Originally Posted by FI by 2024
if military personnel always followed the 5 year rule none of us would own a house before separation/retirement. So I was hoping for discussion that weighed the timeframe against the other aspects
During my military career, I bought three times and rented all the others. The three home purchases were when I had controlled four year assignments, so there was a decent level of predictability and stability. The first time worked out OK; I neither made nor lost any money when I sold. The second time I had my controlled tour shortened to just three years, and again I neither lost nor gained at the end of it. The third time, I was reassigned after only two years, and because of a booming market I actually made a substantial profit. But I considered that extremely lucky, not good planning.
So in my experience it all comes down to what the real estate market is like at the time of buying and selling. If I had it to do over again, I would probably opt to rent instead of buying in a three year assignment, simply to avoid the hassles and uncertainty. All of my other assignments were in cities ranging from midsize to extremely large, and my rental experiences were uniformly good.
The other factor, for me at least, is that I want to really get to know a location well before I can feel confident about just where to buy. That takes at least a year for me.