Poll: Do the 2017 BAH Rates Really Cover Your Housing Costs?

2017 BAH Rates - Do They Really Cover Your Costs? http://wp.me/p1d7d0-9US(Photo: Creative Commons courtesy of Flickr user Day Donaldson.)

The 2017 BAH rates are out and ready to give you good, or maybe bad, news about next year. But first, let’s get one thing out of the way: as of 2017, Basic Allowance for Housing (BAH), is only really supposed to cover 97 percent of your housing costs. And there are plans to shrink it another two percent in the next couple years, until it only covers 95 percent.

But with that in mind, let’s be honest: does military BAH really cover 97 percent of your housing costs? We frequently hear from readers who are baffled by the way BAH is calculated because it doesn’t come near what they find their housing costs to be, especially in high-cost areas like San Diego, California or Washington, D.C.

You can find your 2017 BAH rates here.

I frequently find that this discrepancy is caused by families expecting BAH to cover a house size that it was not intended to match. When the DoD reexamines the rates for each pay grade every year, they make a bunch of assumptions about what kind and size of housing each pay grade requires. This is a great roll up of how the calculations are done.

For example, the rate for E-1 to E-4 is calculated as the halfway point between the cost of a two-bedroom apartment and two-bedroom townhouse. If you’re trying to make E-4 BAH cover a three bedroom, single family home, well, it probably isn’t going to cut it.

That leaves a lot of questions about whether or not the calculations for lower pay grades, in particular, should be more realistic and take into account larger families. 

So tell us — do the 2017 BAH rates really cover 97 percent of your housing costs?

Fill out my online form.

About the Author

Amy Bushatz
Amy is the editor in chief of Military.com’s spouse and family blog SpouseBuzz.com. A journalist by trade, Amy also covers spouse and family news for Military.com where she is the managing editor of spouse and family content. An Army wife and mother of two, Amy has been featured as a subject matter expert on CNN.com, NPR, Fox News, NBC, CBS, ABC and BBC as well as in the New York Times, Wall Street Journal and Washington Post. Follow her on twitter @amybushatz.