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    Make Temporary Military Housing Your Own

    Temporary military housing comes in all shapes, sizes, and quality. Sometimes, depending on our circumstances, we’re ecstatic to live there (hello, new-build house on base), and other times we cannot wait to pack up and move (goodbye, dark, small TLF). 

    It's likely you won’t have much say over your temporary housing destiny. Things like how quickly the base housing wait list moves or if an affordable Airbnb is available off post during PCS season factor in. We do, however, have influence over how we can dress up our short-term digs and make them homey before unpacking somewhere more permanent.

    4 Ways to Personalize Temporary Lodging 

    Sometimes the best temporary housing solution is where your family can call home for several weeks to a couple of months, whether crashing in a hotel or at a VRBO property. 

    So what can you do to make it comfortable and feel like your own, even temporarily?

    1) Don’t forget your special scent.

    Scents are a powerful way to evoke memories and comfort. Continue to use your wall plug-ins, spray, oils, or incense to keep your space smelling like you and yours. If your family doesn’t already love a perfect scent, pick one out together, use it, and take it with you. It’s an easy way to feel at home immediately. Fresh flowers also inject fragrance and a pop of pretty color if you prefer the natural route. 

     woman next to a bunch of  flowers and smiling - indoors

    Photo from Shutterstock 

    2) Create an art showcase.

    Use your waiting time wisely, and finally download your favorite photos off your phone. Send them to a store of your choice for paper prints. Tabletop frames and easels are great for rented houses and large military lodging rooms. Use tacky putty to temporarily stick photos on the walls if you have a small space. Or, add a little ambiance with string lights with small photo clips. 

    Artwork from local craft shows and galleries is a great way to embrace your location and inexpensively decorate a transitory living arrangement. Plus, they’ll transfer to your next (semi) permanent home. 

    You and the kids will undoubtedly search for stuff to do while living in temporary lodging. Encourage them to create drawings, paintings, and other readily displayed crafts. Frames like those from Lil Davinci compactly store and display artwork. Rotating your children's genius creations will be fun and break up the monotony. Or, for edible fun, pick up a trendy "seasonal gingerbread house" like the ones you see at Christmas, which now come in Halloween and other holiday motifs. 

    Want fresh ideas on how to find Military Lodging for PCS and Vacation Travel?

    Photographer shooting outside with digital camera

    Photo from Shutterstock

    3) Try something new.

    Boredom sets in fast, so living in temporary housing is an excellent opportunity to try a new hobby or craft. Learn DIY framing, painting, photography, or yarn and fabric crafts to show off handmade décor items you love. If you’re lodging on base, check out the MWR schedule for classes, workshops, or spouse-run hobby clubs. 

    4) Boost your holiday spirit.  

    If holidays occur during your brief stay, embrace your traditions but with a temporary twist. You might need a tabletop Christmas tree this year instead of your normal 10-foot beauty, but Santa needs something, right? The holiday spirit comes in all shapes and sizes! Decorations in storage? Summon creativity and hit the Dollar Store. The supplies are endless, especially during the holidays. Don’t forget cooking projects that even the smallest kitchens can handle, like hot cocoa topping bars, stringing popcorn, and decorating prepacked sugar cookies. 

    Bonus tip: subscribe to MilitaryByOwner’s newsletter and blog and get ideas for PCS survival, decorating tips, and real estate options for when your temporary housing journey is over.

    front door with wreath, covered porch and american flag

    Photo from Canva

    3 Tips for Decorating Your Military Housing 

    If you’re lucky enough to move off the on-base housing waitlist, you’ll probably want to dive into decorating it because you’ll only live there for a few years. However, as with professionally managed rental houses, there’s always a “but.” 

    First things first—you must decorate within your housing company's guidelines. Keep this in mind before you roll on your favorite shade of blue or hang your favorite fancy light fixture.

    1) Start your family's routine. 

    Organization and decorating go hand in hand, so as soon as you can unbury yourself from moving boxes, develop your family’s home routine. Military families generally crave a level of predictability in our daily lives.

    For example, if you want shoes corralled by the front door, buy a decorative bin and revel in your clean floors. Also note that the familiarity of having a stool (or any other home-improvement amenity, like closet bins and hangars) in the bathroom to brush teeth also normalizes routine during the transition.

    We know you want more temporary decorating rental home hacks, so read our resource article,  Decorate Your Rental Without Losing Your Deposit.

    light fixtures

    Photo from Canva

    2) Take stock of what bothers you most. 

    As happy as you are to vacate temporary quarters, you’re probably not thrilled with each detail of your next military housing. Some things are easier to live with, like beige paint; others, not so much—does anyone even like vertical plastic blinds?

    Focus on what changes would make you happiest and start crafting the solutions, like these: choose large area rugs to cover yucky carpet stains, replace builder-grade lighting with decorative updates, and update backsplashes with removable peel-and-stick tile. 

    3) Show off cherished mementos and memories.

    Every military family has items they hand carry or pack with them because they don’t want the movers to handle the precious cargo. Are you guilty of stashing them away perpetually, worried they’ll get ruined? These keepsakes are often one-of-a-kind photography, significant mementos, and furniture. Take an afternoon and display, hang, and admire! Installation won’t take as long as you think, and there are numerous adjustable hanging and display techniques that won’t mar walls. 

    Temporary home décor might be at the very bottom of your PCS must-do list, but adding personal items to your living area really does make a difference. Finding the balance of investing time, effort, and money into a space that is not yours to alter is challenging, but these ideas add comfort to your short-term home quickly and with as much expense as you prefer.

    Get more tips for your PCS move with our free PCS guides, like the resource below! See the rest of our PCS and relocation guides here


    Download Avoid PCS Move Wipeout E-Book


    Make Temporary Military Housing Your Own

    Dawn M. Smith


    Dawn M. Smith

    Dawn is a real estate and military life writer who has a serious HGTV habit. When she is not writing, her teen daughter, Army husband, and golden retriever keep her busy through chauffeur duties, travel planning, and long dog walks. Dawn is pleased to share her experiences with MilitaryByOwner readers who are hoping to simplify military family journeys of all kinds. Follow Dawn on Pinterest for more ideas and resources and visit her site at Dawn M. Smith Custom Content Creation.

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