This past week I have spent a lot of time trying to figure out where we are going to live at our next duty station.

Ideally, I would like to live on post. However, it’s not looking promising for us to live on post, so we began searching good, safe neighborhoods in the surrounding area.

This can provide an increased level of stress and uncertainty.

For me, it’s the worst part of this military life. Well — maybe it’s tied with the unemployment and underemployment rate military spouses face.

I love the moving part — new adventures, new places and new friends. What I don’t love is the stress surrounding housing.

I remember when we moved here, we lived in a hotel for 45 days. Many families have similar stories and, although I don’t feel alone, I do wish there were steps military families could take to help the process.

Understandably, there are key and essential personnel that take priority; but it seems to me, there needs to be some sort of handle on the housing for all the rest of our service members and their families to alleviate some of the “waiting.”

Too often than not, I see blogs, forums and Facebook posts of military spouses being told there are no homes available on post or you are on the waiting list.

Of course, housing is limited, but it seems like a sense of dread comes over many military families when they have to figure out if they can live on post or not.

When we experienced our permanent change of station to Fort Hood three years ago, we got placed on the list once we signed out of our previous duty station. We were told we were first on the list.

What’s funny about that is some of our neighbors who have become great friends and moved in around the same day were told the same thing. Maybe there were two different lists.

I remember being so grateful when we got the keys to the house even though we had no furniture, I felt like I was in a mansion after having lived in a small hotel room for those 45 days with all our stuff.

I am not sure the exact solution to alleviate the stress that comes with the question: Where are we going live?

What I do know is there are things that can make us better prepared.

First of all, as soon as you know where you are headed, reach out to the housing office. You may not even want to live on post, but I think it is worth getting the lay of the land, understanding the process. This is just in case you don’t find something off the installation.

If living off the installation, start researching areas and maybe contact a realtor or two. If you have friends in the area, I am sure they can recommend someone. Do your research. Remember, houses are not always as advertised.

If you are able to submit an application to housing, do so. And then keep in contact with them. Make sure you know where you fall on the list and if you notice changes on your status — what those are and why? You are your only advocate.

As you submit you application, I encourage you to do some checking on surrounding areas. You may not get a house right away, so what plans do you want to have in place? What things do you need to consider — schools, pets, etc.?

Also, begin to decide on some things; if you have to live in a hotel, how long can or will you? If you find a house off post, do you want to move if a home becomes available. Remember those moving costs are then at your expense.

It will all end up working out, but do things to help yourself and your family.

Reena O’Brien is a military spouse and Herald correspondent. She lives on Fort Hood.

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