Relocating to O’ahu or Hawaii is exciting! And if you’re relocating for military, you get the added benefit of being able to use your Basic Housing Allowance to rent or purchase a home. Purchasing a home comes with its own perks, though it can definitely be a little more complicated. So, here’s a handy guide to buying off-base housing in Hawaii.
Why Buy Off-Base Housing in Hawaii?
Why buy instead of renting? Because as a military service member, not only do you get BAH to buy your home, you also get to take advantage of the VA loan, which means lower interest rates and credit requirements, no mortgage insurance, and as little as 0% down. Even if you’ve used your VA loan before, you likely still have enough left to purchase in Hawaii.
Plus, you get 8 days of “house hunting” upon first arrival, as well as up to 60 days of Temporary Housing Allowance—just the right amount of time to find and close on a home.
Finding the Right Location
Real estate is all about location! Finding the right location is key, but how do you know which place is right for you? Here are some key factors to keep in mind when choosing a place to buy a home on O’ahu.
Distance to Bases
O’ahu has grown a lot in recent years, and unfortunately, our highways and road systems are still trying to keep up (there is a new railway planned for next year though). This means that travel times going in towards Honolulu and its bases (Pearl-Harbor Hickam, Fort Shafter, Camp Smith, Tripler Army Medical Center, US Coast Guard Base) can take some time.
From the Windward (east) Coast, it can be about 40 minutes to an hour during peak travel times. From the Leeward (west) Coast, it can take over an hour. From the North Shore, it’s about 45 minutes to an hour.
Housing in Hawaii is known to be a bit on the pricey side, but fortunately for military members, BAH is reflective of the average pricing in the area, so it will be higher than for less expensive locations. However, it’s still beneficial to know which areas are going to have the best prices so you’ll get the most house or condo for your dollar.
Generally speaking, the Leeward Coast and Central O’ahu tend to be the most affordable areas (though they can mean longer commutes, unless you’re working out of a central base, like Wheeler Army Airfield).
Amenities & Attractions
Another key factor to finding the perfect place to live is distance to conveniences, attractions, and entertainment. Some buyers want to be in the heart of all the action, in a place like Ala Moana or Kaka’ao, where you’re just steps from shopping, dining, beaches, and downtown Honolulu.
Other buyers prefer more of a small-town setting. Places like Kapolei, Ewa Beach, or Kailua place you close to conveniences and entertainment—without all the urban hassle. If you really want to get away from the crowds and find peace, quiet, and some beachside scenery, communities like Wai’anae or the North Shore are the place to be.
Ready to Buy Off-Base on O’ahu?
If you’re thinking of buying a home off-base in O’ahu, then it’s time to contact RE/MAX Honoulu. As your guides to military relocation and real estate in Hawaii, we’re here to help you explore the area, discover its unique cities and beautiful neighborhoods, and find the perfect place to call home.