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Relocating

Are you considering relocating your federal career - either by your choice or by Uncle Sam? There are practical issues and concerns to think about when deciding whether or not to relocate. Others have done it while still others have not. This forum will allow for all to offer their insight, post their questions, and help each other out.

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Livinonaprayer  
#1 Posted : Friday, October 23, 2009 1:14:52 PM(UTC)
Livinonaprayer

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I was recently offered a position in Hawaii as a GS-7 with 25% COLA authorized. I'm currently a GS-7 step 1 making $38,117 base. The position in Hawaii sets the minimum GS-7 base rate at $33,xxx - $46,xxx with 25% COLA Authorized. I know that if I do take the job, they are supposed to match what I'm currently making right now. (Please correct me if I'm wrong). By the way, I'm currently in a Term. position, but I'm being made perm. in December. the position I've been offered is a Perm.

I'm a single guy, no children. My question is, how much is COLA currently over there and how can I calculate how much I'd make? I've seen a few postings on here about Hawaii and it made me alittle nervouse because the people who were responding were saying that is was nearly impossible to live over there because the cost of living is so high. I'm assuming they are married with children, but it still made me nervous.

I'm hoping who ever responds to this posting has some good information on how much I would possibly make and give me their opinion on if making the move from where I'm currently at (Ft. Polk, LA) to Hawaii would be a good move. Financially I mean?

Thank you everyone in advance.
WVVW  
#2 Posted : Monday, October 26, 2009 2:04:15 AM(UTC)
WVVW

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quote:
I'm currently in a Term. position, but I'm being made perm. in December.

I have a question concerning this. How can they make your position permanent without posting it? I currently work for DHS and we have many Term employees but they all have to compete for the permanent jobs.
edalder  
#3 Posted : Monday, October 26, 2009 4:28:44 AM(UTC)
edalder

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compared to LA. But, hey, you are in HI.

BTW, that 25% COLA will apparently be converted to locality pay in the near future. You won't lose any money with the conversion, but it will become taxable and, depending upon how locality pay works in the future, you may or may not see any annual raises, apart from step increases, of course, at least for a time.
Kivi
B-2  
#4 Posted : Monday, October 26, 2009 6:27:33 AM(UTC)
B-2

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Lived there both single and married. Need GS 9 pay to make it.Federal Times Today: And all employees in Hawaii, Alaska and U.S.territories would receive locality pay rather than cost of living allowances if the bill is signed, putting them on par with employees in the continental U.S. Unlike COLA payments, locality pay can be factoredinto retirement calculations. Locality pay will be phased in over three years to offset the effects on employees' take-home pay, since locality pay is taxable income where COLA was not. "For too long, federal workers in Hawaii, Alaska, and the U.S.territories have been disadvantaged in their retirement," said Sen.
Daniel Akaka, D-Hawaii. "With cost of living allowances scheduled to godown this year, I am thankful they agreed to provide relief for these
hardworking men and women before it was too late."
Thank You,
B-2
B-2
from_panama  
#5 Posted : Monday, October 26, 2009 8:02:29 AM(UTC)
from_panama

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livingonaprayer,
You would be "living on a prayer" I invite you to find out what you would pay for rent, utilities, food, gas, etc. I was stationed in Hawaii as a soldier in the mid-90's and we also received COLA. It is extremely expensive, if I was you, I would take a very close look at your finances and see if you can live there being a GS-7, even as a single person.
nicks0r  
#6 Posted : Wednesday, October 28, 2009 10:04:13 PM(UTC)
nicks0r

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.nicks0r2013-03-22 16:39:53
Livinonaprayer  
#7 Posted : Thursday, November 19, 2009 12:58:28 AM(UTC)
Livinonaprayer

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Thank you all for your comments, but my question is still somewhat un-answered.  From what I'm getting from you all is that maybe going over there won't be such a good idea financially.  Considering I'm only a GS-7 step 1.  My lifestyle is pretty simple honestly, no, I don't need the latest and greatest of technology.  I would probably make a hobby of staying on the beach during the weekends and not really spending to much money aside from the everyday food and etc...  I'm guessing no one knows the current COLA rate over there right now and I'm also assuming that it's a good thing that they will be moving to Cost of living allowance instead of COLA.  Well, except that it's taxable. 

Thank you all again for your comments and your help, i really appreciate it a lot. 
TheFrederalGovt  
#8 Posted : Thursday, November 19, 2009 1:03:15 AM(UTC)
TheFrederalGovt

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Livinonaprayer wrote:

Thank you all for your comments, but my question is still somewhat un-answered.  From what I'm getting from you all is that maybe going over there won't be such a good idea financially.  Considering I'm only a GS-7 step 1.  My lifestyle is pretty simple honestly, no, I don't need the latest and greatest of technology.  I would probably make a hobby of staying on the beach during the weekends and not really spending to much money aside from the everyday food and etc...  I'm guessing no one knows the current COLA rate over there right now and I'm also assuming that it's a good thing that they will be moving to Cost of living allowance instead of COLA.  Well, except that it's taxable. 

Thank you all again for your comments and your help, i really appreciate it a lot. 
 
I believe there is not a specific salary table for Honolulu, however I was unable to find one for the Honolulu Metro Area, so I believe that the standard salary for the areas not covered in specific salary tables applies.
 
