Five Costs To Consider If You “Move Home”

Saving Money When You Move Home

If your spouse is deploying, you may consider moving away from your base, usually to a location where your family lives.  There are a lot of pros and cons to this decision, and I can’t possibly get into all the different issues here (that’s more of a Miss Vicki thing!  However, I will be more than glad to talk about the financial aspects of going to a different location during deployment.

Often, people tell me that they want to move home during deployment because it will save them money.  Typically, they are thinking that they will just put the Basic Allowance for Housing (BAH) in the bank and everything will be awesome.  Sometimes it works out that way, often time a lot of that BAH is used in the expense of moving back and forth.  Here are five expenses you need to consider:


Depending on where “home” is, the cost of getting back and forth can be pretty small, or it can be very expensive.   Obviously, the size of your family also impacts the cost.   Can you drive, or will you fly?  If you fly, what will you use for transportation at the other end?

Take Care Of Your Place

If you keep your house or apartment at the base, you will have keep paying the bills on that house, plus take extra steps to ensure that it is safe while unoccupied.  This might include winterizing the pipes, installing a security system, or paying a caretaker to stop by periodically.  Also, be aware that your regular homeowner’s or renter’s insurance will change after a certain period of vacancy.  Check with your insurance company for specifics.  Often, certain coverages no longer apply if the property is vacant, or you will have to pay a higher premium to maintain the same coverage.  These might include vandalism, water damage, or other similar coverages that have a direct relationship to vacancy.

When we had a vacant house, we lost vandalism coverage after 30 days of vacancy.  It cost an additional $85 per month to maintain the vandalism coverage.  Obviously, every company and every situation is different, so you’ll have to talk to your company.  What you don’t want to do is assume that your coverage will remain the same and discover that it changed after something happens.

If you rent, be aware that most leases prohibit a property being vacant for longer than a specified number of days.  You may need to check with your property management company or landlord.

Expenses At Your Temporary Location

These will vary dramatically depending on a lot of variables, but remember that even “free” places to stay come with expenses.  Even if you stay with friends or family, you will probably contribute to utility bills or other household expenses.

A surprise expense for many people is how much stuff they end up buying at their temporary home.  Whether it is new sheets to make things more “yours” or underbed boxes because there isn’t enough storage, every little bit adds up.

Moving Your Stuff

If you don’t keep your apartment or house, you’ll have to put your household goods somewhere. Moving to a new location during a deployment is rarely supported by the military.  This means that you’ll have to pack all your things and move them, either to the place where you are going to live, or to a storage unit.   When figuring, be sure to include the cost of packing materials, a moving truck, help (if you need it), and insurance.

Finding A New Place To Live

Returning to the area near base at the end of deployment can bring a whole different set of expenses. There may be a wait for housing, or you may be looking for a new lease off-base. Don’t forget that you’ll need a security deposit plus rent, and the usual move-in expenses including utility deposits, window coverings, and all those other little things that are required to settle in.

This is by no means a comprehensive list, but a starter to get you thinking.  Every situation is different.  You may save a ton and you may end up saving nothing.  Either way, the important part is that you aren’t surprised by the expenses that may come with leaving the duty station area during a deployment.

About the Author

Kate Horrell
Kate Horrell is a military financial coach, mom of four teens, and Navy spouse. She has a background in taxes and mortgage banking, and a trove of experience helping other military families with their money. Follow her on twitter @realKateHorrell.