BAH stands for Basic Allowance for Housing. It is given separately from your monthly or bimonthly income, and is designed to partially cover housing expenses.
Who is eligible to receive BAH?
All service members stationed permanently at a duty station/base in the United States can receive BAH. This is the same for all branches.
If there is more than one service member in the home, each will receive the allotted BAH for the area.
How is it calculated?
If a service member has any dependents, they will receive more money. This does not increase based on how many dependents, but simply if they have any at all.
The ZIP code used is the ZIP code of your assigned base. The allowance you receive is based on the average rent cost in that area. So if it isn’t close to covering your mortgage, that’s why.
You can use this BAH calculator to get an estimate for any ZIP code.
Is BAH only for those living off base?
Yes! If you choose to live on base, your housing will automatically be covered.
Instead of seeing money transferred into your account for housing, (then having it taken out again to cover the on base housing costs) the military will do all the work for you on the money end.
What about overseas?
While stationed overseas, you are given a similar allowance when you live off base. Instead of BAH, it is called OHA, Overseas Housing Allowance.
You can learn more about OHA here.
What if BAH covers less/more than I need?
Since it is calculated based on the average rent cost for the area, there will be times where BAH does not fully cover your rent or mortgage.
In that case, you are responsible for making up the difference. Extra money is not given. Remember, it is designed to partially cover your housing.
If your housing costs less than the allowance you are given, you can keep it! You do not have to return money that is not used for housing.
I would recommend putting the remainder you are left with straight into savings.
Check out these basic budgeting tips for military families!