Among military families who move every 1-3 years, looking for a home is a common activity. The military orders come and the research begins to find a home, school, new dentists, doctors, hairstylists, etc. This year, among many others, the difficulty to find affordable housing is increasing. While there is military housing – it, unfortunately, is not available for everyone.
San Diego is an area with several military bases. There are approximately 9,000 government homes located in 38 different areas among San Diego – of those around 8,600 units are for enlisted and 600 are for officers. According to San Diego statistics, San Diego hosts around 110,700 active duty personnel. That means, that about 0.08% of those military members are able to be housed in military housing. Of course, there are those members who are on the ship, deployed, or living in the barracks but the reality is that there is not enough military housing to go around for all the military members and their families to live.
When military members get orders, applying for military housing is the first step. But the reality is that the wait time for military housing is increasing – some locations are telling families they must wait 3 years for housing – the time of their entire military orders. Getting on the list does not guarantee a spot. If you can wait it out, you might get lucky.
Check In With the Housing Office
Even if you do not think you are going to get a military house, going to the housing office can still be useful. Ask in person for a realistic expectation for finding a home on base. Ask if there are outside resources they recommend. Sometimes there are locals or retired military who bring in fliers for rentals in the area. Check if there is a bulletin board outside the housing office, even if within the housing office they cannot or do not provide that information.
Stay in On Base Lodging
If you are unable to find a house within a budget you can afford, perhaps staying in on base lodging is an option in the short term. Historically on-base lodging has been much more affordable, while the new program from Congress has increased the daily rate it is still overall cheaper in regard to other hotels in the area and allows for ease of travel to work and exploring the local area to find housing. This may also allow for the summer moving season and higher rent prices to lower. While it may not always work in regards to rent within BAH, it may lead to a house that you know you and your family can live in for a long time.
Do not forget about other military families when asking for housing in the area. Ask people who are already based in the area if there are rentals within their neighborhood. Sometimes word of mouth is how homes go for rent, and it may not ever post online on major websites. Don’t forget smaller websites that are just military families to rent to others – they may only post there and not on bigger websites, which may lower the number of people you are competing with to get home.
Don’t Forget About the Budget
It is easy to get tied up in a bidding war in regards to rental amounts, offering above rental rate to get into a home, but if you can’t afford it in the long run it isn’t worth it. Maybe it is cheaper to store your belongings in a storage unit and rent an apartment while you look for a home of the size you need with the budget you can afford. No, this is not an ideal solution but could be a short-term solution as apartments may allow month-to-month renting while you find a longer-term solution.