Dual Military Overseas Housing Allowance

Dual military couple.

After a few years in this job, I’ve discovered that there are a surprising number of dual military couples living overseas, and that there is a lot of confusion about the Overseas Housing Allowance (OHA) works for dual military couples.

OHA is the allowance paid to military members who are stationed overseas and lease private, non-government housing.  Military members are paid OHA in the exact amount of their contracted rental payment, up to the limit for their location, rank, and dependency status.  For example, if Airman Normandy rents a house in England and his rent is £1000 a month, his paycheck with include OHA in the amount of dollars that equals £1000 (assuming that his rental cap is higher than £1000.)  The amount of the rent portion of the OHA payment never exceeds the actual expenses incurred.

If multiple single service members share accommodations, the rental amount can be divided in any fashion, as long as the total amount paid in the OHAs does not exceed the actual rental expenses.  Thus Airman Normandy and Airman Brittany could share a house that costs £1500, and each pay £750, or one of them could pay £700 and one could pay £800.

When a dual military couples jointly occupies leased housing overseas, they are treated as separate entities for purposes of OHA.  They are each eligible to claim OHA costs up to the amount of their OHA limit, but the total payments between the two of them may not exceed the actual amount of rental expenses that are being paid on their property.  This is true regardless of whether or not they have dependents.  If they do have dependents, one service member (usually the more senior) is eligible to receive up to the amount of OHA at the with dependents rate, and the other service member is eligible to receive up to the amount of OHA at the without dependents rate.

Because OHA is never paid in excess of actual expenses, many service members feel like they are missing out on the “extra” money they make when receiving BAH while in the United States.  This is due to the differences in the way that OHA and BAH area calculated.

Questions?  Ask away.  I’ve become surprisingly smart about this topic!

About the Author

Kate Horrell
Kate Horrell is a military financial coach, mom of four teens, and Navy spouse. She has a background in taxes and mortgage banking, and a trove of experience helping other military families with their money. Follow her on twitter @realKateHorrell.
  • Sierra

    Ms. Kate

    I have a question that I’m hoping you can help with, I’m E4 on orders to Japan this year October and my boyfriend is a E5 on orders to Germany next year august, what would happen if we were to get married, will we get split up or would one of our orders get canceled?

    • Kate

      Sierra, I have literally no idea how assignments/orders for dual military couples work. Based upon the little information I have, I suspect that you would both continue on to your individual overseas tours and then apply to be co-located thereafter.

      Readers, can you help?

  • Dan


    I am an O-1, and I will be attending graduate school overseas. The OHA for the location I am studying is approximately $2200. Two of my O-1 friends are also studying in the same place. If we room together, are we each entitled to the full OHA? That is, can we rent a single property at the monthly rate of $6600?

    We appreciate any advice!

    • Bethany

      Looks like it. See JTR, para. 10022, section B.

  • Valerie

    Thanks for all this information! I am wondering, do dual military couples have a larger allowance, then, for OHA? For example, if we do not have children and we are both the same rank, would the maximum amount we could claim between the two of us for OHA be twice the amount of the without dependents rate?
    Thank you!

  • M & P

    We have a question that’s is maybe a bit off topic here, but still related. My new wife is active duty in the Navy, stationed in Guam. I am a US citizen–civilian–and I live and work in Abu Dhabi UAE. We just got married in December, and we wondering if anybody knows if we are entitled to dual-OHA? I’ve seen several other postings during my recent Google searches about Dual BAH when both husband and wife are living in the US but for a variety of reasons can’t live together. I’ve also seen questions with the active duty spouse lives overseas and collects OHA with utilities and also BAH for dependent location back in the States.
    We don’t fit in either one of those categories, and I can’t find any information which specifically addresses our situation.

    Any ideas out there?

    Thank you very much.
    M & P

    • Kate

      M&P, the answer to your question is dependent on one specific issue: are your wife’s orders to Guam written as accompanied orders (dependents are authorized to be moved to Guam) or as unaccompanied orders (dependents are not authorized to be moved to Guam.) If your wife is on accompanied orders, then the decision to live apart is your choice and you are not eligible for any sort of housing allowance or Family Separation Allowance. If your wife is on unaccompanied orders, then she is authorized BAH for you to live in a “designated place” while she is on unaccompanied orders overseas. The “designated place” is only permitted to be overseas if it is the “native country of a foreign born spouse.” Since you are not living in an authorized “designated place,” then your wife is not authorized BAH for you. She is authorized whatever housing or housing allowances that are standard for a service member of her rank and status at her duty station.

      Hope that helps.