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Army Housing Arrangements in the U.S. and Abroad

All branches of the military provide housing for their troops as part of their benefits package, and the army is no exception. The exact nature of the army housing situation in a particular area depends greatly on the resources available and the size of the base, but in general the army provides comfortable living arrangements for its employees and their families. On foreign bases, army housing often takes the form of neighborhoods or apartments very close to the base, or even on the base. If there is enough room and if the foreign government allows it, the army will build its own structures, often with many of the conveniences that American families like in their homes.

Dishwashers, refrigerators, and washing machines either in each unit or on-site are often provided to make life easier for the families of the soldiers and other army personnel who will be living on the base. Very large bases will often have schools and playgrounds for the children of their employees, and even some grocery stores, on-site. When this is the case, army personnel and their families can live several years in a foreign country without ever needing to leave the base–it becomes a tight-knit community in its own way. However, most military families enjoy taking advantage of the experience of living in a foreign country, so even when they have everything they need on base, they will frequently leave the base to go shopping and explore the country they are living in.

For more adventurous army families living in foreign countries, the army housing committee gives them a housing budget with which to find their own living arrangements off the base. These housing budgets are usually quite modest, so it can be a challenge to find suitable housing, but is often quite rewarding. Those families who choose to live off-base often report that they feel more of a kinship with the people in whose country they are living. Children of families who live in off-base army housing are often able to attend international schools where they are exposed to the native culture more and often are able to learn the native language. All the shopping must be done at local stores, and these army families have neighbors who are native citizens. This kind of living arrangement gives American soldiers and their families a more immersive experience, but it does have its downsides.

For one, the small budget provided by the army can make it difficult to find a house or apartment that is big enough and in good enough shape for the family. If there is a shortage of housing options in the area around the base, it can be extremely difficult to find something close enough that those working on the base every day won’t have an inordinately long commute. Within the United States, army housing works much like it does on foreign bases. Army bases are usually built in areas where there is plenty of land, so they very often include housing developments. To an outsider, these housing developments may look and feel indistinguishable from those occupied by citizens. This is especially the case when these neighborhoods are not sequestered from the surrounding community, as they often are in foreign countries for security reasons. Allowing the families of servicemen and women to have closer associations with their non-military neighbors allows these families to feel more like they belong in their community. The families of army personnel often have experiences, both good and bad, that citizens can only imagine, but they are still people, and feeling like they are part of a community is vital to their mental well-being.