Preparing for VA Loans Using a Cost of Living Calculator

There’s a page at CNN Money’s website (money.cnn.com) that offers a cost of living calculator that could help those looking for a home to buy with VA loan benefits. Finding an affordable home in a market that appeals to you is definitely top-of-mind for those in the market for a house, but military home loan applicants don’t always have the luxury of picking their housing market thanks to military career moves, reassignments and other military duty requirements.
 
Using a cost of living calculator in these situations is more about knowing what to expect from your housing market and preparing for those conditions. Some borrowers--especially those new to the military and early in their careers--may need to save more or make alternative budgets and financial plans to accommodate a more expensive housing market.
 
But the good news for these borrowers? Many times there is an increase in certain military pay and benefits depending on the location you’re being sent. A higher housing allowance might be available to offset the cost of living in some areas, and depending on the nature of your military duty, instructor pay, flight pay, even hazardous duty pay could be available under the right circumstances.
 
That’s what it’s important to look at the big picture when it comes to military pay and allowances--your base pay alone may not be enough to cover your expenses for housing and other monthly bills AND make the VA debt-to-income ratio requirement. But the housing allowance you might get in your area could definitely be included in your debt to income ratio calculation, so it’s important to remember to include that sum in your loan application data under income.
 
Using a cost of living calculator is important preparation to explore the housing market you want to purchase in, but if you don’t know what type of special housing pay you might be entitled to based on your military assignment, it’s best to do some research on that before trying to get pre-approved for a VA mortgage loan---the numbers you learn about could change how you approach your home purchase.

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