Author Topic: Need advice from other military members (but everyone's input is appreciated!)  (Read 4008 times)

NICE!

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It looks like I'm moving to NE, another adventure. I have a question regarding base housing.

Data:
- A young, single (attached long distance, will marry in the next year or so) officer.
- Aspiring mustchian
- '03 Honda Accord with 130k miles (this is before I drive it across the country for my move)

If I stayed on base, I'd get a two bedroom plus a garage and yard, with the following included: utilities, renter's insurance, lawn maintenance, 24 hour on-call home maintenance. I wouldn't have to put a deposit of any kind down. I'd be in either walking or biking distance from work and if it is just a terrible winter day I would have an extremely short drive (I think 2-3 miles). I'd be near the gym, which I believe would encourage me to go there more often. I'd also be near reasonably priced groceries, which I believe would make me cook more often.

If I stayed off base, I'd get a one bedroom apartment with nothing included and I'd have a deposit of either $200 or $300. I'd be approx 7-8 miles from work (biking distance) with some decent trails but a couple points where I'd have to share major roads with drivers. I'd end up pocketing about $100-200 a month doing it this way, and this is counting the extra expense of commuting (assuming I drove more often than I biked) and utilities (although I'll say I might've underestimated how much heat costs in NE winters). I wouldn't have a garage for my aging car and I'd obviously have to drive it more often. On the flip-side, I would be away from work and the military when I got home, so that's one of the psychological advantages versus living on base.

Several people tell me to give the on-base housing a shot, because they believe I'd come out in better shape both physically and financially, despite the fact my number crunching says I'd be a little bit better off financially off-base. They also say less commute time means more time I can dedicate to the office and not living around the things I'd live around at the apartment (Movie Theater, Target, a bar or two) will mean less impulsive/ridiculous spending (like actually going to the movie theater more often than once in a blue moon).

Another friend says the home on base won't be as nice as the apartment (likely true, even though the homes were recently renovated) and I wouldn't live near any other single officers (I'd be near enlisted families). Furthermore, he notes that I'd have additional police interactions at the base gate when coming back, something that wouldn't be nice after even one beer. Finally, he says I'd be the guy that got called in late/on weekends since I'd be close to work.

Thoughts?

Thanks in advance!

Crabricorn

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How much is your housing allowance? Will it fully cover the cost if you go off base? We never lived on base - my hubby was an officer and was never stationed anywhere that had housing available to us. But our housing allowance was enough to cover most of our costs off base. I think I would've liked living on base for the sheer convenience of it. If I were you, I would do whatever would allow me to save the most cash!

NICE!

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I was trying to keep it as layman as possible for the audience, but as implied by my numbers crunching...Yes, I would be able to have a place under my housing allowance off base. In fact, I'd make $100-200 off of it, but I may be underestimating heat costs in the Nebraska winter. I'm also much less likely to bike from the place I'm looking at off base due to safety on a portion of the route and the harshness of the Nebraska winter. A short on-base ride would make me much more likely to ride to work.

So, the numbers say I would make a small amount more living off-base, but I'm not entirely convinced. I think the other things I'd live near would induce a higher level of spending (theater, stores, bar). Furthermore, I think that if I lived on base and thus really close to the gym I feel like I'd go more often than I do now (4-5x/week), as boredom could drive me to bike/walk/run over there when I'm closer.

Dynasty

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Two things come to mind.

1) You're housing allowance in NE is not that great. Last time I looked, O-2s were getting around $1700 plus a month for housing in my area. And this was a few years ago. And they get BSH too!

Or,

2) You're looking at really expensive apartments.

The single, and married officers I work with pocket at least seven hundred dollars a month living off base rather than in on base housing.

However, housing has been privatized on my base.  And I'm not 100% positive, but I think they are requiring people to pay utilities now. Not sure though.

From my experience, there is a bubble around military installations about seven to ten miles of overall urban decay littered with nail salons, tattoo joints, fast food, and tacky strip malls.

Living on base, even if driving to work, you'll save a few dollars on gas commuting a few miles rather than seven to eight. And a little bit less wear and tare on your car, etc. 

So, you need to run the numbers on that. And probably not at .51 cents a mile. Because regardless, you're gonna have a car whether you live on base and bike to work, or live off base and commute.

The problem as I see it, is living on base sucks, and living just a few miles outside of a military installation sucks as well.

At least living on base you have access to the gym. But if you're gym is any condition like the one on my base, you probably wouldn't even want to use it. And you can get better deals on food than the commissary offers once you learn where to shop.

My vote would be to take a better look at the numbers, talk to people about what there heating costs are in the winter, and live near where the rest of the officers are living so you can have social life. I see no compelling reason why you couldn't be setting aside close to 50% of your take home pay every month.

How long can you stay in temporary lodging once you arrive NE to make a decision?




Kriegsspiel

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Just FYSA, officers who live on post don't get called in for stuff any more often than the ones that live off post.  It just doesn't suck as much, since you're that much closer.  I'm assuming you mean Offutt, so living on post doesn't put you too much farther away from Omaha as opposed to getting a place towards it.

Obviously, the guys who lived on post were getting extra sleep because of the shorter commute, that's fucking ace when you're waking up at really early o' clock.  BUT, I lived within a couple blocks of a bunch of the other young officers, which more than made up for any advantages of living on post.  I was in Germany though, so I was pulling strings to get an apartment regardless ;)

Dynasty

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Another thing that just popped in my mind regarding heating costs.

If you can find an older brick or masonry apartment building, that is at least seven to eight stories high and move in on the fourth or fifth floor, heating will be VERY reasonable. As you'll get everybody's heat below you, and be pretty well insulated from the cold from everybody above you.

Some apartment buildings even offer cable tv as part of the package.

