Going the Distance: 5 Ways to Research Your New Installation
My favorite parts of getting re-stationed are choosing where to live and finding a new home. I’m told this can be scary for some, stressful for others, and just a big ol’ pain in the bum for the rest. But then there are those of us who think it’s super-fun and super-cool. I, for one, just love a new adventure! And even when I’m happy where I am and I don’t want to move, I try to remind myself that this is a part of military life wherever we go, and that I have no choice but to make the best of it.
But, let’s face it. A lot of times that new town or installation is really far from where we are currently living. Sometimes, visiting the new place isn’t even an option. Travel is expensive and many of us work and would need to take time off. So how do you research your new home?
There are so many ways to find a great place to live when you’re getting restationed, so I want to share with you the top five ways that my husband and I go about looking for a new home when we find out it’s time to move!
1. Friends. Our first go-to, before anything else, is to call our friends. As a military family, we generally know people who are either at the new installation now or have been stationed there in the past. Friends (or even acquaintances) are our favorite people to ask because they’re the ones who will give you their honest opinion about the area. They’ll give you the lowdown without bias, especially if they’re also a military family and have previous installations to compare it to.
2. Housing office. Once we have an idea of the area from our friends, our next call is to the housing office. We like to know the options for living on or near our installation, so that way we can make an educated decision about whether we want to live in government housing. We always ask about the neighborhoods, the wait list, the number of bedrooms, whether there is a garage or a deck, etc. Then, even if we aren’t planning to live on the installation, the housing office can provide a list of neighborhoods and apartment complexes with price ranges to get you started in your search.
3. Internet. The Internet has endless resources for researching your new area and finding a new home. A quick search in your web browser can turn up dozens of realty offices, housing listings, neighborhood statistics, school district information, and available rentals. Many installations also have groups or pages on various social media channels so you can meet and connect with others who may be able to offer additional advice, resources, and insight. I could spend hours looking at all the listings online, and that’s usually where I get the phone numbers to call and inquire about specific properties.
4. Realtor. When in doubt, go with the professional. A realtor should be able to work with you from a distance or in person. If you’re honest and up-front about what you’re looking for and what you can afford, he or she can guide you in the right direction. It doesn’t even matter if you’re renting or buying. We have spoken with a realtor each time we’ve moved. Sometimes, it’s the apartment they’ve shown us that we end up going with, but other times it’s just to get a better feel for the area and what types of homes are available. It’s also nice to have that connection in case you ever decide to buy or have friends who may be looking for a realtor to buy or sell as well.
5. Explore. Finally, if you have the option, go and explore! Drive around your new installation; find all the gates and entrances; see what neighborhoods are too close and those that will put a fair enough distance between your home and where your spouse will be working. Are children playing outside and are people out running or walking? What is the land like? Are the cars parked in garages or on the street? Take advantage of the chance to check out the types of things you can’t gauge from a distance and get a good feel of what “home” will be like in your new area!
No matter what works best for you, these resources should provide a good starting point for your research. Have fun with it; review all your options; and most of all… good luck!