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Learning, Sharing, and Teaching => Ask a Mustachian => Topic started by: T Money on October 05, 2014, 12:57:41 AM

Title: I don't know where to live...
Post by: T Money on October 05, 2014, 12:57:41 AM
I'm going to give you some background information first... I joined the military at a young age and I've been in for 1.5 years. I recently got married to my better half, but we haven't begun to live together yet because I deploy very soon. But we will be getting a house together as soon as I get back.

I am given a housing allowance by the military which is 1150 a month.  There is base housing on base, and if I decide to live there then I forfiet the entire housing allowance to do so. Lawncare, electricity, gas, and all other expenses are covered.  Being low in rank and enlisted in the military, I only make 20000 a year on top of that, so I would absolutely love to live off base and pocket some of that money. However...

Town A is the farthest commute at 30 miles, but its also the only town nearby that has anything more than a gas station and a few restaurants.  Town B is 20 miles, on the way to Town A, but it is not a very nice area. Not the worst, but not good.  Town C is in the other direction, 25 miles away from base, but 50 miles from Town A and its a bad area (there was a drive-by shooting a few days ago and it isn't a very big town). Town (more like street) D is 10 miles and on the way to Town C and is very small and very cheap, but the houses are all old and low end.

Sorry about that last paragraph. I feel like it was really jumbled.  My problem is living in Town A I will be driving 900 miles a month to work.  Whereas if I lived in Town D I would only drive 300, but I would have to drive 100 miles to go to town A to do anything.

I've almost completely outruled biking. I work 14 hour shifts 3 days at a time.  Riding my bike 10 miles each way (assuming Town D  and showering would take a good chunk off my 10 hours inbetween shifts.  But Ive considered it.

What would you pro- mustachians do in my situation? If you want any other information feel free to ask. Any and all advice is welcome and appreciated. Thanks guys.
Title: Re: I don't know where to live...
Post by: plank on October 05, 2014, 01:11:21 AM
I would live on base.
Title: Re: I don't know where to live...
Post by: kyanamerinas on October 05, 2014, 01:21:44 AM
If you lived on base how much would you have to travel to do things outside of work? His much could you realistically save of that allowance at each town? Would your wife be able to live with you for any of these options? Or would she benefit immediately if you were saving that housing allowance? Sorry, lots of questions.
Title: Re: I don't know where to live...
Post by: shitzmagee on October 05, 2014, 07:26:49 AM
I assume that since you junior enlisted and recently married that you have been living in the dorms on base? If so, then the first thing you should do before you deploy is move all your possessions into storage and "move in" with your wife (change your address to hers while you're deployed). This will let you pocket all the dependent BAH (minus storage fees) given that your wife keeps paying her own rent. Take all that and put it in a Roth TSP while you're deployed (assuming you're going to a tax free zone it will be tax free going in and tax free coming out).

A 2nd piece of advice (and I don't mean any insult), do not give your new wife direct access to all of your bank accounts while you are gone. It has happened to many military members before...they leave for deployment and come home to find their wife and their money gone. I'm not saying this will happen to you, but protecting yourself is always prudent. I recommend having all your pay deposited to an account only you have access to and then transfer enough to support her into a joint account.

Now to your question. The good news is you have 6 months to a year to figure it out while you're deployed. While dependent BAH is pretty generous, the lower the rank the less likely you are going to be able to get a decent place off base AND still pocket some money. In what town does your wife work? If she works (or can get a job) on base, then I highly recommend you live on base. The time and money you'll save on your commute will be worth it (especially if you bike). If she works in town A or B, I would consider living in town B if you can find a place in the $800 or less range (then you'll add utilities and commuting costs).

Since you are young and (I assume) without children, now is the best time you'll ever have to be able to make sacrifices that will have a significant effect on your overall wealth in the long term. So don't feel that you're required to live in newer homes in the nicest areas right now, save that for when you have kids and the school district actually matters. Make the sacrifice to live in cheaper house/area while you don't have kids so you can get a head start on saving for retirement. You'll thank yourself later.
Title: Re: I don't know where to live...
Post by: The Butler on October 05, 2014, 08:57:05 PM
Shitzmagee hit the big point: move out of your dorm before you deploy so you get BAH to cover your wife's housing while you're gone.

Living off base sounds like a good deal.  Before you jump for that, though, look at the other costs.  What would you have to pay for rent in a decent (safe, clean) place in the surrounding towns?  How much would electric, sewer, water, trash, etc cost?  If you work in one direction, but your wife has to work someplace else, how much more will gas cost?  Those can vary widely, depending on each town and the county it's in.

If you stay on base, would you be able to drop down to one car?  Not having to pay for registration, gas, maintenance and insurance on a second vehicle might be more than the leftover BAH you might pocket.  Run the numbers and see.  If you lived on base, would biking be too much, or are you only ruling it out if you're living in town?

If you opt to stay on base and there's a waiting list for housing, apply slightly before you're supposed to get back from your deployment so you won't have to wait as long once you're home.  You can ask around your unit and get a feel for how long others near your rank waited to get an idea of if that's a factor for you.
Title: Re: I don't know where to live...
Post by: Terrestrial on October 05, 2014, 09:49:05 PM
In addition to the good advice listed already, from a purely financial aspect once you return it really depends how much the equivalent options are.  Can you rent a decent place for 400/month?  If so it may be worth driving particularly if you get a cheap and efficient car.  If the rent would be 900/month you're going to eat up any of the savings a few times over just by driving. Don't forget to add in all the utilities that are covered that you would probably be paying for if you were off base.

From growing up on various military bases I know first hand that especially for these bases like what you seem to be describing that are out in BFE, one of the nicest parts of bases is they have everything you need and you probably aren't going off base much anyway when there is nothing around.  The PX, commissary, some restaurants, movies, etc, with little need to drive.  That can add up to a lot of money, especially if at that point you can bike/walk and get rid of at least one car completely.