Generally, military housing is provided for all service members, whether they’re living on or off base. However, there are exceptions to this rule. For example, when a ship is in port, junior service members may be required to live onboard their ship. Otherwise, with the abundance of housing options, service members can find housing to fit their needs.
Living on Base
Although military housing varies by rank, location and family situation, new recruits typically start their military careers living on base. During Basic Training, men and women live in separate quarters known as the barracks, which consist of shared bunks and bathroom facilities. Because service members are there for training, personal items are kept to a minimum and everything happens on a set schedule, allowing service members to focus on learning and working as a team.
As service members move up in rank, they get better housing options to choose from if it is available. Single service members can live in complexes that resemble a modern college dormitory, which could consist of a single or shared room and a shared living area, while more senior service members or those who are married can select from a variety of apartments and single-family homes.
Living on a military base is a lot like living in a town. There are post offices, shopping centers, doctors, dentists and other businesses. The base amenities are opened to all resident service members and may be open to guests on a case by case basis.
Living off Base with a Housing Allowance
Service members who qualify to live off base are given a Basic Allowance for Housing (BAH) as part of their compensation. BAH is a monthly sum of money that takes into account the area’s cost of living as well as a service member’s pay grade and number of dependents. For example, if a service member is stationed in an expensive urban area, they’ll receive more than a service member living in a rural area where the cost of living is less expensive — just as a service member married with kids would receive more than a single service member. This ensures that everyone gets the allowance they need to cover their living situation.
While active duty members join the Military on a full-time basis, the National Guard is a part-time commitment, allowing Guardsmen to experience the best of both worlds. They get to take a break from their civilian life and pursue their passions in the Military. And since Guard training is only one weekend per month with a two-week commitment once a year, Guardsmen usually have the opportunity to live at home.
When a Guardsman is on active duty, and entitled to a housing allowance, he or she will receive a special Basic Housing Allowance anytime they’re on active duty for less than 30 days. If a Guardsman is on active duty for 30 days or more, they’ll receive the full housing allowance rate (the same as active duty).
Similar to the National Guard, being a reservist in the Military is a part-time commitment. Typically, reservists serve and live near their home and spend one weekend a month training and roughly two weeks a year on active duty.
And just like Guardsmen, reservists that are entitled to a housing allowance will receive a special Basic Housing Allowance anytime they’re on active duty for less than 30 days. If a reservist is on active duty for 30 days or more, they’ll receive the full housing allowance rate (the same as active duty).
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