PCSing to Hawaii- Military Guide to Hawaii Living: Housing

PCSing to Hawaii- Military Guide to Hawaii Living: Housing


Moving across the country, away from your family to start your life with the military is one thing, moving across the ocean is a whole different ball game. Finding out that you and your family are being stationed in Hawaii is a dream come true, but this dream comes with the stresses of finding housing, doctors, and friends while across the ocean on the mainland. Oahu Spine and Rehab wants to help you make your transition to Hawaii a smooth one; whether it is your first duty station or your last.

The island of Oahu is covered in military bases, making most resources to you pretty close by. Oahu Spine & Rehab is located in Kailua, which is right out of the back gate to MCBH. We offer chiropractic care, massage therapy, physical therapy and more in our integrated health care center. Most of this guide will be based around experiences on the Marine Corps Base, but are comparable for the other bases. Our first installment of our military guide will be housing.


Basic Housing Allowance (BAH)

The most important (and possibly most difficult) item on your agenda when moving to Hawaii is housing. (If you are a single marine getting stationed in Hawaii and will be staying in the barracks-skip this section!) Military members that are stationed on Oahu receive the third highest BAH with dependents in the entire country, because of the high cost of living in Hawaii. According to military.com BAH starts at $2,922 for an E1 for Honolulu County (Covering all of Oahu). There are pros and cons to living on or off-base.



Base Housing:

On MCBH there are two housing options, 802 and Forest City. 802 housing is the older housing on the base and you receive your full BAH, and are responsible for paying rent each month: which is around $1700, plus utilities. 802 houses have two bedrooms two bathrooms and one or one and a half bathrooms, and allow up to two pets (downfall- no A/C). In terms of finances, this is an excellent option to save money.

The other option is to get housing through Forest City, these houses are newer, bigger, and have air conditioning. There are 10 different neighborhoods on MCBH that provide housing through Forest City. These housing are great options if you have a family and pets. These houses are anywhere from 2-4 bedrooms and 2-3 bathrooms, generally with a garage and a driveway. These houses are among the biggest square footage that you will be able to find on the island that also allow pets. The downfall to Forest City is that they take your entire BAH each month. This means that you are paying nearly $3000 for rent every month.

            Base Housing Pros:

                        Dogs and Cats Allowed


                        Bedroom count

                        Close to Commissary, MCX etc.

                        Air Conditioning (Forest City Only)

                        Near base amenities (beaches, marina, pool etc.)


            Base Housing Cons:

                        Lose BAH (Forest City Only)

                        Base Rules (dress code, quiet hours, etc.)

Living on base has a lot of perks for military members and their families. There are many programs and resources for you available on base. It allows you to be immersed in the military lifestyle and be surrounded by people in similar situations as you and your family.

OSR Services

Off-Base Housing:

Off-base housing makes the most sense for families without children or pets. It is extremely difficult to find apartments that allow dogs and cats in Hawaii, especially on the Windward side of the island where MCBH is. To stay on within a 15-20 minute drive to MCBH your rent is going to be at minimum around $1900+ and homes will be substantially smaller than on base.

If you don’t require a lot of extra space, off base is a good option for you. Another plus to off-base housing is if your significant other is being deployed off island, you are able to downsize to a small studio while they are gone, in order to save money. If you and your spouse are planning on working or spending a lot of time exploring the island or being outside, off-base is a good option for you because you’re living space will be small, but you won’t be in your home all that often! Living off-base also lets you experience the Hawaiian lifestyle and culture and experience new things.

            Off Base Pros:

                        Experience Hawaiian Culture

                        Possible more employment options for spouse/family members


                        Time away from military lifestyle.

            Off Base Cons:

                        Generally No Pets Allowed

                        Expensive Rent

                        Parking Spaces

                        Landlords (often times off-island)

Depending on what option will fit your and your family better, there are some important steps that need to be taken. If you are planning on getting on-base housing, you need to make sure that you get onto the list as soon as possible. If the military member is arriving before you, make sure they make a housing appointment as soon as possible when on-island in order to get on the list.



Chiropractor Kailua


Making Appointments

No matter if you’re choosing 802 or Forest City your appointments will be on MCBH; The MCB Hawaii Housing Office for Forest City is located at 1571 Lawrence Road on the first floor, one block after Mokapu Road. The 802 office is located directly next to the Forest City Office.

Hours of operation are:

Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday from 0730-1530

Wednesday from 0730-1400.

Forest City’s Phone Number: (808)257-2676

802’s Phone Number: (808) 257-2361

Once on the housing list, call every other day, or a few times a week to see where you are on the list. Persistence is key, and the more likely you will know right away about your housing right away.



If you’re PCSing as a family, then you will be granted TLA (Temporary Lodging Allowance) where the military will pay for eligible families arriving to Hawaii while you wait for available housing. Most hotels are within 20 miles of Kaneohe Bay and 10 miles of Camp Smith. TLA reimbursement claims are forwarded to the Finance Office at the conclusion of each 10-day increment; reimbursements are then electronically deposited within 72-96 hours. Arrival TLA can be authorized for a maximum of 60 days.


Power Of Attorney

When waiting for on-base housing, if your spouse will not be available for meetings or constant contact, make sure that your spouse or you go to Base Legal in order to get a Power of Attorney. A POA will give you the power to handle certain affairs for your spouse while they are gone. This is crucial to get BEFORE deployment if your spouse is leaving and you are planning on moving to Hawaii while they are gone. If you’re moving to Hawaii alone or with your children while your spouse is deployed you MUST have the Power of Attorney or none of the offices on base will talk to you about anything.

Powers of Attorney

Monday, Wednesday, & Friday

8:00 a.m. – 11:30 a.m. & 1:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m.

Tuesday and Thursday

7:30 a.m. – 11:30 a.m. / 1:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m.


Off-Base Housing

There are many resources for finding houses and apartments of base. One of the best websites is The Automated Housing Referral Network (www.AHRN.com) which is a trusted housing referral resource for the military community around the world designed to assist the military community locate available housing.

Other options include craigslist (be careful and look for red flags that could indicate a scam*), trulia.com, apartments.com, and rent.com. All of these websites will help you narrow down your search based on your criteria. Remember that whatever money you don’t pay in rent, goes straight into your pocket.

*To read more information on housing and rental scams, check out these resources on how to catch red flags:



Stressed from your big move? Here at Oahu Spine and Rehab we are here to help our patients and make their lives easier. We have multiple specialists all under one roof, including top physical therapists in Aiea. No matter what housing you pick for your family, OSR is located conveniently out the back gate of MCBH to help with all of chiropractic, massage therapy, and physical therapy needs. Give us a call if you have any questions or to book your consultation today 808-488-5555 or contact us here!









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