Basic Allowance for Housing (BAH)

BAH is an additional pay program that helps service members afford the cost of off-base housing. BAH rates are based on rental costs in military housing areas across the country and vary by location, rank, and dependent status. The Department of Defense constantly monitors the rental market in more than 300 military housing areas. 

BAH is a stipend that helps service members pay for housing if they can’t get furnished government accommodations. It covers rental rates, renter’s insurance, and some utility costs. It’s based on your rank, location, and whether or not you have dependents. The Department of Defense sets military BAH rates based on local civilian rental market data. They’re devised through surveys that correlate civilian rental costs to the housing standards for each military rank.

The new system eliminates the “death spiral” that distorted housing allowances in the past. This phenomenon caused junior members with limited after-tax incomes to scrimp on housing and then report low expenses on the member survey. The resulting downward pressure on allowances drove down rates even more.

In addition to standard rates, the BAH program also offers a couple of special options. For instance, if you are stationed outside the United States and can’t use base housing, you might qualify for Overseas Housing Allowance. This is a different form of housing compensation that pays you a rate based on the cost of private-sector housing in your destination country. The benefit is a great way to help defray the cost of housing when you PCS overseas. As an added bonus, you can use it toward mortgage payments when you’re ready to buy your own home.

How Much BAH Does the Military give you

How Much BAH Does the Military give you?

The military gives you a basic housing allowance to cover the costs of renting or buying off-base private homes. This monthly payment is based on your location, rank, dependency status, and the local housing market where you’re stationed. It can help you determine the best place to live for your family.

Housing costs vary across the country and the world, so BAH rates adjust accordingly. Each year, the Defense Department collects data from renters across the nation and uses it to set the new rates that take effect the following January. Generally, rates change by 2%-5%, with bigger changes in hot markets.

If you’re in a high-cost-of-living area, a BAH boost can go a long way towards helping you find affordable living options. The military also offers a separate allotment for high-cost areas, called Cost of Living Adjustments (COLA).

Whether your duty station is in the city or out in the countryside, knowing how much BAH you can expect is important before you start looking for a home. You can also use a BAH calculator to estimate your rate before you move. And don’t forget that you might be eligible for the Overseas Housing Allowance, or OHA if your PCS orders take you outside the continental U.S. and you have to pay for private accommodations.

What is the DoD Housing Allowance for 2023 PHOTO 2

What is the DoD Housing Allowance for 2023?

Nearly all service members stationed stateside are going to see a boost in their monthly housing allowance, with rates rising on average by 12.1% for 2023, the Pentagon announced. The jump is the largest year-over-year increase in BAH history and reflects “the unique market conditions experienced across many locations nationwide over the past year,” according to a DOD press release.

Rates vary by rank, location, and whether a member has dependents. You can check your specific rate by entering your pay grade, duty station zip code, and dependency status in the DOD’s BAH calculator. But even with the increase, BAH won’t cover 100% of your off-post housing costs. It’s designed to cover about 95% of your expenses.

BAH rates are calculated based on data from 300 military housing areas, including both median current rent and utilities. The Department of Defense relies on a variety of data sources, including rental cost databases, online rental listing websites, census information, and more, to set the rates. And once a BAH rate is established, it remains in place. This is because the DOD is committed to preserving a compensation structure that provides members with appropriate and sustainable living.

In September, the DOD authorized temporary automatic BAH increases in 28 housing areas with high prices. That extension will expire Dec. 31.

Is BAH Paid Monthly or Bimonthly?

If you are a single service member without dependents, BAH is designed to offset renting costs in your location. BAH is examined yearly to ensure that it adequately reflects the rent price and utilities in different areas. This is done by increasing previous year’s rates by the national average percentage increase in those costs.

DTMO collects data on the cost of rent and utilities in military housing areas around the country to determine each year’s BAH rates. This information is compiled into profiles for apartments, townhouses/duplexes, and single-family rental units of varying sizes in each area. In addition, BAH is based on an overall location’s median cost of living.

Each year, the BAH rates are reviewed and updated. This is to ensure that they accurately reflect the price of living in each geographic location and that they are comparable to non-military areas. A “comparably priced” rate is used instead for locations with no local BAH rate.

There are some special circumstances that can affect a service member’s BAH, such as married members who choose to live separately. In these situations, they receive separate BAH amounts. In addition, reservists on active duty for 30 or more days and those who are in transit from a location with no prior BAH are entitled to a Partial Basic Allowance for Housing (PBAH). They are paid the PBAH rate for their destination in the U.S.