As military families, we are no stranger to moving often and on little notice. We’re frequently put in situations where we have to search for housing across the country from where we live, or – in some cases – across the world. The whole process can be more stressful than you bargained for, especially when you have to move into a new home without even seeing it in person. Never fear, we’re here to give you a few long-distance house hunting tips.
Choose A Realtor You Can Trust
When searching for a home long distance, your real estate agent can be your best friend. At no additional cost to you, your real estate agent should be the person you trust to not only to make the rental/ownership process go smoothly, but they should also be knowledgeable on topics like VA loans and military clauses. A great real estate agent will likely take the time to film or facetime to allow you to see properties.
Make Use of Military Community Forums
When you can’t travel to your new duty station ahead of time, military community forums can be super helpful in your house hunting process. Websites like AHRN, Military By Owner, PCSgrades, and even community Facebook groups allow you to ask questions. These forums are made to help you get a good idea about what side of town to live in, what places to avoid, local attractions, and school districts. Make use of these forums, they are super helpful!
Use Your Network
Another tip for choosing a home long distance is to consider who is in your network. Your real estate agent may not be able to video a home tour for you but maybe a family or friend can. Consider who you know in or around your duty station and reach out to see if they would be willing to check it out for you. Sometimes, pictures don’t do a home justice.
Consider Your Space Needs
Moving from one home to another can be an exciting process. What furniture fits in one home may not fit in another. When searching for a new home long distance, consider what time of space you need to store your furniture comfortably. Maybe consider the constant moving when furniture shopping as well. For example: If you’re purchasing a sectional, consider buying one that has a reversible chase or one that can be used in multiple pieces. This style sofa will fit comfortably in many different living rooms.
Take into Consideration the Change of BAH
Your BAH will change from one duty station to the next. In some cases, the change is drastic. Be sure to get an accurate BAH calculation before you begin your home search so you’ll know how to budget accordingly. Also, be sure to figure in an insurance increase or decrease. Consider if you live in city limits versus outside of city limits. Are you moving to an area prone to natural disasters?
Get on the Housing List Just in Case
You may plan to purchase or rent a home off post, but we all know that nothing goes 100% according to plan in the military. If all else fails, you’ll want to secure your spot on the post housing list just in case. This allows you to have a backup plan while searching for an off-post home in case nothing becomes available in your time frame. It also saves you the trouble of deciding to live on post near your move date and having to spend three months in a hotel waiting your turn.
Sometimes you get last-minute orders, and sometimes things change quickly, but the important thing is not to rush into a house that isn’t going to work. Sure, it is probably going to be temporary, but if you are settling for the first available, you are going to regret it. Consider staying in a crashpad while you house hunt. They are fully furnished, with cable, internet, and all of the kitchen appliances you need. Make your decision on your own time, while relaxing in style.
Written by Sierra Redmond, exclusively for Military Crashpad®.
I agree that you should use your network when house hunting. Friends and family might be able to help you find listings in the area. They might be able to check out the home in person as well, like you said.
I like what you said about using your network of family and friends to find a home. My brother is serving overseas right now and he will have to find a house when he gets back. He’ll have to see what he can find with his military discount, with the help of an agent.