Moving is an exciting part of military life. Each duty assignment promises new experiences, adventures, and friends. But before settling in to explore the area, you must find a place to call home.
Renting a house or apartment is a perfect solution for military families looking for flexibility that home ownership doesn't always provide. For example, renting is a great option for one- or two-year tours or oversea tours.
If you're looking for a temporary place for your nest, follow these simple tips.
Let the Search Begin
As soon as you receive orders, start researching your new town. First, stop by the relocation assistance office on base, where you'll find welcome aboard packets, booklets, moving workshops, and support throughout the entire reassignment process.
Base housing offices offer housing referral services that simplify the renting process. Contact the office at your new duty station for current listings of off-base rental properties. Find out the housing allowance for the area and if there are any areas or apartment complexes that you should avoid.
Subscribe to the local newspaper and request information from the chamber of commerce. Searching for a rental will be easier if you understand the basic layout of the area. Finally, peruse listings online (a fee may apply), or call a local rental or real estate office for advice.
Schedule a Visit
If practical, travel to your new city prior to the move. Look at properties with an agent and ask to see both independent rental units and units in complexes. Unlike home sale agents, the agent usually represents the landlord — not the renter. Apartment finder services and guides can also provide a wealth of information.
Don't view a rental as you would a purchase. For example, the color of the carpet or kitchen tile is not important if you just need a place to hang your hat for a year. If you have a pet or intend to get one, make sure they are allowed. Most importantly, ensure that a military clause will be put into the lease.
Finally, look online for specific advice for renters, as well as moving and transitioning tips.
Will You Rest Easy Here?
As you narrow your search, consider security of the area. Check out the neighborhood safety statistics, talk to neighbors, and look for outside lighting, front-door deadbolts, and peepholes.
Closing the Deal
During the rental search, carry your credit report or relevant financial information, previous landlord and employer information, and a check. This way, you'll avoid scrambling around gathering these items while someone else rents your dream place.
When you do find a unit that's a keeper, negotiate to bring down the price by offering to do the yard work or other minor fix-ups. Be aware that the landlord will need a security deposit (usually one month's rent) as well as the first month's rent to close the deal.
So, get out there and find a place to hang your hat for a while — then settle in and start exploring your new town.