View Full Version : On Base Vs. Off Base?

02-19-17, 03:35 PM
Hey Marines; I wanted to open up my post by saying I post a lot of questions, and if at any time one of my posts is in the wrong forum, I'll gladly move it where it needs to go.

I'm getting stationed with 11th Regiment Headquarters Battery in Camp Pendleton. I'm getting married in June, and my fiancee and I have been discussing whether we should live on vs off base. One of the NCO's that have been in my Radio class has told me on several occasions that living off base is the better deal, mostly because you can put back some BAH money. I've had others tell me that base housing is the way to go, because everything except for internet and cable is covered, you're near everything, etc. I've heard that there is a waiting list for the housing however, and also that living on base can be a tie down and a hassle.

Could someone help me with their experiences on what I should do? I'm only 19, so my future wife and I are brand new to all of this. Could someone tell me what the housing at Pendleton is like? I've heard very mixed reviews, and I've also heard it depends a lot on the area you get put in. What's the area around Pendleton (Specifically Ocean Side, I found an apartment complex called Ocean Park that seems like the perfect fit for us if we go off base). All in all, I'm just looking for any help or advice you guys and gals could offer, so that when the time comes to make my choice, I will be able to make the right one. Thanks everyone!

Tennessee Top
02-19-17, 05:24 PM
Done both. Each has it's benefits like you say. So, it boils down to personal preference. Lean heavy on what your fiancee wants because keeping her happy is a big deal - if you don't, Jody will (you will see it happen - happened to me).

Spent 7 years at CamPen, broken up by a 12 month unaccompanied tour on OKI. Lived on both ends of the base (Oceanside and San Clemente) as well as San Onofre housing. At one time, I was commuting every day from San Clemente to main side on a motorcycle (cheaper on gas). That was for the birds, and you don't want to do that. If you go with housing, wait till a unit in your work area opens up to cut down on your commute time. We waited 13 months for that house in San Onofre. My orders for OKI showed up 12 months after we moved in. It happens so don't be surprised. It's not like you can turn down a set of orders.

Southern California is one of the most expensive places Marines live (behind Hawaii). We lived paycheck-to-paycheck and I was a Sergeant at the time (that included BAS and BAH). When we moved on base, only way I could afford a new washer and dryer, was to get a cleaning job at night at the San Onofre Nuclear Plant on San Onofre Beach. CA is one of the highest taxed states in the country (because it's a liberal entitlement state), and Gov Jerry "Moonbeam" Brown wants to raise the state gasoline tax to pay for his high-speed train connecting Southern CA with Northern CA. Junior Marines with a couple dependents do qualify for food stamps (my advice is to put off having kids as long as you can).

San Onofre housing was very nice, and close to the northern commissary/MCX. Some housing areas are newer/nicer than others. But, like I said, commute time is a big factor as well. With the cost of gasoline already higher than the national average, and most likely going even higher, your gasoline budget needs to be a priority.

Good luck Devil. Make sure your fiancee is heavily involved with your decision-making process. She'll have to live with the consequences as much as you will.

02-19-17, 06:13 PM
Kids are DEFINITELY down the lines for both of us, that's for sure. That was a lot of great appreciation, I hadn't even thought of the commute to be honest. Thanks a lot for all the advice, I'm definitely going to show this to her, she's taking a big part in making this decision.

02-20-17, 07:56 AM
I know over in Nam, we lived off base. Wasn't that much fun. I mean commuting was o.k......we used choppers to get to work. Although many times we had to walk. Gas was cheap as hell....but we didn't have anything to put it in. They didn't allow us to have personal vehicles in the bush. We did have a lot of clothes washing facilities. Lots of rain and rivers in the bush. Was no internet back then. The C.O. was the only one who had a phone, except for our F.O.'s. Every damn time the F.O.'s used their phones, all hell broke out. Everything would be fine until an F.O. used that damn phone. Like Top said everything was covered. We even had free food brought to us in a box....talk about convenience.. Also had free healthcare. Hell, we had Doc's right on the job when we were working. Great guys, them Doc's. They would give us this white powder to put on our feet, after we scraped the fungus growing there, off. We were a close knit family. We were always together. Even when we weren't working. Except our boss. He was always gone, but would communicate with our forman by phone. So, what ever you decide....it will be better than we had.

02-20-17, 09:18 AM
Now Billy with that good advice you have given him just so he doesn't end up like a hermit like yourself, Semper Fidelis.

02-20-17, 11:17 AM
Personal opinion---
Go the less expensive route
This one MAY allow you to save part of your pay
This will prove invaluable

02-20-17, 03:09 PM
Now Billy with that good advice you have given him just so he doesn't end up like a hermit like yourself, Semper Fidelis.

31281Ronnie, do I look like a hermit........really

02-20-17, 03:44 PM
31281Ronnie, do I look like a hermit........really

Yup a little man with a little gun,lol, Semper Fidelis.

02-21-17, 08:09 AM
Like I've always said, Billy may not win any beauty contests but he means well.

02-23-17, 12:08 PM
If you don't have kids or pets living off base is easy to do. Just make sure you research the area and that it's close to the gate that you need to go through since it's a big base. You don't want to be on the wrong side! Also you'll have to have first month, last month and a deposit - sometimes just one month and a deposit. Make sure it's enough under BAH to pay for PG&E, internet, etc. Know your needs and your wants... like do you NEED a dishwasher in the apartment? Is the washer and dryer in the unit or just in the building? We lived off base in Monterey and loved it.

02-24-17, 11:51 PM
You are over complicating the issue. Do you want your rent to stay constant but get no extra money if rent is lower then move on base, you dont have to pay for anythign extra unless you waste electricity otherwise you can make money on it. or if you want to possibly come out of pocket for rent then move out in town living off base in Cali good luck not coming out of pocket.

Big Boz
02-26-17, 03:17 PM
We did both. In 92, on base housing at El Toro had a very loooonnng waiting list for non-NCOs. Rent off base was around $800 for a modest 2 BR apartment. Combine that with a baby and there wasn't much money for any type of luxury. When times were tight, I rode my bicycle 7 miles to and form work which was often. I was temporarily assigned to Tustin and picked up Cpl while there, applied for housing the next day and a month later was moving in. We lost actual $ on the paycheck end, but came out ahead at the end of the month by not having to pay rent. Ended my service at Pendleton, and in the late 90's, off base in Fallbrook (outside the Naval Weapons Station) wasn't the best place to live. Stuff was stolen from the apt. complex on a regular basis, and lots of vehicle break in attempts. Not sure what it is like these days.