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Thread: Bolling AFB, help me buy a house.

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    Whe24's Avatar
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    Bolling AFB, help me buy a house.

    I know. I'm never on here. But I DO lurk from time to time. And I need help. We are about to PCS to Bolling AFB in Washington DC at the end of the summer. We are currently selling our house and will be closing on that soon, hopefully. I am overwhelmed and completely lost with house hunting and budgeting for a new city with a WAY higher standard of living than what we are used to. So for those of you who love to budget and house shop HELP ME.

    First. Good areas to buy a home. We don't want to live IN DC, so surrounding areas. Single family. No townhomes or condos.

    Second, how the heck do I even figure out what we can afford. I've lived in the same town all my life where I know the standard of living. Therefore, I always knew what we could afford rent and then mortgage wise. Husband is E7 in the Navy. Soon to be single income family. We have one child. So If I'm using the online calculator correctly, BAH and income will be a little under 7K?

    Some things to consider. I am intentionally going to be a little vague because putting a ton of personal info out into the expanse probably isn't the best idea. 1 car payment(think...normal sized car payment, nothing extravagant). We pay about $150 a month to a credit card. Car insurance on two good drivers. Two phones at $100 a month. We don't go out to eat a ton. We aren't big spenders on a day to day basis. I think that's the most amount of personal information I'm comfortable with putting out there. So adding on top of that Internet(no cable), power, utilities, groceries etc. Sigh....where do I even begin with budgeting. If you were in my shoes, what price range would you be looking at to buy a house in that area? Everything I'm looking at seems to be in not super great neighborhoods, but I'm afraid to up my price in my search.

    I'm a big big diaper baby. I know. I know. I'm 33 years old and I don't have my shit together. Are there rent-a-grown-ups out there that could help me budget our life? Is that a thing?

    If you read that. Bravo! You're pretty rad! I ask humbly that nobody rip me apart. I'm scurred.
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    It looks to me like DC BAH for an E-7 w/d is $2762. (Google tells me Bowling's zip is 20032.) You can add his base pay and any other special pays he gets, although keep in mind that is a pre-tax number.

    How long are the orders? Unless it is extremely likely you will stay there for at least 2 sets of orders, honestly, I would just rent. As a general rule, buying if you plan to sell in less than 5 years is a bad bet. (And you can do some fairly simple math to see if renting it out after you leave makes sense, but most houses are probably going to lose money as rentals in the early years of a mortgage, and it is definitely a source of financial risk even if the numbers look decent, and a source of stress.) The fact that you don't know the area, and that you are stressed out about this seems like all the more reason to rent, or maybe even look into military housing.

    If you are dead set on buying (no!!), I would suggest that you spend no more than BAH on your monthly mortgage, PMI (if you have it), and property taxes. That still puts you out of pocket for some housing expenses that BAH is technically intended to offset (utilities, homeowners insurance, potential increases in property taxes, and maintenance which can easily top $10k in a year with no warning). If you can't get what you want for that, it's another sign pointing to rental or military housing.
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    With DC...I would almost get into the area and rent. Traffic is a huge thing. If you want to buy you have to look if you want to go into southern maryland (the north part of southern maryland) which that area is getting a little odd these days...or out towards annapolis. Those commutes can be a little rough. I would start looking at places of how much it would cost to rent a place and buy a place. I would also get onto a family/spouse page for that base or area and start researching good areas. When I left southern maryland many people who were doing the commute from like waldorf to DC and down to where we were stationed were saying its changing and not for the good.
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    First, WHY do you want to buy? If bah is 2700 a month, I would look for a mortgage no more than 2000 a month, maybe no more than 1800. Add insurance, taxes etc etc, you still want to be below the 2700 mark.
    Is he willing to do a daily commute of between one and two hours each way?

    Do you have kids, large dogs, etc.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Guynavywife View Post
    First, WHY do you want to buy? If bah is 2700 a month, I would look for a mortgage no more than 2000 a month, maybe no more than 1800. Add insurance, taxes etc etc, you still want to be below the 2700 mark.
    Is he willing to do a daily commute of between one and two hours each way?

    Do you have kids, large dogs, etc.

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    First, if you buy I would take your BAH and fit the mortgage (including the insurance and taxes) and utilities (gas, electric, water, trash) in it as well. Not sure who you’ll have, but electric in MD has been more expensive than I’m used to. Think an average of $200 a month for a 2,600sq.ft single family house. Water has also been more expensive. Think $100 on a normal month and $250 when running the sprinkler. I also use this idea for finding a rental. But if you buy you’ll also need a maintenance fund cause it is inevitable there will be things that come up.

    Second, I would not buy where you’ll only be for 1 tour. Even if you have the option or potential to stay, but it’s not guaranteed. We have a rental and managing from afar is not easy or cheap. And if you cannot sell before PCSing then renting would be a must since the mortgage/utilities/maintenance (at least not what you would be paying in the DC area) plus housing expense at the new area is just not feasible. The only other option would be for you to stay behind. But then he’ll still need to figure out where he’ll live and the barracks or on the ship are not always a given/automatic.
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    Zero experience with BAH, PCSing, etc. as I'm not really affiliated with the military anymore.

    Disclosure: it's hard for me to be positive because I lived in DC and hated literally all of it but want to give my $.02 +1 to everyone saying not to buy. The market is ridiculously competitive whether you are renting or buying, so be prepared to put a deposit/application in on the spot if you find a deal in the area you want. I drove up there for a weekend to find a place and a lot of apartments were scooped before I could even call back after my visit to ask for an application. I ended up paying $1,450 a month for a shoebox studio because my other options were exhausted. Good luck!
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    I've been in the DC metro area since 2005, and we just bought our 2nd home here (our 1st we still have and rent it out).
    to maximize your BAH you need to buy outside the beltway. So, basically, not fairfax, arlignton, loudoun, alexandria, etc. You need to go to prince william county, faquier county, stafford, sposty or fredreicksburg. Those areas is where you can get single-family well below BAH. Inside the beltway you will find that to get what you want could be more than BAH. I am not sure the size of house you want, but for reference, a single-family 3 bedroom house in good areas of fairfax county run you close to $500k. A single-family 3 bedroom house in prince william county is about $250-$300k.

    Do not base location of home on distance, because I know folks who live less than 10 miles from bolling and it can take them an hour to get to work.

    you hve to base it on schools for kids, safety of neighborhood, and maximize BAH. you won't get that inside the beltway.

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