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CAMP SMITH, Hawaii – Soldiers stationed in Hawaii received an email today inviting them to take a cost of living allowance living pattern survey.

The survey is a “re-do” of the living pattern survey conducted in February 2022, to reassess data that resulted in a 10-point decrease in COLA for most of the Hawaiian Islands.

The decrease, which amounted to several hundreds of dollars a month for many service members, is currently on hold pending new survey results, so everyone’s input is vital.

The survey ends Nov. 30 and service members stationed on Oahu can take the survey online at https://www.defensetravel.dod.mil/Community/se/2511374531802B93. Service members stationed on Hawaii Island can take the survey online at https://www.defensetravel.dod.mil/Community/se/251137452BD8D745.

(Live on another island? All surveys are available at https://www.travel.dod.mil/Hawaii/.)

Soldiers will be asked to provide information about which goods and services they normally purchase, and where they purchase these items.

A common question folks get stuck on is when asked about other outlets or stores they shop at. Since other questions address military resources such as Army & Air Force Exchange Service or the Defense Commissary Agency, Soldiers are reminded to list what off-post facilities they shop at.

The living pattern survey is usually conducted every three years and is the only data point service members are able to influence of the several used to calculate COLA. Please take the time (approximately 20-30 minutes) to answer all questions.

Service members are encouraged to work together with the primary shoppers in their family to complete the survey.

The overseas cost of living allowance, or COLA, is intended to equalize purchasing power for goods and services as if service members were stationed in the contiguous United States, or CONUS.

The Office of the Secretary of Defense Allowances Division administers the living pattern survey every three years for each overseas location to determine where service members shop for goods and services such as food, clothing and gas.

Teams then collect actual prices at the top two stores and/or businesses identified in the living pattern survey. The Department of Defense then uses this data and comparisons to CONUS pricing information to calculate the appropriate COLA rates for our location.

If CONUS prices increase, overseas COLA rates decrease.

Soldiers can access the living pattern survey via their work computer system, or from a personal computer or mobile device.

If you recently transferred to another location from Hawaii in the last six months, please complete the survey based on your experience in Hawaii.

More information: