BAH Rates Jump 40 Percent for Minot… But Why?

Guest Blogger: Amy Bushatz

“Why not Minot?” goes the slogan. And then comes the Airman’s answer: “the reason is it’s freezin’.”

The big shock to casual observers of the new 2012 BAH Rates released today is the new rate for the area surrounding Minot Air Force Base in North Dakota. While in the past the big winners of BAH increases have seen around a 15 percent bump in payout, a servicemember with dependents in Minot is slated to receive a whopping 40.5 percent average increase next year. The average with dependents BAH in Minot in 2011 was $1,448 – next year it will be $2,040.

Suddenly Minot isn’t looking so bad … sort of.

New BAH rates are based on a variety of cost of living factors collected by DoD. If housing prices in an area are impacted by supply and demand, that flux is captured in the new payout rate.

So what’s going on in Minot? We buzzed the Chamber of Commerce there to find out. The answer? Floods and oil.

Over the summer Minot experienced historic flooding as the Souris River left its banks and ultimately flooded-out 4,000 homes, at least 1,000 of which were owned by Airmen, said John MacMartin, president of the chamber. Although the flood ended months ago, most of those homes aren’t expected to be livable again until this coming spring. In the meantime those families are living in FEMA trailers, apartments or extended stay hotels.

Housing continues to be so tight, in fact, that an Air Force stop movement order issued this summer barring new personnel from relocating their families to the area is still in effect. An official at the Air Force base confirmed that some Airmen currently there who would normally not qualify for on base housing are being allowed to live in the barracks – sometimes doubled up in rooms – because they can’t find housing elsewhere.

And then there’s the oil boom. As the price of oil has continued to rise and previously untapped North Dakota resources are drilled, the area around Minot has seen an influx of oil company workers. Since Minot is the largest city in the area and has an airport, many of those workers choose to live there and take up any housing that would otherwise be extra, MacMartin said.

The result of the perfect storm of an economic boom during a natural disaster? A very tight housing market, skyrocketing housing prices and a 40.5 percent average increase for area BAH in 2012.

Welcome to Minot.

Read Tom Philpott’s Military Update to learn more about the impact of the 2012 BAH rate changes.

About the Author

Terry Howell
Before becoming the Managing Editor for, Terry served 20 years in the U.S. Coast Guard as an Aviation Electrician’s Mate and aircrewman. In his final role in the Coast Guard, Terry served as a Career Development Advisor, where he provided career, finance, education, and benefits counseling to servicemembers and their families. Since retiring from the Coast Guard, Terry has authored the book, The Military Advantage, managed the content for TurboTap, the DoD's online transition program and VAforVets, the VA's transition assistance website. Terry earned both his Bachelor's and MBA at Corban University using Military Tuition Assistance and his GI Bill benefits to help cover the cost.
  • Brian Gundlach

    North Dakota is BOOMING! 3.5% unemployment rate. All because of the Bakken oil development. You wont hear about it much in the press though, it is not a politically correct industry.

    • pensacola

      The ND oil boom is in the news about every other night.

  • voodkokk

    You have got to be out of your mind. Shut that base down. These people try to use the excuse that it is supply and demand. Then guess what we don’t need your base and who would want to live in North Dakota? This is tax payers dollars wasted yet again.

    • MinotAFB

      The need for Minot AFB is a national security issue, North Dakota is one of the prettiest states in the US. What the airmen go through at that base to make sure that the country you live in is protected by a force that is never used but is highly needed in order to make sure no other country will even have a thought about attacking the US head on. If you do not fully understand the reason for the base to be in Minot ND then maybe you should do some research about the real reason why Minot AFB is still a active base.

      • voodkokk

        Everyone trying to proctect the bases around the world use national security as a reason to keep them open. This was a Cold War base and terrorists are not shooting ICBM’s at us. Modern warfare has changed.

        • kevin

          True terrorist are not shooting ICBM’s at us, but we do have other countries that have the capabilities to do so.

  • Strakkie down

    ask me the entire air farce barely jusitifes its own existence-what a worthless bunch-number of af missions flown in my support in 18 months in CZ-1!

    • BravoKilo226

      The United States Air Force does more than provide Air Support and Transportation for the United States Military. Keep in mind that the USAF also maintains the military’s communications and GPS satellites that allow ground, naval and air units to arrive on target. The Air Force is beyond simply doing air support operations. It does more space operations than NASA. Don’t tell me that the Air Force is worthless. We do our part to make everyone else’s job easier.


      Former Air Force ROTC Cadet

    • Ace

      It is amazing thatthere are human beings like Strakkie and voodkokk, who presumably can walk and talk – and apparently can even write! – and yet exhibit such abysmal ignorance of the world. Words fail me.

    • R3A


      I’m an old Army dog and during my last deployment my unit received A-10 and F-15 CAS, as well as UAV support on a number of ocassions. I can tell you when you are being repeatedly hit by mortars, RPGs, and MG fire it’s nice to see USAF come in with 2000 punders and to hear the sound of a Warthog’s rotary canons. Our ground element comprised of Soldiers, Marines and Sailors, and ANA and I know we were all very grateful.
      Besides, who else is gonna fly the planes we jump out of or transport us all across the globe?



  • mat

    “some Airmen … are being allowed to live in the barracks – sometimes doubled up in rooms – because they can’t find housing elsewhere.”

    Only in the Air Force are people “allowed” to live in the barracks. Don’t get me started on being doubled up in rooms. Damn, I should have gone Air Force.

  • Rick S.

    Strakkie down – No one asked you! So keep your uninformed opinion to yourself. If it wasn’t for the Air Force you wouldn’t have the bombs,bullets, and beans required to fight.

    Mat – If you’re jealous because the Air Force knows how to treat their people and your service doesn’t, then you have only yourself to blame. Quit hating! It’s not our fault you didn’t do enough research before you signed up in the wrong service.

    voodkokk – Obviously you have no clue what they do at Minot to make a statement like that. Did it ever occur to you that it might be cheaper to pay these people more to live there than it would be to relocate all of them, the aircraft, the support equipment and related infrastructure? No. Didn’t think so.

    • V. Huot USN/Ret

      We only have the Air force because the Sailors, soldiers and Marines were out fighting…doing the real dirty work. I say we save lots of money and ELIMINATE the Air Force. There are plenty of pilots in the other “Real” services.

      • 43e3g

        Let’s file your opinion under ‘D’ for ‘disgruntled.’

        Ever get treated by an AF doc/nurse/specialist? Ever use the materiel flown over by AF heavies?

        Maybe the AF didn’t exist yet when you were serving…

  • RobT

    Minot is not a base that it would be cheap to close. With air bases you can fly the plane to another base. We are an Air Base with a Missle wing attached so it would be in the hundereds of millions of dollars to close it. So sleep well tonight knowing that we can put bombs on target and unlesh GOD’s wraith if needed.

  • mccoy03

    Minot is an expensive place to live, BAH that we did have barely would cover the rent!!

    • Jay

      The BAH is supposed to barely cover the rent…

      • Daniel

        80% to be exact.