Below is a link of the salary table for Honolulu and the rest of the United States not covered by other tables:
 
 
 
 
mtfed  
#9 Posted : Thursday, November 19, 2009 5:06:55 AM(UTC)
mtfed

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livingonaprayer:
Go for it.  You are the only one that knows what you need to make a go of it.  So, try it out.  It's not like you could up on the streets, it's a permananent job, and once you are there, you can look for a GS-09 job.
Are you a Guard or Reserve?  Military retired?  If so, you have access to the bases and what they have to offer.  Much cheaper than in the general population.
Good luck, and I envy that you have this option.  We have one more kid to get through High School, then I'm applying to as many overseas locations as I can!
jbWink
jdm843  
#10 Posted : Monday, September 20, 2010 2:36:33 AM(UTC)
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Anyone have any insight on this?

I’m considering a GS7
position at Fort Shafter in Hawaii, and I’m trying to
estimate what my total pay would be, but I’m having trouble finding
information. Some sources say I won’t get a COLA, others say I will but
it will be reduced and mixed with a locality pay increase (following
recent legislation changes). Any insight?

The OPM website tells me that the locality pay increase in Hawaii is
only 4.72%, which seems REALLY low Atlanta's is 19.29% for example, but
obviously the cost of living in Hawaii is much higher.  So according to
OPM at GS7 step 5, I’d be at around $40,328 after considering locality,
but if the COLA/locality pay really does tally up to
approximately a 25% increase, which I've read/heard elsewhere, then I
should be receiving more like $48,138.

I’m confused.  Livinonaprayer, what ever happened with your situation?  Are you still living on Oahu?  Happy you made the move?

Thanks!


sakijo  
#11 Posted : Monday, September 20, 2010 8:52:53 AM(UTC)
sakijo

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Since no one has given a definitive answer, I will try.  Currently, Locality Pay is 4.2% and COLA is somewhere around 20%.  Locality Pay will slowly phase in and COLA will phase out.  It has been promised that the total of Locality Pay + COLA will not be less than 25% and when COLA is phased out, Locality Pay will be no less than 25%.  The reasoning is that sometimes, COLA was low, but the law did not provide for anythimg more than 25% COLA.
 
Living in Hawaii is difficult, but not impossible on GS-07 pay.
 
Rent is high due to shortage of rental properties.  Buying is even more expensive.  To get a feel for this, take a look at www.hicentral.com.  This is the Hawaii Board of Realtors Official Site and it has rental and sale property information.  You may have to consider a roommate.
 
Utilities are high.  There is only the wife and myself, but our electric and water is over $100 a month.  The water bill is going sky-high due to sewer fees being raised to pay for much needed sewer repairs.  Gas is available in some areas, but not all.
 
Owning a car can get expensive, but it is a necessity.  Gas is 3.45 a gallon, insurance can run cost up to 1,000 per year, and parts, repairs, etc are expensive.  The roads are worse than some Third World countries and rush hour traffic is terrible, no matter where you live.
 
There is an excellent bus system, but sometimes, it does not go where you need to be, and being subject to traffic, can run late.  There is a push to get a rail system, but that's not going to happen anytime soon.
 
Food is also expensive, as most of it is imported.  We have COSTCO and Sam's Club, but as a single, I doubt you have much use for 56 oz of cereal or 25 lbs of sugar.  Spam and Vienna Sausage are delicacies you may want to look into.
 
This is not scare you off, but to give you a realistic picture of what it is.  I have lived in Hawaii all my life except for a 5 year stint in Japan and and 2 years in Okinawa.  I have worked for the DoD all 23 years of my Federal career.  There are a lot of other agencies if you have the qualifications, but their offices are usually small or satelites of a bigger organization in the US.
 
Good luck.
Aces  
#12 Posted : Monday, September 20, 2010 8:48:20 PM(UTC)
Aces

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Your locality play plus the cola will total approximately 25%. Locality pay is currently below 5% because employees receive tax free cola of around 20%.
jdm843  
#13 Posted : Tuesday, September 21, 2010 5:08:26 AM(UTC)
jdm843

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thanks for the clarifications!
masonluraa  
#14 Posted : Friday, November 19, 2010 3:34:14 PM(UTC)
masonluraa

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Your suggestion on relocation to Hawaii is best advice fro us. 
Mason Luraa <br /><a href="http://www.mauius.com" target="_blank">Hawaiian Wedding</a>
sakijo  
#15 Posted : Saturday, November 20, 2010 1:41:47 AM(UTC)
sakijo

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Locality pay in Hawaii is around 5% and COLA 20%, which is an additional 25% to your base pay.  Locality pay is fully taxable, while the COLA is only taxable to the State of Hawaii.  COLA is supposed to go away in 3 years, making us fully equitable with the rest of the U.S. as mentioned before, COLA does not figure into retirement calculations.  COLA is also capped by law at 25%, while locality pay is not.
 
Hawaii is expensive, but you can do it on GS-07 pay.  Rent is the number one problem because we have lost quite a few rentals to speculators and first-time buyers.  If you have the money, I would suggest you think about buying because the housing market is pretty good for buyers now.  www.hicentral.com is a good place to start looking for housing.
 
The rest of the stuff, you can get by if you economize.  Public transportation system is good, walking and bicycling is another option, as is motorcycles in place of cars.  I am a GS-12 and we buy meat in the mark-down bin, dented canned goods, etc. as a matter of choice, but it helps stretch the food dollars. 
 
One good thing is that coming here with a job in hand is some security.  And you can start looking for other higher paying jobs within the Federal system.  All DoD services are here as well as the Coast Guard, FAA, Social Security, Immigration, TSA and a lot of other agencies, so there's a lot of options.
 
Good luck.
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