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Should a military family who moves every 4 years choose to buy or to rent a home?

My husband is in the Navy and we will have to move every 4 years until he retires- another 12 years! I've always figured that since we won't live anywhere for more than 4 years that renting is the best option for us. This saves us from having to try to sell a house and the possibility of losing money on the deal because we won't have much (if any) equity in the house after only 4 years.

We are moving next summer and they say it'll be the best time to buy. But then what? We move in 4 years and sell it? Or try to rent it? I hate the idea of owning rental properties that we have to keep up and risk other people trashing... BUT I also feel like we're throwing away $1300 a month on rent! We don't make enough money to really save much while paying rent, and paying a mortgage would be putting money toward something that might one day be OURS... I'm totally confused. Anyone have any advise?

Answer Question

Asked by winkie_pinkie at 10:57 PM on Jan. 5, 2009 in Money & Work

Level 1 (3 Credits)
Answers (10)
  • i know a few ppl who have bought homes knowing they weren't staying there permanantely and then sold the home once they PCSed....we live on post, though. Don't have time for the hassel.

    Answer by babycakes254 at 11:03 PM on Jan. 5, 2009

  • Hmm tough choice. It is the best time to buy. Once the economy gets going again real estate costs will go back up. And you're right...why waste money for rent when you can be putting that towards owning! Hopefully you'll be able to gain something after 4 years though. Good luck.

    Answer by Anonymous at 11:04 PM on Jan. 5, 2009

  • We are a military family too, and have avoided purchasing for the same reasons. However, we are looking into purchasing this home that we just rented because the price is too good to pass up. We figure it is a good time to buy and this is something we can always afford if things get rough. It's a tough decision, but follow your gut. You will know when it is right for you. He's got 8 years to go.

    Answer by Anonymous at 11:07 PM on Jan. 5, 2009

  • We currently live on base also, BUT when we move there won't be very adequate base housing for our large family of 6. And I think a mortgage payment would be less than rent would be. I just don't want to get stuck with a house I can't sell or even worse, decide to rent the house out after we live in it for 4 years and wind up with tenents who don't pay rent on time, or a property that sits vacant while we're paying the mortgage, plus rent wherever we wind up next... If that happened and we got foreclosed on, it would be horrible!

    Answer by winkie_pinkie at 11:11 PM on Jan. 5, 2009

  • My husband is in the Army and we have bought 2 houses so far. I would rather pay a mortgage then waste money on rent. When it was time to PCS we never had trouble selling.

    Answer by Anonymous at 12:45 AM on Jan. 6, 2009

  • You have to pick your battles on this one...especially in this economy. Buying and then selling would be your best option...but I've known a lot of people having really hard times because they bought when the market was good and now their loosing out on money by selling or they can't sell and now they have a mortgage and have to pay rent! So really make sure financially you can afford both if something falls through. Houses are staying on the market for months right now. You could always rent it out...and if you bought now your rent would probably cover the mortgage...but if you bought when the market was good. I doubt anyone would pay your mortgage for rent...that's also a lot of people's problems right now...I live in a military town myself.

    Answer by britni11 at 4:31 AM on Jan. 6, 2009

  • The good thing about being a military family that buys homes is that when you are ready to PCS out, someone else is PCSing and in the market for a house. I know several families that kept their home and rented it out, especially if their mortgage was significantly lower than the going rate for rent. I lived on post last duty station we were, but it wasn't because we didn't want to buy a house. I had another mortgage already, so we couldn't get another one. The great advantage to buying a house is that you build equity.

    Talk to a real estate agent with a good reputation, and get some feedback on home ownership options.

    Hope that helps!

    Answer by Ms.Melanie at 9:06 AM on Jan. 6, 2009

  • when dh was enlisted, we had planned on just renting until his last year. then we would have bought a home where we wanted to retire and live (but God had other plans for us) we owned a house, and honestly, being in the military, i would not have bought another house. I LOVED living on base and not having to worry about any repairs or mowing the lawn or any upkeep of the house. did not have to worry about selling the house etc. that was just good for us, esp. if dh ever got deployed. (side note- I SO MISS LIVING ON BASE- but then we were lucky in where we were stationed)
    but as others have said, it is what you think is best for you and your family. i do have friends that bought a house at the base they wanted to move back to and live when they retired and they live on base (in germany right now) they kept the house and will retire to there.

    Answer by ArmyWifeMomof3 at 9:39 AM on Jan. 6, 2009

  • I would say that now is a good time to buy a house. Even if you sell it in 4 years for exactly what you bought it for, it's almost like living rent free for 4 years. It's GREAT for your credit rating and adds additional tax write offs. If you would have asked this question 2 years ago, I would have said no, but now that the housing market has turned around, things are in your favor. Look for a good deal and snatch it up. And don't forget, when you are ready to move you can either sell your house, rent it out, or lease to own. (There are tons of options, you can even lease it to someone who will manage it and find renters. Everyone makes out- t's called a lease option) There are plenty of investors looking for deals and helping homeowners get out their homes, just think out of the box when it's time to move. Owning a home is still a great investment.
    Good Luck!!

    Answer by chickadee8654 at 12:11 PM on Jan. 6, 2009

  • I absolutely KNOW that we cannot afford to pay a mortgage AND rent somewhere else if our house didn't sell. I really don't want to have to do the geo-bachelor thing for months waiting for the house to sell, either, because we have custody of his kids from his first marraige who would have to stay with me and they don't LISTEN to me... nothing short of a deployment is going to put me in that situation unless it's absolutely necessary! And I've just heard so much drama that goes on between landlords and lousy tenants of rental properties... I guess I have too many concerns about what will happen in 4 years to decide to buy right now! Thanks for the advice!

    Answer by winkie_pinkie at 12:14 PM on Jan. 6, 2009

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