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.
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.
Living in the Barracks
Inside the Air Force Enlisted Dorms
Hear from a young military family about their experience living on base and how they value family-friendly conveniences, comfortable amenities and a social neighborhood within their welcoming community.Length 1:41 View Transcript
Specialist Tachina Williams, U.S. Army: My name is Tachina Williams and I’m a specialist in the U.S. Army.
Specialist Dante Williams, U.S. Army: My name is Dante Williams and I am also a specialist in the U.S. Army.
Tachina: We’ve been together for almost seven years, and we’ve been here for about three years now. There are plenty of housing options on base for families. We got the option of choosing between three different communities. We chose to stay in Liberty Woods here in Fort Stewart.
Tachina: We currently live in a four bedroom town home. It has a living room, and a kitchen area and a dining area. Upstairs we have four bedrooms, with our kids' rooms, our master bedroom, the guest bedroom and Dante's man cave. So, we have quite a bit of space so that we can just be comfortable in.
Dante: Living on base is important to me because I can get to work in, like, five minutes. The commissary is right there, so everything that we need is here on base.
Tachina: Quite often we have barbecues, or we grill out, and we either do it at the neighbors' house or our house. And they just bring their kids over and their families over and we just, you know, relax and watch the game and eat some barbecue.
Dante: The things that I enjoy for the kids: There's a playground at every spot. We can go to either the one down the street or take them to the one around the corner, and so there's a variety of things that the kids can do.
Tachina: My kids are really happy here. They love playing in the backyard, and every time they see somebody out the window, they're like, "Mommy, my friend's playing outside!"
Tachina: When I see my children happy, it makes me happy.
On-Base Family Housing
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.
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.
Guardmembers 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).
The Military has installations with housing and amenities all over the United States and around the world. For service members and their families, relocating to where they are needed is a common part of military life. For more information about military moves and deployments, explore the many resources available at Military OneSource.