Living Off-Base

Understanding Your Basic Allowance for Housing

Active-duty service members receive what is called a Basic Allowance for Housing, commonly referred to as BAH. BAH is calculated based on where you are stationed, your rank, and whether you have dependents.

BAH is intended to cover 95% of your living expenses, including rent or mortgage and utilities (electricity, heating, water, and sewer). When looking for a place to live, it’s important to understand what your BAH will be so you can figure out your budget.

  • BAH Calculator: Put in your rank and ZIP code, and this site will tell you what your BAH is with dependents and without dependents.

Finding a home off-base

There are several perks to living off-base. For many families, it allows them more flexibility when considering school districts, neighborhoods, and local amenities. But finding a place to live isn’t always easy, especially when you are moving on short notice and may not have time to travel to your new duty station before the big move. Fortunately, there are resources that can help.

In addition to finding the actual house you will call home, it’s important to consider your neighborhood, the proximity to base, and — for those with children — local school districts. You can hear from other families and find other resources in a few places:

  • MILLIE: Unable to visit your soon-to-be hometown before your move? No problem — MILLIE has you covered. MILLIE Scouts are military spouses who can be your boots on the ground when you can’t. They can do site visits (imagine a video call with an unbiased military spouse prior to signing a lease), provide support with your PCS, and even help with things like move-in/move-out inspections.
  • Facebook groups: There is no shortage of information on social media, and many installations have Facebook groups dedicated to local information-sharing.
  • School ratings: Visit GreatSchools.org to learn about local school districts.
  • Community resources: Sites like Nextdoor.com allow you to participate in discussions and connect with new or soon-to-be new neighbors.