2020 BAH rates were released in December 2019. On average, BAH increased 2.8% from 2019 to 2020. BAH Rates are calculated based on average rental prices in over 300 military communities in the United States.
The increase in average BAH rates comes at a time when the formula used for BAH calls for a decrease in the percentage of housing costs to be covered by BAH. The 2015 Defense Authorization Act included changes in BAH calculations, instituting a gradual decrease in the percentage of housing costs BAH covers.
From 2005 to 2015, BAH was designed to cover 100% of housing costs, including the cost of rental insurance. Starting in 2015, the BAH calculations removed the cost of rental insurance from the formula ($20/mo on average), and decreased the percentage covered by 1% per year annually from 2015 – 2019.
2020 BAH rates are designed to cover 95% of housing costs.
How Will New BAH Rates Affect Me?
While BAH rates increased on average, they did not increase everywhere.
However, BAH Rate Protection ensures your BAH will not go down if you live in an area where rates decreased. Instead, you will be grandfathered into your previous rate until you PCS, your pay grade changes, or there is a change in your dependency status.
- If you PCS, you will receive the current BAH rates at your new duty station. There are two possibilities if your pay grade changes.
- If you are demoted, you will receive the current BAH rate for your new pay grade, regardless of whether or not it is lower than your current rate.
- If you are promoted, you will receive the BAH for your new pay grade, or your previous pay grade, whichever is higher (BAH rates may be higher for a lower pay grade if you were grandfathered into an old rate and BAH rates have since dropped for your duty location).
- Finally, changing from the With Dependents to Without Dependents or vice-versa will result in a new BAH rate that reflects your current status.
How Are Rates Determined?
Basic Allowance for Housing rates are based on geographic duty location, pay grade, and dependency status (With Dependents or Without Dependents). The rates are based on housing costs in the local civilian housing markets and are designed to include the rent and utilities. Over 300 Military Housing Areas are included in the calculations.
As mentioned above, BAH rates no longer include the cost of renters insurance. I’m a big believer that servicemembers should buy renter’s insurance, as it is the responsibility of the renter to insure their belongings (insurance is generally not provided by landlords or the government). Servicemembers living in the dorms or barracks should also buy renter’s insurance.
Where to find the 2020 BAH Rates
The Defense Travel Management Office (DTMO) is the official source for BAH rates. You can visit their site or use the BAH Calculator below to find the current rates for your zip code. We would publish them here, but there are over 300 area codes listed, and rates also vary by pay grade and With or Without Dependents status. Using the official DoD calculator is the easiest way to get this information.
You can use the following BAH calculator to find current or historic BAH rates for your duty location. Simply enter the year, the zip code for your duty location, and your current pay grade.
Where Can I Learn More About BAH Rates?
Use our BAH Guide. We have some detailed information on how BAH rates are calculated, BAH eligibility, types of BAH (BAH, Partial BAH, BAH Type II, BAH-DIFF, etc.), and other frequently asked questions.