If you have made the decision to live off base, you then need to decide whether you are going to rent or buy a property to live in. With the housing allowance to help you out with costs, it is worth considering the pros and cons of each option.
Renting a private home is the same for military families as it is for civilian families. There will need to be a lease agreement in place that covers all the details of renting, including when rent should be paid and policies on pets, property maintenance and utilities; however, military families can also ask for additional information to be included in case the military member is reassigned. This information can include details about terminating the lease in the case of redeployment and the need to move to military housing elsewhere. There are legal protections available for military personnel that allow for this, so do not be shy about asking.
If your military move sees you buying a home then you need to go into this with your eyes open. This is a huge financial commitment and you need to make sure that you choose the right property. You also need to take into consideration what you are going to do if you find that you are redeployed, as your home will probably need to be sold on or rented out.
If you do decide that you want to purchase a property, start planning in advance. Do a few trips to the area and view the house as many times possible, as a rushed decision could see you moving into a house or area that you do not feel comfortable in.