Army Aviation can be very stable. With three major units in one location, many settle in Mid Suffolk. Indeed it gave my children enough stability that they settled there but I wanted to come back to Scotland.
There were some practical reasons (better facilities, public transport, and less need to drive everywhere) and some personal (friends and family).
Buying in Scotland
Buying a house is stressful enough but being based in a different part of the country to where you’re buying adds an additional layer of complexity.
- Housing briefs and guidance on Forces Help To Buy (FHTB) are aimed at buying in England.
- You need to view properties to enter a notice of interest and properties can sell quickly. Plan leave to make viewings and have a friend or relative ready to attend viewings on your behalf.
- Research and contact a conveyancing solicitor early, so when you do find somewhere you can move quickly. Ensure you’ve all the evidence you need for ID checks. Make sure that they are familiar with FHTB (if you’re using it) and be clear that it is not the Scottish Government Help To Buy scheme.
- Let estate agents know that you’re in the Forces, even if it’s an email enquiry through Right Move. We had an odd exchange where after some agents hadn’t responded, I called them and one told me that they saw an English postcode and assumed we were looking for buy to let.
Forces Help To Buy
FHTB can be recovered from your pension but you must notify Defence Business Services at least 30 days before discharge. Otherwise it will be processed as Crown Debt and reclaimed from your final pay statement with the remaining balance taken from terminal benefits. The process is painless but call Joint Personnel Administration Centre (JPAC) and they’ll explain the process. Unit HR will not know about this process, as it only affects those who have left service.
There is no longer a guaranteed move out service from Service Families Accommodation, but when you arrange your pre march-out ask if there’s a cleaning service they work with. We paid a little under £600 to have the quarter cleaned, repainted upstairs, and the garden done to the required standard. It reduced stress and to me was worth the cost.
Be firm with the march-out, especially when you’ve been in one place a long time. Wear and tear is acceptable. If you are charged for anything you feel unfair, challenge it. There’s a bit of a backlog anyway and I have been told by more than one Defence Estate employee that charges are never upheld when challenged.
If like me you’ll have a few months commuting between your station and home, then speak to your chain of command. If you have a decent commander, you might be able to arrange remote working (depending on your trade) or a shift pattern that allows regular long weekends.
Use travel warrants, there are seven with full entitlement. Speak to your leave and movements clerk and your Individual Education and Resettlement Officer (IERO). There’s considerable flexibility, although warrants need to be attached to a Graduated Resettlement Training (GRT) application, if taken on a weekend it doesn’t deduct a day. They can also be open return, giving you up to 30 days to make the return journey.