Should Military Members Buy or Rent a Home?

Military members often face even bigger housing challenges than the average citizen due to their often uncertain job status, frequent times away, and family considerations. Some military members find it difficult to secure home loans or commit to long term leases due to the chance they will be deployed or transferred. Here are a few things to think about for military members who are thinking of buying or renting a property and some of the pros and cons of that decision.

The pros of buying a home include your ability to qualify for a Department of Veteran Affairs housing loan. These VA loans are available for active and veteran service members and, if you qualify for them, can often mean that you don’t have to make a down payment on a property. This can save lots of money in the long term! A VA loan also allows you to get a housing loan without needed to qualify for a mortgage through a private company and oftentimes can drastically decrease the amount of closing costs you may have to pay.

The cons of buying a home as a military member center on some of the restrictions that come with getting a VA loan. The loans are typically available in sums up to $417,000 in most countries you may be stationed in and if your housing costs are more than this, you will need to take out other loans or make the down payment through your own personal funds. If you get a VA loan the homes you are looking to buy have to be live-in accessible when you buy it as the VA loan restricts military members from buying fixer-upper or vacant houses.

The pros of renting a property is that you can negotiate a short lease or have a sub-letter if you are transferred or deployed before your lease is up. You may be able to find a landlord who understands your needs and situation as a military member who will be able to work with you in case of a situation where you might need to move out suddenly. A rental allows you a bit more financial and personal freedom as opposed to buying a house, and you can still find larger homes to rent if you have pets or a big family.

The cons of renting an apartment is that if you are moving to a new city you might end up in a bad neighborhood without even realizing it. Fortunately being a renter allows you to remedy that fairly quickly in most cases. With a rental you aren’t building equity or investing in a home, so you will not have the potential for a return on that money like you would if you bought and sold a home.

Your personal situation will indicate whether it is better to buy a property or rent. Make sure you do a bit of research and know what you are getting into before you sign any leases or apply for any mortgages.

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