Duty Station

There is No Such Thing as “Free” Housing

All members of the military assigned to permanent duty within the 50 United States who is not furnished Government housing is eligible for BAH. The amount of money designated as BAH will change depending on rank, dependency status and permanent duty station ZIP code. For example, an E-1 with dependents will receive $2,016.00 BAH while stationed at Camp Pendleton, Calif. However, an O-3 with dependents living in that same zip code would receive $2,877.00.

Now say you choose to live on base rather than buying a home or renting near your current duty station. Say “goodbye” to BAH. In essence, you are paying for your house though you aren’t getting a monthly bill to pay your rent. Look at it as a trade: You are forfeiting that piece of pie earmarked for BAH.

When explaining this concept to a civilian who knows little about the military or even a new spouse, consider using the pie analogy or describing it as a budget being laid out for us in advance. Let’s say a civilian is a teacher making $50,000 annually and the school district says a quarter of that will help you pay for a nice condo. That condo isn’t free.

The military is earmarking portions of our spouses’ pay to make it easier on us. If you choose to live in a house that costs less than the BAH your spouse earns, you can pocket a little cash at the end of the month. Or, if you choose to buy a home that your BAH doesn’t cover – you’re going to dip into other portions of your spouse’s pay, or your own pay, to meet your monthly payments.

Yet another possibility: if you live on base, the BAH becomes a non-factor because you won’t get it anymore. The government’s intent is to provide uniformed service members accurate and equitable housing compensation based on costs in local civilian housing markets and is payable when government quarters are not provided.

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