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Living On Post Vs. Off Post in the Army

When my husband joined the Army, we made the decision that we would always live off post based on the experience of other family members who had served. There are advantages and disadvantages to each decision but we never regretted our decision to live off post.

On Post Housing

Each duty station has on post housing available. However, the waiting list can vary dramatically from one post to the next. Many posts offer temporary lodging that can be utilized until a home on post is available if the waiting list is fairly short. If the waiting list is longer, you may have to explore off post options until a home is available. If you pursue off post with the intention of moving on post when a home is available, be sure to carefully read your lease. The military clause does NOT cover you if housing becomes available on post.

Living on post used to be simple as far as the financial aspects of it. But with privatized housing where the housing is managed by a private company rather than the Army, it is becoming increasingly more complicated. For some posts, your BAH will cover rent as well as utilities. For others, it will cover rent and a portion of the utilities each month. When you live on post, the BAH is automatically deducted from the paycheck.

The convenience to living on post is that your soldier is probably just around the corner from his unit, he’ll likely be able to come home for lunch every day and as the spouse, you’re close to where social functions will be held as well as FRG meeting sites. You are also surrounded by other families who also have a member in the military. There’s never a lack of being able to find someone enduring the same situation as you are. Your kids may also adjust better on post as the other kids may also be dealing with mom or dad being deployed or at training, etc. They will also to be able to attend installation schools with other military kids. There is also a sense of security living on post, particularly if your soldier is deployed.

The downside to living on post is that the regulations are very strict. This can especially be an issue if you have pets. One of the main reasons we decided to live off post was because my husband thought he would always feel like he was at work if we lived on post and he wanted to be able to have an end to his day when he drove off post each day. It was also true, at least for his unit, that they called those who lived on post in after hours first before they would call those who lived off post because of them being closer.

Off Post Housing

For us, living off post was great because we could choose the size house that we wanted to have. Housing on post is decided based on rank and number of dependents. As a couple with no kids, we would have only been allowed a two bedroom and we felt we needed three bedrooms if for no other reason than to accommodate all of our furniture. The third bedroom also gave me a separate place to house my home office.

Also, we found that we could get more room off post than we could on post and not have any more out of pocket than we would have if we lived on post. I know quite a few people who were able to save a pretty penny by living off post and banking the difference between rent and their BAH. Of course, this could vary greatly from one duty station to the next but it was certainly true where we were stationed.

We enjoyed living off post as well because it gave us a sense of normalcy. We did have other military families that lived in our neighborhood but it wasn’t every single family on the block. At times, it was nice to be able to leave the military lifestyle behind and just at least pretend to be civilians on the weekends. This was especially true during block leave when we didn’t have plans to leave town. Living off post also made it easier for family and friends outside of the military to drop by to see us as well.

Whether to live on post or off post is a personal decision. You may find that certain locations are better for living on post while others are better for living off post. Be sure to weigh the pros and cons before you make your decision.

About the author: Stacey is an Army wife of a soldier who joined in 2003. He has since been medically retired but she continues to provide information to Army wives and families to make their adjustment to the Army lifestyle easier. Connect with Stacey: Facebook Twitter Pinterest

{ 11 comments… add one }
  • Darlene October 8, 2010, 2:20 am

    Thanks for this information!
    I was wondering though, could family come and stay for long periods of time in the on post housing? My husband and I are trying to research everything before deciding which to pick. I am hoping to be able and have my sister and her son come for a few months to visit. Are they strict about visitors/guests?

    • Stacey October 10, 2010, 9:17 pm

      It really depends. Technically, you are suppose to have approval before guests come to stay for an extended period of time.

  • Garcia August 3, 2012, 2:34 am

    so I plan to join the ARMY and live with my wife and let family come over and stuff! I can relate to the life of off post living, I’d like that BUT.. how to know wich one is better when I get stationed? Is there is like sometime of infoemation somewhere when I can research it? Thanks

    • Alisha February 27, 2015, 8:04 am

      posthousing.com is an excellent website to find out the BAH for the area around post and apartments with military special

  • Garcia August 3, 2012, 2:35 am

    I mean.. wich on to choose depending where I get stationed! Also I dont wish to way too long for my wife to come

  • hayley jones November 13, 2012, 5:43 pm

    Hi my boyfriend left for basic training 3 days ago we habe been together 5 years have a 3 children and 1 on the way he left for basic yraining 3 days ago not even heard from him yet we plan to get wed after babys here next year just in a bit of limbo at min would love some advise off other women who may be in same situation thanks x

  • Allison West February 4, 2013, 6:40 am

    Good afternoon,

    Dating online. About a month ago a very very nice gent approached me. He told me he had a problem with his face book but did not elaborate. He says he works for UN/NATO special forces, how can I be sure?

  • cindy August 11, 2015, 12:42 am

    I have been texting a guy on the internet for about 4-5 months. he seems very genuine about wanting to meet me, the problem is I don’t know if he real of what. he says he has a son but im not so sure about that. I have really fallen for him but want to check out if he is a real person being that said there are so many of them out there that are scamming woman for money. my question is , he is supposed to be retiring in September. he is in afghanastan , he told me if his name isn’t on the list to go home he would have to pay 2100.00 to come home and don’t have any access to his accounts. now he is asking me to help pay for him to come home. I want to help him come home but is this really something that is legitament. he said I can talk to his commander and he can confirm it. I don’t know what to do.. please help me figure out what I should do.

    • jackie August 28, 2015, 6:19 am

      No. It’s a scam.

  • person April 21, 2016, 1:35 pm

    whats the difference between a post and base

    • Stacey Abler April 27, 2016, 8:29 pm

      Army usually refers to them as posts whereas other branches refer to them as bases. No real difference other than terminology.

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