As a military family, the phrase “home is where the heart is” takes on new meaning. The truth is, you’re going to move a lot. There’s just no way around it. There is military strategy behind such moves, and the shuffling of personnel is necessary for the strength of varying military forces for varying reasons.
This can be difficult for your family, and where you live will in some degree depend on the duty station. Sometimes you’ll only be called to a location for a short period of time, then you’ll come back to a place you’ve been before. In such a scenario, it may make sense for you to pursue student apartments as a means of achieving cost-effective living on a short-term basis.
What also makes sense is knowing all the places you may be stationed, and in your free time one afternoon lining out your best picks for nearby housing. Take into account the size of your family, existing budgetary constraints, and local living costs.
They say an army marches on its stomach, and this is true. But where the army marches, why, and what they do when they get there are items all determined by strategy in advance of a move. Extend that thinking to your own living conditions. For example, if you get stationed in the center of Colorado, you might want to look at apartments in Denver. The same is true if you get stationed in Alaska: find nearby Alaskan living solutions.
The Mobile Lifestyle
Something else that may fit your military family could be a totally mobile lifestyle. It turns out that full-sized RVs are actually cheaper than smaller ones. Why? Well, they’re hard to park. However, you may be able to park your vehicle at the varying bases to which you’re sent, depending on authorization.
It’s definitely possible to live mobile without feeling like some 21st century conglomeration of gypsies. As with apartment housing, doing so requires strategy. A mobile home requires maintenance, it requires refurbishment, and it requires careful driving. Also, ensure you have full insurance that is comprehensive.
With such things, you and your family could simply drive to your next place duty station when the orders come, and save the housing struggle. Take out a P.O. Box for mail needs, and you’re practically set. Sweetening the pot is the reality that you can get full-sized units in decent shape for under $15k. Spend $10k fixing it up and reaching operational homeostasis, suddenly you’ve got a home that you own which is mobile.
For A $25k investment, you’ll be paying about $5k or $6k a year to maintain your motorhome, which is like having an apartment for around $500 a month. Within five years, it’s paid for itself, and is even profitable. That’s pretty affordable, especially for a family! But then again, if you’ve got more than one child, this can end up being a real challenge.
On-Base Options, And Collateral Benefits
Military housing on-base will likely be available for most duty stations, and could overall be your best option; but there are diverse tactics which may be worth considering as well. Military life has its ups and downs, and collateral benefits as well as detriments. Terrible hardships will come, and diminishing them as best you can is integral.
However, any family that goes through hard times and stays together becomes stronger. A stronger family produces more well-rounded and capable individuals, who themselves go on to produce the same kind of people. The key is not letting the difficulties of this lifestyle overcome you.
Stephanie is the founder of Military Travel Mama; she is the wife of a military professional and mother to two children. Follow her blog for more about military life, military discounts, family trips, healthy eating, and parenthood.
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Check out our Living Like a Local section to see what it might be like at your next duty station