All military families expect to move a few times during a service member's career. If you've received PCS orders to move to a new duty station, it could be anywhere from a few months to several years. Let's look over your options for finding off-base temporary military housing in the CONUS.
Permanent change of station (PCS) orders are just a fact of life for active-duty military members.
All military families expect to move a few times during a service member’s career. If you’ve received PCS orders to move to a new duty station, it could be anywhere from a few months to several years.
Finding a short-term rental isn’t always smooth sailing. Finding quality housing options can be difficult, especially if you’re bringing along dependents.
The good news is you may qualify for temporary lodging expense (TLE) or a temporary lodging allowance (TLA) which will reimburse you for higher-than-usual moving expenses.
After the move, if you opt-out of government-provided housing, the basic housing allowance (BAH) can help.
Let’s look over your options for finding off-base temporary military housing in the CONUS.
Temporary Lodging Expense (TLE) vs. Temporary Lodging Allowance (TLA)
The main difference between TLE and TLA relates to location. For moves within the continental U.S., you’ll get TLE; outside of CONUS, you’ll receive TLA.
Typically, TLE lasts up to ten days. You may get several days of TLE for moves starting in CONUS and ending outside the CONUS. TLA can last up to 60 days after your PCS orders take you to an OCONUS duty station.
These allowances work like per diems. You can use them for lodging and meals. The percentage you’ll get is based mainly on how many dependents you have. TLA also takes location and international currency conversion fees into consideration.
Note: You’ll need to save your lodging receipts to receive your TLE payments.
Temporary Lodging Facility (TLF)
If you’re on Temporary Duty Travel (TDY), you know you’re required to use Department of Defense (DoD) lodging — if available.
Here’s a scenario for how you could stay in off-base lodging while on TDY:
If you’re an active-duty navy or marine corps service member, your new assignment may take you to a large naval base near a major city. When the Navy Lodge is full, they will grant you a certificate of non-availability. Now, you’re qualified to receive reimbursement for non-military lodging.
This usually applies to other branches (e.g., Coast Guard) and their military installations as well, such as the Air Force Inns you’ll find near top air force duty stations, Marine Corps Transient Housing, Army Lodging, etc.
Basic Allowance for Housing (BAH)
As of January 2022, the Department of Defense (DoD) authorized a 5.1% increase in BAH. All military personnel on permanent duty within the 50 states are eligible for BAH if not being furnished with government lodging.
There are a few forms of BAH:
- BAH with dependents
- BAH without dependents
- Partial BAH
- BAH RC/T
- BAH Diff
You can consult your Finance Office to determine if your situation calls for a specific type of BAH. For instance, you may qualify for benefits while residing separately from your dependents (i.e., you’re going overseas, but your child is staying with your former spouse).
Like the TLE/TLA, these stipends work like per diems and are based on your new temporary zip code, dependents, and rank. You can use it to cover living expenses as you choose. However, if you don’t stay within your BAH limit — you’ll need to pay the difference.
On average, BAH covers up to 95% of service members’ housing costs. It will not cover renter’s insurance, so that’s up to you.
Get an idea of your BAH rate by using this calculator.
Service members stationed outside the U.S. may be eligible for the overseas housing allowance (OHA).
Up to three months before your move, you can request an advance on BAH. You’ll need to submit documentation that supports why you need it (e.g., an unsigned lease). You can put this money toward security deposits or any advance rent due at your new housing location.
You will need to pay this advance back, likely over the next 12 months.
For OHA, you can check which countries are currently authorized for rental advances here.
Advance Pay for Moving Expenses
If you’re still worried about having enough moving funds, you can also apply for an advance of up to three months of basic pay. Your chain of command has to approve this, and you can get it 30 days before your transfer date.
Remember that you will have to pay this back (typically within 12 months, sometimes, an extension of up to 24 months is granted).
Temporary Off-Base Housing Solutions for Military Personnel and Their Family Members
While there are many options for on-base lodgings, such as DoD lodging for TDY, off-base housing usually means the search is up to you.
Why Live Off-Base?
On-base military housing includes all your necessities, yet there are still plenty of reasons you may have for wishing to live off-base:
- Ability to run a home business
- If you have a banned breed pup friend
- More freedom with your yard (if you have one!)
- Easier for friends and family to visit
- Access to better schools for the kids
- Separation of work and home life
- Option to buy a home if desired
- Military housing often has long waitlists
The beginning of this list includes the most obvious temporary housing solutions (e.g., hotel rooms and month-to-month apartment rentals).
