What to Know About Being a Geo-Bachelor
Just when you think you’re getting the hang of the hundreds of military terms (remember when you didn’t know what BAH meant?) now and then, a new one comes your way—for example, the terms geo-bachelor and geo-bach. They aren’t used daily unless you’re living through it, but once they apply to you, you’ll quickly get familiar.
If the terms are new to you, here’s what you need to know.
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What is a Geo-Bachelor?
Military.com describes it like this: “Geographic bachelor (or "geo-bach") is the unofficial, slang term used when a military family chooses to have the family live in a different location from the service member. The term does not apply when the military makes the decision to separate the family, such as when a service member has orders to a location that is not currently able to support family members.”
So basically, for some reason, or probably more than one reason (see below), your military family thinks the servicemember should live separately for a while. Often it’s a year or under 18 months because that length of a PCS is traditionally extra disruptive for families, especially if kids are enrolled in school.
Servicemembers who spend a tour as a geo-bachelor do so for various reasons, but most commonly because:
- Their spouse has a better employment opportunity where they’re currently stationed.
- Children and sometimes spouses have better educational opportunities at their home location.
- The new duty station isn’t conducive to the family’s lifestyle or needs, particularly if a family member has medical or special needs. Some bases simply don’t offer the level of health care that your family may need.
- The house hasn't sold yet, and the spouse needs to stay behind to handle the process.
It’s easy to see the reasons for the geo-bachelor movement’s rapid growth.
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What Military Families Should Expect When Planning for a Geo-Bachelor Move
Though every military family has its unique challenges, life as a geo-bachelor usually presents three major challenges.
1) Financial challenges from supporting two households.
It’s true; a geo-bach separation is often expensive. You’ll have to work together to find how you’ll pay for two lifestyles. But before you worry, there are a couple of ways the finances could work out in your favor.
Not all military families face a significant hardship, particularly if the couple separates for the spouse to continue working in a high-paying job. However, suppose the BAH is higher at the new duty station and the geo-bachelor finds an inexpensive place to live using just the difference between the two pay rates. In that case, the stress level could drop significantly.
2) Finding the servicemember an ideal place to live on a budget.
A studio apartment may work just fine for the servicemember, but, in other situations, like when the BAH is less than the new duty station, the best way to mitigate the financial hardship is to find a good place to live within a budget, such as a room for rent in a home.
3 Steps to Finding a Room for Rent through MilitaryByOwner
- On MilitaryByOwner’s home page, select “Rent” and then enter your city or zip code. Or, you can search by a base.
- On the website, once you’re directed to the “Homes for Rent” page choose, “Refine Your Search,” then click “Home Type.” It’s there you see the choice for “Room for Rent” if there is one available.
- If you’re using the app, follow the same steps.
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3) Finding furniture and household goods to send with the servicemember.
Finding furniture for a geo-bachelor assignment doesn’t have to be complicated, but it will take some work. Of course, the easiest situation is to move into a room that someone else has already furnished. But, if you’re moving into a studio or an unfurnished apartment, don’t rush to buy new furniture. There are a couple of ways to get what you need without depleting the family of household goods.
Crowd Sourcing and a Personally Procured Move
Of course, sourcing furniture from garage sales, friends, family, and online marketplaces (especially the free stuff from the popular Buy Nothing Network) is financially the soundest decision. But keep in mind, if you’re like most servicemembers (although you’re allowed moving entitlements in your PCS orders), you’ll at least consider a Personally Procured Move (PPM, also known as a "Do It Yourself" Move or DITY) to “make money.”
A PPM means renting a moving truck and packing and moving at the expense of your aching back and the backs of the friends that you convince help you move your couch down the stairs. Keep in mind; not all PPMs are money makers. There’s a lot of math involved with the distance of the drive and your specific amount of allotted money for the PCS. Talk with your transportation officer to run the numbers.
Another solution is renting furniture through Cort’s military package, which lets you rent everything from your bed to a TV for your room, starting at $99 per month. This military-specific package is significantly discounted from their other rental packages and tailored for the needs of geo-bachelors. They’ll deliver the furniture and pick it up when you’re ready to reunite with your family.
These, of course, are simply some of the practical matters of a geo-bach move. There certainly are other emotional and mental issues to tackle during a work separation, but taking care of the practical issues first certainly helps ease some of the anxiety and stress.