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Frequently Asked Questions - Basic Allowance for Housing

Who sets Basic Allowance for Housing rates?

BAH rates are set by the Department of Defense and are published at the beginning of each year. When new rates are published you can view the latest data here.

How is my BAH calculated?

Basic Housing Allowance is based on 3 main factors: Location, Rank, and your dependency status. DoD has established over 300 Military Housing Areas around the country. Most of these areas surround military bases. Higher ranking personal receive a higher BAH and individuals with dependents receive a higher BAH rate.

How can I find my BAH rate?

View our comprehensive BAH calculator to determine your BAH rate.

When do new BAH rates go into effect?

The Department of Defense determines BAH rates by conducting housing cost surveys across the country. The DoD typically published next year's rates in mid-December. The new rates then go into effect on January 1st of the new year.

Will my BAH go down if rates change?

No, your rates do not go down. If the area you move to has a lower housing allowance your BAH will no go below your current rate. This is called rate protection and is designed to ensure no one with long term commitments will be stuck with too high of expenses if rates change.

How are the BAH rates determined?

To determine appropriate BAH rates in each area, the DoD collects data from multiple sources. Local newspapers, classifieds listings, realty experts are consulted to find realistic rental costs in an area. Once enough data is collected, the median cost of renting in the area is determined. The BAH rate includes the cost of monthly rent, utilities, and renter's insurance.

What Expenses are Covered by BAH?

Basic Allowance for Housing is designed to cover the cost of renting in a particular area. When determining BAH rates the DoD considers the cost of monthly rent, utilities, and renter's insurance. Expenses such as a mortgage or home owner's association costs are not included.

How do I determine my MHA area?

Military Housing Areas are defined by the DoD. Your BAH is based on the location where you work - not where you choose to live. MHAs are generally designed to encompass the area surrounding major military installations. However, if you choose the live farther away from your duty location you will still receive the BAH rate for the area in which you work. If you are able to find cheaper housing outside of your primary MHA you can pocket any extra housing allowance you get.

To find your Military Housing Area and Housing Allowance, enter your zip code in our BAH calculator.

What if my rent is more/less than my BAH allowance?

If you find rent for less than your housing allowance you may keep the extra. Similarly if you choose to rent a place that costs more than your BAH you will have to pay the remained out of pocket. Your BAH is designed to cover the costs of rent, utilities, and renter's insurance.

Does it matter if I have more than one Dependent?

No, you will get the same BAH rate whether you have one dependent or 10. The only difference is that an individual with no dependents will get slightly less than someone with one or more dependents. The difference in BAH between "With Dependents" and "Without Dependents" is approximately 20-25% depending upon rank.

Looking for pay grades and salaries for Government civilian employees? Visit FederalPay.org.