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Primer on Basic Allowance for Housing & Military BAH Benefits


Reading time - 2 minutes, 12 seconds 


The Basic Allowance for Housing was established to help service members and their families afford suitable homes. Here, we break down what BAH is, how it's calculated, and what it means for you.

What is BAH?

BAH stands for Basic Allowance for Housing. The purpose of BAH is to cover home rental costs for service members near their duty location. This means that the amount of BAH a service member receives depends on the housing market where they're stationed, their dependent status, rank, and many other factors.

What are military BAH benefits?

Military BAH allows service members to rent a suitable home for themselves and, if applicable, their immediate family members in the area in which they're stationed. Instead of providing each service member the same amount throughout the country, BAH rates directly correlate to the local housing market. This results in more consistent and fair housing options for each service member, regardless of how expensive or inexpensive their area may be.

How is BAH calculated?

Several factors go into calculating BAH rates, including:

  • Local rental price data
  • Average expenditures for utilities
  • Input of local experts
  • Housing standards of similar civilian pay grades
  • Dependent status
  • Service member rank

Military BAH rates are carefully calculated using extensive data and research to ensure accurate and fair coverage for all. Data is collected in the Spring and Summer for about 300 Military Housing Areas, or MHAs. Housing costs are studied by profile, or anchor point, which refers to different housing types like apartments, townhouses, or detached houses. Average rental costs are then determined for each anchor point by studying local newspapers and real estate listings and consulting real estate firms and experts in the area. Enough data is gathered to ensure 95% statistical accuracy.

BAH benefits include stabilized rates. To avoid penalizing service members for decreases in local rent prices, Individual Rate Protection is applied. Assuming the service member's status remains unchanged, they will receive a consistent amount unless the BAH amount increases.

What will I be paying out of pocket?

As of 2018, the planned out-of-pocket expense for service member housing costs is 4%, which means BAH is intended to cover 96% of said costs. Of course, the out-of-pocket expense is dependent upon the service member's choice of housing. A more expensive residence will result in a more considerable out-of-pocket expense, while a less expensive home will result in the opposite.

How can I make the most out of my BAH?

Make the most of your military BAH by finding housing that suits your family at an affordable price. An easy way to do this is to find military housing that aligns with your family's lifestyle. Military housing helps you take your BAH further by offering larger (and often better quality) housing for less than the local average. For example, Lincoln Military Housing, which has communities on over 30 bases throughout the US, offers an exceptional residential experience for service members. Parks, community events, and numerous other military housing amenities are all part of the Lincoln Military Housing standard. It's this type of quality that makes military housing the best choice for both your wallet and your lifestyle.

The Basic Allowance for Housing provides service members and their families fair and suitable housing. Military BAH amounts are carefully calculated to ensure accurate coverage. Make the most out of your BAH by choosing to live in military housing. With lower costs, larger units, and more amenities, military housing provides a win-win-win situation for you and your family.

Related: Here's how to Unpack after PCSing. 


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