B is for BAH: ABCs of Military Life

Two days into the A to Z Challenge and I am still on track…Go me!

B is for BAH 

BAH is one of the so-called “perks” of military life…

The Defense Travel Management Office defines BAH as…

“The Basic Allowance for Housing (BAH) is a U.S. based allowance prescribed by geographic duty location, pay grade, and dependency status. It provides Uniformed Service members equitable housing compensation based on housing costs in local civilian housing markets within the United States when government quarters are not provided.” 

I always find it funny when someone says, “well isn’t the military paying for your housing.” The short answer is yes, kind of. The long answer, BAH is a part of my husband’s pay that varies by location and is meant to help offset the cost of living in our current duty station. So yes, BAH is what we usually use to pay our rent or mortgage, but it is so much more than that. If my husband was to find a job in the civilian world, his salary would most likely vary from location to location due to the cost of living in each area. So instead of the military changing the base pay for each person every time they move, they separate cost of living pay from standard wages.

Now one thing all military families know about BAH is that it becomes the starting place when looking for hosing at each location. As soon as my husband comes home with new orders the very first thing we do is find a BAH calculator online and figure out what our max price is for housing. We always try to stay slightly under BAH so that we can use some of the BAH to cover utilities, but sometimes it doesn’t always work out that way. 

If you are looking for ways to stretch your BAH I recommend checking out JO, My Gosh’s post, How to Stretch BAH When You Life Off Base.


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