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Things to Consider When Deciding Whether to Join The Air Force

Quality of Life


Dormitory - Moody Air Force Base, GA
U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Savannah District/Flikr/CC BY 2.0

The Air Force has the reputation of having the best qualify of life programs (dormitories, family housing, on-base shopping and services, and recreation) of all the military service branches. That's probably because the Air Force got a head start in using a significant portion of their funding to establish, maintain, or expand their QOL programs. All airmen (except basic training, technical school, and at some remote overseas assignments) now get a room to themselves. The Air Force started rebuilding their dormitories into single-occupancy quarters, years before any of the other services. The latest Air Force standard is the "4 + 4" standard, whereby four airmen share a common living area, complete with a kitchen and living room, but have their own bedroom and bathroom. At most bases, Airmen in the rank of E-4 and above, with at least three years of service can move off base and receive a monetary housing allowance, called BAH.

Like the other services, the Air Force is converting existing on-base family housing to "military privatized housing." Under this concept, civilian companies are encouraged to construct, maintain, and manage military-only housing complexes on and close to military bases. The Air Force program is called “Housing Privatization.” The Air Force has scheduled 38 housing projects for privatization, which will include up to 32,000 housing units throughout the United States at a cost of approximately $4 billion. At most bases, married airmen are given a choice of living in family housing, or living off base at a place of their choosing, with a monthly housing allowance.

Airmen who are authorized to live off base at government expense, and those who live in family housing receive a monthly food allowance, called BAS. Those who live in the dormitories do not normally receive this allowance, but eat their meals for free in the on-base dining facilities (chow halls).

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