MacDill AFB Housing
When you’re in the military, you often aren’t given a lot of choices about where you’ll be stationed or the type of work you will do. If you get transferred to MacDill Air Force Base (AFB), you may be able to make one big decision for yourself: where you will live.
There are three options for housing at MacDill AFB: on-base private family housing, the barracks, or off-base community housing. There are advantages and disadvantages to each based on your specific situation. Community housing can often be less expensive and can give you a break from military life.
At Eaton Realty, we specialize in helping military members find the house of their dreams while they are stationed at the base. Whether you are looking to rent or buy, we can help you find the right home for you. Give us a call today to learn more about how we can assist you with your housing search.
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MacDill AFB Housing Options
If you are stationed at MacDill AFB, you have three options for housing. Depending on your rank and situation, you may choose to live in family housing at the base, in the barracks on the base, or in community housing off-base. The choice of where to live depends on many factors, including whether you have a family (dependants), the amount of your Basic Allowance for Housing (BAH), your desired commute time, and the local schools. Understanding each option can help you make the best decision for you.
At MacDill AFB - like most military bases - family housing is privatized. Instead of being operated by the government, a company called Harbor Bay owns the housing. Harbor Bay is responsible for maintaining, repairing, constructing, and managing the properties.
If you choose to live on base, then you agree to give the entirety of your BAH to Harbor Bay. You will then be given a house based on what is available and what you are qualified for based on family size and rank. Your BAH also covers renter’s insurance and utilities, at least up to a certain amount (i.e., you may be charged if you go over the allowance for things like electric and gas). You will be responsible for paying for internet and TV.
Harbor Bay at Macdill AFB is open to service members from all branches of the military. It offers a number of amenities, such as an outdoor pool, 24 hour emergency property maintenance, lawn maintenance, landscaping, and playgrounds. Up to two pets per family are allowed at Harbor Bay, with a pet deposit and some restrictions on breed.
At Harbor Bay, there is a limit on how long guests can stay in your home. Each individual can stay for up to 30 days in a calendar year. If you want a guest to stay longer than that - such as a family member to help out during a deployment - then you will need to get permission from Harbor Bay.
If you don’t have any dependents, then you have the option of living in the MacDill AFB dormitories, which may also be referred to as barracks. These dorms are only available for single or unaccompanied military members. At MacDill, unaccompanied housing (UH) is available to military members with the ranks of E-1 to E-3 and E-4 with less than 3 years of service.
In UH, each resident is provided with a room to sleep in, furnishings, bed linens, and basic supplies. Residents typically share a bathroom, either in-suite or with others on the floor. Service members who live in the barracks receive a meal card for the chow hall on base.
There are numerous restrictions in UH, including no overnight guests, pets, minors, or unauthorized personnel in the barracks. Quiet hours are 24/7, and there is no tobacco use or underage drinking allowed. In addition, service members’ rooms are regularly inspected.
If you don’t want to live on base, then you can search for housing in the greater Tampa Bay area. Your BAH is deposited in your bank account, and can be applied towards the cost of rent (or a mortgage). If you choose a less expensive place to live, then it is possible that you will have extra money that can be used for utilities, renter’s and/or homeowner’s insurance.
Community housing may be cheaper than living in privatized housing at MacDill, particularly if you don’t have children and don’t need as much space. If you live at Harbor Bay, then the company gets the full amount of your BAH - no matter what your needs are or how big (or nice) your home is. With community housing, you have more flexibility to choose what type of housing works for you - a single family home, a condo, or an apartment. However, you will be responsible for your bills.
One of the things to keep in mind when searching for community housing is the commute. When you live in Harbor Bay or UH, you are right on the base. When you live in privatized housing, it may take 10, 15, or even 30+ minutes to get to the base. It’s important to consider the length of time that it will take to get to the base when choosing a place to live.
Where Can I Find An Application For Housing?
If you are being transferred to MacDill, then you can apply for housing through the Housing Early Assistance Tool (HEAT) site. To access it, log onto the Air Force’s Housing website and click the HEAT logo. Once you have filled out the required information, then HEAT will connect you to the Military Housing Office (MHO) at MacDill AFB prior to your transfer.
HEAT can be used for both on-base housing (UH and Harbor Bay) as well as community housing. If you want to live off of the base, then the MHO will send your information to the Privatized Military Housing Office (PMO). The MHO will also send you information about your desired housing and any required forms that you must complete for on-base housing.
If you are renting off-base, then the realty company will have its own application process. You can reach out to Eaton Realty at any time to learn more about the current homes that we have available for rent in the region.
What Housing Allowances Am I Eligible For?
