Are you PCSing to Hawaii for the first time? Understand your BAH and COLA.
There is nothing more confusing than PCSing to Hawaii for the first time and trying to understand what your household’s income will be. That’s why I’m writing this blog, to share my resources and experience after PSCing to Hawaii twice.
Understanding military pay and tax-free subsidies are extremely important to help make an educated decision on a housing budget. Hawaii’s Cost of Living Allowance (COLA) and Basic Allowance for Housing (BAH) is confusing because Hawaii is considered an overseas assignment. Below are some quick facts on how COLA and BAH are calculated in Hawaii.
Basic Allowance for Housing
BAH is tax-free money for service members to house themselves and family members. BAH rates are based on grade and whether or not you have dependents. Once you arrive in Hawaii, your Hawaii BAH should begin on the day you sign into your unit. If you take leave in Hawaii prior to signing into your unit, your Hawaii BAH will not start until the day you sign in. If the BAH rate drops during your tour in Hawaii, you will be grandfathered in at your previous higher BAH rate. If the BAH rates rise, your BAH rate will increase to the higher rate. This will ensure that your BAH will only rise, not drop.
Find out what your BAH will be in Hawaii.
COLA is a tax-free allowance to help service members and their families offset the high cost of living in Hawaii. These rates are based on pay grade, years of service, and number of dependents. The COLA rate is calculated every two weeks. If you use the below COLA Calculator, understand that it is only half a month of COLA. Once you have clicked the link and are at the Overseas COLA Calculator, ensure to select “Hawaii, Oahu, HI009” in the drop down section labeled “Location.”
Poka’i Bay, Oahu
Hawaii and the island of Oahu are pricey places to live. If you are economical with your funds, you can really take advantage of your time here. Do yourself and your family a favor and please consider purchasing a home here. You may be surprised at what you can afford.