What Are Your Army BAH Rates?

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Army BAH Rates

BAH, or Basic Allowance for Housing, is there to ensure that enlisted men and women never have to struggle to pay their rent. A number of factors will play into exactly how much you are afforded for your BAH income. As of the time of this writing, the BAH rates were updated fairly recently, on August 1st, 2017. Here’s what you need to know in order to calculate your Army BAH rates:

What Are BAH Rates Factors?

One might assume that you simply find an apartment or a house or a condo, pay the rent, and then invoice for your costs. In reality, the Army will simply cut you a check based on the factors listed below:

  • Current local median market rent
  • Average household utilities in the area, including water, sewer, heat, electricity and so on
  • Your rank
  • Whether or not you have dependents

Here is how it’s all added up:

  1. Your base rate is set based on rank and whether or not you have dependents
  2. The base rate is adjusted based on local housing costs
  3. A three percent out-of-pocket cost is incorporated
  4. The Army cuts you a check each month

It’s Not Based On My Actual Rent?

If you’re getting, say, $1,200 a month for your BAH, but renting an apartment that runs you $1,400 a month, you will have to come up with the extra two hundred dollars on your own. The BAH is only there to help ensure that you’re not going to wind up homeless or moonlighting at a gas station in order to stay indoors. By paying each service member a flat rate based on a number of deciding factors, nobody is able to, say, rent a high-rise penthouse in Manhattan on the taxpayer’s dime.

It is important that our men and women in the armed forces do not have to worry about how they’re going to pay the rent and their utility bills, but the BAH program is designed so that it cannot be taken advantage of.

That said, there is incentive to look for affordable housing as a member of the armed forces. Whatever is left over at the end of the month, you get to keep. The federal government doesn’t come asking you where that extra fifty eight dollars went. This means that a savvy service member collecting $900 a month in BAH benefits could conceivably rent a single room in a boarding house for $300 a month, with utilities included, and then put the remaining $500 into a savings account. Or they could invest in stocks or cryptocurrency, or they could put that money towards buying a home of their own, or they could spend it all on tricking out their car. Obviously some of these options are wiser than others, but the point is that the remaining money on the BAH check is yours to spend, save or invest as you please.

Army BAH Rates You need to know

What Are The Base Rates?

O-10

  • Partial – $50.70
  • No Dependent – $1,655.40
  • With Dependent(s) – $2,036.40
  • Differential – $340.50

O-9

  • Partial – $50.70
  • No Dependent – $1,655.40
  • With Dependent(s) – $2,036.40
  • Differential – $340.50

O-8

  • Partial – $50.70
  • No Dependent – $1,655.40
  • With Dependent(s) – $2,036.40
  • Differential – $340.50

O-7

  • Partial – $50.70
  • No Dependent – $1,655.40
  • With Dependent(s) – $2,036.40
  • Differential – $340.50

O-6

  • Partial – $39.60
  • No Dependent – $1,518.00
  • With Dependent(s) – $1,833.00
  • Differential – $289.50

O-5

  • Partial $33.00
  • No Dependent – $1,461.60
  • With Dependent(s) – $1,767.30
  • Differential – $279.90

O-4

  • Partial – $26.70
  • No Dependent – $1,354.20
  • With Dependent(s) – $1,557.60
  • Differential – $186.30

O-3

  • Partial – $22.20
  • No Dependent – $1,086.00
  • With Dependent(s) – $1,288.80
  • Differential – $186.00

O-2

  • Partial – $17.70
  • No Dependent – $860.40
  • With Dependent(s) – $1,099.80
  • Differential – $219.30

O-1

  • Partial – $13.20
  • No Dependent – $738.60
  • With Dependent(s) – $984.30
  • Differential – $237.00

O3E

  • Partial – $22.20
  • No Dependent – $1,172.10
  • With Dependent(s) – $1,385.40
  • Differential – $194.70

O2E

  • Partial – $17.70
  • No Dependent – $996.90
  • With Dependent(s) – $1,250.10
  • Differential – $233.10

O1E

  • Partial – $13.20
  • No Dependent – $867.00
  • With Dependent(s) – $1,155.30
  • Differential – $273.30

W-5

  • Partial – $25.20
  • No Dependent – $1,376.40
  • With Dependent(s) – $1,504.50
  • Differential – $116.40

W-4

  • Partial – $25.20
  • No Dependent – $1,221.60
  • With Dependent(s) – $1,379.10
  • $143.40

W-3

  • Partial – $20.70
  • No Dependent – $1,027.50
  • With Dependent(s) – $1,264.20
  • Differential – $216.30

W-2

  • Partial – $15.90
  • No Dependent – $911.70
  • With Dependent(s) – $1,161.30
  • Differential – $228.60

W-1

  • Partial – $13.80
  • No Dependent – $764.70
  • With Dependent(s) – $1,005.60
  • Differential – $221.10

E-9

  • Partial – $18.60
  • No Dependent – $1,003.20
  • With Dependent(s) – $1,323.00
  • Differential – $291.90

