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Should you Move Home During Deployment?

“Are you moving home?”

My husband is getting ready to deploy and people keep asking me that question. “Are you moving home while he’s gone?”

My answer for myself is an emphatic, can’t-believe-you-would-ask-me-that, do-I-look-crazy?! “NO.” I will be staying near my base and all the great support my military family offers, thankyouverymuch. I will not be packing up my stuff one time more than I have to — we move enough as it is. Moving home? You couldn’t pay me to do it.

But that’s just me. I know there are plenty of people who give the option of moving home a strong and convicted “YES!” They want to know how soon they can leave. They practically have bags packed and waiting to go. They think their actual families are the best support they can get. They can’t get away from that duty station fast enough.

I find that this is an issue people have very strong opinions about — because family is a subject people feeling strongly about. Some, like me,  have really hard relationships with their families. Live near them? Um, how about “no.” Others want to spend every waking second with them but that silly military insists on stationing them at the far corners of the earth. Being forced to live far away from them? The hardest thing they’ve ever done.

But there are the people in the middle who are truly torn. They hem and haw, and they don’t know what to do. They see benefits to both – free babysitting from grandma at home, but all of the “we so know what you’re dealing with” military friends back at the base. It really can be a hard decision. Unconditional love from parents and siblings — but all of those great deployment support programs at their duty station.

What’s a military spouse to do? How do you pick?

The truth is there’s not a “one size fits all” answer. Just as every family is different,  moving home isn’t right for everyone. But how do you decide whether or not you should move home during deployment? Here are three things to consider:

Is real family better than military family? Every deployment and every unit is different. Maybe you don’t have any good friends in your unit. Maybe you already feel incredibly isolated and your spouse hasn’t even left yet. If so, moving home may not be a bad idea. But if you have a good support circle at your base, you may not want to give that up for home. No matter how much your family loves you, unless your mom was a military spouse herself she probably won’t actually know the stress of sending your spouse to a combat zone. Then again, your family may be so supportive that they don’t NEED to know it personally – their love is enough.

How do the benefits of home stack-up to the base? Home is great. Maybe your mom’s peach pie is so tasty that it beats out any benefit you could get anywhere. (In which case message me and Ill send you my address. I could use some peach pie!) But before hitting the road to score a piece, make sure you can replicate or, at least, replace some of those near and on-base benefits a military community affords. I’m not just talking about free and discounted childcare or access to that free gym. I’ve heard countless stories from frustrated spouses who moved home and had trouble with Tricare, ID issues or other military-related paperwork needs that could have been easily solved if they lived on or near a military installation. There are ways to get around these problems – like making sure you have all of your paperwork prepared before you move, or locating a different military installation near your home and taking care of those issues there – but they are definitely worth considering.

Can you afford to move? If you’re moving from a high cost of living station with a high BAH rate to a low cost of living area, you could save a lot of money while your spouse is gone. BAH is based on where you are stationed – and you’ll continue to make that BAH amount while living at home. That could mean a significant bump to your savings account. But moving always costs more than you think it will. And don’t forget: you’ll probably want to move back to your duty station when the deployment is over. Is the potential BAH savings actually worth it?

What advice would you give a friend as she considers whether or not to move home? Take our poll telling us what you would do, then check out the results below:

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About Amy Bushatz

Amy is the managing editor of Military.com’s spouse and family blog SpouseBuzz.com. A journalist by trade, Amy also covers spouse and family news for Military.com where she is an Associate Editor. An Army wife and mother of two, Amy has been featured as a subject matter expert on NPR and in the New York Times. Follow her on twitter @amybushatz.