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Discuss What's your experience? - Do you rent, buy or use SFA? in Patch and Pads on Rear Party; Hi Everyone I'm new here and have posted this same thread on the ARRSE forum as well - I'm really wanting as much response as possible. I'm looking for feedback/opinions for some market research I'm ...
  
  1. #1
    Junior Member Markus76's Avatar
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    What's your experience? - Do you rent, buy or use SFA?

    Hi Everyone

    I'm new here and have posted this same thread on the ARRSE forum as well - I'm really wanting as much response as possible.

    I'm looking for feedback/opinions for some market research I'm doing for a business plan and am interested to know what's more popular amongst service personnel and their families - do the majority of you prefer to rent property, apply for SFA (if applicable) or actually buy a property near base and then rent it out or sell when you and your partner receive a new posting?

    What are the major issues/obstacles you face when moving posting? Is there anything or any service that could make your move easier (other than a large lump sum of cash!! )

    If posted overseas and have a posting back to the UK pending how hard is it for you and or your partner to secure private rented accomodation or buy back in the UK whilst you are still abroad?

    All feedback will be really appreciated plus your input will be used in order to develop a service that stands to benefit all armed forces personnel and their families.

    Please feel free to post your replies here or PM me.

    Thanks everyone for any help or input you can provide.

    Mark Stanley.
    If you fail to plan then you plan to fail

  2. #2
    Moderator bodger's Avatar
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    Re: What's your experience? - Do you rent, buy or use SFA?

    Hi. Blimey, the list could be endless!!

    Personally, I prefer to use SFA, the thought of having to buy and sell a property every 18 months to 2 years isn't a comfortable one! Neither is it practical in any way shape or form.

    There are so many things which could make life easier on posting, none of which I should think are what you'll be planning on being able to provide. I'd love not to have a complete battle with HIC trying to get into the housing area which I want; I'd love to have first choice of all the best schools in the local area!!!! (as if). I'd like to find an NHS dentist for all the family and not have to beg and lie through my teeth to do it. I want to be able to find a doctor that isn't the worst in the area because the others 'don't take service personnel'.

    So far as moving back from overseas is concerned, I'd like someone to take over my new quarter for me in the UK and accept all the kit in storage before I hit the ground running after a 48 hour journey with two kids!

    So that's my wish list. Probably of no help to you whatsoever I'm afraid!

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    Re: What's your experience? - Do you rent, buy or use SFA?

    None of the above.

    We bought a house where I work and my husband lives in the block during the week and comes home at weekends. Not ideal but we decided we'd rather have a stable base and as I have a career that doesn't lend itself to moving every 3 years (and which we are both determined I won't give up) this seemed the only option.

  4. #4
    Junior Member Markus76's Avatar
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    Re: What's your experience? - Do you rent, buy or use SFA?

    Thanks for the input bodger and kazzam. As I say the more feedback the merrier!

    Sounds like there's quite a lot of 'social' issues if moving from post to post - what's this about GP's not accepting service personnel!!?? Surely that's illegal to discriminate?

    So if there was a re-settlement facility that allowed you to search and arrange some of these necessities on-line i.e. registration with NHS GP's and Dentists that weren't the dreggs of the barrel so to speak and arrange acceptance of the new quarter and stuff from storage do you think it would prove popular, Kazzam?

    Out of interest what's the general protocol for handover of the new quarter? As this is unfamiliar territory for me I wonder how happy 'the powers that be' might be with the concept of handing over to someone acting on behalf of the main occupier...any thoughts anyone??

    Anyhow, keep the feedback coming - all in-sights and suggestions (as off the wall as they may be) warmly received. My goal is to develop a service that provides support where it's required and also gives something back to the service personnel charities as well.

    All the best

    Mark
    If you fail to plan then you plan to fail

  5. #5
    Moderator bodger's Avatar
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    Re: What's your experience? - Do you rent, buy or use SFA?

    Anybody can take over a quarter on behalf of the occupier but I've only ever used other service personnel or 'wives of' so I'm not sure whether it would work with somebody completely unconnected. It's just a case of walking around, making sure everything's in order and making a written note of any faults.

    So far as the doctors and not taking service personnel, it's pretty difficult to get past the bloody receptionist if you're a registered patient so it's a nightmare if you're just a nobody to them. Yes, it's definitely discrimination, but sometimes the battle just isn't worth it. The treatment I got from one practice in London was disgraceful and I'm pretty glad I didn't end up with that crowd looking after my kids' health!!

