This year’s surprising five percent average jump in BAH rates have many military families – even those of us who have been around a while – taking a closer look at Base Area Housing allowances and what they actually mean for our families and lifestyle ( and even upcoming PCS moves.)
Effective January 1, 2014, active duty service members received an average increase of five percent in their monthly housing allowance. This was the largest increase in five years, and equates to approximately $80 extra in service members’ (or housing communities) pockets.
How does this line up with previous years? It’s higher than the¬† 4.2 percent increase that was proposed and much higher than the 3.8 percent we saw last year.
With military budgeting concerns constantly in the midst of political crossfire, this was a welcome and unexpected change for many.
Who gets an increase?
While service members are protected against decreases in BAH once they are settled at a duty station, they are always eligible to receive increases. If the BAH has fallen for an upcoming duty station (before checking into a new command), you would receive the lower rate.
The increase in BAH rates presented as an average five percent increase, but about 20 percent, or 60 base areas’, BAH declined.
What determines BAH?
- While there have been recent governmental proposals to lower BAH rates to only cover about 80 percent of average off-base housing rental costs (with military members expected to cover the other 20 percent out f pocket), BAH currently still is intended to cover 100 percent of average off-base housing costs.
- Each year BAH rates are reviewed and adjusted. The final amounts are expected to cover the average rent, utilities and renter‚Äôs insurance for a service member and his or her dependents.
- BAH is computed from the average rent at each duty station. BAH can cover more types of living expenses if a service member plans carefully and dedicated their money in that way. However, most do incur some out-of-pocket expenses based on their personal choices.
What does BAH Cover and Not Cover for an Average Family?
With careful planning and budgeting, BAH is meant to support rent, utilities and renters insurance for a dwelling. Actually making this happen depends on a service member and their family’s habits. In general, those living in base or privatized government housing communities are guaranteed this type of budgeting.
What percent should go to what?
BAH Is Not Intended To Cover (unless you stretch your dollars!)
“Other living expenses” like food, cable, lawn care and care of the exterior of a home, security systems, etc.
How has the BAH in your area changed?
Go to the source – access the calculator and more information from the DOD’s Defense Travel Website.
For even more detailed information, see the DOD Travel Site’s BAH primer.