Each year, over 400,000 service members receive just 90 days’ notice ahead of their next permanent change-of-station (PCS). That’s only 90 days to juggle their already important and taxing duties to find a comfortable home where they will live for the next one to three years, possibly with their families. Oftentimes, these moves are thousands of miles away from their current station. Moving to a new place is stressful enough and when you add the stressor of finding the right housing for the right price, it can become extremely overwhelming.
As the housing market continues to suffer from low inventory and sky-high prices, military members may look for cheaper options. Oftentimes, these options are located in unsafe neighborhoods or require living in a cramped hotel room. The other option is typically living in the barracks, which leaves little to no space for anything military members may wish to bring. This can impact our military in numerous ways from an increase in anxiety to never being able to relax to a loss of sleep. If family members are also brought into the situation, it can make the process that much more straining. However, what many do not realize is that there are several great options out there for service members that offer more than just typical short-term housing. Some housing companies offer customizations, all-inclusive monthly bills, and have access to a housing inventory that no one else does. Here are a few tips for optimizing your search for the right accommodations for yourself, as well as any family members moving with you.
Utilize a third party who can give you options. When you rely on the right third party for housing, you can save time and money. Hours and even days should not be wasted on a search for a temporary home, which can be quite costly. Third parties can quickly provide you with a solution that will typically fit within your budget. Another benefit to hiring a third party is how understanding they can be. They are aware of some of the requirements that come with military housing such as lodging per diem and needing to be in close proximity to base. Additionally, third-party housing solutions can even offer the consolidation of all utilities into one bill, making it easier to track spending. A housing on-demand service will even provide you with several housing options during their search efforts, along with ways you can customize your short-term home.
Plan ahead of time. It’s vital to begin making plans when you are informed of your relocation. These plans can range from where you will be staying to what you need to bring with you. If you map out exactly what you will need, your location, who is coming with you, etc. you will be less stressed and more prepared for your next assignment. I also recommend thinking about what you will need during your stay and what you can live without. While I do encourage you to do what you can to make your short-term home feel more comfortable, it is smart to think about what you can leave behind and purchase while you are living in your home away from home. Additionally, think about what kind of housing you will need. Is the housing just for you or will your family be joining? How long will you be at this location and how close do you need to be to base? Having the answers to these questions makes it easier to find and secure the appropriate accommodations. That organization will also save you a lot of time.
Know Your Basic Allowance for Housing. It’s extremely important to know your BAH when facing an upcoming move that requires short-term housing. Whether it’s a GSA allowance or a dislocation allowance, make sure you get clear confirmation on the amount you will have to work with. When you know your allowance, in addition to your income, you can make a budget plan! This can help you figure out what you can afford in terms of housing, as well as what extras you may want to add on, whether that be a backyard, an additional bedroom, etc. Additionally, knowing what your income will look like makes it easier to research the neighborhoods that are close to your new base. It allows you to have a better understanding of where you can and cannot afford to live.
Lean on your third party. When using the right third party to book your housing, you can lean on them for various resources and some housing services. For example, housing on-demand will even do the searching for you. You can ask these third parties for help, whether it be with finding a grocery store in close proximity or what school district is close to your home. A housing on-demand solution will be extremely helpful and resourceful in this case. They can set up grocery deliveries in time for your arrival, install high-speed wifi, move in any furniture you may need, etc. Finding short-term housing should be easy and direct. If you lean on a third party they should be able to provide you with answers to any questions you may have and use the resources that are at their direct disposal, making your stay that much more stress-free.
The search for the right housing should not be as difficult as it is, especially for our nation’s military. Utilizing these tips should make the process of securing a short-term home more seamless and rid some of the stress that comes with this process. The abilities that some third-party housing and housing on-demand companies offer can make the process more seamless, enabling you to worry less about the housing situation and focus more on your next assignment.
Carlos Abisambra is president & CEO of Travelers Haven.
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