    Although it'd be a nice idea to get all the doctors, dentists etc sorted out prior to the move, I don't think it'd be entirely possible. That's the sort of stuff you have to do in the first mad week of arriving unfortunately! I can do all the research on line but until I've got a firm address (and that can change in a heartbeat) there's not a lot I can do.

    I thought of one thing that would be useful though. When we bring pets back from overseas (far, far away, not BFG particularly) they need collecting from the airport. That would be handy. Some of the pet carriage firms charge an absolute fortune for that. Also, arranging for the new car to be delivered to the airport would be great too.

    Like I said, the list is endless!

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    Junior Member Markus76's Avatar
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    Re: What's your experience? - Do you rent, buy or use SFA?

    Hmm...food for thought there, thanks bodger...as you say, not quite what I originally had planned but then again that's the whole point of market research eh?!!

    The pet/car issues are also an interesting development too - from your previous experience it would be good to know how extortionate is an absolute fortune and what would be a more tolerable amount to pay for the delivery of pet to home service. Out of interest what airports could we be talking here? Gatwick, Heathrow and Manchester?

    The suggestion of the handover has already got my mind running and I have several ideas on that front, also what about a marching orders cleaning service function, for when you're shipping out to another posting? Would that be of interest too?

    When you get chance it would be interesting to know what price you feel folk might be prepared to pay for a company to take charge of the handover incl checking and making an inventory and receiving the items into the house from storage ready for you to simply move in.

    If you feel like putting any more items down on that endless list feel free to add them as and when, or PM me if that's better.

    Anyway, thanks again for the input - really great - and if anybody else has any comments feel free to jump right on in.

    All the best

    Mark.
    If you fail to plan then you plan to fail

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    Moderator Gonzo's Avatar
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    Re: What's your experience? - Do you rent, buy or use SFA?

    SFA all the way. I own a home that I rent out and will probably sell when OH gets out, but it makes life easier for us to have SFA. Besides the fact that the current economic climate in UK makes it very difficult for anyone to borrow , even for mortgages now.

    I suppose the only thing that I would say is that battalians need to have a more structured way of introducing new families/wives to other wives because it can be a very lonely existence otherwise. That and the job market need's to be advertised more and made more readily available.
    viros non paenitet


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    Senior Member MrsBobster's Avatar
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    Re: What's your experience? - Do you rent, buy or use SFA?

    Are you aware that there is an MoD Study on this going on at the moment? A Survey has just gone out from the Chief of General Staff's office to all service personnel to ask pretty much exactly the same questions that you have asked above! It's only just out, came across my desk this morning.

    Where I am there are no problems with Dr's due to a familes med centre on camp, dentists are OK to as the retired dental officer from here opened a surgery locally and gives priority to service dependants. (we are lucky!).

    In some places you can get a cleaner who has an agreement with DE to clean your house to move out standard (or your money back) depending on size of house and area this can be upwards of 270.

    As for 'Proxy' handovers (as with cleaner above) this unit usaully has someone from the Welfare Dept to do the handovers. I (personally) do not think that either DE or service people themselves would like an 'outside' company to do this for them. The people I speak to (I work in welfare) would rather it was a militay person or someone with SFA personal sexperience to do the handover due to the charges that are placed against individuals if at marchout your SFA is not to the desired standard. Also, a friend or the Welfare Dept do not charge for their time.

    Also, we will remain in SFA as it is not financially feesable (sorry pregnancy hormones stop me from spelling properly) to buy a new house very 2 years or less if my hubby has to move quickly. We own a house in our home area that we rent out and will either sell that or move into it when hubby leaves the Army (if ever, ha ha). We get help with the renting out of this house from the company that is contacted by the MoD to arrange 'hirings' surplus quarters in areas that there is a lack of SFA.

    Only objects we encounter in an SFA is the new house being smaller than last one and not having enough room for our furniture. But thats been about it so far.
    They said it could'nt be done, so I did'nt do it

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    Junior Member Markus76's Avatar
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    Re: What's your experience? - Do you rent, buy or use SFA?

    Hi samm1551 and Susiesoo - thanks for your comments and thoughts. Sounds like SFA is by far the accomodation option of choice right now. I guess it makes sense given the current economic situation too.

    The jobs and social networking side of things sounds of interest samm1551 - not quite sure yet how I could develop something to fit that need and make it earn its keep (and pay for mine) but will see what I can do! I have a few ideas in mind already though that may be of interest as and when they see the light of day - will keep you posted.

    Susiesoo - Freaky how coincidences can happen in life! Nope, had no idea about the MoD study you mentioned (I'm just a bog standard Civvie with no links to the forces whatsoever except these forums). The reason I got interested in this aspect of army life was because of reading an article elsewhere about an estate agent who had set up near a Garrison base in response to the proposed influx of people due to move to the area as the base expands over the next two years, and of course the long running debate about the actual quality of forces housing...