The BAH is an allowance given to service members in the United States. If you live in Harbor Bay or in the community, then you are eligible for BAH. If you choose to live in the UH (dorms), then you will not receive BAH.
The amount of BAH that you receive is based on your pay grade, geographic duty location, and your dependency status. Depending on your market, you may be able to apply for a temporary increase in your BAH due to the greater cost of living in the area.
The military publishes BAH tables based on location, pay grade, and location. In 2023, military members in Tampa will receive a monthly allowance of:
|Pay Grade||Single||With Dependents|
It also offers a BAH calculator that allows you to determine how much money you will receive each month as an allowance. To use the calculator, you will just need to enter the year, your duty zip code, and your pay grade.
Where Will My Children Go To School?
If you live at Harbor Bay, then your kids will attend Tinker School on base from kindergarten through 8th grade. Older kids will attend Robinson High School from grades 9 through 12. Harbor Bay is part of the Hillsborough County School District.
Your kids’ school may be different based on where in Tampa you choose to live. This is one of the advantages of choosing community housing: you can select a home based in part on where you would like your kids to go to school.
Most locations around the base are part of the Hillsborough County School District. For example, if you live in the FishHawk Ranch community in Lithia, then your kids might go to top-rated schools like FishHawk Creek Elementary School, Bevis Elementary School, Stowers Elementary School, Randall Middle School, Barrington Middle School, or Newsome High School. There are also a number of private schools and charter schools in the region.
Benefits Of Community Housing
There are a lot of benefits to living off-base. One of the biggest advantages is getting some degree of privacy and distance from military life.
While it can be good to get support from people who know what you are going through, living on base can feel a lot like living in a small town. Everyone knows your business, and you see the same people all of the time. If you aren’t interested in that dynamic, it is probably a good idea to move into the community instead of living in Harbor Bay.
Similarly, when you live on base, you can become detached from community life. The base tends to provide everything that you need, so you may have little incentive to get out and explore Tampa. When you live off base, you will get more of a sense of the place that you’re living - and have a chance to explore more. It also gives you an opportunity to have a more normal life away from the military.
Next, there aren’t a lot of housing options on the base and the houses that are available may not be exactly what you want. They may also be older and in need of updates. When you choose your own place to live, you can pick what suits you and your family - whether that is a modern apartment, a charming house, or a townhouse.
In addition to choosing your own home, you also have the potential to save money by living off base. When you live in Harbor Bay, your entire BAH goes to the company. When you live in the community, you can rent (or buy) a place that is well within your BAH budget and pick only the amenities that you want. This may give you more bang for the buck.
Finally, other than what your landlord may impose through a lease or any homeowner’s association bylaws, there are no restrictions on how you use your home when you live off-base. This means that guests can often stay for longer periods of time, and you can have pets based on your lease terms.
Finding A Community House Near MacDill AFB
There are plenty of options for housing around MacDill AFB. The question then becomes which community is right for you.
One of the most popular choices for many military members is the FishHawk area of Tampa. Located approximately 30 miles from MacDill AFB, you can live relatively close to the base while truly immersing yourself in the community. With MacDill’s transportation allowance, you can take the Hillsborough Transit Authority (HART) shuttle from FishHawk to MacDill free of charge. This bus runs from the FishHawk Sports Complex non-stop to MacDill, and then stops at CENTCOM, SOCOM, and the MacDill Hospital.
FishHawk Ranch offers great schools, a sense of community, and great amenities. There are more than 25 miles of paved nature trails, pools, sports fields, and more. It is located about 35 minutes from downtown Tampa, and a little over an hour away from Orlando - which makes it a perfect place to live if you want to take your kids to Disney and Universal.
The MHO can provide you with up-to-date information on local housing around MacDill. They can also refer you to a high-quality real estate agency such as Eaton Realty. There are many great neighborhoods in the region, any of which might be perfect for you and your family as you begin the next chapter of your life.
Homes For Sale & Homes For Rent Near MacDill Air Force Base
Looking for a home near MacDill AFB? You can search all of the available homes for sale and homes for rent near MacDill Air Force Base on the Eaton site. Our realtors can also set up a search for you to help you find a home to buy or rent near MacDill. Many of our realtors are MRP certified - meaning they are trained military relocation professionals that are certified to help service members find homes to buy or rent.
Work With Eaton Realty To Find Your Home Near MacDill
Living on base at MacDill AFB can be convenient - but it isn’t the right choice for everyone. Depending on your situation, you may prefer to find your own housing in the community instead of staying on base. Eaton Realty can help.
Our team of real estate professionals regularly works with service members who are being transferred to MacDill. We can help you find the best place to rent based on your budget and needs - or even find the perfect home to buy. To learn more, fill out an online contact form or give us a call at 813-560-0373.