You could PCS to the moon, it doesn't change the fact that 400,000 active duty families are PCS'ing every single year and need a place to live. At JBLM, there are less than 5,300 homes on base, and over 40,000 families stationed there. So the demand and need for off base places to live is massive. Other bases follow very similar ratios.
As for housing market dips, that's a part of any and all markets, especially stock and bond markets. However, like stocks, you don't lose money when the market dips, and your mortgage payments don't change either. Any money lost in a correction or dip is only a paper loss, unless you sell for less than what you owe, which you would never do. We buy real estate with the intent of holding it for 10-15 years to take advantage of depreciation and other tax benefits before we 1031 tax exchange it.
You would never buy a property that doesn't cashflow when you buy it, so the market tanking should affect you virtually 0%. In a crash or serious correction, rents may take small dips, but only in extreme cases would that affect your ability to break even. As a rule, we would never invest in assets that produce less than $200/door/mo. If you're maximizing your VA loan to purchase a triplex or 4-plex, you shouldn't ever be pushed up against that wall.
By the way our tenants? active duty military who have guaranteed income and BAH, so your investment is further insulated from things like recession as well.
Buying houses to live in as a primary are not a bad investment. You're still capturing BAH, tax benefits, appreciation, and equity. Still beats the absolute pants off giving all of your money away to someone else's mortgage.
Everyone has a different risk tolerance. I'm not here to sell anything. But, we have built a road map to maximize BAH in conjunction with the VA home loan that has worked for a lot of military families. There's risk in all investments, as investors the #1 question we ask is how to mitigate and/or eliminate that risk. When you look at having the right system to run your real estate portfolio, there are a lot of ways we bring risk way down. But still, it's not for everyone all the time, but certainly relevant to this conversation. I appreciate your questions, and again, you've done a kickass job navigating so far, and cheers to that continuing! These are the stories we love to hear.