    You mentioned you had access to the families med centre - in your experience is this an exception or the rule with respect to many of the other bases? It helps me build a better and bigger picture of the nature of need/demand - if any.

    Thanks also for your honnest feedback re the Proxy handovers and marchout cleaning - it's good to understand the nature and extent of demand from all angles. Re the SFA situation and the size of the property - from other feedback I've had elsewhere this issue has come up before and is of interest to me. I believe that you usually don't know what the size or layout of the house will be like until you arrive, is that correct? Would it be beneficial if you did have some way to see what the house was like and to know rough layouts before you made the move, thus allowing you to plan your move more effectively? I'd be interested to hear everyone's opinion on this if you'd like to offer it.

    In the meantime thanks once again everybody for all your thoughts - feel free to keep them coming - and good luck with the baby Susiesoo.

    Mark
    If you fail to plan then you plan to fail

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    Moderator Gonzo's Avatar
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    Re: What's your experience? - Do you rent, buy or use SFA?

    Mark,

    Med & Dental Ctr's are for the serving personnel and dependants if serving abroad and in UK for serving personnel only.

    Sam
    viros non paenitet


    "Wit is educated insolence."

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    Senior Member bootifull's Avatar
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    Re: What's your experience? - Do you rent, buy or use SFA?

    I always use the Army med Ctr rather than the local GP surgery......never had any issues!
    Mimi: "I'm a fat f*ck. I'm a f*cking fat f*cker".

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    Junior Member dippydora's Avatar
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    Re: What's your experience? - Do you rent, buy or use SFA?

    (Quote - I believe that you usually don't know what the size or layout of the house will be like until you arrive, is that correct? Would it be beneficial if you did have some way to see what the house was like and to know rough layouts before you made the move, thus allowing you to plan your move more effectively? I'd be interested to hear everyone's opinion on this if you'd like to offer it. Unquote)

    This would be ideal for us, however I don't think they like us to know in advance otherwise we would all be refusing them lol

    My bugbear is the procedure for applying accepting or REFUSING a MQ trying to find out what your rights are is diffucult and the Housing Information Centres don't like you to know as it makes more work for them..!!!!

    Anything would be useful ie. number and size of rooms, example (picture) of a kitchen/bathroom proximity to shops, do we have a shower? room for a dishwasher/tumbledrier etc facilities, Information about the area (i.e is it rough? They usually are...) Which are the best streets in an area to move into, ie less crime, best for school catchment areas.

    It is really difficult to pack up and move and not have any idea about what house/area you are going to move into.

    Every house I have moved into have to buy my own curtains/blinds catflaps etc. so maybe someway of recycling/ hiring these or passing them on to someone else moving into the area rather than scrapping them. :

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    Junior Member dippydora's Avatar
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    Re: What's your experience? - Do you rent, buy or use SFA?

    Another thought.....

    I own my own home but have to rent it out as we keep moving about, being a complete novice at home renting, I had no idea of which insurances I needed (my household insurance was not adequate!) tax issues, what are my rights and obligations as a Landlord (huge minefield!!!!) Big legal problems (I have been totally ripped off due to lack of knowledge)
    I would rather rent to someone in the Forces who perhaps does not want to live on camp/board or married SFA, but where do I find them?
    A one stop shop that, as a forces person I could go to that would deal with everything would be a huge help.
    Only two years until OH leaves the forces yippee no longer a second class citizen

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    Senior Member MrsBobster's Avatar
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    Re: What's your experience? - Do you rent, buy or use SFA?

    Some UK stations have a families Med centre like here but not all. It is a local surgery who have bid for an won a contract to provide an on site service for dependants. Not all are great (blandford...) but Im lucky all the places we have been posted have had an on site medical centre. Surgery not open everyday though thats the only draw back.
    They said it could'nt be done, so I did'nt do it

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    Senior Member bootifull's Avatar
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    Re: What's your experience? - Do you rent, buy or use SFA?

    Quote Originally Posted by dippydora
    This would be ideal for us, however I don't think they like us to know in advance otherwise we would all be refusing them lol

    My bugbear is the procedure for applying accepting or REFUSING a MQ trying to find out what your rights are is diffucult and the Housing Information Centres don't like you to know as it makes more work for them..!!!!
    Anything would be useful ie. number and size of rooms, example (picture) of a kitchen/bathroom proximity to shops, do we have a shower? room for a dishwasher/tumbledrier etc facilities, Information about the area (i.e is it rough? They usually are...) Which are the best streets in an area to move into, ie less crime, best for school catchment areas.

