FactsHow Much Is Military Housing

How Much Is Military Housing


Disadvantages Of Living On Base

[Military Housing Allowance] How much you afford as a E1-E4
  • Lose all BAH: Since BAH is taken to cover rent and average electrical use, you wont see any of it, even if the service member gets promoted.
  • Fewer choices: Many houses are old, small, and uninteresting, and will not include any fancy amenities. You will be assigned a neighborhood and home based on the service members rank and number of dependents. You can turn down a house, but only once or twice.
  • Long waiting lists: Some base neighborhoods have waiting lists of 6 months-1 year. You should apply for housing as soon as you get orders, if you want to live on base.
  • May pay more for electricity: The RECP energy billing program uses neighborhood averages to compute your electric bill. Some military families on base pay much higher bills than average families off base. Read more about the program here.
  • Fishbowl effect: On base, everyone knows each others business. This can lead to drama and tension, depending on your personality.
  • Never really get away from work: The service member may be surrounded by co-workers and superiors, even when they come home. For some people, this makes it difficult to feel relaxed on base.

Types Of Military Housing

Military housing benefits vary depending on the type of housing where you reside. Depending on whether you live on base or off base, you may either get free housing but no additional money in your paycheck, or you may get a housing allowance and secure a residence yourself.

If you choose to live on base, housing will either be government owned or privatized. When its government owned, the Department of Defense owns and manages the property. Rather than receiving the Basic Allowance for Housing , the service member simply doesnt pay rent. Single or unaccompanied service members can choose to live in barracks, which are rent-free but may require shared rooms or bathrooms. Some branches require single service members below certain ranks to live in barracks.

If the base housing is privatized, which it now commonly is, the government has contracted out the housing to a private company. That company serves as your landlord and manages the property, and you will receive the BAH in your paycheck and use that to pay your rent and utilities.

In most areas, theres also the option to live off base. The government pays for your housing up to a certain amount, which gives you the freedom and flexibility to find the type of home and location you preferbut it can come with some additional headaches.

Should I Still Buy Renters Insurance

While the cost of renters insurance was removed from BAH calculations in 2015, its still a good idea to get renters insurance.

Typically, its not too expensive and covers your belongings in the event of loss, damage, theft or natural disasters.

Covering your belongings is your responsibility, not your landlords. You can learn more about renters insurance in this article. Its also not the militarys responsibility. If you live in the barracks, you should also consider purchasing renters insurance.

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Military Base Housing Pros And Cons Of Living On Base

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Every time a military family gets orders to a new base, they are faced with this important question: where to live? All married service members receive a Basic Allowance for Housing to cover their rent. The family can choose to live on base in government housing, in which case the BAH will be automatically deducted from the paycheck and sent to the property management company. If the family decides to live off base, they can rent or buy any property they choose and apply the BAH towards rent and utility bills.

There is no magic answer for which solution is best. In fact, there may be some bases where it is best for your family to live off base, and others where it works better to live on base. Our family has lived off base at two different locations, and on base twice, too. Every choice has its own pros and cons. In fact, there are so many factors to consider that we are breaking this into two different articles. Todays post will discuss the pros and cons of living ON base in military housing.

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Due to the nature of their job and the less than average income, service members receive housing allowances or have access to military housing facilities. Housing facilities include barracks for single or unaccompanied soldiers and on-base or near-base housing or apartment units for members with family. These accommodations are low-costin some instances free. Eligibility depends on your marital status, dependents, rank, and the availability of empty units at your duty station.

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If you are a member of the United States Army, you have probably become quite comfortable with the idea of moving around the country often. Although the military offers complimentary housing for all personnel within the confines of the base, some individuals may prefer to live within the larger community, particularly if they are married or have a family. For these individuals, the military offers what is known as a basic housing allowance. Although the size of these funds may vary, this money can help offset the costs of a mortgage for military personnel seeking to establish roots in the city they live in.

Retirees Civilians Want To Live In Base Housing Yes You Can

We all know that military members with families are eligible to live in base housing when it is available, while single troops are relegated to living in barracks, onboard ships or, if lucky enough, off base.

Did you know that the general public can also live in base housing?

