The number one priority when PCSing is finding a place to live. You really only have three options: base housing, renting off base, or buying a home. Unfortunately, you typically do not have a lot of time to make such a big decision which is why we are going to talk about the pros and cons of each option. This article will give you the information you need to make a decision that best fits your lifestyle and budget.
Base housing may seem like the easiest option but there are some real draw backs. Seymour Johnson Air Force Base housing may not even really be an option when you first move here due to the long waiting lists. Expect several months before an option opens up. Another big con is that you lose 100% of your basic housing allowance (BAH). So, you are essentially renting the home from Uncle Sam at a rate of ALL your BAH. The final con of base housing is NO PRIVACY. You go to work and then come home and have the same people as your neighbors. Being in such a tight nit community (especially spouses) everyone on base will know every time you sneeze.
Base housing isn’t all bad though. You are incredibly close to work which allows you to get in those few extra minutes of precious sleep. You also don’t have to worry about any of the maintenance aside from mowing the yard and making sure things remain clean. There is also a huge safety advantage as well. After all, you are living in a gated community with armed guards posted at every entrance.
Renting around Seymour Johnson is also pretty tough due to the large presence of active duty personnel. East Pointe manages over fifty rental properties and it is very rare that we have one come available. When it does come available, there are generally multiple applications. There are also many of the same cons as base housing such as: not being able to modify the home and few choices, but comes with the addition of paying rent and being at the mercy of a landlord for any repairs. Rent in this area is typically much higher than surrounding areas because investors understand the supply and demand, and they know exactly how much your BAH is. Your rent is enough to cover the owner’s mortgage PLUS profits. In my opinion, the greatest disadvantage to renting is that there is absolutely no chance for you to get a return on your investment (rent).
Of course it’s not all bad. You do actually get your BAH which means you can potentially get into a property that allows you to make a little bit of profit or is much nicer than base housing. There is still little maintenance on your part and you do have the privacy and separation from work that base housing cannot offer.
Home ownership has a few cons as well. The biggest being that you actually have to do your own maintenance to the home. The amount of home maintenance has a lot to do with the age of the home and whether or not the past owners took care of the property. Another issue with home buying is the amount of time it takes. Although faster than the waiting list for base housing, it will take you somewhere between 30-45 days before you get the keys to your new home. You will have to get a loan to purchase a home which means you need decent credit. NOT great or even good credit. Just decent.
Home ownership is the best option for most people in my opinion and let me tell you why. First of all, it is YOUR home. You can alter the home however you want (as long as it doesn’t violate zoning laws) which is AWESOME. You can finally build that man cave or she shed exactly the way you want it. The financial side of home ownership is the biggest pro. Home prices go up over time. This is called “appreciation” and is where home ownership really outshines the rest. Because it is typically way less to buy rather than rent, you have more money in your pocket, PLUS you gain equity as you make payment and your house appreciates. This means that you actually get a return on your investment. Also, as a home owner, you have the opportunity to rent your home in the future providing the potential for even MORE income. Home ownership is the only option where you have the opportunity to turn a profit. With VA loans, you can buy a home for NO money down. I bought my first home as a young Airman with only $800 in my bank account.
When you get orders to Seymour Johnson, sit down and make your own pros and cons list and see which one best fits your lifestyle and financial goals. This is a decision that shouldn’t be taken lightly which means you should really start putting thought into it as soon as possible. Make a list of “wants” and “needs” to see which option is best for you!