What Is the Best Housing Option for My Next Move?

by Mandi Moynihan, CFP® on Wednesday July 10, 2024
Posted in Category: Home Ownership
Tagged with : ,

Hands framing an image of a house

Where to live is an essential question as you think about your next PCS since the housing market is currently facing some headwinds. The increased interest rates might have you weighing options between renting or buying if on-installation is out of the question. You also need to consider inventory close to work that meets your criteria. Whether you’re buying a home or renting, it’s one of the largest expenses in your monthly budget and worthy of a lot of research.

That’s where our expertise comes in. Knowledge is power, and the more you know about making a housing decision, the better off you’ll be. Military life can bring uncertainty, but here, you can take control of your decisions in a money-smart way.

Let’s start with a few tips to help you navigate your housing moves to land the best home that meets your needs without wreaking havoc on your budget.

  1. Prepare your finances. This is a critical step with any significant purchase, but it is particularly beneficial with housing. It includes pulling your credit report to ensure accuracy and checking your credit score to get a sense of how you might fair in the approval process. You’ll also need to review your budget, emergency fund and debt ratios. Knowing where you currently stand financially can help you make decisions.
  2. Right-size your monthly payment. As you consider a rent or mortgage payment, factor in all housing expenses. A good guideline is to limit housing expenses to what you receive in BAH or 25% of gross monthly income. This might be challenging in many parts of the county, but the closer you can stick to this guidance, the better.

    When renting, consider utilities, renters insurance, initial deposits and any fees such as parking and amenities in addition to the rent payment.

    For buyers, consider not only the principal payment but also the interest, taxes, and insurance. When you own a home, there are also upkeep expenses, utilities and possibly homeowner association or condo fees, which can be high depending on how many amenities are offered. Our mortgage calculator can be a great tool to help you get started. Securing a preapproval before shopping also goes a long way toward determining your price limit and allowing you to close the deal faster.

  3. Strategize your shopping. Once you review your finances and target a reasonable monthly payment, create a shopping list of features. Everything has pros and cons, but listing out your priorities on location, schools, amenities, and commute to work will give you a great place to start, help you remain focused, and narrow down your choices.

    It’s easy to get caught up in the curb appeal, fun features, and visualizing hosting your next get-together, but staying focused on your finances and prep work will keep you grounded to make the best choice for your long-term needs.

    These are tips to get you started. To learn more about your housing options and the details behind renting and buying, dive into our award-winning and entertaining video series, Home Buying HQ at the links below.

Renting vs. Buying

Smart Renting Moves

Home Buying Process

How Mortgage Payments Work

Mortgage Loan Types

Smart Buying Moves


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