Specifically, they can live in “privatized military housing.”

As part of the base housing privatization process legislated by Public Law 104-106, the Defense Department says that, when the number of vacant homes on any base rises above a certain level, the contractor can rent them to anyone it likes. The program is available on only some bases. Check with your local housing office for details.

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While all of the housing areas are different — some have yard maintenance and utilities included, while some don’t some will rent only to DoD civilians and military retirees, while others may rent to anyone each housing company has its own set of rules, but they generally follow the federal guidelines.

If you’re interested in living in a place where you may not have to worry about home or yard maintenance, paying utility bills or homeowners association fees, base housing may be for you. In fact, some of the companies that run the privatized housing call living on base “the ultimate gated community.”

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Basic Allowance For Housing Rates

Basic Allowance for Housing is a reimbursement paid to active military personnel living with the U.S. but not living in government furnished housing such as barracks.

Your monthly BAH pay is based on your location, rank and dependency status. The country is divided into 381 Military Housing Areas . MHAs are named after the closest military base or major city. These differing locality rates allow for granular calculation of average cost of renting in your area.

BAH rates are set by the Department of Defense. Rates are designed to cover the median cost of rental housing in the area surrounding your duty station.

The allowance is designed to cover the cost of rent, utilities, and renter’s insurance. Because BAH is considered a reimbursement, rather than payment, your housing allowance is tax-free.

Military personnel with dependents are paid a slightly higher allowance than those without dependents. Allowance rates are based on the Military Housing Area where your duty station is, not where you live.If you choose to live farther away from your duty station and commute your housing allowance may not equal your expenses exactly. If you spend more on housing than your allowance you would have to pay the remainder out-of-pocket.If you spend less than your allowance on housing you can keep the extra.

Use our Basic Housing Allowance Calculator to calculate your housing allowance or click on a state below to browse BAH rates.

How Are Bah Rates Calculated

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DoD employs a contractor to collect data on rental housing and utilities annually for 300 military housing areas during peak PCS season in the spring and summer. Data collection includes rental rates for apartments, townhouses/duplexes, and single-family rental units of varying bedroom sizes its grouped into six standard housing profiles used as anchor points.

Information is collected from online multiple listing services, subscription-based commercial rental housing datasets, real estate property management companies, and landlords. Contractors use this information to conduct screening and validation processes to establish availability and location of units, verify current rental rates, identify utility inclusions, and determine if discounts are available when signing a years lease. The goal is to gather enough data to attain a 95% statistical confidence that the estimated median rent is within 10% of the true median rent within the local market.

The 2022 BAH rates increased an average of 5.1%, boosting rates for 258 of the 300 MHAs but decreasing rates in the remaining 42.

But the calculation method isnt keeping pace with market trends. For example, BAH for an E-4 with dependents in San Diego is $2,676, but the average rent for a two-bedroom apartment, as of publication, is $3,095, according to Zumper, a housing market website.

The BAH Calculation Improvement Act will require DoD to report to Congress on:

It will also require recommendations on:

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Cons Of Living Off Base

  • You have to make sure the military clause is in the lease so you can legally break it if you get orders elsewhere.
  • If the landlord doesnt renew your lease or requires you to vacate before your tour ends, you have to find a new rental property. If you move to another off-base property, youre on your own with moving resources and expenses.
  • Though BAH and OHA rates often cover the majority of the costs of off-base rent, it doesnt always fully cover the cost, so you may pay some out of pocket .
  • If renting while OCONUS, you have to deal with currency conversion. Though the military does give an overseas cost of living allowance to members living abroad to account for the extra expenses, depending on where you live and what the currency version is like, its not always enough. For example, being stationed in England is notoriously expensive for American service members due to the punishing currency conversion rate.
  • You may be forced to buy or sell a property during a disadvantageous housing market due to the time frame of your assignment.

Living In Military Family Housing Or Living Off

Members who have dependents usually have the option of living on-base in the military family housing for free, or off-base and receive a monthly housing allowance. Members who are assigned to locations where dependents are not allowed to travel at government expense can live in the barracks for free, and still continue to receive the housing allowance , in order to provide a household for their family members.

