The problem: You need to decide where to live during deployment, whether to stay put or move home for deployment. Why you should keep reading: You’ll find 6 important questions to ask when making that decision!
Should I Live Near Base During Deployment?
For my husband’s first 3 deployments, I refused to move to his base. He was stationed in the middle of the desert (29 Palms), where there were no employment opportunities for me. I was an East Coast girl, so California was way outside of my comfort zone. He deployed 3 times in 3 years, and I told him that even though I wished we could spend more time together, the limited time he would be with me was not worth the amount of time I would be alone and depressed. The poor man had to get orders to the East Coast before I would marry him and move in with him!
I don’t regret that choice. It meant that I spent his first few deployments at school, employed, and living near family. I had friends and hobbies to distract me. I knew the local area and could plan events to look forward to. The best way to get through a deployment is to stay busy and focus on positive things. When I was single, that meant living at home, near family.
A few years later, however, when he deployed again and we had children, I opted to stay near base. By that time, I had made new friends in our military town, and wanted to keep life consistent for my little ones by staying at the only house they had known. My parents invited me to move home with them, to have help with the babies, since I gave birth during deployment. But I preferred to keep my family in our house, following my schedule and rules. I don’t regret that decision, either.
“Once we had kids, I preferred to keep the family at our house during deployment. I don’t regret that decision.” ~The Seasoned Spouse
Is it better to stay near base or move home for deployment?
There is no “right” choice about where to live during your spouse’s deployment. Some prefer to stay in their current house or apartment. The service member will continue to receive BAH (Basic Allowance for Housing) throughout the deployment, so you don’t need to move if you don’t want to. Other people downsize to a smaller place, or even move in with a friend, to save money during the deployment. Finally, there is the option to move ‘back home’ and live closer to family members. Which choice is best? That really depends on your situation, whether you have children, and your relationship with your family. What worked best for someone else may not work for you. So here are some things to consider.
Where to Live during deployment is just one of many checklists in the 28-page deployment guide. Download the Guide or learn more about the Deployment Masterclass here.
6 questions to ask when choosing where to live during deployment:
Where do you have support? For younger couples or newlyweds, this is probably back home near family. For couples with children, this is probably near the base, where there are tons of other young moms, and lots of free programs to support children. Think about who you most want to spend time with, and what would be the most positive environment for you.
What is the cost? During a long deployment, moving home usually saves a lot of money. For a deployment around 6 months, the savings usually aren’t worth all the effort. The service member’s BAH is calculated by the zip code of the duty station, NOT the zip code you move to, so research the cost of living before moving into an apartment in your hometown. Factor in the cost of having your furniture in storage units during the deployment. Don’t forget to add in the cost to drive or fly yourself (and children) round-trip for the move. Now, calculate the number of months you will have the lower rent, keeping in mind that you will probably return to base one month before the service member, to find a new place and set it up. (There is a budget calculating worksheet in the Ultimate Deployment Guide.)
Where can you find work? If you already have a job you love, then keep it! Finding a new job during a deployment is very stressful, especially if you only plan to work until the deployment ends. If you are planning to get a job, (either near base or back home), research before the deployment begins. Make phone calls and do some interviews in advance. Be sure to have a childcare plan in place, with emergency backups, before you accept a job.
Can you handle living with your parents? I’m serious. Living at home as an adult is WAY different from growing up there. You have your own schedule and habits. Living back under your parents’ roof makes them automatically treat you like a teenager again. And if you have kids, getting constant criticism from Grandma and Grandpa is no fun, either. So if you decide to move in with your parents, try to have some calm discussions ahead of time. Establish some rules and healthy boundaries. (“Mom, I am 25 years old, I don’t need a curfew.” Or “Dad, please ask me before you give my children any desserts.”)
“Living at home as an adult is WAY different from growing up there!” ~The Seasoned Spouse
Are you being sentimental about your hometown? It won’t be like high school. Many of your friends will have moved away for jobs, college, or marriage. Your parents might spend more time at work than in their own house. And you might be the only person in town connected to the military. Spending deployment in that environment is just setting yourself up for loneliness and frustration.
Do you know about the resources near base? Not only can you save money at the Commissary or Exchange, but you can also take advantage of cheaper childcare at the CDC, free community programs, and free celebrations of each holiday. You also benefit from being connected to the military spouse community. Other girlfriends and spouses know exactly what you are going through. They are facing the same struggles. You can bond with other solo parents, or plan Girls Night Out activities. People who move away from base often tell me they feel like they missed out on the fun part of deployment. You can learn more about Deployment Resources from my Deployment Guide.
My favorite option for deployment: stay put, and have people visit me!
Over the years, I have made my fair share of long car rides home for holidays, and even flown cross country for a funeral during deployment. But most of the time, we are at our own house. The kids know our household rules and expectations, so their life stays familiar and predictable. We are surrounded by the military community and have many friends here. Most of our friends and neighbors are military, so everyone my kids know has deployed. That is normal to them. I try to space family visitors out during the deployment, so that we have a different visitor every month or 2. We look forward to them visiting, we have fun while they are here, and then we enjoy the peace and quiet after they leave. That routine has helped us get through the past four deployments. That’s what works for us! Maybe it will work for you too?
Do you stay put or move home for deployment? Tell me all about it!
Get more deployment support and encouragement from the Deployment Masterclass!
Experienced military spouses answer tough deployment questions for you in exclusive video interviews. The class includes the 28-page Deployment Guide, with checklists and resources to help you prepare for deployment. Plus you’ll get access to a private Facebook group.