E-8

  • Partial – $15.30
  • No Dependent – $921.90
  • With Dependent(s) – $1,220.40
  • Differential – $273.60

E-7

  • Partial – $12.00
  • No Dependent – $849.60
  • With Dependent(s) – $1,132.50
  • Differential – $316.80

E-6

  • Partial – $9.90
  • No Dependent – $785.10
  • With Dependent(s) – $1,046.40
  • Differential – $306.30

E-5

  • Partial – $8.70
  • No Dependent – $706.20
  • With Dependent(s) – $941.70
  • Differential – $260.70

E-4

  • Partial – $8.10
  • No Dependent – $614.40
  • With Dependent(s) – $818.40
  • Differential – $225.00

E-3

  • Partial – $7.80
  • No Dependent – $571.20
  • With Dependent(s) – $760.80
  • Differential – $184.80

E-2

  • Partial – $7.20
  • No Dependent – $544.50
  • With Dependent(s) – $725.40
  • Differential – $246.60

E-1

  • Partial – $6.90
  • No Dependent – $544.50
  • With Dependent(s) – $725.40
  • Differential – $291.90

It is worth noting that the BAH rates do not take into account how many dependents you have in your household. It is simply a yes or no question. If you have dependents, be they a wife, children, or live-in relatives, you get the with dependents rate. If not, you get the no dependent rate.

Is Everyone Entitled To BAH Benefits?

If you want to, for instance, live on base, then you won’t be able to collect your BAH benefits. The BAH is only intended to assist those living off-base. This might not be a possibility at this stage in your military career. If you are required to be stationed on-base, then you won’t be able to collect your BAH benefits until you are able to move off-base.

You may be able to talk to your superiors about getting stationed off-base so that you can spend more time with your family and so on. The option is not available to all members of the armed forces, but it’s worth asking.

BAH is only available for members of the armed forces stationed within the United States. For those serving overseas, you will want to look into OHA, or Overseas Housing Assistance.

Army BAH Rates Explained

What Do I Need To Know About OHA?

If you are not being stationed off-base overseas, then there’s really no reason to worry about OHA. Typically speaking, a service member being stationed overseas is going to be stationed on-base.  If you are off-base, then chances are you are an officer or a lifelong service member working at an embassy or working security detail or something like that. Even if you are stationed off-base, chances are you are going to have access to government-leased housing. In short, the number of people collecting on BAH benefits is much higher than the number of people collecting on OHA benefits.

How Do I Select Housing To Spend My BAH Benefits On?

Again, you can spend your BAH benefits however you like. If you want to sleep in your car for the duration of your off-base life and pocket the entire BAH check, then that’s up to you. Of course, you’ll probably want to spend some of it on actual housing, at least. So there are some questions to consider when selecting a home for off-base living.

First you will need to consider how much time you are actually spending in the home. If you don’t get a lot of time away from work and you do not have a family to support, then all you really need is a comfortable place to sleep. There’s no need to shop around for a condominium complex with a pool and a gym and so on if you’re not going to be doing anything but sleeping and showering at your new apartment.

On the other hand, if your hours leave you with a lot of downtime, then having a more luxurious apartment wouldn’t be a bad idea.

If you are currently stationed in the town or county where you plan on living even after your service term is up, then there’s no reason not to invest in your future house while you’re here. The BAH benefits are generally more than enough to cover the monthly mortgage payments, and the VA loan plan can help you to get into a home at a reasonable interest rate.

Proximity will be a major concern when you are selecting off-base housing. If it’s a three hour drive to get back to the base because you wanted to save money by renting a cheaper place in the next county over, then you’re going to be spending half of your benefits on gas, and you’re looking at a six hour commute every day just to get to and from work.

Essentially, if you can afford it, if you like living there, and if it’s not too far from the base, then there aren’t really any “wrong answers” for where you should live on your BAH benefits. Whether you want to spend every dollar of your BAH benefits living in the nicest possible house available, or you want to rent a simple room somewhere and save the rest or put it towards buying a house of your own one day, that’s all up to you.

What If I Can’t Find Housing Within My BAH Pay?

It’s rare, but it happens. In fact, it was a major factor in the new rates being passed in August this year: You might have a hard time finding an affordable home on your BAH pay.

This only affects maybe one percent of all BAH benefit recipients, but it does happen. It has been a problem in parts of Northern California, for instance, where rent seems to rise more quickly than the BAH program can keep up with it.

Fortunately, there are renters who are looking specifically to help military service members and veterans with low-cost housing, and you may have more options available to you if you’re willing to add a few minutes to your commute.

If you don’t know where to turn, you can speak to counselors and others within the military to help you to find a good home within your means, and you can always look for subletters on Craigslist who can offer you a good deal. In short, you do have options, even if it may seem somewhat homeless. Don’t get discouraged. The perfect home is out there somewhere, and the BAH benefits can help you to get there.

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