The definition of “home” means different things for different people. For some, home is a place to lay your head or where you store your stuff. For others, home is wherever your mom or family is. But for everyone, the home should be a place of safety and the place where you feel the most comfortable.

For military service members, this shouldn’t be different. Even though your permanent duty station may frequently change, it is important for you to achieve the feeling of home, even if the door you walk through at night changes from year to year.

One way the Department of Defense aims to achieve this is by ensuring that military members and their families do not have to stress about the cost of housing with each change of station by providing a basic allowance for quarters.

What is Basic Allowance for Housing?

Basic Allowance for Housing (BAH) provides uniformed service members equitable housing compensation in military housing areas where government quarters are not available. Put simply, if your new station does not provide housing quarters or on-base housing, they will provide the funds for you to afford housing costs in local areas near your station. This allowance is in addition to your pay, not considered part of your pay, and therefore is not taxed as income.

How is my amount of BAH calculated?

Three factors determine the amount of BAH pay you receive. This amount can increase or decrease based on these factors.

Pay Grade

Just as your base pay depends on your pay grade, your BAH monthly rate is based on your pay grade as well. As your rank and pay grade increase, the amount of money you receive for housing increases. Similarly, if you are demoted, your BAH pay can decrease accordingly.


The cost of living near all military bases is not the same. Bases are located in rural and urban areas on every coast and in every state, so national averages for housing costs vary greatly. Service members stationed in more expensive areas need equitable housing compensation based on more expensive rates and vice versa. Therefore, basic housing allowance compensation is based on housing costs in the local market when government quarters are not available.


Government housing is provided based on need. For instance, in most cases, single service members only need accommodation for a single person, married service members need housing for two persons, and service members with children need space based on the number of children they have. Therefore, BAH follows this same logic. BAH pay increases and decreases based on the number of dependents a service member has living with them. Additionally, you may be entitled to higher BAH pay if you have dependent children that do not live with you because, in most cases, payment of child support is taken into consideration when determining the BAH amount.

Do I have to use all of my BAH?

You do not have to use the entirety of your BAH pay on your housing costs. Your allotted amount is intended to be used for the cost of rent, utilities, and other household expenses, but it is up to your discretion for how it is actually used. When you live off-base, BAH pay is not paid directly to a service, it is given to you to pay the bills you have set up, therefore, it is possible to keep expenses low and pocket or save the remaining balance. There is no penalty for not using the total amount of your BAH pay on housing costs.

Can I buy a house using BAH?

The purpose of BAH pay is to pay for your housing. There is no requirement that you must only use it for a rental property. Therefore, many military families use this additional allowance to pay the mortgage on a purchased home. This can be an excellent way to obtain an investment property or create a sense of permanency in a career that is full of temporary assignments.

Housing in Arizona

Are you looking for a home in Arizona? Do you intend to use your BAH pay to purchase a home? You may have many questions about the process and how BAH pay may affect the process of buying or selling a home. Our team at Desert Heroes is specially equipped to help you through the process. Each of our team members has military affiliation and therefore speaks the language and understands the complexities of military life. We make it our goal to ensure that military families like yours can find and create a space that feels like home, even if only for a short period.

Call today to discuss your questions and begin the search for your new home!