Military Life


Generally, military housing is provided for all service members, whether they’re living on or off base. There may be exceptions to this rule, which you can discuss with a recruiter. Otherwise, with the abundance of housing options, most service members will be able to find housing that fits their needs.

Inside the Air Force Enlisted Dorms

Junior Airmen who are single, enlisted and without dependents live in dormitories on base. Similar to apartment complexes, these dorms feature multiple amenities and give service members a chance to relax and connect when off duty.

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Airman 1st Class Precious Yett: These are the enlisted dorms for unmarried Airmen without dependents. There's a game room, a theater room. We have free Wi-Fi, and we have free laundry rooms.

Airman 1st Class Ronald Albright: Once you graduate from tech school, the Air Force requires you to live in the dorms as a first-term Airman. It kind of prepares them to get oriented to the job. When you first get here, your job is your main priority. Not only are your living quarters free, your food is free, but the bond you get with people is priceless.

Living on Base

Military housing varies by rank, location and family situation, but almost all new recruits typically start their military careers living on base.

During Basic Training, men and women live in separate quarters known as 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 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.

Military bases can be quite large and living on one is a lot like living in a town. There are post offices, shopping centers, medical and dental clinics, and other businesses. The base amenities are open to all resident service members and may be open to guests on a case-by-case basis.

Corporal Samuel Stonestreet
Corporal | Samuel Stonestreet Marine Corps

Living Off Base With 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. Similarly, a service member who is married with children would receive more than a single service member.

Ultimately, BAH ensures that everyone gets the allowance they need to cover their living situation.

Explore Housing Allowances

Housing for National Guard and Reserve

While active-duty members join the Military on a full-time basis, the National Guard and Reserve are a part-time commitment. Since their training is only one weekend per month with a two-week commitment once a year, these service members usually have the opportunity to live at home.

Guardsmen and reservists who are entitled to a housing allowance will receive a special BAH anytime they’re on active duty for less than 30 days. If they are 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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