Keep scrolling to find out about on-demand housing and how you can talk to Traveler’s Haven about precisely what you need in a short-term rental, and they’ll do all the searching for you!
1. Hotel Rooms
For service members with spouses and kids, hotel rooms are not ideal. Even if you’re on your own, a hotel is only comfy for a short time.
This option doesn’t allow you to bring many personal items or furniture, so it won’t really feel like “home.” Living out of suitcases is hard after a while, especially for little kids.
Yes, the housekeeping and fresh linens are nice. However, privacy is minimal, it can be loud, and if you’re traveling with a beloved pet, this will severely cut down your options. While access to a pool may occupy the kids for a little while, they’ll quickly go stir-crazy in a cramped suite.
Not to mention, unless you choose an extended-stay hotel, you won’t have access to a kitchen. Eating out for every meal may put you over budget quick, fast, and in a hurry!
If you do go this route, remember that most hotels offer military discounts for both active duty and veterans.
2. Short-Term Rentals
This category includes unfurnished apartments, furnished apartments, townhomes, condos, etc.
All traveling workers know the struggle of finding a decent short-term rental. Most rental companies prefer longer leases. It can be tough to find apartments willing to do anything under six months, and month-to-month leases tend to run higher in price.
You’ll want to be in the vicinity of your new duty station to cut down on your daily commute, which tightens the reins on your search parameters. For your dependents, you’ll want to place them near schools, outdoor recreation, shopping centers, and other necessary amenities.
It’s a lot to consider! Especially if throwing pets into the mix as well.
3. Corporate Housing
Another option is corporate housing, but again, this one isn’t the best fit for families. Corporate housing options are short-term rentals geared toward traveling workers.
The pros are that it’s more apartment-style than a hotel, with separate kitchen and living areas. Corporate housing can be a condo, townhome, or even a single-family home. If it’s through an apartment complex, you should gain access to their onsite facilities (fitness center, pool, etc.).
The downsides include:
- No housekeeping
- 30-night minimum stay
- Often much more expensive than an extended stay hotel
Also, keep in mind that corporate housing is primarily for adults and may not be child-safe or appropriate for young families.
When searching for short-term rentals, you’ll see a lot of vacation rentals and Airbnb options pop up. While these might offer more of a homey atmosphere, the price points are for the very short term, and it’s unlikely your BAH will cover much as it adds up.
Since Airbnb is not through a leasing agent, you’re at the mercy of the host. You don’t want to be dealing with potential inconsistencies during your temporary housing stay.
5. Travelers Haven On-Demand Housing
Now the good news!
There’s an easier way to source temporary off-base housing after receiving your PCS orders: Travelers Haven.
In an effort to bridge the “housing gap,” Travelers Haven provides workforce housing on-demand even in remote locations. We will source rentals for you with any custom requests you may have (like access to a washer/dryer!).
How does it work?
As soon as you have your orders, visit our website, and fill out the simple form.
You’ll receive an initial phone call to gather more information to better tailor the search to your unique needs.
Travelers Haven will reach out again after completing the search and present you with all the great housing options available.
Discuss the options with your dependents if necessary, pick the one you like best, and book it! Rest assured knowing you’re moving your family into a safe, cozy, well-equipped place with the utilities up and running as soon as you arrive.
Sound easy enough, right?
Plus, when you work with Travelers Haven, you can expect:
- 24/7 customer support (including your own client success coordinator for the duration of your stay)
- Pet-friendly rentals so your best furry friends can come along
- Quality furnishings and equipped kitchens (if requested)
- Utilities (even wi-fi) bundled with your rent into one easy payment
Hassle-Free Move-Outs With Travelers Haven
When your PCS orders are up, Travelers Haven will handle all the move-out details for you too.
You won’t have to worry about shutting off utilities or returning any provided furnishings. We’ll take care of returning the unit to its original state, so you can get your family moved on to the next assignment!
Want to extend your stay instead?
We can arrange that for you as well.
Is There a Credit Check?
Travelers Haven does run a personal credit check for every new customer. Once done, it lasts two years, so you can use our services again in that time frame without another credit check!
Whether your PCS orders are sending you to San Diego, CA, Fort Bragg, NC, or any of the other hundreds of military bases in the U.S. — Travelers Haven can find you the perfect temporary home away from home. We aim to take the stress out of relocating so you can focus more on the excitement of going to a new place.
We appreciate your service on this day and every day.
Contact us with any questions or to start the process now!