How to Find Off-Base Housing When Relocating

One of the most challenging obstacles for both married and single soldiers is finding off-base housing. Unfortunately this challenge is one that faces all military career minded soldiers. Often times this situation may arise rather frequently, with an average of 3 to 4 years between moves. It is my intent to provide you with some necessary information that may help you as you search for off-base housing.

Locating Housing
Military HousingIf you are an active soldier and have received orders stating that you are being relocated for a period of over 90 days, you need to contact the housing office immediately. The housing office is a referral agency and between you and owners of the available housing in your area. They can help you find a rental property or purchase property in the area you are being relocated to. Also, they can help you find resources for off-base housing. You can also visit the Automated Housing Referral Network website, which can be found at This is a central network that lists available housing near bases. But remember, you should first contact the housing offices at your current base and the base to which you are being relocated.

Applying for Off Base Housing
The first order of business is to fill out an application, since approval depends on varying criteria. For example, if you are married with dependents, you are more likely to be granted off-base housing. If your application is approved, you would receive a Basic Allowance for Housing which is determined by your rank, location, and number of dependents.

Qualifying for off-base housing depends on the regulations of each military branch.

  • The Army allows those soldiers above an E-6 pay grade to live off-base at the government’s expense. There can be exceptions for E-5.
  • The Marine Corps also allows E-6 off-base housing
  • The Air Force allows E-4s with a minimum of three or more years of service to live off-base.
  • The Navy requires E-5 or E-4s with four or more years of service to receive a housing allowance.

If you are not qualified for off-base housing then you are required to live on base in the barracks or the housing that is provided.

Overseas Housing
Also, it is interesting that overseas service members can qualify for an Overseas House Allowance. This is beneficial in the event that the country you are relocated to has no on-base housing. These service members can apply and qualify for an overseas house allowance.

Requests for off-base housing need to be considered very carefully. If you are married and have dependent children, it is always a good idea to check into the neighborhoods so that you can choose one that offers the safety and security you want for your family. Of course, you would also want to consider schools in the area, the availability of doctors and hospitals, shopping centers, recreation options, etc.

So before you submit your application for off-base housing, make sure that you have done a substantial amount of research!

Teresa Agostino

Originally from Canada, Terri moved to the US at 16 and joined the Army Reserves at 17. She went active Army in 1991, and spent almost 2 years in Iraq as a program analyst for the Army Corps of Engineers. She currently works for the VA as an Accounts Management Supervisor. Terri has her MBA in HR management.
Teresa Agostino

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