March 30, 2021 —
If you’ve ever wondered how a gallon of milk could cost $10, how car insurance rates could triple at your new duty station, or weighed whether or not you should drive an hour to save a few dollars in a commissary run, you should probably take a moment to complete the Living Pattern Survey. The last day to take the survey is Thursday, March 31.
The Living Pattern Survey – conducted once every three years – provides military families a forum to document costs of living in our unique – and sometimes pricey – assignment locations. Active-duty members and their dependents can influence the Cost of Living Allowance (COLA) with honest and anonymous input about what living in your corner of the country actually costs.
COLA is a supplemental benefit added to military base pay and is intended to offset higher cost of living based on where you’re assigned. Look up your current COAL rates using the Defense Travel COLA Calculator.
While Coast Guard participation in the survey has outpaced other service branches, less than a quarter of eligible individuals have completed the survey.
Data collected from the survey is the foundation for the Cost of Living Allowance. Small increases in COLA can make a big impact over time. For example, for calendar year 2021, at a location with 1% CONUS COLA, an E-6 with dependents and 10 years of service would receive an increase of $41 per month while an O-3 with dependents and 10 years of service would receive $50 per month.
As you complete the survey, you’ll be able to specify where you shop for necessities like groceries and clothing, and captures the general costs of dining out, recreation, utilities, and personal items, specific to a region.
The survey is open to all active-duty members (including Reserve members on long-term active duty) currently stationed at their CONUS duty station for at least three months.