Marines

Look at bottom dollar when considering on or off base housing

18 Sep 2014 | Cpl. Jackeline Perez Rivera

Service members who have recently moved to the area or are looking for a change in housing have many options available to them when seeking a new home.

From homes aboard Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune and Marine Corps Air Station New River, to those in surrounding communities, local service members are afforded many options to get the most bang for their buck.

One place to stop on the journey to finding a new home is the Family Housing Division’s Housing Referral Office, located in 43 Inchon Street at Tarawa Terrace, a housing area of Camp Lejeune.

“I encourage anybody considering renting a home to come to our office,” said Donna Velez, the personnel support director of Family Housing Division. “Come in and learn your options.”

The office is a one-stop shop where perspective renters can learn about on-base and off-base housing options.

Through the Rental Partnership Program, service members and their families can receive assistance seeking available homes in communities neighboring the installations. The program can help service members qualify for homes and can waive part or all of some security deposits, according to the Family Housing Division website.

“Living off base offers a greater variety of communities,” said Velez, a native of Swansboro, North Carolina, with more than 20 years of experience with the Family Housing Division. “Competition is greater than it has ever been and with competition come great prices and amenities.”

Some apartments off of the installation may provide a coffee bar, on-site fitness centers, or washers and dryers.

Depending on the cost of rent, service members may be able to pocket the difference between the price and their basic allowance for housing; however, Velez urges renters to pay close attention to fees and expenses associated to living off-base.

“While living on base requires forfeiture of BAH, you may still come out ahead,” said Velez.

In addition to rent, off-base residents should consider deposits and other costs, such as pet charges and application fees, as well as gas expenses from the commute on base and utilities.

“Look at the bottom dollar,” said Velez.

Occasionally, on-base communities may have rental deals families can take advantage of, such as Atlantic Marine Corps Communities’ current incentive for company grade officers at Paradise Point II’s Cottage and Cape Cod style homes, where families can live on base for a flat fee and pocket the difference.

“The ability to incentivize our military families with deals allows them to afford more choices in their housing,” said Kathleen Murney, the Regional Project Director with AMCC. “They are getting more house for their money.”

Even without an incentive, living on-base could be the right choice for some families.

“You know your neighbors,” Murney, a native of Dublin, Ohio, said. “They are military families like yourself, and they are going through the same things you are. They can support you and provide that network you may need. Living on base provides the sort of community that is important to a military family.”

Living aboard the installation provides a safe and comfortable home for military members, said Hilary Hawkins, the North Carolina Project Director for AMCC.

“There aren’t many places where families can feel comfortable letting their children walk to and from school,” said Hawkins, a native of Stanardsville, Virginia.

Some installation homes are near base schools, community centers, running trails, fitness centers and border local waterways.

“Living on base is not mandatory,” said Velez. “There’s no obligation. Come in and learn your options.”

For more information, visit www.lejeune.marines.mil/OfficesStaff/FamilyHousingDivision.aspx or call 450-1627.