At some bases, members may not have a choice. When I was stationed at Edwards Air Force Base, in California, all First Sergeants and many commanders were required by local regulation to live on-base. It is because the Wing Commander wanted his senior leadership readily available at all times. The closest livable off-base town is Lancaster, which is about 45 miles away from the main base.

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Basic Allowance For Housing Type Ii

Guard and Reserve members on active duty for less than 30 continuous days receive a different type of housing allowance than active duty members. This type of housing allowance is known as Basic Allowance for Housing, Type II, and pays less, on average than Basic Allowance for Housing Type I, which is based upon a member’s rank, dependency status and location of assignment.

BAH Type II, on the other hand, is not dependent upon the location of assignment. It is the same regardless of where the National Guard/Reserve member is stationed. It does differ based on the rank of the military member.

This is a change from 2005. In 2005 and before, a Guard or Reserve member had to be on continuous active duty for 140 days or more before they were entitled to BAH Type I. As part of the 2017 Military Authorization Act, Congress changed the 140-day requirement to 30 days.

National Guard and Reserve military personnel who are on active duty for 30 days or longer receive BAH Type I, the same housing allowance received by active duty members.

“Partial Rate” BAH is payable to members without dependents who are living in government quarters , who do not receive any other type of BAH.

Below is the Fiscal Year 2017 chart for BAH, Type II, received by members of the National Guard and Reserves when performing active duty service of less than 30 continuous days:

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Housing Is Seen As An Economic Benefit

Service members perceive government housing as a substantial economic benefit. This perception explains why most installations have waiting lists for housing. These lists can be long, resulting in delays as long as two years. The preference for military housing is driven by the “benefit gap” between the military housing benefit and the allowance provided for those living in the civilian economy. For example, the value of military housing is about 40 percent greater than the allowance for junior enlisted personnel with families . Military housing becomes less valuable relative to the allowance for higher enlisted and officer ranks.

The difference is also reflected in out-of-pocket costs. Those living in government housing pay neither rent nor utilities instead, they forfeit their housing allowances. However, the allowances given to those who occupy civilian housing typically do not cover all the costs associated with living off-base, and those who do must pay the additional costs out of their own pockets. The size of the out-of-pocket payment varies depending on several factors, but surveys conducted for this study show that extra costs range from $167 per month for renters to $356 per month for those buying homes. Given that the median annual income for the families in this survey was $20,000, these expenditures are significant. Individuals living in government housing have no out-of-pocket costs.

Military Housing For Singles

If you are single, you can expect to spend the next few years of your military service residing on-base in the dormitory, or barracks. Policies concerning single military members living off-base at government expense vary from service to service, and even from base to base, depending on the occupancy rate of the barracks or dormitories on the particular base.

Army policy allows single members in the paygrade of E-6 and above to live off base at government expense. However, at some bases, E-5s are allowed to move off base at government expense, depending on the barracks occupancy rates of that base.

The Air Force policy generally allows single E-4s, with more than three years of service, and above to reside off-base at government expense.

The Navy policy allows single sailors in the paygrades of E-5 and above, and E-4s with more than four years of service to reside off base and receive a housing allowance.

The Marines allow single E-6s and above to reside off base at government expense. On some bases, depending on the barracks occupancy rate, single E-5s, and even some E-4s are authorized to reside off base.

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Reasons For Given For Housing Choices

Senior military officials have traditionally associated a number of benefits with living in government housing. It is thought to help introduce junior personnel into the military culture, promote military values, and foster a sense of community. It is also seen as facilitating support to families when the military member is deployed or simply gone a lot.

However, few members consider these benefits when making their housing choices. For example, members do not believe that military housing plays a critical role in supporting their families. Having military neighbors was the least frequently cited reason for living on post, and service members believe their families are equally well supported on- and off-base.

But many members do believe that military housing contributes to the well-being of families in general and to the military community. The key contribution was also economic helping families make ends meet was regarded as important by almost all those surveyed, and 80 percent saw it as very important. Other contributions thought to be important are supporting families of deployed members, supporting families so that members can focus on their duties, helping junior enlisted members fit in, and making families feel part of the military. About half thought military housing maintains military values, although half thought it does not.

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