    It is really difficult to pack up and move and not have any idea about what house/area you are going to move into.

    Every house I have moved into have to buy my own curtains/blinds catflaps etc. so maybe someway of recycling/ hiring these or passing them on to someone else moving into the area rather than scrapping them. :
    It's not that hard to find out!
    Defence Estates site tells you everything and the AFF have a good housing rep too.

    Only ever had to buy curtains because I wanted to....

    There is no law to say you have to live in SFA it is a choice and one which I love
    Mimi: "I'm a fat f*ck. I'm a f*cking fat f*cker".

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    Moderator bodger's Avatar
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    Re: What's your experience? - Do you rent, buy or use SFA?

    Boots is right. Everything you need to know or could possibly want to know is there for the taking, you just need to scout around for it. JSP's and DII are your friend!! Knowing what your rights are and pre-empting any sort of problem would not make more work for HIC, it would make more work for them if and when you have to go back to them and quote chapter and verse. Forewarned is forearmed and all that!

    As far as prior knowledge of the room sizes of any potential SFA is concerned, as I understand it a number of years ago floor plans were trialled, in NI I think. I believe it was successful and they planned to roll it out throughout. It's probably still in the pipeline though!

    As far as your curtains are concerned, have a look at what the Disturbance Allowance covers. I think you'll find that you're reimbursed for curtain alterations. Not bad considering they're actually included in the property anyway! And why do you bin them? Odds are on that you'll move into a quarter sometime in the future where they'll fit.

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    Junior Member dippydora's Avatar
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    Re: What's your experience? - Do you rent, buy or use SFA?

    It's not that hard to find out!
    Defence Estates site tells you everything and the AFF have a good housing rep too.

    Only ever had to buy curtains because I wanted to....

    There is no law to say you have to live in SFA it is a choice and one which I love


    I know that the information is out there, but I personally think that we should not have to spend ages trawling through Defence estates websites to find out my rights, I feel that I should be offered the information when I apply for housing, (My opinion!!!) not everyone has internet access or knows where to look.

    I too only buy curtains when I want to, which is 90% of the houses I have lived in and thank you very much MOD for my relocation allowance, I was not criticising them for that, merely stating that sometimes when I have moved I have not been able to re-use my blinds/curtains in the next house and would rather have been able to leave them for someone who may get the use out of them. The house I am in now has two single wardrobes and an airing cupboard the size of a large suitcase and I have no space to store extra blinds/curtains etc. and so have had to dispose of them, much to my dismay.

    Again I know there is no law which says I have to live in a married quarter, but as Markus76 asked our opinion on postings/moves I thought he would be interested in what I had to say. I did not realize that my opinion would result in such a blunt response.
    I won't bother again.
    Only two years until OH leaves the forces yippee no longer a second class citizen

  18. #18
    Moderator bodger's Avatar
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    Re: What's your experience? - Do you rent, buy or use SFA?

    Dippy, you've taken offense when none was intended. But I have to say that if we were all provided with a copy of our 'rights' to housing every time we applied for SFA, then we'd have reams of paper shoved through the door. The majority of which doesn't apply and nine times out of ten people wouldn't read. Your husband knows where to find it, give him the job!!

  19. #19
    Senior Member South's Avatar
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    Re: What's your experience? - Do you rent, buy or use SFA?

    Quote Originally Posted by bodger
    As far as prior knowledge of the room sizes of any potential SFA is concerned, as I understand it a number of years ago floor plans were trialled, in NI I think. I believe it was successful and they planned to roll it out throughout. It's probably still in the pipeline though!
    They still give you the floor plans, as well as a photo of the front of the house when moving to NI, a friend has just moved there. Think that would be really useful, as well as what appliances I can fit in.

    Other than that, pretty happy with everything, although have only moved twice so am relatively new at this.

  20. #20
    Senior Member Boogie's Avatar
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    Re: What's your experience? - Do you rent, buy or use SFA?

    Quote Originally Posted by dippydora
    Another thought.....

    I own my own home but have to rent it out as we keep moving about, being a complete novice at home renting, I had no idea of which insurances I needed (my household insurance was not adequate!) tax issues, what are my rights and obligations as a Landlord (huge minefield!!!!) Big legal problems (I have been totally ripped off due to lack of knowledge)
    I would rather rent to someone in the Forces who perhaps does not want to live on camp/board or married SFA, but where do I find them?
    A one stop shop that, as a forces person I could go to that would deal with everything would be a huge help.
    Agreed.

    I would find this info useful too as we will be at some point renting our house out and a DIY guideline would be a big help!!

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