The Veterans’ Guide to Relocation

Entering military retirement is an exciting, but often overwhelming, time — especially if you’re looking for a new home. If you’ve recently completed your military service and are looking to move into a new home, there are a number of factors you’ll need to consider. The right size, the best location, your price range as well as any financial assistance you might be eligible for, and any accessibility modifications you might need are all key to finding the best abode for your family. This guide will cover the considerations that lie ahead and offer helpful resources to assist you even further. Finding the right home takes time, especially if you’re hoping to start or expand your family, but in the end it will be worth the work!

Finding the Right Home

There are quite a few decisions to be made before you officially begin your search. As you’ve probably heard, the number one rule of real estate is location. Perhaps you’re hoping to move back to your hometown to raise a family, or want a fresh start in a brand new city. If you’re open to all possibilities, start with the basics:

  • Do you want to live in a rural area, a large city, or a suburb?
  • Do you hope to find a place on the coast, near the mountains, or in a dry, arid region?
  • Are you interested in being closer to family?
  • Which areas have a cost of living that meets your budget?

These are all great jumping-off points, so discuss them with your partner or ask a close friend to be a sounding board. If you want a totally impartial opinion, your real estate agent can help you figure out exactly what your options are and will likely even offer some choices you hadn’t considered yet.

An important part of your new home’s location will include what your plans are for the future. If you’re hoping to go back to school, you’ll want to live somewhere within easy travel distance of a community college or university. If you’ll be diving right into the working world, make sure you choose a place where you’ll be able to find a job in your desired field. (For example, if you’re a pilot, a home that’s 40 miles from the nearest airport won’t be ideal.) Perhaps you plan to volunteer your time at the local VA giving back to other veterans and want to make sure there’s one in the area. If you have children or are hoping to start a family sometime soon, you’ll want to think about finding a good school district.

There are even important considerations when it comes to your new neighborhood. You might want a neighborhood with a close-knit community — where kids play together in the nearby park, parents carpool and attend their children’s sports games together, and every neighbor knows each others’ names, for instance. Conversely, maybe you’re instead looking for something a little more secluded, like a piece of land where the closest neighbors are a mile away.

Again, it really comes down to how you imagine your future: have you always dreamed of going to block parties and watching your little ones play a game of pickup baseball after school, or do you love the idea of riding your bike on a dirt road into town? Maybe you picture yourself taking the train into the city for work, or living just blocks away from the heart of downtown. It’s entirely possible that you hadn’t considered these questions until now, especially if you’re fresh out of the service, so consider them carefully. Talk to your partner about it at length on more than one occasion so you each have time to process what the other wants, and make sure you’re completely clear about what your biggest priorities are. You may need to make some compromises, so the key is to ensure you both know the most important items on your wish lists.

Buying a home is a major investment, so you’ll want to make sure it’s a good one. Your real estate agent will be able to help you determine the individual factors for each house, but there are a few general ideas to keep in mind.

First, consider how the home you’re interested in and neighboring homes have increased or decreased in value over the years — but, because the market can be so volatile, you should also consider the causes of any fluctuations. For example, perhaps the house you’re looking at previously sold for a lower number than it was originally purchased, but has since seen updates that added value.

Next, take into account the neighborhood. If you’re in a suburb, is the home close to public transportation that leads directly into the city, making it desirable for professionals with families? Is it near the highway and good for traveling, but constantly noisy from traffic? If the city is growing, how will that affect your home’s value? For example, if your home is in a mostly residential area but new businesses are constantly popping up, there’s a good chance the property’s value could increase with time.

School rankings in the area are another good investment indicator, even if you don’t have children. Many people will pay a little more to be close to the best schools, especially if there are multiple levels (elementary, middle, and high) with high rankings in the area. The presence of private schools in the area can also be a clue to a positive investment; whether or not you choose to send your own children to a private institution, these areas tend to have higher home values.

Another investment factor to consider is whether you plan to make any changes or updates to a home you’re considering buying. Whether you plan to remodel the kitchen, give the exterior a fresh coat of paint, or even add a brand new addition, there are dozens of ways to both create your dream home and boost its value. Just keep in mind that in most cases you won’t see a return on your investment until you sell, so you’ll need to plan renovations carefully and with your overall budget in mind.

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