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 office can help you apply for housing and relocation allowances in addition to their other services. You can also visit the Defense Travel Management Office to find current allowance tables, per diem rates and tools to help you plan.
Basic allowance for housing is available 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, rank and number of family members. Local housing rental markets vary across the country, so BAH rates are different in each 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 offsets the cost of housing for service members living off-installation outside the continental United States. The OHA rate is based on 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 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 is paid when your family members cannot live with you at or near your permanent duty station, either CONUS or OCONUS. 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 website.
Dislocation allowance is intended to help with miscellaneous moving costs and is generally paid once per permanent change of station move. Available both CONUS and OCONUS, this allowance is generally not paid for local moves. It is also not paid if you are assigned to government quarters and not accompanied by family members.
Move-in housing allowance is available OCONUS only and 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 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," MALT is paid when you or your family drive to the new duty station. It is payable for both CONUS and OCONUS moves.
- Temporary lodging allowance - At OCONUS duty stations, 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, TLE is meant to partially offset costs of lodging and meals when you need temporary housing. It is available for CONUS to CONUS moves up to ten days. For the CONUS portion of a CONUS-to-OCONUS, TLE is payable 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 spending plan is already stretched. Ask your Personal Financial Management Program office for more information.