By Lizann Lightfoot
A lot of people like to complain about military base housing. It’s an easy target. I mean, sure, the houses are often small, outdated, and cheaply built. They don’t have some of the accessories that come standard in many houses off-base. And neighborhoods are assigned based on rank and family size, so you don’t always get first choice of where you want to live.
Nevertheless, base housing has some good perks that are not always well known. When you are making the decision for your family to live on base or off base, you want to take everything into consideration. If you already live in base housing, you qualify for all of these benefits. You just might not have known about them. Some of these benefits are not advertised: You have to request them from your housing office. . . So go ahead and take advantage of all of these benefits of military base housing.
Did you know living on base includes all this?
1. 24-hour free maintenance: Although the housing office is only open during working hours, most bases have a 24-hour emergency line to report maintenance needs. That means you can call when you are lying in bed listening to the dripping faucet or early in the morning if the kids break something while getting ready for school. They won’t repair everything the same day, but if it is a true emergency involving water leaks or electricity, they usually respond quickly. Off base, you don’t usually get that type of service and response time from a landlord.
2. Annual carpet cleaning: Not many families know about this. . . but if your base housing includes carpet and you have lived in the home for more than one year, then the contract with the housing office includes a complimentary cleaning for anyone who asks. Just stop by your housing office and fill out a carpet cleaning form. You will have to vacuum and pick up before the scheduled cleaning time, but you do not need to move any furniture. The cleaning is for high-traffic areas and will not go to every corner of the room. But it can remove stains and save you hundreds in carpet replacement fees.
3. Access to swimming pool and gym: Base housing always includes a neighborhood swimming pool and gym. These are benefits that military kids take for granted. Off base, memberships to a pool or gym can be expensive. On base, they are often free to military families or they offer entrance at a low rate. Some bases have gyms with kid-friendly play areas. And base swimming pools often offer affordable swim lessons through the Red Cross.
4. Replacement air filters and light bulbs: The housing office will repair and replace everything in your home as needed. This means they will bring free light bulbs for the built-in overhead lights or fans. They will also replace air filters or water filters. However, you have to call and request the replacements. In most homes, replacing the air and water filters monthly is recommended to keep everything clean.
5. Lawn and landscape maintenance: Since we have lived on base, we have not needed a lawn mower or trimmer. The base landscape company mows and maintains the front yard. If you plant flowers or bushes out front, you can let the base water and trim them during their weekly rounds, or you can request that they not touch the yard if you prefer to do it yourself. If you live on base, you are responsible for your own backyard maintenance, but many families just pay for the occasional trim by a neighborhood teenager. (Mowing grass is a great summer job for military kids!)
6. Pest control: Whether you have ants, roaches, fleas, spiders, termites, or bees, Housing will spray for pests and treat the house for you at no cost. There is no need to spend money on chemical treatments and you shouldn’t have to live in a pest-ridden house. They can even treat for backyard pests like moles. If you notice a pest issue, call the maintenance line to report it and request a treatment.
7. Bulk trash pick-up: Whether you are getting rid of an old couch or a Christmas tree, the trash removal service on base will save you a trip to the city dump. Check the bulk trash policies on your base. Typically, you can call the housing office and schedule a pick-up for any large items that don’t fit in your trash can. Do not just put items out on trash day, because the company will not pick them up without a phone call.
Lizann Lightfoot is an associate editor at Military One Click and a Marine Corps spouse. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.