With every single PCS, and I do mean EVERY SINGLE PCS, we have had to abrruptly change house plans. Every time we move I have had to go through several lists of home options. Even in the span of this month I have had to delete from my dream sheet the houses that started off at the top of my list. They either rent before we arrive or something stops the home owner from their ability to rent to us. In this manner, I believe that God has directed us to the exact home he wanted us to have! Even with a seriously frustrating housing search and a few very disappointed moments, we end up in a house that is perfect for us!
In North Carolina, we actually purchased the only home we have ever owned. We stumbled across is as we were walking through a home down the street. It was for sale by owner and it just grabbed my affections immediately!! Buying on affection alone ended up causing us a little bit of headache. Our first home taught us that we really do need to be concerned with the kitchen layout and work space. We didn’t have a separate place for our homeschool in this home, so my formal dining room table has some marks on it 😉 We also learned quick that the sandy yard created a lot of sweeping every day! But we loved the huge kitchen, the nice sized master bedroom, and that front porch.
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Moving to Kansas, we learned to love a ranch style house with basement! I loved the kitchen in that house and the basement layout! We had a room for homeschooling in this home and a spare bedroom that could just remain our nice guest room. I really loved that!! We didn’t enjoy the crazy, steep driveway that caused our trailer hitch to bottom out every time we pulled out. We also didn’t enjoy the small laundry room (remember, 6 people at that point and their laundry), nor did we like having a garage too small for our vehicles. Thankfully, we just rented the house near Fort Riley, but we gained more knowledge about our dreams for a house.
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Our Maryland rental gave us a whole new set of lessons learned! First, this was the most frustrating rental experience. We applied, with hefty DC area application fees, to four different homes. All of them fell through for one reason or another. We had to fight to get all those application fees back, even though the owner was the one to back out in a couple of them. We also had a friend walk through the house for us. While he was careful to pay attention to somethings, he was a man in other ways. We knew the carpet was a disgusting mauve, but I had no idea how that would truly wear on me over the two years we lived there. I also didn’t realize how nasty the tile floor would be on anything that fell to it. I lost nearly all of my dish set in the first year of living in this home. t also didn’t realize that all the window coverings, including blinds, would be our responsibility. I would love to warn folks that older homes may not be as well insulated, so the boys’ room above the garage was always very cold. Our master bedroom had a lovely vaulted ceiling, but the older heating system couldn’t keep our bedroom warm either.
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We walked into a rental home where the pictures on the add were obviously several years old. We made the mistake in that home to not take detailed notes of the state of the rental house with pictures. This rental experience would have been easier on us if we had been more aware of the rental laws of MD. We had an unfortunate exit experience from this home that still has a bitter taste in our mouths. We did love the nice sized yard, the neighborhood, and the fireplace. It also hosted my entire family for a DC vacation week. Lots of wonderful memories despite the frustrations of this home.
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Our Alaska cabin was truly an Alaska experience. It was small, the layout was wonky, but we loved our cabin. It had a great kitchen, a great master bath with walk-in shower, and the location couldn’t be beat! We fell in love with a wood burning stove here, we fell in love with mountains, and the kids loved fighting over the loft 😉 All in all, it was a learning but wonderful experience.
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When looking for a rental house, even just renting, know and understand your priorities! Make sure that both adults know what they can and cannot compromise on. Things that irritate you at the beginning can amplify as time goes on. If you compromise, you may need to remind yourself that the compromise is worth it for whatever reason it occurred. We often had to remind ourselves that since saving money was our goal in some of our homes, we focused on that goal instead of our frustrations. Please take notes and pictures when you move into any rental home. Some owners plan to nitpick and blame the renter for whatever they can to keep a deposit that they spend right away. Know and understand your legal obligations and what the landlord can or cannot force the renter to pay for. For most states, the normal wear and tear on a home that is being lived, should not detract from your deposit. Know and understand the rental/landlord laws of where you will be living. Hopefully you can avoid some of the heart ache we have experienced as the military moves us around the country.
If the military family has purchased a home, knowing and understanding these laws will also keep you from heartburn. Some states favor renters and some favor landlords. Learn what can or cannot protect your property and price your rental to the responsible folks. Renting to military does offer protection! Irresponsible renters can be charged by the military for excessive damage or lack of payment.
Whichever you are, learn how to protect yourself and be responsible with the property you are renting. It can be quite enjoyable, yet heart breaking, to move around the country and live in many different homes every few years 🙂
This is part of a blogging series Planning a Military Move.