Finding a place to call home

Finding a place to call home

by: Stacey Peters | .
published: April 14, 2017

It’s a common drill in the military that takes place, on average, every 3 years. You’ve received a new assignment; packed all your belongings, moved roughly 3,000 miles away and checked into temporary housing. Almost immediately, you begin the search for permanent quarters. 

Not much has changed in that process over the years, except that you can use the Internet to learn what’s available before you arrive at your new duty station. Although no longer sponsored by the Department of Defense, the Automated Housing Referral Network ( is an Internet resource designed to assist Military Members and their families in securing available housing at your new assignment. 

As a Military Member or DoD Civilian, once you have registered you can search for on-base housing, off-base rentals, military roommates, temporary lodging, and Military For Sale By Owner listings. Listings often include photos, maps, school information, and local housing office contacts. 

Ask yourself a few questions. Do you want to live on post or in a particular neighborhood? An apartment or single family home? Are you looking for a garage or a large backyard? Do you like rural living or would you prefer a short commute to work? And most importantly, how much can you afford to pay? Rental prices are based loosely on BAH (basic allowance for housing) or OHA (overseas housing allowance). Do your homework. Knowing the answer to these preliminary questions will help speed up your search. 

Since it’s mandatory for all reporting personnel to in-process through housing, all roads lead to the Housing Referral Office on post. According to the Housing Office in Vogelweh, Germany if you want to live in government quarters, submit an advance application through your Housing Office along with your PCS orders. Your name will be placed on the Waiting List effective the day you clear your previous duty station. Once you in-process and quarters are available, request the keys and go take a look at the vacancies. If one meets your needs, your quest is over. Schedule a date and time for your inspection and receipt of the keys. 

However, if you are looking for off-post housing, request the listing of all the pre-approved, pre-inspected properties available for rent. Housing can help you make an appointment, give you a loaner GPS and even provide transportation if necessary. 

Be aware that you may be unable to find accommodations that meet every item on your checklist. Resist the urge to sign a contract based on esthetics, price, or location alone. Make sure you can live there, comfortably, for the length of the contract, which is usually one to two years. Due diligence is recommended if you enlist the assistance of a realtor. They can be expensive; charging a hefty fee that may be equivalent to one month’s rent. If you respond to listings in the local paper, make sure to ask if a realtor’s fee is involved. 

Be sure to inquire about Internet and satellite access, painting, the closest grocery stores and shopping centers, lawn care and snow removal. Take a tape measure with you to make sure your larger furniture will fit through doorways and staircases. Trust me; this has been an issue for many people. In addition ask what type of heating system is used (gas, oil, or electric.) If the house is heated by oil, are you or the landlord, responsible for refilling the tank? 

Once your satisfied you’ve found your new home, coordinate with housing on the move in date, sign the lease, and remit the down payment. All service members are entitled to a 100 percent advance of required up-front rental payments and security deposits. Service members must pay back the advanced rent in 12 monthly payments. They may request to have repayment of the security deposits over $500 suspended until termination of the rental contract. Upon termination, of the contract the member is required to repay the full amount of the security advance.

For contact numbers, housing procedures, relocation assistance, installation floor plans, BAH/ OHA charts, utility estimations and much more, visit the following websites: 

Tags: PCS, BAH, OHA, housing, house, home, renting, on base, off base, OCONUS
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