This is a guest post from MilitarybyOwner

Any fan of HGTV or other home shopping shows will tell you that finding a new home is a cinch…well, it is if you’re to believe how it’s portrayed there.The potential home buyer looks at three homes, max. One is completely cringe worthy, run down, and quickly checked off the list, another is gorgeous and packed full of features way out of the home buyer’s price range, and the last so obviously made for them and well within budget. The choice is easy, right?!

If only finding a home were so simple as it can be made to look in a 30-minute TV show. But as a military family, your experience will probably be very different.

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You’ll likely be on a compressed time table due to a PCS move, doing the bulk of your home shopping online, or trusting an agent to do some house hunting ahead of you rolling into town with your packed car, an active duty spouse heading straight to check into their new assignment, travel-weary kids, and a pet who would like its boarding stay to be as short as possible.

Let’s break down some priorities to help you weed through the listings and showings, whether you’re renting or buying a home.

5 Tips for Finding a Home at Your Next Duty Station

1Set your budget

Setting a budget and determining you’ll stick to it will immediately narrow down your home choices. And here’s a quick tip–every home, apartment, and condo for sale or rent on MilitaryByOwner includes a BAH calculator to help you quickly see if a home is in your price range or something you can only dream about.

Do you have issues with champagne taste/beer budget when it comes to home shopping? Take a look at Balance Your Home Buying Dream Against Your Reality Budget to help set your home shopping goals.

2Start your home search online

This may seem obvious, but you can filter out what you don’t want pretty easily online and narrow down homes you want to add to your list of “must-see” before you even arrive at your new duty station. (Note that it’s still recommended to view a home in person or at the least see it on video chat with your agent, friend, or MILLIE Scout before entering into any type of contract.)

You may also want to connect with a real estate agent who holds the Military Relocation Professional Certification (MRP), which denotes an agent who’s well versed in the nuances of military life and has been through specialized training to help you get settled as quickly as possible while knowing the benefits you’re entitled to.

3Decide your must-haves

Take some time to think about your priorities for a home, and then stick to them so you won’t be swayed by the quartz countertops that might be nice, but are featured in a home that’s completely impractical for your family in other ways.

Of course, every military family’s priorities and must-haves will look different, but here are a few things to add to your list:

  • Location: Neighborhood, distance to military installation, school district, commute to spouse’s work.
  • Type: Single dwelling, duplex, or condo/apartment, number of stories, garage attached or not.
  • Size: Square footage, number of bedrooms and bath, storage space, yard size.
  • Amenities: Parking availability, fenced yard, community center or pool, proximity to shopping, restaurants, parks, or trails.
  • Your unique must-haves: Home office space, guest room, space to convert to home gym or craft room.

4Get input from others about the area you’re home shopping

Take a look at Military Town Advisor neighborhood reviews, as well as installation and spouses’ Facebook pages to learn about the area and even specific neighborhoods (while keeping in mind that people are often motivated to be more outspoken about negative impressions vs. positive).

Research detailed info about schools with sites like School Digger.

5Keep track

Whether it’s jotting down notes or taking photos on your phone, find a way to keep track of the different homes you view, because they will begin to run together if you look at more than a few!

Take some time to sort through all the impressions and then revisit the stand-outs if time allows, noting the pros and cons of each property.


There’s so much more that goes along with house hunting, especially if you’re buying a home! Look to MilitaryByOwner for more resources to make your home shopping as painless as possible. Here are a few titles to start with:

Happy home shopping!


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MilitaryByOwner Advertising, Inc. is a national leader of online real estate, advertising homes for sale or rent near U.S. military bases. The company was founded by David (USMC, Ret.) and Sharon Gran in 1999, while they were stationed in Germany and faced with a move back to the states. This move triggered the idea of linking relocating military families. MilitaryByOwner’s website connects home sellers, landlords, buyers, renters, real estate agents, and other businesses and provides valuable resources to help make each PCS move as smooth as possible for your military family. 

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