RAFairman's Blog

An RAF Airman's Blog


It is a truism that military life is a cosseted environment. If you want it to be your whole life can be supplied by the military.

You can, in fact, spend the whole of your life on base. Your house. The base shop. The school on base. The messes. The education centre, the dental centre, the doctors. The gym. Everything you could possibly ever need is inside the fence. On tap. For free (or at least at a very much reduced cost).

Unless you want to, your whole life can be spent behind the wire. Leaving you in a nice safe, warm, fuzzy environment with like-minded people who share a job, an employer, a lifestyle similar to yours.

But one day that has to end. Like death and taxes, it’s a certainty that one day you will cease to be in the military and you will have to leave that environment. And when you leave it, you literally leave it behind. You have to leave the safety of the wire and head out into the real world…on your own.

You have to find your own house, a job, a doctor…everything at ‘normal people’ have to do, but you have to do it all at the same time and all involve each other. For a group of people who have had their whole life easily mapped and provided for them, this is a really difficult thing to do.

Take, for instance, getting a house. We have a small deposit that would just about make 10% of the purchase price of a house where we want to live. But because we are both leaving the forces, we will have a much much larger amount of cash available in the future. But these funds don’t come through until about a month after you have left the military, so it means that the full amount available to us won’t be ready until the middle of January at least. Meaning that it makes sense NOT to try and fight for a mortgage (that a lender probably wouldn’t give to us based on our initially meagre (but survivable on) pensions from the service that similarly start a month after our discharge), but instead to wait until we have a huge deposit and then apply for a smaller mortgage.

But this leaves the problem of where to live. Our entitlement to a house runs out three months after our discharge…meaning that yeah, we could wait in the married quarter for the cash, but then be really up against it to find a house and have the purchase go through in time before we are quite literally made homeless.

So we have made up our minds to rent for 6 mons or so, just to tide us over whilst we relocate to our preferred area and then have a base to buy the house we want with a bit more leisure and leeway.

But this is a bit of a nightmare itself. To rent anywhere decent you really need to be employed, rather than ‘between jobs’ but to get a job you really need to have a base for those jobs, and yet to get a base for the jobs you need to be employed.

A viscous circle that has lead to a lot of phone calls to and from agents, and some…well not actual lies…or even real untruths…just extensions of the truth. Like saying that although we are relocating, I will be continued to be paid by the MoD until next year (true…I will be on my terminal leave until my discharge date of 11th Dec, and my last payday should be 31st December)…

This all just adds to the stress. The future is uncertain enough, but when you have nothing certain…no home, no work, an income of 1/3 of what you previously had…it is just too much. All coming at the same time means that each one of the most stressful things that can happen in your life…all come together at the same time. It means that tempers fray. Patience runs short. You wake up at night not knowing if you ARE going to have somewhere to live…or what you are actually going to do for work.

And this makes you tired. It makes you more testy and tetchy and you argue of little things and you can’t enjoy anything…and you stress and stress and stress. And everything is just so difficult you feel like running away and hiding, even though you know you can’t.


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7 thoughts on “Difficult…

  1. If you’re staying local to your last posting you can play the system and just not leave your quarter. After the 3 months DFA (or their current incarnation) cannot make you homeless and in my previous experience (admittedly a little dated) you cannot by law be made homeless. Most local authorities will not rehouse you as you are in accommodation so the rent used to get raised to the local average. You have to be bloody minded about it but IMHO reversing the bloody minded battle with DFA for a few months would be a nice pay back. It’s playing the system but…..

  2. I really think the Military should take all of the above in to consideration! Wish you the best of luck, hang in there, it’s all going to work out fine,keep talking to each other about your feelings (I’m sure you do!)
    Many years ago my sister was married to a man who was an officer in the merchant navy. He had never had to fend for himself either as he had gone from naval College to sea. I have some understanding of the difficulties that brings.
    My late husband’s step father used to say (often at the most annoying times) “It’s all part of life’s rich tapestry” . Don’t forget just how strong you are 🙂

  3. I think the all people in the services should get help to relocate,, you have given them your life,, and i mean lift you lived and breathed the RAF,, same as the Army do,, most leave with OCD too, so i think they should help people finacially to re house of Base,, but also help with other stuff too,, providing you with info on drs, dentists ect, as well as getting you used to civie life too,,

  4. Are you sure you didn’t serve in the U.S. armed forces? We call that Catch 22 after the book by the same name.

    Best of luck with the transition.

  5. …but, somehow, you will get through it, & when you’re done, you will be able to sit back , reflect & say to each other, “Jeez! Thats was tight…but we made it!”

  6. David Thomas on said:

    When I came out after 12 years in the RAF in 1996 I had the same problem. We ended up paying damages for trespass to them for the 6 months we stopped in our quarter until we found somewhere to buy. We had the odd letter but as the local council wasn’t interested we had no choice.
    Best of luck with whatever you do in the future.
    You will miss the mob, I know I still do now. But I’m glad I made the decision to go

  7. Navy wife on said:

    My husband is just coming to terms with most of the problems you mention. He’s on terminal leave from the RN as a result of involuntary redundancy, after giving them 12 years of his life (and actually mine & our children’s lives too). We luckily or unluckily (they both have pros and cons) had just bought our own house a month before the captain handed him the letter. We are lucky we have somewhere to live yes, but now we have to be able to meet mortgage payments, council tax etc etc with him out of work and me having given up my career (which would now require lengthy retraining to pick back up) because of the demands of family life with a husband who was deploying for a minimum of 6 months every year. The GPs and dentists are easily sorted however watching a husband and father reel from the blow of redundancy from an employer he devoted his life too and trying to find employment elsewhere whilst feeling he has failed us is heartbreaking and more difficult to deal with. I wish you well in your civvie life if you can find a way to play the system to your advantage with regards to housing then do it.

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