What to Do if There's a Long Waitlist on Military Housing for Your Base

Posted by Lauren Schneider on Tuesday, November 9th, 2021 at 7:40am.

Finding Housing When Military Waitlists Are LongMoving frequently during a military career means routine housing changes. When it comes time for a permanent change of station (PCS), many service members pursue on-base housing. Depending on the location, there could be long waitlists. Housing waitlists can add unnecessary challenges to the moving process. However, there are ways that military members can avoid waitlists and shorten the time spent on housing waitlists. Keep reading to learn what steps to take if a base has a long waitlist for military housing.

For informational purposes only. Always consult with a licensed real estate professional before proceeding with any real estate transaction.

Make Housing Decisions Quickly

Service members should decide their housing preferences quickly to ensure housing goes smoothly, ideally as early as possible after learning about their PCS. Temporary Lodging Expense (TLE) allowance covers ten nights in an installation hotel or the service member will be reimbursed for other accommodations. The more legwork that can be done before leaving the current duty station, the better. Spending excess time debating whether to buy a home while on active duty increases the chances of ending up on a waitlist.

Get on the Waitlist ASAP

Once housing is decided, get on the waitlist ASAP. Waitlist times vary, and it could be a few weeks, or it could be two years. As soon as a base location is known, call the location's housing management office immediately and ask to be placed on the waitlist. After speaking to the management office, be sure to upload/provide all necessary documents such as military orders, current LES, military ID, most updated DEERS Enrollment Form, marriage license, and birth certificate. Additionally, be sure to keep phone numbers and email addresses current while on the waitlist.

Explore Different Waitlist Options

Military housing today isn't structured the same way as it was decades ago. The U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) now has a "community first" policy. This means the DoD looks to the private sector first to provide housing opportunities for servicemembers. If the local market cannot meet the DoD's needs, security, or other standards, they'll then house servicemembers on-base. People will find there are usually several neighborhoods available. Some communities are more sought out, and the waitlists can differ amongst them. If the desired waitlist is too long, branch out and look elsewhere. Keep in mind, it's possible to be moved up or down a waitlist based on DoD priority criteria, so it's good to know about several housing options.

Look for Shorter-Term Housing

Military members who need immediate housing can also speak with their base's housing services office. Representatives can typically offer referrals for off-base housing for shorter terms, such as one, three, or six months. This is a good short-term solution until long-term accommodation can be secured, either on or off the military property.

Connect with a Military Real Estate Agent

Local real estate agents who specialize in military moves are excellent resources for finding housing near their base. There are many good reasons to work with a military real estate agent. For example, they'll likely have a list of quality long-term rentals where military members can opt to live until base housing opens up. Alternatively, they can show homes for sale. A home purchase enables the military buyer to pay their mortgage instead of someone else's while simultaneously building equity. Once they PCS again, they can lease their home to a renter, most probably another military member. If not sure where to find an excellent local real estate agent who has expertise in military moves, check with USAA or Navy Federal for agent referrals if a member of either financial institution.

Details to Consider When Choosing Alternative Housing

Military members should ask themselves several questions as they seek alternatives to on-base housing while on a waiting list.

  • How far is the commute?
  • What's the local cost of living? Will BAH cover most expenses?
  • Are base services critical, or do local communities fulfill needs?
  • Are the reviews on available neighborhoods good?
  • Is it essential to live near other military families?
  • Would buying a home be smarter than renting?

Living on-base comes with many rules and doesn't have the same level of privacy as off-base housing. These factors might also be important considerations for some.

Plan Ahead to Avoid Military Housing Waitlists

Getting ready for a PCS can be stressful, especially when long waitlists are involved. A good military real estate agent, like those in the Military Home Search Team, that understands the needs of military members can be a valuable resource to discover housing options. Additionally, acting quickly is the best way to ensure a prime spot on any waitlist.

For informational purposes only. Always consult with a licensed real estate professional before proceeding with any real estate transaction.

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