Why you should rent when transitioning out of the military
Transitioning out of the military can be an exciting time. Often, veterans and their families find themselves looking forward to finally putting down roots. This includes embarking on a new career, returning to school, and, of course, becoming a homeowner.
While it’s easy to understand the desire to immediately buy a house upon leaving the military, it may be a more financially stable decision to continue to rent. This is the biggest investment purchase of your life. Here’s why you should wait:
Your entire way of life is changing – your finances, your job, your residency, and the list goes on.
Any life-changing event brings a healthy amount of stress with it. Veterans exiting the military face a variety of stressors. They have to make seemingly endless decisions coming from all angles while deciding what’s next.
Plus, consider that you’ll be going through a major shift in financial stability. You may be working with the Department of Veterans Affairs to file a disability claim, planning for retirement, or facing a tedious job hunt. You are deciding what career field you want to be in or maybe you’ve decided to hold off on returning to the workforce entirely while you go back to school. You’re figuring out where you want to live, which oftentimes means another move. The transition doesn’t only affect you, but also your dependents. Will your spouse return to the workforce or change careers? Where will your children go to school? And it’s worth mentioning that you’re also experiencing a change in daily schedule and social activities. That’s a lot to deal with right off the bat.
Even if you are fortunate enough to secure a job before leaving the military, studies show that you will change jobs and move at least once in the first two years. According to a recent study by the Institute for Veterans and Military Families and VetAdvisor, almost half of post-military veterans stayed in their first job after separating for less than one year. Further, 59 percent are currently living in a different state from their home of record, and 38 percent said their residency had changed since leaving the service. Statistically, the odds are pretty high that you will change jobs and move to a different state at least once upon separation.
As understandable as it is to want to buy a house as soon as possible, there’s a reason Americans say buying a home is one of the most stressful life events in modern life. Most homebuyers aren’t simultaneously changing their careers. For veterans, imagine buying a home in the first place you land only to realize that you don’t like your job or your neighborhood. But now you’re tied to a house and a mortgage and unable to get out from under it. So, what should you do? Consider renting for at least one year, but possibly two while you settle into civilian life. Then, you’ll be better suited to “roll with the punches” and know that you’re making the best decision for you and your family.
Take the process one step at a time. First make the decisions that have to be made, like finding new employment or deciding where you want to move, and then go from there. Don’t let a sense of urgency dictate the most important purchase you ever make and don’t rush it. You have enough to deal with already.
Kristen Baker-Geczy is a communications specialist, active duty military spouse, and former MWR marketing coordinator. She was also deployed to Southwest Asia as an Air Force contractor.
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