Defining the Terminology: Military Relocations

by Robert Stretch on August 19, 2010

Receiving orders to move when you’re in the military can either herald adventure or simply another round of packing and loading a truck. Either way, moving is absolutely an expensive proposition. The good news is that typically, the military reimburses much of the moving costs for many of its service members. There are three types of allowances that service members are potentially eligible to receive and, while they sound generally similar at first, there are nuances to each one that makes each different than the last.

The Basic Allowance for Housing (or BAH) is used to offset the cost of civilian housing. The BAH applies when you are not living on government property or in military-provided housing. The Basic Housing allowance is based on a variety of factors including your pay grade, the number of dependents in your family, as well as your location. Areas with high costs of living will have higher BAHs than areas with low costs of living simply because housing is more expensive in areas with high cost of living.

The Dislocation Allowance (DLA) is simply a moving allowance and will apply to moving expenses each time you receive a Permanent Change of Station (or PCS) order. It is generally based on your rank in the armed forces as well as the number of dependents you have at the time of your move.

The Overseas Housing Allowance (or OHA) applies if you are living overseas but not on a military base. Like the Basic Housing Allowance, the Overseas Housing Allowance varies widely depending on the cost of living in your particular area. Other costs, like rental cost in the area and the going rate for utilities and maintenance in the area factor into the OHA as well, with the rate changing depending on the cost of living in your new area.

In addition to the DLA, BHA, and OHA, many armed services members who move at the request of the military are eligible for other forms of reimbursement as well. Usual benefits include full reimbursement of commercial moving services, a temporary lodging allowance, and a per diem allowance. Some active duty service members in certain branches of the military can also expect to have their personal vehicles shipped overseas at no cost or other reimbursements depending on your rank, new orders, number of dependents, and other factors.

For anyone on Facebook, I recommend the new application, Military Basebook. If you’re PCS’ing soon, see the “Relocations” tab on each base for help with your moving needs. But don’t take my word for it check it out today for yourself.

Photo thanks to wwworks under creative common license on Flickr.

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