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For military members stationed in Hawaii, Basic Allowance for Housing (BAH) rates are an important consideration when budgeting for cost of living. Hawaii is known to be one of the most expensive places to live in the U.S., so BAH rates here are higher than many other duty locations.

If you’re short on time, here’s a quick answer: BAH rates for Hawaii in 2023 range from around $2,100 per month for an E-1 with no dependents, up to over $4,500 per month for higher ranking officers with dependents.

In this comprehensive guide, we will cover everything you need to know about Hawaii BAH, including the latest 2023 BAH tables for all ranks and dependency statuses.

What is BAH?

Definition and Purpose of BAH

BAH, which stands for Basic Allowance for Housing, is a monthly payment provided to military service members to subsidize their housing costs when living in the private sector. The purpose of BAH is to help offset the costs of rent, utilities, and other housing expenses so that service members can afford suitable living accommodations for themselves and their families.

Essentially, BAH is meant to help military families maintain a reasonable standard of living compared to civilians with similar income levels in that region. Without BAH, many service members would struggle to manage housing costs, especially in high-cost areas.

How BAH Amounts are Determined

BAH rates are calculated each year by the Department of Defense and vary by location, pay grade or rank, and whether the service member has dependents. Some of the factors considered when setting BAH rates for an area include:

  • Average current rental housing costs in nearby neighborhoods
  • Average utilities expenses like electricity, gas, water, etc.
  • Average housing market prices and conditions

In general, BAH aims to cover 95% of housing expenses for each pay grade locally. For example, an E-5 with dependents should have 95% of their rental, utilities, and other housing costs covered by the BAH allowance amount for their duty station area and dependency status.

BAH is also adjusted based on pay grades – higher ranking service members receive higher BAH rates to help cover the more expensive housing they typically require for their larger families.

Many authoritative websites like provide searchable databases of current BAH rates for all locations and situations. This allows service members to estimate their allowance and budget accordingly.

Hawaii BAH Rates for 2023

BAH Rates by Rank and Dependency Status

The Basic Allowance for Housing (BAH) rates in Hawaii saw a modest increase for 2023. BAH is a stipend paid to service members to help offset the cost of housing in high cost-of-living areas. Hawaii certainly qualifies with housing costs significantly above the national average.

For example, an E-5 with dependents now receives $2,445 per month in BAH, a 2.9% increase over 2022 rates. Housing allowances vary by military rank and whether the service member has dependents. Generally, those with higher rank and more dependents receive larger allowances.

Rank With Dependents Without Dependents
E-1 $1,974 $1,560
E-5 $2,445 $1,956
O-3 $2,775 $2,247

As the table shows, an O-3 with dependents receives $801 more per month than an E-1. Rates also vary slightly depending on the service member’s duty location within Hawaii.

Hawaii Military Housing Areas (MHA)

The Department of Defense divides Hawaii into 10 Military Housing Areas (MHAs) for the purposes of setting BAH rates. The MHAs basically align with major military installations on Oahu, Maui and Hawaii Island.

For example, MHA-R covers Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, with an average monthly rate in 2023 of $2,952 for members with dependents. Neighboring Wheeler Army Airfield falls under MHA-E with an average of $2,655.

Geographically isolated duty locations like Coast Guard stations also receive a special BAH allowance. As you might expect, housing costs on picturesque Lanai and Molokai are below Oahu and Maui. 🏝️

With over 42,000 active duty personnel stationed in Hawaii, the military injects billions of dollars into local housing markets statewide. 💰 Understanding up to date BAH rates and MHA regions helps service members to make smart housing choices.

Factors that Impact Hawaii BAH

Cost of Living in Hawaii

Hawaii is notorious for having an exceptionally high cost of living, significantly impacting service members’ housing allowances. According to the Missouri Economic Research and Information Center, Hawaii’s cost of living sits at 192.6, almost double the national average of 100.

High costs permeate most areas of expenditure in Hawaii. For example, a 2019 cost comparison shows Honolulu residents pay 95% more forutilities and 76% more for transportation compared to the national baseline. Most markedly, grocery and housing expenses were 259% and 278% higher, respectively.

With basic necessities scaling far beyond the mainland US, Hawaii BAH rates understandably eclipse most other states. They aim to suitably cover at least 95% of members’ housing fees near their duty station.

Housing Costs in Popular Military Areas

Home prices and rents adjacent to major Hawaii bases rank among the highest nationwide for military accommodation:

  • Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam – Due to Honolulu County’s extreme housing costs, 2021 BAH for an E-5 with dependents reached $3,534 per month.
  • Marine Corps Base Hawaii – Similarly located in Honolulu County, the 2021 BAH rate peaked at $3,402 monthly for E-5 members.
  • Pōhakuloa Training Area – Despite Hawaii County’s lower costs than Oahu, 2021 BAH for Pōhakuloa matched Hickam-Pearl Harbor at $3,534.
  • Pacific Missile Range Facility Barking Sands – Kauai County is Hawaii’s most affordable area, reflected by this base’s max E-5 BAH of $2,202.
Base Max Monthly BAH
Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam $3,534
Marine Corps Base Hawaii $3,402
Pōhakuloa Training Area $3,534
Pacific Missile Range Facility Barking Sands $2,202

Evidently, Hawaii BAH allowances, though varying slightly across locations, are consistently higher than anywhere else besides Alaska. This suitably matches the state’s exceptionally steep rental and purchasing markets for service members.

Frequently Asked Questions

How Often do BAH Rates Change?

BAH rates in Hawaii are updated annually, usually around January 1st each year. The rates are determined by the Department of Defense and are based on current housing costs in each area. So as housing costs in Hawaii fluctuate year to year, so do BAH rates.

Some key factors that influence yearly BAH rate changes in Hawaii include:

  • Rental costs for similar sized properties off-base
  • Utilities costs like electricity, gas, water, etc.
  • Real estate market conditions and prices

On average, BAH rates in Hawaii tend to increase slightly year-over-year. For example, from 2021 to 2022 most areas in Hawaii saw a 2-3% bump up in rates. However, with the volatility of housing markets, there’s no guarantee rates will rise or fall in any given year.

What if I Live Off-Base?

If you are an active duty service member who lives off-base in Hawaii, you will receive the Basic Allowance for Housing (BAH) rate for your assigned duty station zip code and paygrade.

This allowance is meant to help offset the cost of rental or purchased housing in Hawaii. Your BAH payment will vary based on your location, paygrade, and dependency status. Generally, higher paygrades and those with dependents receive larger allowances.

A few things to note about Hawaii BAH if living off-base:

  • Rates are usually highest near bases like Schofield Barracks versus rural areas
  • You keep the full BAH amount regardless of how much you pay for housing
  • If renting, your lease contract must show you pay at least as much as your BAH rate

So in short, the Hawaii BAH system is designed to make sure active duty members can afford reasonable housing in whatever area they reside. The rates aim to cover 95% of housing expenses based on the average costs in that region.


To sum up key takeaways, Hawaii BAH rates for 2023 provide essential housing allowance support reflecting the state’s exceptionally high cost of living, with monthly payments ranging from around $2,100 to over $4,500 depending on individual rank and family status.

We covered the latest Hawaii BAH tables and trends, along with geographic differences in rental markets near major installations. Understanding your full compensation as a Hawaii service member is vital for financial planning.

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