Know Your Off-Base Housing Options
The military is required to provide adequate housing for dependants so, you will receive the housing allowance even while you are assigned to the barracks at basic training and/or technical school/AIT/A-School. In the military you are paid twice per month. You will receive your BAH as part of your regular paycheck. While you are in Basic Training and AIT/A school your BAH allowance is calculated based upon the location of your dependants. More and more you see couples (both spouses are in the military). You are required to live in the barracks or dormitories during basic training and job school.
Like everything in life there are exceptions. If you are single (not married) and paying child support to a custodial parent you will not receive BAH at the full rate while you are living in the barracks. In cases such as this the BAH-DIFF BAH-DIFF, or BAH Differential rate is paid. BAH-DIFF is the difference between the full married rate and full single rate of BAH Type II (which is a different allowance than BAH type I, the full-rate active duty housing allowance). "Partial Rate" BAH is payable to members without dependants who are living in government quarters (barracks), who do not receive any other type of BAH.
Unless your job school is over 20 weeks long (at one location) your dependants will not be allowed to travel to basic training at government expense. During your basic training and job school you will receive BAH based on the area that your dependants reside. When you are moved to your first permanent duty station your dependants can join you there at government expense. If for whatever reason you choose not to have them join you then BAH will be paid at the "with dependent" rate based on your duty station. Where your dependants live will not be taken into consideration when determining your BAH payments. In order to qualify for on-base family housing your dependants must be living with you.
What about the Army National Guard and the Military Reserves?
Members of the National Guard and United States Military Reserves do not receive a housing allowance when performing weekend drill duty.
Guard and Reserve members on active duty for less than 140 days receive a BAH ll housing allowance. In contrast to the BAH I housing allowance the BAH II allowance usually pays less, and is not based upon a member’s rank, dependency status, and location of assignment. It is the same regardless of where the National Guard Reserve member is stationed. . If you are on active duty more than 140 days you will receive the full housing allowance at the same rate as active duty personnel.
Can you live in the barracks? What then?
If for whatever reason you voluntarily elect not to have your dependants join you at your duty station and there is extra space available in the barracks/dormitories you will be allowed to stay there. Living in the barracks or dormitories is a privilege not a right and if the space is needed you may be required to leave. You will be given as much notice as possible. If space is not available you will have to live off base. You will be paid BAH for the area you are assigned to. All branches of the military are trying to give all single people living in the dormitories private rooms so there may not be space available.
If you are stationed overseas you can elect not to have your dependants join you and live in the barracks or dormitories on base. You will still be paid BAH to help adequately house your dependants. Service members below E-6 will probably reside in on base dormitories or barracks. Higher ranks will be authorized to live off base.
The military requires you to provide adequate support (which includes housing) to your dependants. Because of this, if you are married, you receive a housing allowance, at the "with dependent" rate, even if you are living in the single dormitories/barracks.
Because living in the barracks/dormitories is mandatory during basic training and job-school, and because your dependants are not allowed to travel to basic training and/or job school (unless the job-school is over 20 weeks long at a single location), at government expense, during these periods you live in the barracks/dormitories, and receive BAH for the area that your dependants reside.
Your first duty station.
When you move to your first permanent duty station, the rules change. Your dependants are allowed to move there at government expense. If they don’t move there, that is considered your choice. In such cases, you receive BAH (at the "with dependent" rate) for the amount of your duty station, regardless of where your dependent is actually living.
As long as you are married, to give up BAH, you would have to reside in on-base family housing. However, unless your dependants move to your duty location, you are not authorized to reside in on-base family housing, because the rules say to qualify, your dependants must be living with you. If there is extra space available in the barracks/dormitories, you are allowed to live there, and still receive your BAH. However, now that the military is trying to give all single people living in the dormitories their own room, most bases do not have any extra space available in their dormitories. Therefore, as a married person who has voluntarily elected not to be accompanied by their dependants, you will likely be required to live off-base. You will receive BAH for the area you are assigned to. If you are allowed to live in the dormitory/barracks, space available, you must be prepared to move out, with little or no notice, in case the space is needed (although most commanders/first sergeants will try to give at least two weeks notice, if possible).
The rules change for overseas assignments. If you are assigned overseas, and elect not to be accompanied by your dependants, you can live in the barracks/dormitories on base, and still receive BAH in order to provide adequate housing support in the states for your dependent(s).