People typically discourage those serving on active duty in the military from buying homes, and with good reason. You typically move around frequently when you and/or your spouse are on active duty, so it doesn't always make sense to invest in a home you'll only live in for a couple of years. However, here are two times when it may make more sense to purchase a home rather than renting one when you're on active duty.
It's Cheaper to Buy Than to Rent
If rental rates for in the area you're moving too far outpaces a mortgage payment for a home, it may be better to make the purchase. In Omaha, Nebraska—which is near Offutt Air Force base—the average mortgage payment is $583. That is significantly less than the $1,255 you'll pay for a rental in the city. You can pocket the difference to save up for a bigger home, pay off debt, or simply live more comfortably than you would if you were renting.
However, it's important you take all the expenses associated with buying a home into account. Closing costs, insurance, taxes, and maintenance expenses can add up fast and make owning a home just as expensive as renting. Be sure to crunch the numbers on any home you're thinking about buying to ensure you actually be saving money by going this route.
You'll Be Leaving the Military Soon
Another reason it may make sense to buy a home instead of renting is towards the end of your service. If you only have a few more years of active duty left and no plans to extend that time, buying a home in the area where you eventually want to permanently settle may be a good idea, especially if interest rates are favorable. In addition to ensuring you have a place to go to once you're released from the military, your home could appreciate in value and provide you with some equity you can use to make improvements.
Even if you aren't planning to or can't move into the home right away, buying it may still be a good idea since you can simply rent it out to earn income while you're finishing up the remaining years in your contract. On the other hand, this plan depends on you having enough money to pay the mortgage on top of any other expenses you may have. This can strain your budget if you have to rent a home in another area for a while.
For help with finding a home that may right for your needs, contact a real estate agent.