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Here’s where military housing allowances are rising, falling the most in 2021

Twentynine Palms, the southern California desert locale that hosts the Marine Corps’ largest base, is atop the list of military housing areas that will see the largest percentage increases in the housing allowances paid to servicemembers and their families in the New Year, according to a Federal News Network analysis of Defense Department data.

Service members in every paygrade will see a double-digit percentage point increase in their Basic Allowance for Housing (BAH) in their first paycheck of 2021. The average increase across all ranks is 15.2%. And the substantial increase is in line with private sector data. According to the real estate firm Redfin, home prices in Twentynine Palms jumped 19.6% in the past year.

Other areas with large military populations that will see large BAH increases in 2021 include:

  • Huntsville, Alabama (average 12.8% increase)
  • Fort Huachuca, Arizona (average 12.3% increase)
  • Fort Gordon, Georgia (average 9.8% increase)
  • Washington, D.C. metro area (average 9.7% increase)
  • Fort Bragg, North Carolina (average 8.1% increase)

(Scroll down for a searchable table of percentage increases/decreases by military housing area and paygrade. Note: these calculations are based on DoD’s rates for servicemembers with dependents).

Nationwide, averaged across all military housing areas, the 2021 rates represent an increase of 2.9%, and DoD said it will spend $23 billion on housing allowances next year. But the raises — and sometimes decreases — vary dramatically by housing area. DoD bases the annual rates on surveys of rental costs and utilities in each market.

Indeed, based on that same data, 2021 BAH rates will decline in 83 of DoD’s 300 housing areas, and in some places, they’ll fall significantly. No service member will see an actual pay cut, because federal law requires them to be grandfathered in with at least the same allowance they received in the previous year until they move.

Areas with substantial BAH decreases in 2021 include:

  • Columbus Air Force Base, Mississippi (average 6.2% decrease)
  • Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point, North Carolina (average 5.7% decrease)
  • Hampton/Newport News, Virginia (average 5.2% decrease)
  • New London, Connecticut (average 4.9% decrease)
  • Camp Lejeune, North Carolina (average 4.3% decrease)

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