Housing allowances are available to service members and their families to help cover the cost of housing in the civilian community. Allowances vary by duty station and change each year. Be sure to find out exactly what is available to you before making a decision on the type of housing you believe you can afford and whether to live on or off the installation. Your Relocation Assistance Program (RAP) office can help you apply for housing allowances, as well as relocation allowances, in addition to other services offered. You can also visit the Department of Defense (DoD) Defense Travel Management Office to find current allowance tables, per diem rates, and tools to help you plan.
Basic Allowance for Housing.
The Basic Allowance for Housing (BAH) is paid to service members stationed in the United States who do not live in government-owned housing. It is intended to help service members cover the cost of housing in the private sector. The amount is based on the civilian housing market, your rank, and number of family members. Rates are based the local housing rental market and vary by area. Because BAH covers the average cost of housing in each location, you may end up paying more-or less-for your rent or mortgage. If you live in privatized housing on an installation, you may still receive your BAH and then pay it directly to the owner of the housing community.
Overseas Housing Allowance.
Overseas Housing Allowance (OHA) offsets the cost of housing for service members living off-installation outside the continental United States (OCONUS). The OHA rate is based on your rank and number of family members. It also covers move-in costs, utilities, and maintenance. Your family members must be living with you on a command-sponsored (accompanied) tour to receive OHA. If your family stays in the continental United States (CONUS) while you are overseas, you will receive BAH based on their geographic location. Unaccompanied service members receive OHA only if government housing is not available. The housing office at your overseas duty station can help you navigate the housing market in your area and apply for OHA.
Family Separation Allowance.
When your family members cannot live with you at or near your permanent duty station, either CONUS or OCONUS, you may be entitled to Family Separation Allowance (FSA). This can happen when transportation is not authorized, housing is not available, you are on duty aboard a ship, or your family member cannot move due to a medical condition. The FSA is payable at a flat rate of $250 per month. For details on FSA, check with your installation housing office, the RAP office, or visit the Defense Finance and Accounting Service (DFAS) website.
Dislocation Allowance (DLA) is intended to help with miscellaneous moving costs and is generally paid once per permanent change of station (PCS) move. DLA is available both CONUS and OCONUS, but is generally not paid for local moves. DLA is also not paid if you are assigned to government quarters and not accompanied by family members.
Move-In Housing Allowance.
Available OCONUS only, Move-In Housing Allowance (MIHA), helps cover the cost of miscellaneous expenses such as appliances, lease taxes or one-time rent-related expenses, or security expenses (in high-threat areas) for an off-installation move. Because MIHA varies depending on currency rates and by location, check with your RAP office for details.
Relocation and travel allowances.
These allowances help service members offset the cost of moving from one duty station to another. They include:
- Per Diem. Available for both CONUS and OCONUS moves, per diem reimburses you and your family for meals and lodging during travel to a new duty station. Per diem is based on a 350-mile, one-day travel distance.
- Monetary Allowance in Lieu of Transportation. Also known as “mileage,” a Monetary Allowance in Lieu of Transportation (MALT) is paid when you or your family drive to the new duty station. MALT is payable for both CONUS and OCONUS moves.
- Temporary Lodging Allowance. At OCONUS duty stations, the Temporary Lodging Allowance (TLA) is meant to partially offset cost of temporary lodging and meals while you wait for permanent housing. It will help pay for lodging at your overseas duty station while you wait for government housing or find housing off the installation. There is a sixty-day maximum when arriving at a new duty station and a ten-day maximum when leaving.
- Temporary Lodging Expense. For CONUS moves, the Temporary Lodging Expense (TLE) is meant to partially offset costs of lodging and meals when you need temporary housing. TLE is available for CONUS to CONUS moves up to ten days. It is available for the CONUS portion of a CONUS-to-OCONUS move for up to five days.
If your finances are very tight, it is possible to apply for advances of basic pay, BAH, or OHA to cover moving-related expenses. Depending on your Service branch, you may also apply for advances of certain travel allowances. Keep in mind that repaying advances can create additional financial burdens at a time when your budget is already stretched. Ask your Personal Financial Management Program Office for more information.