The 1100 SF apartment in the 7 story building I lived in a few years ago on the fourth floor, I paid a total of 80 dollars for electric and heat then entire ten months I lived there. I really only had to turn the heat on for a couple hours after I got home the evening. The rest of the day it was completely off.


Nords

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It looks like I'm moving to NE, another adventure. I have a question regarding base housing.

Data:
- A young, single (attached long distance, will marry in the next year or so) officer.
- Aspiring mustchian
- '03 Honda Accord with 130k miles (this is before I drive it across the country for my move)
If I stayed on base, I'd get a two bedroom plus a garage and yard, with the following included: utilities, renter's insurance, lawn maintenance, 24 hour on-call home maintenance. I wouldn't have to put a deposit of any kind down. I'd be in either walking or biking distance from work and if it is just a terrible winter day I would have an extremely short drive (I think 2-3 miles). I'd be near the gym, which I believe would encourage me to go there more often. I'd also be near reasonably priced groceries, which I believe would make me cook more often.
If I stayed off base, I'd get a one bedroom apartment with nothing included and I'd have a deposit of either $200 or $300. I'd be approx 7-8 miles from work (biking distance) with some decent trails but a couple points where I'd have to share major roads with drivers. I'd end up pocketing about $100-200 a month doing it this way, and this is counting the extra expense of commuting (assuming I drove more often than I biked) and utilities (although I'll say I might've underestimated how much heat costs in NE winters). I wouldn't have a garage for my aging car and I'd obviously have to drive it more often. On the flip-side, I would be away from work and the military when I got home, so that's one of the psychological advantages versus living on base.
I hope the military has progressed since I retired, but you used to have to be married for base housing and bachelors lived in a BOQ room.  Sounds like your base housing deal is way better.

Again I hope the military has progressed in the last decade, but when bad things happened at my commands the first people to get the phone calls were the ones who lived on base.  And if someone (like your boss) felt like dropping by with some extra paperwork or a question... on base.  If your wingmen or your troops wanted to play a prank... you see where this is going.

I think your projected $100-$200/month savings will be directly correlated to the quality of the rental's insulation and heating efficiency.  You'll also burn a bit more gasoline for bad commuting weather.

If you moved out there as a single officer, and then got married, would you be eligible for a housing upgrade?  If you decided to upgrade, would you have to obligate for more time?  What's your fiancée think of the base housing situation or the local rentals?

If you deploy (single) does your base house sit empty until your return or do you have to move out until you're back?

If you deploy (married) would your spouse rather live on base for the security/convenience, or off base for the civilian community?

When do you expect childcare to be an issue?  I think in this situation you'd want to be on base.

Gate security can be a hassle.  But so can off-base loud neighbors, driveway motorcycle/hot-rod mechanics, break-ins, and neighborhood assaults. 

If your drinking behavior changes because you have to drive through a security checkpoint, then I think the thing which needs to change is your drinking behavior... or your designated driver.  I wouldn't want to be the neighbor of a guy who lives off base so that he can drink more.  But these thoughts never occurred to me when I was in my 20s, and I probably would've ignored anyone who offered that sort of helpful advice.

If you live on base, and it sucks, you could probably move off base at any time.  If you live off base and it sucks, would you be able to move into base housing at any time?

The main reason my spouse and I lived off base was because we were a dual-military couple with two housing allowances.  However we also frequently experienced the worst of living off base, so the base housing life seemed pretty good by comparison. 

NICE!

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Thanks for the tips. A few points:

1) I'm not a newbie, so I definitely don't need the new guy advice. I'm about to hit 7 years in - I'm an O-3. So, I know about not living right off post, that the on base people get called in late/early, etc.
2) Yes, we're talking Offut here. So it isn't in Omaha and I'm not going to live all the way out there (30 min commute). ~6 mi away from base is a nice community with good apartments.
3) Nords, I'm not a big drinker, I was just saying that driving through the gate with even one beer in your system can get your heart going.
4) If I deploy, the house stays with my stuff in it and I don't get to pocket the housing allowance like many do during deployment (throw stuff in a storage unit).
5) I would be eligible for a housing upgrade when married. No time obligation related to that. I would have to pay for the move, though.
6) Base housing is primarily privatized now, it is much better. I'd live in a 2 bed/2 bath house with a garage and yard. Free lawn mx, house mx, utilities, renter's insurance, etc.
7) The gym is super nice.
8) BAH is a lot lower than DC, but not bad ($1272). The apartment I'm looking at would run about $750. On base you don't pay utilities, in an apartment I will. Let's call that a $100 difference (I don't know the costs in the midwest). So we're working with a net of $422 before we talk commute. If I drive ~12 mi/day, that's an extra ~240 mi/month. Since my car is in the high 20s for mpg (30 if I'm good about things), that's 8 gal. Let's call that an extra $30/month. I don't remember car maintenance numbers but since my car is old, let's go ahead and double that to be safe - $60/month. Right now we're working with $362, but I don't have to pay renter's insurance on base, so knock $10 off of that. Call it $350.

SO I underestimated the first time, we're looking at $350 if we don't count possible lifestyle inflation related to living in walking distance to a theater and a bar. I absolutely would benefit health-wise living on base, though. Hands down, I'll bike and go to the gym more.

Thoughts?

Dynasty

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With the numbers you've shown. Move off post. Pocket the $350/month.  Go to the gym on base after work if you can.

When you deploy, put your stuff in storage and move out of your apartment. And pocket six months worth of housing allowance minus storage fees. Come back stateside, and find a new apartment.

Even if you never deployed, which is unrealistic, you'd still be ahead $4200 a year. Throw a couple six month deployments in, and the monthly savings of living off base will be much greater over a three to five year period of your time in NE.


 

Wow, a phone plan for fifteen bucks!