Author: Samantha Curtis
One of the first decisions you have to make when changing duty stations (PCSing) is whether to live on post or off post. Since we’ve only had one duty station to date and are getting ready to PCS to our next, I wanted to share what I thought were the perks of living on post. Everyone is different, and depending on the branch of the military, these points may vary too.
Convenience: For us, this was the biggest factor when we decided to live on post. We only had one car at the time and knew that living on post would make it easier in regards to that. Because it was also our first duty station, we didn’t know the surrounding areas and how to go about finding off post housing. We really enjoyed living on post because of the closeness to my husband’s job, as well as all other important meetings, appointments, etc.
Economical advantage: Living on post means never seeing our Basic Housing Allowance (BAH). It went straight to the housing office and included our basic utilities. For us, this was extremely attractive in regards to finances. Although some people may live off post to save money and “bank” extra BAH, we found it easier and almost similar in price to living on post.
Safety: As I mentioned above, Fort Drum was our first duty station and we felt a lot safer choosing a house within it’s walls. Yes, there is crime everywhere however; we felt that living on post was safer for us than choosing to live off post in an unfamiliar area. Depending on the post, it may be open or closed but either way, monitoring who was coming in and out of the gates always made us feel better.
Neighbors: This was also another attractive piece to living on post… ALL of your neighbors are military. When it came to deployments, homecomings, or trainings… we were all in the same boat. It was nice to meet other military families and be able to share that common ground with them.
Community: Our community center was wonderful about planning activities and events for the families in the communities. From field days, to luncheons, to holiday parties, I felt like there was always something to do and it gave us a chance to interact with other families in the community. They also had playgrounds at each community center and were always hosting fun things to do.
We are still in the process of deciding whether to live on or off post at our next post but feel a lot more informed this time around.
What are your experiences with living on or off post? What would you recommend to a new military family when they are making their decision?