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Renting vs. Buying While Serving in the Military

If you or your significant other are currently serving in the military you've likely considered the question... Should I rent or buy?

Owning a home is what many families strive for — but how realistic is it for a military family? It can seem counter-productive to purchase a home when you may be asked to relocate in a short time. However, there's nothing like the freedom that owning your own home brings. Here are some things to consider.

buying a home in the military

Buying a Home


  • Buying a home allows you to plant your roots and really create a space that is all your own — without having to ask the permission of a landlord whenever you want to paint!
  • Owning your own home may provide you with tax benefits and will allow you to build equity. When you purchase a home, your mortgage payment each month contributes to the goal of owning the home outright.
  • There is a certain mindset that comes from owning a home and you may find it's easier to become involved in the neighborhood or community.
  • Owning a home means you get to make the decisions around when and if maintenance should be attended to. There's no waiting on a landlord who is dragging their feet to make the repair on your leaky sink. You also get to pick who performs the upkeep or maintenance on your home.


  • Realizing that many military families move every few years, it can be potentially difficult to gain enough equity in a home during that short time to make a profit (or even break-even) when the home is sold.
  • The actual time it takes to get a home ready for the market, show the home and complete the sale can often take much longer than what you have before needing to move. This is especially true if the purchase of a new home is contingent on selling a current home.
  • Gone are the days of simply picking up the phone and making a quick call to your landlord when something needs to be fixed or replaced. Owning a home means you'll either be rolling up your sleeves for a DIY project or finding someone to do it for you. Either way, there's a cost and time investment that typically isn't involved when you're renting.
  • Sometimes it can be hard to find a home that checks all of your boxes (size, yard, schools, etc.) within a reasonable distance to base. This means you may have to pick between your dream home and a less than desirable commute.

renting vs. buying a home in the military

Renting a Home


  • Renting is often a great option for families who must move often as it allows you to choose the house and location that you wish with the ability to move much more quickly than if you were to sell a home.
  • You don't have to consider closing costs or other fees associated with buying a home, you can simply move right in with a sense of financial predictability.
  • When renting, the landlord usually covers any maintenance or repair fees should they arise. Hooray for a new HVAC unit on your landlord!


  • When you pay rent each month, that money is essentially never seen again — it's simply a trade for being allowed to live in the home. This can feel like you're simply pouring money into something that will never get you anything in return.
  • The amount of creative control you have with your rental home will highly depend on your landlord. So likely painting your kitchen a bright color or whitewashing the fireplace isn't an option. Most landlords do not want things changed in order to keep it as renter-friendly as possible.
  • If you own a fuzzy friend you may have trouble finding a rental home that will allow them to move in with you. For those that do accept pets, be prepared to pay extra deposits or fees.
  • When it comes to repairs, you're at the mercy of your landlord as to when the work is complete and who they choose to make the repair. This could mean going without a working dishwasher longer than you would have chosen if it were up to you.
  • There is always the chance that your landlord may decide to sell the rental home after your lease is up so you may have to go through the moving process much sooner than you would have hoped to.

Ultimately choosing to buy a home or rent one will depend very much so on your personal situation. Factors such as your moving time frame and financial picture will have a big impact. Carefully consider all of your options, but in the end, make the choice based on what will be best for you and your family. While owning a home of your own is great — it's not the house that makes a home, it's the people inside that do!

For more tips on what to expect when buying a home to see if it makes sense for you and your family, start your journey on Nestiny here!

Want more advice about all things home — including homebuying or selling advice? Nestiny is a great place for homebuyer education and to help you gauge how ready you are to buy a home. Journey Homeward allows you to enter all your wants and needs while the True Affordability Tool will break down your budget, showing what you can comfortably afford. You will also receive a Ready Report that will give you a vital head start in the home buying journey, saving you valuable time and money.

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