9 Differences Between Military Life vs Civilian Life

January 07, 2020

Switching between civilian life and military life is a balancing act. Adjusting between two different lives can be difficult, but with the right approaches and understandings, the transition can be an easy and enjoyable process. Read below to learn more about the differences between military life vs civilian life and tips on how to balance the two, from making friends to getting a job.


Friends Catching Up During Military to Civilian Life Transition


Understanding Military vs Civilian Life


Skill Set

When switching from military to civilian life, one of the biggest changes you will face is in regards to your skill set. In the military, you are trained to know many skills in very specific situations - situations that don’t occur on a regular basis in civilian life. It is easy to feel discouraged when your years of training no longer apply to your everyday life, but use this as an opportunity to grow your skills even further.


Self Care

In the military, caring about yourself is not as much of a priority as it is in civilian life. Your focus was more on your crew and the tasks at hand. Sure, you kept your body in great shape, but you never “splurged” on treating yourself. Transitioning into civilian life means you have new opportunities to spend more time and money buying high-quality personal care items such as shampoo, grooming products, makeup, and haircuts.



From friends to family, adjusting to your relationships after the military is an interesting shift. After time spent away and doing long distance, coming back into civilian life means finding how you fit in with the established lives of those who stayed home. Making plans to go out, setting roles within the family, and making new friends are all things that may seem foreign at first, but will make for a smoother transition.


Veteran Interviewing for Civilian Job



Transitioning to a civilian job is one of the more difficult transitions to make. This is namely because, as mentioned before, your military training has prepared you for different skills than the typical workforce requires. The key is figuring out how to turn your military skills into civilian workforce skills, such as leadership or team management. There are many resources to help veterans find the perfect civilian job.



Civilian life typically means you are going to be moving less than when you are in the military. Finding the right permanent type of housing for you and your family makes a huge impact on your lives - from school zones to job opportunities. This process can be intimidating after living on base or in military housing where decisions were more easily made based on assignments and the military provided financial assistance.



As just mentioned, financial changes can be a difficult difference in military life vs civilian life. In the military, you were offered financial assistance in many aspects of life, from housing and education to healthcare and savings. Be careful to not go overboard in spending in civilian life, as you are likely not familiar with all the expenses that come along with it. Plan a budget and be frugal in the early stages of transitioning to civilian life.


Financial Planning for Civilian Life



It is no secret that military life has some strict rules and expectations. This might be one of the biggest contrasts between military vs civilian life. Rigid schedules, tone of voice, responses to commands, and how you present yourself are just a few examples of things you will no longer need to adhere to as strictly when transitioning to civilian life. As a civilian, things are approached with more leniency.



When you are in the military, your crew becomes your family. Your military community has been through a lot together, which makes it understandable that you have a close bond. Leaving that community can be difficult, especially when your new community in civilian life cannot connect with you on all of your experiences. Try to network through friends, coworkers, and veteran groups to find a community that makes you feel comfortable and welcome.



Communicating in military life vs civilian life is extremely different. What may be a natural communication style for you may be frustrating to a civilian, and vice versa. Be patient during this time, and work through ways to communicate with your civilian friends, coworkers, and family. It is also important to learn how to communicate your needs, as the transition can be rough and knowing how to communicate can help cut down on frustration.


The differences between military life vs civilian life don’t have to be intimidating. See this change as a new adventure that will help you build new skills, make new relationships, and see the world in a whole new light. If you need assistance, reach out to veteran resources that provide help on things like managing finances, finding a job, continuing education, and more.

Back to Articles
At Lincoln Military Housing, Every Mission Begins at Home®

Our mission is to provide premier homes and outstanding management and maintenance services to military families, who deserve nothing less. We strive to understand the changing needs of military families and consider it our duty to improve the quality of life for those who live in our communities.

Subscribe for Updates

Recent Posts