Overseas Housing Allowance (OHA) and Cost Of Living Allowance (COLA)
Advance OHA: This entitlement is to pay for your first month’s rent and deposit. To apply for this, you will be given the appropriate forms from the housing office during the signing of your pre-contract. These will need to be signed by a housing official and your commanding officer or officer in charge.
Overseas Housing Allowance: The Overseas Housing Allowance (OHA) is paid to service members who live in privately leased housing at their overseas duty station. Residents of government quarters do not receive OHA. OHA consists of two main components: rent, and utility, along with recurring maintenance allowance.
The rent portion of OHA is computed based on your actual rent up to a maximum amount determined by your rank and whether you are accompanied or unaccompanied. The rates are based upon actual rents reported by service members and are set to cover the rent paid by 80 percent of service members with command-sponsored dependents within each pay grade. You are not limited by your rental ceilings; however, if your rent is above the ceiling, you pay the difference out of your base pay.
The Utility and Recurring Maintenance (URM) allowance is provided to help defray expenses paid to utility companies and for maintenance. The URM is based upon the 80th percentile of all data supplied in the annual OHA Utility Survey. The allowance for rent and URM are added together and appear as one allowance on your leave and earnings statement.
Moving in Housing Allowance (MIHA) is a one-time payment to help you pay for items such as light fixtures, toilet seats, extra cabinets, wardrobes, electrical transformers and adapters, screens security systems, and so on. It is designed to cover the cost of items you must purchase to make your privately leased housing safe and comfortable. It is not paid to members who occupy government-leased quarters or move into furnished properties. You must apply for MIHA after you have signed your lease.
The rates for the individual components of OHA for Naples, Italy are determined by data supplied by service members living on the economy; therefore, it is important to maintain complete records of rent and utility payments.
Keep a file with all of your receipts and a notebook to record all your expenses for rent, utilities, repairs and maintenance, as well as what you spend to make your house ready to live in. If you do, you will have accurate figures to report when it is time for the annual OHA survey.
For the latest rates for OHA and MIHA, visit http://www.defensetravel.dod.mil/site/ohaCalc.cfm
Cost of Living Allowance: Cost of Living Allowance (COLA) is paid when the cost of living is higher at an overseas duty station than in the United States. COLA helps to pay for things you buy on the economy that are more expensive than comparable items back home. The COLA index is a percentage that represents the difference between the cost of a “market basket” of goods and services in Naples and the United States. A COLA index of 110, for example, means that prices in Naples are 10 percent higher than in CONUS. This does not translate into a 10 percent increase in your paycheck however, because COLA is calculated based on your average spendable income – total income minus housing expenses, taxes, savings, life insurance, gifts and contributions, and whether you are accompanied or unaccompanied. The amount of COLA that you receive depends on your rank, length of service and number of family members.
IMPORTANT NOTE: Because OHA, COLA and MIHA rates are set in euro currency and service members are paid in U.S. dollars, fluctuations in the exchange rate will cause your paycheck to vary. When planning your budget, you cannot count on a particular dollar figure each paycheck. It is more prudent to focus on the amount of euro you will need each month for rent, utilities and other expenses. The Defense Travel Management Office closely monitors changes in the exchange rate and resets the rate so that under- and over-payments are zeroed out over time.
Overseas Housing Allowances and Overseas Cost of Living Allowances are available at http://www.defensetravel.dod.mil/site/allowances.cfm Rates are usually updated every two weeks.
Banking and Credit Cards
In Italy, you will rely on cash much more than you did in the United States. Though you can use American Express, Visa and MasterCard at most shopping centers, hotels and restaurants, you’ll quickly discover that many do not accept credit cards or those that do are having a technical problem running your card. You cannot use gas credit cards. The Navy Exchange takes MasterCard, Visa, American Express and Discover.
There are various banks and ATMs both on and off base.
Here are some on-base options:
· Banco di Napoli (Bldg. 450)
· Community Bank (Capo Landing)
· Navy Exchange Minimart cashier: euro or dollar sales; rates are close to the daily exchange rate
· Outside of Admin II, there are also three ATMs available: Banco di Napoli dispenses only euro, Navy Federal dispenses U.S. currency, and Community Bank gives both
· Outside of the Air Terminal is a Community Bank ATM that dispenses euro and dollars
· Navy Federal Credit Union maintains a full service office at the Navy Exchange retail complex.
· Navy Exchange cashier: euro or dollar sales; rates are close to the daily exchange rate
· There are three ATMs at the Support Site: The Italian ATM inside the Navy Lodge across from the elevators dispenses euro. Navy Federal ATMs located outside of the Navy Lodge and outside the Navy Exchange retail center, near the main doors by the movie theater, dispense dollars
Allied Joint Force Command Naples:
· Banco di Napoli