I recently have met a lot of new people here in Okinawa. Ive made some great friends out of the clubs and playgroups etc. There seems to be this tiny battle about on base housing vs. off base housing. Maybe not a battle, but Ive heard a tad too much arguing about it so Id like to clear a few things up. Most of the people Ive met are on base (first timers on island so off base is intimidating I think). They tend to tell others, or incoming people, that living off base is a bad idea and that you pretty much go broke doing so.
We actually save money by living off base but thats not the point. Why put a negative imagine in someones mind before even getting here? Why not explore all of your options before deciding? I prefer off base because you get so many more options that fit your needs. Such as, we are a family of 4, we need way more space than a tower (highrise apartment building) can offer. It might be tough to look and it might take some time. But the right house is out there for everyone. I think I can speak pretty well from experience because Ive lived on base in Okinawa, and off base. Our on base house was small, SUPER old, and was in a cul de sac so every single thing you did or said was known by the neighborhood. Not really my style.
And as far as the money, like I said we save money, but thats just us. Ive seen people go broke living off base (but maybe some of us can handle our finances a tad better than others) and Ive seen people save a lot too. At first yes, its tough to start out with. But let me ask you this...if you were moving to a different country with nothing but your household goods (no cars, etc) wouldnt you have a good amount of cash saved up? I sure as hell would! So with that being said, it costs to move in. But its not much different from the states. When you move into a rental place in the states you USUALLY owe first month, last month and security deposit right up front. Its the same here, except the rent is way high. Around 180,000 Yen for an e5, all the way up to 255,000 Yen for an e9. You need first and last month plus the agency fee which is half of your rent. Some people pay all of this money out of pocket and some take the advance from IPAC and pay it back over a years time. So its not much different than the states at all.
I also keep hearing/reading that off base houses are tiny, and dirty and the conditions are overall bad. Ive posted the pics of my house on here so you know what they look like. But my husband is an E6 and we found a 2000 sq ft, with a garage and fenced in backyard. I am 100% sure that doesnt exist on base. Living off base always gives you the freedom to live without the ridiculous rules. For example, I can run with headphones off base!! (I know it sounds lame, but I got yelled at for running on base with headphones! Its against the "law") Also, my grass doesnt have to be below 3 inches tall...no one is going to take a ruler to the my yard. I can have little fires at BBQ's at my house. I can be as loud or as quiet and no one will call the MP's on me. And last but not least and also my favorite...no nosy, catty, evesdropping, talking behind your back military wives are going to say a thing about me after I shut my door!! Yahoo! Dont get me wrong, I have tons of military wife friends. And I know you ALL arent bitches :)
SO, my point is. Dont listen to the jibber jaber from bitter wives who hate Okinawa on Facebook or any other site giving "advice" about this duty station. You have options. Explore them. The grass isnt always greener on base! If you have any grass that is.