If you are new to the military and are being stationed in Jacksonville, you may be slightly unfamiliar with the aspect of military housing. Military housing provides those in the military the option to live on or off-base. There may not be a choice however depending on your situation and rank.
Military members that are single and of relatively low rank most likely will have to live in the barracks or dorms. This may not be the case however if you join the military with a high enough rank, as you may have an option to live off-base. Military with dependents have more military housing options and can choose where they live, both on and off-base. Most families will choose to live off-base, but many military bases have been improving their family housing as of late.
In terms of military housing on-base, what branch you serve and what rank you have will determine how you will live. In terms of living in the barracks, your rank or branch may determine if you are able to live alone, or have roommates. For example the Navy and the Air Force may provide you with your own room, while the Marines will most likely have you live with a roommate. All of this varies with the rank and influence you will have in your own branch however.
So what else can I tell you about military housing on-base? Well for one thing it is a lot cheaper. Moving off base means you lose your housing and food allowance, and that rent is taken from your base pay. There is also always free food in the chow hall however, even if for some reason you decide to live off-base.
Something else I should mention about military housing on-base is that cohabitation is not allowed. What this means is that you cannot have a significant other or guest stay with you in the dorms. Even as a single, if you are heavily involved with someone, you may want to consider living off-base.
Now let's talk about living off-base. Off-base military housing is much like living in an apartment complex, with residential access to amenities and features that the complex provides. There is great freedom in living off-base, but there is also great cost.
You have to be willing to pay for your food, utilities, rent, and more. Unless you are entering the military with a bit of wealth, I probably would not recommend it. I would advise you to wait until you have a high enough rank, so that you can utilize some of the perks higher ranking officials get living off-base.
Overall military housing on-base is cheaper while off-base housing is more luxurious. On-base dorms are becoming nicer, with many bases changing and updating the quality of living for their residents. With on-base military housing beginning to reach up to the standards of off-base housing, I would suggest staying on-base if you are a low rank entrant. Utilize the military benefits you have now, until you are able to gain more later.