Should My Family Live On Post or Off Post? Advice from a Military Wife in Fort Leonard Wood
System - Tuesday, December 22, 2015
Today at Century 21 Prestige, we are going to talk about living on and off post. Choosing to live on post or off post is a decision every military family makes during PCS moves. You’ll want to consider the cheaper option and the better option for you and your family.
Before putting too much time and effort into this decision, you need to know if you have a choice. Some military installations have specific positions that are required to live on post. So be sure that the service member reaches out to their incoming unit to be sure there is a decision to make and off post living is an option.
If you are in a position to choose for yourself, you’ll wonder about the cheapest option and you’ll want to decide based on what will make the most financial sense for you and your family. A lot of that will have to do with your BAH. If you don’t already know your BAH, you’ll need to find that out as soon as possible. You can go onto Google and type “BAH calculator” and it will take you to a Department of Defense website, where you’ll input your rank and the zip code of your duty station, as well as the year. BAH rates change every year and you’ll want to keep up with that.
In the Fort Leonard Wood area, BAH rates range from $700 a month up to $1,600 per month. There’s a lot of variation in the allowance that you’re given every month for housing. You want to be sure you know your range.
Keep in mind what your family’s lifestyle is as well. Most military installations set up family housing to feel like a subdivision. They tend to have cookie cutter houses, which is great if that’s what you’re looking for. But if you want more of a rural feel or country living or you would prefer to be in a big city or a specific area, keep that in mind. You might not get those options on post.
Find out what amenities are offered on post. Some installations have hospitals and schools, as well as commissaries where you do most of your grocery shopping. You can find post exchanges that are similar to retail stores. If you value those, then consider living on post. But if you want to experience more of the local culture and take advantage of small businesses in the areas and local restaurants and grocery stores, then off post would be better.
The military is a relatively small community, and you can get a lot of helpful advice and feedback from friends you know or people who have been stationed in the area to which you are moving. Check social media too because Facebook groups are popping up all the time for family members and service members assigned to duty stations. Facebook can help people moving to a new duty station where they may not know much about the local area. Nearly every military installation has their own Facebook group with information about neighborhoods and community. Join those groups and ask your questions as you get invested in your move.