We once had a neighbor in base housing who played his giant drum set at all hours in his garage with the door all the way open, creating quite a racket in the adjoining houses. When asked if he could modify his hours or perhaps close said garage door, he refused and told us to feel free to call the housing office to complain if we didn't like it. (Hmm…not a stellar way to get along with your neighbors!) Another set of neighbors regularly let their giant dog do its business all over our shared yard.
There are just some people you’re glad to say goodbye to when PCS orders arrive!
On the other hand, we’ve had amazing neighbors whose children became fast friends of our own--still in touch all these years later, were there to celebrate with us when we brought our newborns home for the first time, and checked on us when my husband was deployed (as we gladly did for them as well).
Like anything, life in military housing can be a mixed bag, but if you’re in a location where military housing is the only option or it’s your first time living on base or post, here are a few do’s and don’ts we’ve gathered over the years.
13 Do’s and Don’ts for Living in Military Housing
1) DO be a good neighbor.
Military housing often means shared walls and yards, so you’ll need to be mindful of your family’s noise and of your neighbors’ privacy. Be friendly and introduce yourself when you see new neighbors moving in, but don't assume because you’re next door neighbors that you'll be best friends. Sometimes a little space can be a good thing! Or who knows? Maybe you DID just meet your new best friend!
2) DO maintain your lawn and keep your quarters reasonably clean.
Whether privatized or not, government housing has certain standards you’ll be required to maintain.
3) DO take responsibility for your children.
Though most military housing has a “Mayberry” vibe and can feel safer than a community outside the gate, you’ll need to know curfews and regulations for how old children need to be before they're left alone at home or even walk to school without an adult.
4) DO observe quiet hours.
It's good to also be mindful of active duty neighbors who are working evening and night shifts and may be sleeping during the day.
5) DO enjoy all the "small town" perks.
Often withing walking distance, community pools, libraries, bowling alleys, movie theaters, splash parks, recreation and youth centers are just a few amenities that can make living on base so family friendly.
6) DO realize that if you want distance from your military job, base housing may not be for you.
It's also a good idea to make a point of engaging with the off-base community for a richer experience and so you learn more about the area, whether it’s through a community group, church, or other volunteerism.
7) DON’T be alarmed by sounds that will soon become everyday noises.
The sounds of Taps, Reveille, the National Anthem on the "Big Voice," gunfire from the shooting range, military members calling cadence as they run past your home in formation are a few examples. (And DO stop/pull your car over during the Anthem!)
8) DON’T leave the base without your military ID!
You’ll find it hard to get back onto a gated installation without it, resident or no. (Trust me on this one.)
9) DON’T speed or use your cell phone while driving on base.
Too many infractions and you could end up losing your base driving privileges.
10) DON’T let your pets freely roam outside your house. Observe leash laws.
It’s inconsiderate to your neighbors and dangerous for your pet. And many installations these days have dog parks, so be sure to make use of it!
11) DON’T get involved in neighborhood squabbles or start drama.
Sorry, we had to say it. It’s just not worth it! For a couple of humorous posts about this, see Are YOU the Bad Neighbor? and Annoying Neighbors? Strategies from a Seasoned Military Spouse.
So much of what creates a great neighborhood situation, whether in military housing or not, is simple consideration and respect. And remember, if you have neighbor problems that go beyond annoyance and tread into safety issues, you have recourse through the base housing office and law enforcement.
12) DON’T forget to check neighborhood reviews on Military Town Advisor to compare off base and on base housing if you have a choice about where you'll live.
Often, insight from others can help you decide what’s best for your family’s situation.
13) And finally… DO enjoy the time you have living in military housing!
My grown kids miss the community feel and often discuss their memories of years living in base housing. It can be an amazing experience!
What did we miss? If you’ve lived in military housing, what DO or DON’T would you add to this list?
For more information about living in base housing, take a look at What's the Future of Military Housing?