Military Housing Allowance
On Guam, the overall cost of living is quite high.
As of this writing (December, 2022) a gallon of milk is closing in on $14.00, just as one example. Rent has inched up little by little every year consistently since I got here in 2004. For example, the condo I rented for $1300 per month including utilities, now rents for $2300 per month + $500 for utilities. Of course, that was a while ago. What’s more concerning for those of you who want to rent on Guam is there’s a lot of competition for the best places, and those properties will usually be above your housing allowance limit. Maybe by a little, maybe by a lot.
The Department of Defense takes this into account for those who elect to live off base. Generally, E-4’s and below without dependents are required to live on base, but There have been an increasing number of exceptions made lately due to a shortage of dormitory rooms on base and renovating of base housing. E-5’s and above, whether with or without dependents, will normally have an option to live off base, and some don’t get the option at all.
To cover housing expenses on Guam, military personnel receive Overseas Housing Allowance (OHA). OHA is different from state-side Basic Allowance for Housing (BAH), in that you don’t get to keep what’s left of your allowance that you don’t spend on rent. The amount you receive is determined on the rental price of the property, but only up to your maximum based on your rank and whether you have dependents or not. For example, if your rental property is $2000 per month, but your allowance is $2450, you would only receive $2000. This is the main reason rents are so high here. There hasn’t been an OHA increase for several years. I expect those who make the decisions realize that if they increase the OHA rate, it’s not going to increase the quality of the homes service members can afford. Prices will simply increase on the existing properties, just like last time.
OHA & Utility Allowance for an E-5 with and without dependents
Besides OHA, you will also receive what would appear to be a pretty generous utility allowance. Currently, service members with dependents receive $1216 per month and the rate without dependents is $912 per month ( you can check the Defense Travel Management Office website for current numbers). There’s obviously a reason you get those heavy allowances. The cost of power has also gone up consistently over the years. A common question I get is “how much does power cost?” I don’t dare answer that, because there are so many factors that play into how much you’ll pay. The age & efficiency of your air conditioner units, how much you use, and the cost of oil. Yes, we burn fossil fuel on Guam to generate electricity, so we’re at the mercy of oil prices.