspections or people performing general maintenance.
- You may have to abide by certain rules to include quiet hours, outside décor, long-term visitors, etc.
- Visiting friends and family must obtain the appropriate passes to gain access to the installation.
- Anyone who visits you and is not a military ID holder is the sponsoring service member’s responsibility while on the installation and in your home.
- If you leave your home for an extended period of time, you may be required to file a notice of absence.
- You will be limited in making modifications to your home (carpet, paint, upgrades, etc.)
- You will be limited in how many pets you can have and what breeds are allowed.
- You may have frequent neighbor changes.
- You do not have control over the schools that your children attend.
- In most cases you will be assigned a home in a multi-family unit.
- Neighborhoods and parking areas may be crowded.
- Due to the typically older construction of military housing and buildings, you may be at risk of exposure to environmental hazards (like lead based paint and asbestos).
- You are contributing a large amount of your pay each month to something that will give you no return.
Pros of living OFF post:
- You have control over which home you choose, where it is located, the neighborhood, the yard size, if it has a fence, if there is a garage, etc.
- You have the option of a green and more energy efficient home.
- Newer homes may have less risk of environmental hazards (like lead based paint and asbestos).
- There may be more of a sense of privacy.
- You have control over how close your neighbors are to your home.
- You may have more variety available as far as shopping, grocery stores, and restaurants.
- You have the ability to have a delayed first mortgage payment (say you close October 1, in most cases your first mortgage will not be due until December 1).
- It is possible to bank some of your BAH.
- You can choose a single family home.
- You can choose which school zone you are in.
- You are not subject to pet or breed restrictions.
- Friends and family may visit at any time.
- You can leave your home for as long as you like or have long-term visitors.
- The service member may feel the ability to “get away from work”.
- You may feel more settled and like you can put down roots in the community.
- You have the choice of more updated housing options and are able to freely make upgrades to your home.
- You can have a home inspection before you move in and have control over preventative maintenance.
- You may have less required maintenance due to updated appliances, electrical wiring, roofing and plumbing.
- You can have a home warranty or a builder’s warranty on new construction if something needs to be fixed.
- You are contributing a large amount of your pay each month to your own investment.
- If you have to move, you have the potential of owning an investment property.
Cons of living OFF post:
- You may have to absorb maintenance costs if your home is not under warranty.
- You will have separate payments for water, electric, and trash.
- You may be subject to slightly more traffic and longer drive times depending on where you choose to live.
- You will be further away from military specific resources like Child Development Centers, PX, and commissary.
- The service member may not be able to come home for all meals and breaks.
- You may be responsible for your own lawn maintenance.
- If you PCS in the future, you are responsible for selling your home or renting it out.
One final note before I let you stew on this overwhelming amount of information: The only item I left off the list was the issue of safety. I received feedback from a “newer to the military” family member who said that she felt safer on post. I chose not to include it as a pro or con of living on or off post. Unfortunately bad things happen and bad people live on military installations too. There are break-ins, sexual assaults, thefts, and personal crimes both on and off of military installations. There are safe places to live both on post and off post as well.
Here are a couple of resources so you can seek that crime data for yourself:
If you are in or heading to the Clarksville, Tennessee or Fort Campbell, Kentucky area, search for homes now: