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 the Author

Amy Bushatz
Amy is the editor in chief of’s spouse and family blog A journalist by trade, Amy also covers spouse and family news for where she is the managing editor of spouse and family content. An Army wife and mother of two, Amy has been featured as a subject matter expert on, NPR, Fox News, NBC, CBS, ABC and BBC as well as in the New York Times, Wall Street Journal and Washington Post. Follow her on twitter @amybushatz.
  • mel

    One consideration you didn’t touch on is how will a move back home affect your kids. Once the kids become school age, I think you should stay where you are. There is something to be said about consistency and routine that provides kids with security and comfort. It’s hard enough for them to deal with a parent going to war and I think that removing them from their current school and being away from their home can cause undue anxiety. Also, since school curriculums vary from state to state, they will have additional problems with being behind or ahead at their new school. Another issue is taking them away from their friends and expecting them to start at the beginning to establish new friendships. Deployments are short-term and I would rather not disrupt my kids lives to make my life easier during that time.

  • Sarah

    When I found out I was losing my job because of the budget cuts and my husband was deploying, I thought moving home was a great option. I have young (babies) nieces and nephews at home and no kids of my own. But then I thought about moving (twice!), convincing a relative to allow me and two dogs to stay with them and how bored I would be without a job. Luckily I found another full time job and I will be staying here alone, but I don’t think it’s ridiculous to think about going home. If that is what is best for you then do it. No shame no matter how many people judge you for it.

  • Rquick

    I went home and lived with my parents while my husband went thru basic and AIT and you couldnt pay me to do it agani. It was a really hard time and by the end we had a very strained relationship. Plus moving sucks so bad!

  • Chrissy

    I’ve been having this internal debate ever since we got married and sent far from home. After going back and forth a million times I’ve decided to stay put. When I got married I feel that I sort of shifted dependence from my parents to my husband. I’ve just never really lived alone or had to fend for myself. I know I’ll still depend on my husband (although I do have a good full time job) but this is a chance for me to grow as a person; (hopefully) I’ll become more independent and resilient, and I’ll learn from this “opportunity”. It won’t be easy but I think I’d almost feel more alone if I went home. Few of my friends back home are even married. I doubt they’d understand as much as the other family members here near post! Let’s hope it all works out :)

  • Mona

    I was a 17 yr old young mom with a husband in the navy back in 1973 and many times I wish that I could have gone home to my mom, but I am happy that I did not because after 30 years as a navy wife, I grew up and as Chrissy has said it made me become independent and a much stronger woman. My children never felt like I would fall apart once their dad left, they could always depend on me. To this day, my children and grandchildren now know that they can always count on me.

  • Guest

    I think you decide to do whatever is best for you, under the circumstances you are facing. During hubs last deployment, I moved to a completely new place to work on my education. But the deployment before that I stayed put and my family came to stay with me for part of the time. The point is, you need to do what’s best for you, not what’s best for Suzy Spouse, or Sammy Spouse, but you and your family.

  • Charla

    During my husband’s first deployment I loved back home. We were able to save 20k! Out hometown has an Air Force base so I didn’t feel like I missed out on a whole lot (discounted child care, mwr, etc). Plus I preferred my family over some of the fickle army wives at his post.

    • Heather

      We were able to save a ton of money when I was at my parents house as well. It was used to get completely out of debt. BUT, I would never do it again. I can only take my family in small doses. As my post down below says. lol

  • Charla

    I wrote f i c k l e. I’m not sure why it was deleted…

  • Tara

    This is a toughie–it took me nearly 9 months to find a job here at our new duty station. If he had gotten orders during that time and I still wasn’t working….I think I would have headed home just for the chance to make some money! Sometimes your hometown or places you’ve previously lived have opportunities and connections for temporary positions. Then, you can earn the BAH potentially, as well as reduce living costs, daycare costs, etc.
    One question I had though–is that I had heard that if you move home and the BAH rate is lower (in our case, about 1000 lower!) THAT is what you get? We are MC–does anyone want to clarify on that?

    However, we don’t have kids! So I think that would be a major factor.

    • Amy Bushatz

      You were given incorrect information – your bah is based on your husband’s duty station, not on your place of residence. This is so that people don’t abuse the system and locate their families in an area that gets higher bah but is in a different market than their duty station.

      • Tara

        Thank you Amy! I will have to keep that in mind! :)

  • Allie

    There’s an option that isn’t included on the poll: Move somewhere else entirely!

    We were lucky to have months to prepare for my husband’s deployment and I was able to find my dream job in another state. It wasn’t a simple or easy transition (I didn’t know anyone here, for one thing!) but this year could be my only chance to do my dream job and I’m not going to pass up that kind of opportunity. Most of our stuff went into storage, I didn’t have job to leave near base, and I got a roommate here. (We don’t have kids.)

    Living away from my support system(s) at a time like this has been a unique challenge and I don’t recommend it to everyone, but I came into this deployment determined to rise to any and all challenges. This has been an incredible growing experience for me, my career, my ability to make friends quickly, and even my marriage. Three months in, I’m so glad I did this!

  • Heather

    I moved my two young kids (7 and 5) into my parents house during my husbands first deployment. I was 33 at the time and had been on my own since i was 17. I like(d) being as far away from my family as possible. lol The ONLY reason I did this was because I knew it was only going to be for 6 to 8 months and because we couldn’t get right into post housing immediately (we PCSed and he deployed 30 days later). If we had been living there for even a few months first I would never have done that. But, with this situation I didn’t want the hassle of living in an unfamiliar place with two kids where I didn’t now anyone. In hindsight, it was a mistake. After that I didn’t talk to my mom for over a year. The support I was hoping for wasn’t there. She couldn’t understand how my husband being deployed to Iraq was any different then my dad traveling out of state on frequent business, sometimes for months as a time. It was a nightmare. Anyway, I survived that and two more deployments perfectly within my military community. I can’t say I had a huge support system or anything, one friend during the second and none during the last one, but being close to the FRG and being able to get timely updates was important to me.

  • Shee

    I would move back to my home town. (not in with my family though.) I came from a military town so I have all the post benefits. Plus, if DH deployed, he would be moving on to another duty station right afterwards. No reason for me to stay alone, 26 hours away from my family and then move to who knows where.

    I’m also fortunate that my dad and my BIL were military. As is my niece’s husband and my nephew. They understand the life.

  • Shell

    I don’t live so near a base, but do live incredibly close to both my fam and his. I wish I could move to be farther away. I don’t get childcare from my in-laws whenever I want, they have other grandchildren practically living with them. They are acting like I am sending him away, and even now before he leaves they’re acting like they are the only ones that are suffering from all of this, they expect to get all his attention, including making up for his mom’s will-be missed birthday twice instead of just throwing the party early.

    But I can’t complain that he’ll miss my birthday, Thanksgiving, Christmas, our anniversary…again…. etc. Not to mention we have three little boys!

    • MARIE

      That is so disappointing to hear! You should be getting much support from the fact that you’re “lucky” enough to be near them!
      I Feel like sometimes the spouse gets the short end of the stick–you have to deal with the day-to-day reality of parenting alone, having your life dramatically impacted while they are gone, while still having to kind of be the center and suck it up…Its funny how easy it is to blame things on the spouses….right now my husband keeps going back and forth whether to stay in. I keep stating he should do what he thinks is best, but to have a plan either way. His family wants him out and I think because I don’t just tell him to get out I am to blame for him staying in….quite frustrating!

  • Judy

    I am a Navy Spouse that got to raise our kids between 10 and 500 miles from their grandparents. It was FANTASTIC! they hD INVALUBLE relationships with their cousins, uncle and grandparents , My daughter grew up married her high school sweetheart who went on to enlist in the Navy at graduation and the first thing, she is half packed already is to come home when he deploys. She gets her old room back with her small baby and they get to put cash in the college fund for their little one. And YES, there are many Naval, Air Force and Marine bases within 50 miles from our home. She is counting the days to come home to see her friends and enjoy all their growing families! I too was happy to travel but always end back up at HOME!

  • Mina

    I personally know a family that have lived in 9 places in 10 years and the kids and dogs all moved to stay together. I’ve never seen a family so well adjusted. I was a Marine brat and my husband is Air Force. I’ve never lived on a base since I was in grade school. My mom packed it up, stored it and off to Grandma’s. Living near base is great, just no on base. I’m very private and like my own outside friends that keep my secrets ;). I was able to 2 years with my personal life intact. :) and make a few friends. Typical military:.It’s time to move after 2 years and hubby gets deployment orders 2 months before the move. Chaos set in.

    After peeling myself off the ceiling. We opted for something totally different. We had our things moved to storage for free. I rented a house in my hometown with the space we need for 3 months and rented one near the base for the remainder of the time until my husband comes back. One under BAH and one at BAH. Rent-A-Center did all the work with furnishing the rentals. We each packed 2 suitcases and anything else we purchased as needed. We sent our 15 year old to visit 2 different friends from 2 previous stations for the summer. My younger kids and I visited with family and friends without giving up living space and being able to decompress when needed. This took 3 months off the deployment. Once we returned to our duty station we were able to get into a decent routine. My husband was happier knowing that we enjoyed our summer. School is back in and the kids are adjusted because they are back in the same school for another year. This also re-assured my kids that you can make new friends but also still spend time with the old ones too. Moving no longer bothers us, because we learned that we have options. We’ll need them; as my husband has no intention of getting out until they kick him out. You CAN make, lose, or break even on a deployment. We are fortunate and breaking even just happens to work for us.

  • Mel

    One of the points I’m not seeing here is the fact, whether your move home or stay put, you are setting an example for the younger wives in the unit ESPECIALLY if your service member is in a command position. I believe it is irresponsible to move home if the unit deploys and you are the company commander’s spouse, a battalion commander’s spouse and/or an FRG leader. Sure, many wives within the company/battalion may move home, but what about the families who choose to stay put or can’t afford to move? What kind of example are you setting for them? If you are any kind of volunteer leader I would hope you’d really consider staying put. Sure, you absolutely have to put your personal needs and the needs of your family first, but when you stand up and accept the responsibilities of a volunteer leader, you are actually expected to do some leading. The families left behind will depend upon you heavily. They look to you as an example as well as for support. They see what you do, and this is how unit cohesion can either be built or broken down. Yes, there’s lots of be said for virtual FRGs and unit Facebook pages, but getting together in person during a deployment, and that personal touch that a leader bring, can truly sustain a spouse through deployment. Back during the Vietnam War, families were not allowed to remain on post and had no choice but to move home. Now things are different and with the exception of an IA (individual augmentee) spouse, everyone has a choice. (In January of this year, the Army changed its policy and no longer allows the families of IA soldiers to move (at the Army’s expense) unless there are already orders for a follow-on assignment. So unless you wish to spend your own money, or you have a follow-on assignment in writing, you have no choice but to stay put. Prior to January, the Army would move an IA family to any city/post of their choosing — and pay for it — while the soldier deployed). Perhaps this is a very harsh way of looking at things, but when I married my service member, I don’t remember thinking, “as soon as you deploy, I’m outta here.” I remember thinking … when you deploy that is when/how I will become a better, stronger Army spouse, I will get to know the spouses in my unit, we can bond over shared experiences, we can lift one another up during difficult times, we can understand each other in a way that no one else can, and I can learn about all the resources that the post has to offer a deployed spouse/family. Maybe this sounds crazy to some, but I owe it to my family to keep them stabilized and try and keep things as “normal” as possible during a deployment. I owe it to the other spouses in the unit, whom I might be leading in some capacity, to show that I am there for them as well.

  • Confused in Georgia

    I plan on vsiting family for a few months when my husband deploys. I planned on being gone with our new baby (She’ll be about 5 months old when he deploys) for about 3-4 months during his 9 month deployment. He suggested that we should put our stuff in storage and I should just spend the whole time with my family. I certainly have a big enough family, but at the same time I don’t want to pack up again when we just moved a few months ago. If we did go with his plan we would save about $9,000 dollars in BAH when he is gone. I don’t want to impose on my family for that long, but that money would help get us out of debt as well and does make some sense. I’m just really torn on what to do. The place we live at on base is very nice and for the first time I feel like it’s a HOME and not just some place we’re living. I don’t want to come back to base and get put in some place that is less than this one. Just really confused.

  • Kate

    My Marine deploys to Afghanistan in 2 months and ever since I moved out here, (2 years ago) I knew I wouldn’t be going back home during any deployment, training, or anything. Is it bad that I’d rather be alone here, rather than at home around so much negative while he’s gone? Well, my parents/family are NOT supportive of me in any way. They think that this lifestyle isn’t fair for me. (the lonely nights, the hard trials, the sacrifices..) But, in the end, it was my choice to get into this, and I couldn’t be happier. They won’t come out here and visit, but to be honest, thats okay with me. It is way better for them and I to have space between us. So I’m going to stay here, work, keep myself busy, and be there for my man. All I have to say is thank GOODNESS for my military friends I have met here, they make up for the support I wish I had elsewhere. This deployment wont be easy, but they will help me through. They’re my chosen family :) Life is good. God is good. Blessings to all the wives out there! Stay strong!