To Rent or to Buy?

Veterans Advantage intro with Caliber

Are you ready to buy a home?
Moving is a time of excitement, too much coffee, and a whole lot of internet researching! If you are an active duty military family, as soon as your service member gets their official orders, it’s on. The thrill is the same for veterans and their families. You dive into the online research of the area around your soon-to-be new town, many times relying on various Facebook groups to help navigate the good, the bad, and the ugly. Once you’ve settled on an area, you have to make a big decision before anything else. Do you rent someone else’s home or buy your own?

Renting a home
More and more families are making the decision to live on the economy and rent their temporary homes. A 2010 RAND study found that around 32% of families choose to rent a home out. As a military family, you are given your Basic Allowance for Housing (BAH) and advised to find something that you can afford. Your BAH should cover your rent, water, electric, and trash costs. It is best practice to look for a rental home that is roughly around $300 under your BAH to account for utilities.

Tips and tricks for successfully renting:

  1. Talk to your MilSpouse and veteran community. They can give you details on everything you need to know. They can share lessons learned and things to watch out for when making your decision. Lean on them!
  2. If you are an active duty military family, ensure that there is a military clause in your lease when you make the decision to rent. This protects you in the event you get short toured due to new orders.
  3. Check out AHRN; this website will specifically search for rentals around your base if you are PCS'ing. This makes the work of looking for rentals much easier!
  4. Military by Owner is another great resource to rent from other military families. This is a great option and one that allows you to have a landlord that understands your lifestyle and will work with you. It also allows you to search around a specific base, ensuring the commute for your military member is manageable if you have one. 

The good:

  • If something breaks, your landlord or leasing agency will get it fixed since it isn’t your responsibility. This can be super handy- especially if you are on a tight budget.
  • Your financial budget will be more consistent since your rent will most likely remain the same throughout your rental agreement contract time.
  • For those who don’t want to worry about decorating, paint or creating a space – renting someone else’s home makes it easy. You can move in as is without any added work.

The bad:

  • Don’t like that purple carpet? Too bad, can’t change it- even if you do have the budget to update it. Forget about painting over that hideous wall color either.
  • You are renting someone else’s house- not yours- so what they say goes, leaving you little room to make changes or object.
  • Sometimes it never truly feels like home- something military families look for with a life filled with so much instability.

Are you ready to buy your own home?
Okay- you’ve done your research and have made the decision that you are ready to buy. This is a big step and one that many military families choose to take.

For active duty military families, there is an entirely different set of challenges to expect when purchasing a home. Too often, a family is short-toured and find themselves scrambling to sell and buy all over again. This is the risk you run when you buy a home; the military will call. There will also be times you may not be able to sell the home right away. This means you need to be prepared and able to be a landlord- and typically from far away- or hire a property management company.

Buying a home also comes with added responsibilities for veteran and active duty families alike, such as having an emergency fund in the event that things break- and they will. Make sure that you are purchasing a home you can afford, as well as the things that come with homeownership. Consider exploring home warranties as this can be a huge benefit when something needs repair.

Now, let’s talk about the epically amazing things about owning your own home.

  1. Are you a DIY master? Decorator extraordinaire? This is your time to shine!
  2. If you have pets, you don’t have to stress! Gone are the days of worrying about finding a pet-friendly rental or paying extra fees. Fido will fit right in.
  3. You’ll have an added tax deduction from the interest you pay on your mortgage.
  4. You’ll have all the privacy you want!
  5. For the military families who sometimes feel like they don’t belong, home ownership gives you stake in the game. You will now be a tax paying resident with a voice and stake in your community. Welcome home!

 

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