Living on Military Bases

Updated: March 23, 2021
In this Article

    Living on a military base is a benefit available for all active-duty servicemembers and their dependents. The choice to live on base depends on your own personal situation, and other factors like length of commute, cost of living, local support, and general safety and security. As part of the DoD housing privatization initiative, many homes on military bases are now professionally managed.

    Who is eligible to live on base?

    Overall, military members stationed within the continental United States (CONUS) are authorized to live in government housing based on certain factors like pay grade and availability. In some locations, civilians and members of the general public are also able to lease homes inside of military housing areas. This happens if a local base housing company cannot find enough eligible service members or families to live in base housing. At that point they may fill those spots with “Other Eligible Tenants” such as civilians.

    In many cases, the following groups can apply for base housing:

    • Active Duty military and families
    • Guard and Reserve military and families
    • Federal civil service employees
    • Retired military and federal civil service
    • DoD contractors
    • The general public

    Active duty military applicants are prioritized in this way:

    • Single enlisted members are often assigned to live on base in dormitories.
    • Single junior officers may live on-base, although it is far less common.
    • Married enlisted service members may opt to live in government housing on base, depending on availability, rank, and adequacy to fit their family needs.
    • Married officers have priority to live on base with their family, should they choose to.

    Military who are stationed outside of the continental United States or overseas (OCONUS) may or may not be authorized to have their family members reside with them. Each particular unit has the power to authorize this, based on many factors. OCONUS authorization of family members are as follows:

    • Higher ranking officers and senior enlisted members (usually 1SG on up) may have family members with them. On base family quarters are issued to them as a priority.
    • Lower ranking enlisted will need permission from their units, to have family members with them.
    • Single members are assigned to live in base housing like dormitories.
    • Single officers and higher ranking enlisted members often live in separate quarters on base.

    Things to consider…

    Some questions to ask yourself if you’re thinking of living on a military base:

    1. Check ahead of time to see if there’s a waiting list for on-base housing. How long is the list, and how many months in advance would you need to be added to it?
    2. How often will you actually use on-base facilities like the gym, medical clinic, library, etc…?
    3. Will you shop for groceries at the base commissary?
    4. What are the homes really like on base? Ask people who are already there about the quality and craftsmanship of the homes available to PCSing families. Some bases offer upgraded homes and even new construction, while other base homes are outdated.
    5. What school district does on-base housing fall under?
    6. How important is it for you to live near other military families? It’s worth mentioning ahead of time that if you live on base, you may find yourself neighbors with or down the street from a direct supervisor. If that makes you uncomfortable, then you may want to use BAH and live off base.
    7. Are you willing and able to follow the rules? You will be responsible to abide by rules and regulations related to interior decoration, yard upkeep, quiet hours, and pet restrictions.
    Written by Team