Every submarine spouse has a different method to house hunting. Luckily we are in the age of technology with so many resources at our fingertips! For me, I tend to be a bit uptight about finding our next house. I start looking as soon as we have orders, which is often too soon for the window of availability we need, but I have also gotten very lucky as a result of looking early. It was recommended to me that you always submit paperwork for base housing even if you desire to live out in town, just in case you are unable to find what you need in the time you need it.
Here’s my process:
Research The Area Of Your Next Orders
A great first step is to ask fellow spouses if they have any recommendations for towns, neighborhoods, and school districts. Request to join the duty station Facebook group (more on that here) and poke around the group for more information. Look for good property management companies, and be sure to read reviews regarding how quickly they respond to issues both emergent and non-emergent.
Decide With Your Spouse You Needs vs. Wants
Every duty station is unique, so you can’t assume you’ll find exactly what you want. Consider your exact needs, such as: maximum rent or purchase price, number of bedrooms and bathrooms. From there, determine your wants or nice-to-haves like a garage, garbage disposal, central AC, guest room or fenced yard. Identify these details and determine your non-negotiables.
Determine When Your Lease or Purchase Date Should Be
When does your spouse need to report to their new duty station? Do you need overlap in your housing? Will you be homeless for a period of time? Determine your goal date and make that a priority.
Begin Your Search For Listings (and Save The Links)
In my experience, my favorite websites and go-to apps include Zillow, Trulia, Facebook Marketplace and Craigslist. Don’t forget to look at military-specific sites, as well as Military By Owner and Automated Housing Referral Network (AHRN). Property management companies often list through the big name websites, but sometimes they only list through their own websites. If you hear of a good company it may be best to look through their website directly. There are some additional Facebook groups, as well.
Find a House You Are Interested In – and Inquire
My best suggestion for house hunting is IT NEVER HURTS TO ASK! You could ask if the availability could be slightly sooner or later, depending on your situation. Ask if your absolutely wonderful dog could be considered for a large but refundable pet deposit, or if rent could be discounted for a longer lease duration. You could even ask to paint the rooms as long as you return them to the original color. If you don’t ask you’ll never know.
As military spouses, whether we like it or not, moving becomes part of our DNA. PCS’ing is a language we speak fluently, and with a little extra effort, we’re able to find our next home without much difficulty.
Do you have any tips for finding your new home? Comment below.