2020 BAH (Basic Allowance for Housing) Rates

Updated: December 23, 2022
In this Article

    The 2020 Basic Allowance for Housing (BAH) rates increased, on average, 2.8%. from the 2019 BAH rates, according to the Department of Defense.

    The increase is an average for all areas; actual rates are set according to locations based on the current rental housing market survey.

    BAH rates can change yearly. You can view the BAH rates by state or use the BAH calculator.

    See the latest update on the 2023 Basic Allowance for Housing rates.

    When Do BAH Rates Change?

    The 2020 BAH increase is effective Jan. 1, 2020, and service members see the increase in their pay on Jan. 15, 2020. Actual BAH increases vary by location.

    BAH covers 95% of housing expenses with service members paying 5% of housing expenses out of pocket.

    Not all locations see an increase because BAH is based on the duty station ZIP code, or school ZIP code in the case of veterans using the Post-9/11 GI Bill, and corresponds with the cost of living of that zip code. For instance, cities with a high cost of living such as Honolulu, Chicago, and Los Angeles have a higher BAH rate to help offset those costs. Smaller cities such as Tacoma, Washington or Colorado Springs, Colorado, with a lower cost of living have a lower BAH.

    The new BAH rates affect all service members, including veterans using the GI Bill. However, rate protection ensures service members living in a location where the rate is set to decrease continue to receive the old rate. New lower rates are applied when service members relocate to a new area or change dependency status or rank.

    FY2012 – FY2019 Basic Allowance for Housing (BAH) Comparison

    YearProposed Increase/DecreaseActual Increase
    20202.90%2.80%
    20192.90%2.55%
    20182.90%0.70%
    20172.90%2.40%
    20161.30%3.40%
    2015-5.00%0.50%
    20144.20%5.00%
    20134.20%3.80%
    20124.20%2.00%

    2020 BAH Rates by The Numbers

    Areas with 10 Highest BAH Rates*

    1. San Francisco, CA
    2. Santa Clara County, CA
    3. Westchester County, NY
    4. New York City, NY
    5. Oakland, CA
    6. Long Island, NY
    7. Nantucket, MA
    8. Monterey, CA
    9. Los Angeles, CA
    10. Boston, MA

    Areas with 10 Lowest BAH Rates*

    1. Johnstown, PA
    2. Youngstown, OH
    3. Springfield, MO
    4. Altus AFB, OK
    5. Saint Joseph, MO
    6. Fort Chaffee/Fort Smith, AR
    7. Fort Leonard Wood, MO
    8. Stevens Point, WI
    9. Sault Ste Marie, MI
    10. Anniston/Fort McClelland, AL

    *Average across pay grades. Individual pay grades by area may rank lower or higher.

    BAH Changes Timeline

    Fiscal Year 2020
    No changes to BAH are currently planned.

    Fiscal Year 2019
    95 percent of service members’ housing costs are set to be covered, the full 5 percent out-of-pocket rate adjustment begins on Jan. 1, 2019.

    Fiscal Year 2018
    96 percent of service members’ housing costs are covered.

    Fiscal Year 2017
    97 percent of service members’ housing costs are covered.

    Fiscal Year 2016
    The Fiscal Year 2016 NDAA provided the authority to slow the rate of growth in BAH by 1 percent per year until 5 percent out-of-pocket is reached. Phased in 1.0 percent increments per year over 4 years. 98 percent of service members’ housing costs are covered. The actual implementation of the out-of-pocket adjustment is computed based on a percentage of the national median cost, so that the actual out-of-pocket dollar amount will be the same by grade and dependency status in every military housing area.

    Fiscal Year 2015
    Authorized the monthly Basic Allowance for Housing (BAH) rates to be set at 99 percent (vs. 100 percent) of the median rental housing costs. 99 percent of service members’ housing costs are covered.

    By 2005
    Housing allowance rates were increased enough so that the median out-of-pocket “off-base” housing cost was completely eliminated for members by pay grade, location, and dependency status. The Military Services also entered into numerous public-private ventures (PPVs) designed to eliminate inadequate government housing by leveraging private sector financing, expertise, and innovation to provide necessary housing faster and more efficiently than traditional Military Construction processes would allow.

    Late 1990s
    Defense Department began increasing housing allowance rates to bring them in line with actual rental market housing costs across the country and to reduce members’ out-of-pocket housing costs. Prior to this initiative, a military member’s housing allowance covered only about 80 percent of their full housing costs, leaving an out-of-pocket cost of up to 20 percent.

    Written by Veteran.com Team

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