What is BAH?
Living in the barracks or on base has its upsides (and downsides), but there’s a lot to be said for having a place of your very own outside the gate. Especially when the military provides you a Basic Allowance for Housing to cover roughly 95% of the cost of renting. Based on your rank, whether or not you have dependents, and the average rent around your base your BAH is an amount on top of your pay you receive every month to cover the average monthly rent and utilities for those living off-base. All active personnel, to include reservists and members of the National Guard serving on active duty for at least 30 days, are eligible.
Dual Military BAH
In cases where both spouses in a marriage are active duty, both of them will receive the without-dependent BAH rate commensurate with their rank and location. If a married couple has any children though, only one parent will receive the higher with-dependent BAH rate.
BAH Type 2
While personnel in the reserves or National Guard activated for 30 days or longer receive standard BAH for that period, those activated for shorter periods of time receive BAH Reserve Component/Transit (BAH RC/T). It’s also sometimes called BAH Type 2 or BAH Type II, depending on your numeral preference. Unlike standard BAH, RC/T is based solely on your rank and whether or not you have dependents. Location does not factor in.
If you’re a service member with no dependents living in government quarters, you’ll receive a small fraction of the standard BAH for someone of your rank and location.
Commonly referred to as BAH Diff, this is BAH specifically for service members living in government quarters who pay child support. The amount of those payments must be more than what they’d get per month from BAH-Diff to be eligible.
Whether there’s just no housing on base or you want to live with a little more independence on the weekends, BAH makes sure you don’t pay out of pocket to have a roof over your head.
2020 Military BAH Rates
If you’re already familiar with BAH, perhaps you’ve been receiving it for years, you should be aware of several important changes that may affect your rate in 2020. The overall average rate of BAH has gone up 2.8% across the country. But you may not see an increase in your personal BAH and may even see a decrease. Possible reasons for that are:
- The average rent in your area may have decreased significantly.
- Expected out-of-pocket costs for servicemembers’ rent has increased gradually over the last few years, from 1% in 2015 to the current 5%.
- The estimated cost of renter’s insurance is no longer included.
If you’re worried about your BAH going down and the effect it may have on your ability to pay rent, don’t fret. You’ll continue to receive the same amount as last year until you experience a change in rank, dependent status, or get your PCS orders.
Military BAH Calculator
Getting ready for a move or PCS and wondering what your BAH rate will be at your next station? Or maybe you’re just curious what the change from last year’s rate at your current posting is. Either way, you can see exactly what you’ll get with the Defense Travel Management Office’s official BAH calculator. Just select the year, you or your spouse’s pay grade, type in the zip code, and hit “calculate.”
OHA: Overseas Housing Allowance
As you may have guessed by the name, OHA is the equivalent of BAH for those service members who live off-base while stationed outside the 50 states. So those stationed in non-state US territories like Guam receive OHA rather than BAH. In addition to the rental and utility coverage it’s meant to pay for, it may also include an initial move-in housing allowance (MIHA). This is to defray the cost of initial expenses of moving somewhere outside the US.
When you arrive at your overseas station, check in with your nearest housing office to apply for your OHA and any MIHA reimbursement you may be entitled to. If the base has no such office, check with your CO.
Just like BAH, OHA is calculated based on your rank, whether or not you have dependents and the average rent where you are stationed. Also like BAH, the DTMO offers a handy and up-to-date OHA calculator. This way you can see exactly how much your payments will be at any eligible location in the world. And their OHA FAQ is pretty handy, too.
GI Bill BAH
Technically called a Monthly Housing Allowance (MHA), all veterans attending school on the GI Bill receive funds to help offset the cost of rent just as they used to on active duty. All full-time graduate or undergraduate students receive payments for every month they are actively in school. So you don’t get them during months you’re not in class.
The monthly amount was previously based on the zip code of your school’s official address. But it’s now based on the average rent in the zip code where the majority of your classes take place. The rate is set at that of an E-5 with dependents in that location, regardless of your family status or most recent rank.
BAH gives service members the freedom to live off-base without digging into their savings whenever the rent is due. It means you and your family never have to weigh the downsides of living on base or waiting for an opening in base housing against the costs of living on your own.
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