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United States Air Force
Airman and Family Readiness Center
Aomori-ken Japan 033-0012
Resources are available to help you understand and manage your finances, including one-on-one financial counseling to assist you and your family with financial readiness. Services are designed to focus on money management issues throughout your active-duty lifecycle and into retirement. Financial readiness educational opportunities range from basic planning to long-term investing. Check out the information below to see what’s available at your installation.
Misawa Airman and Family Readiness Center
The Misawa Airman and Family Readiness Center is available to help Misawa residents with their financial planning and/or concerns. The A&FRC offers a variety of educational programs designed to help individuals and families control and maximize their finances. Classes include Personal Finance, First Duty Station financial brief, TSP and Investment Basics, and Becoming Debt Free. The A&FRC is working hard to bring new and exciting classes to Misawa by working closely with on-base financial institutions.
The A&FRC also offers one-on-one appointments for spending plans, debt management, credit card management, credit report reviewing and investment, and retirement planning.
Air Force Aid Society
The Air Force Aid Society is the official charity of the U.S. Air Force. The AFAS plays a key role in providing educational and financial assistance to the Misawa community. Programs include Bundles for Babies, Car Care Because We Care, Child Care for PCS, Give Parents a Break, Spouse Employment Program and Spouse Orientation (Heart Link Program Support). These programs are funded by donations to the AFAS. For this reason, many of these programs are limited to active-duty Air Force personnel and their dependents. Contact AFAS at the A&FRC regarding programs that are available. The Navy and Marine Corps Relief Society is also available at Misawa and offers financial programs for Navy personnel.
If emergency financial assistance is needed, the AFAS and the Navy and Marine Corps Relief Society on Misawa Air Base can provide emergency financial assistance to active-duty personnel of all services and their families.
Cost of Living Allowance
This allowance is designed to supplement the cost of living in Japan as everything is substantially more expensive. The amount you receive is based on rank, years in service, number of dependents and whether or not you live in the dorms. Dorm rate COLA is currently 58% of the COLA index for your rank; it is shown in the COLA area on your leave and earnings statement.
COLA adjustments occur frequently in Japan. As a result, we want to ensure you understand the purpose of COLA and how adjustments are made. COLA is prescribed for military members when the average cost of living in an overseas area exceeds the average cost of living in the continental U.S. by two percent or more. Adjustments to COLA rates are generally made for two reasons: changes in retail price or living pattern survey data, or currency fluctuations. Currency fluctuations are monitored on a daily basis causing the COLA index to be adjusted every two weeks. It is important to understand how COLA works, plan ahead and manage resources accordingly.
Overseas Housing Allowance
Due to Misawa's on-base first policy, typically only unaccompanied E-5s and above are authorized to live off base and receive OHA. You will not receive OHA or utility allowance when living on base. OHA is provided to cover the cost of rent. We urge you to remember there is a ceiling on OHA, and anything over that amount is considered an out-of-pocket expense. OHA may vary month to month.
This allowance is provided to members eligible for OHA. UA rates may vary month to month and is helpful in offsetting utility costs, but it does not always reimburse 100% of your utility costs. Misawa residents tend to use less than the entitlement during the summer but more during the cold winter months. Rental allowance and UA appear on a single line of the LES under OHA.
Move-In Housing Allowance
MIHA helps offset costs associated with the initial set up and occupying of off-base housing. To be entitled to MIHA, a member must be eligible for OHA. MIHA is paid only once, even though the member may elect to relocate from one off-base unit to another.
Temporary Lodging Allowance
TLA is designed to assist members in partially offsetting temporary lodging costs while seeking permanent housing. Unaccompanied airmen E-4 and below must check with dorm management upon arrival at Misawa Air Base. Army and Navy unaccompanied personnel need to check in with the barracks to verify entitlement.
Once permanent housing is located and assigned, you must move in on the first available date or relinquish entitlements. TLA cannot be paid for personal convenience or to board pets. TLA begins the day of arrival at Misawa AB (the date shown on your travel voucher). To claim TLA, register with the Housing Office and process through the Lodging Office. Lodging will provide the documentation needed to submit the claim.
Army and Navy personnel follow the same procedures through their Personnel Office. Personnel not showing proof of continued search for quarters will not be authorized TLA. Should on-base housing become available and the member declines, TLA will stop no later than the available date for those offered quarters.
Advanced pay is an option within 30 days of arriving at Misawa AB. After 60 days, you need commander approval. In order to apply for advanced pay, you need to contact the Finance Office at DSN 315-226-9242. All ranks are eligible for three months of their base pay, minus deductions. All E-4 and below must have the squadron commander’s approval prior to payment. Anyone requesting more than one month’s base pay or more than 12 months to repay must also have the squadron commander’s approval.
Most squadrons require an advance pay spending plan to be conducted by the Airman and Family Readiness Center to ensure no financial hardships will occur during repayment. You can make an appointment by calling 315-226-4735. An advance appointment is required. Advance pay is an interest-free loan that must be paid back in 12 months. Repayments will be automatically withdrawn from the service member's paycheck.
It can be expensive to get settled in Misawa. Off-base rental rates range from 150,000 Yen/month to 250,000+ Yen/month. Housing in Japan is different from housing in the United States. Standards of construction vary depending on the age of the house. Normally there is less living space in Japanese houses, bedrooms are smaller, heating systems use kerosene, and there are propane stoves. Some landlords will not accept pets. Those that do may charge an additional non-refundable deposit. All landlords require a security deposit, typically 50,000 Yen. Upon termination of the rental agreement, this amount is typically refunded unless there are damages and/or bills owed on the house.
In addition to monthly fees, you are responsible for paying utilities and garbage collection. These expenditures range from $600-$1,200 per month, depending on the size of the home and how well you conserve. Utilities are paid in Yen. Phone, cable TV, and internet service are additional expenses to the renter and are not covered by any additional entitlement.
Specific information regarding housing allowances will occur during the one-on-one newcomers briefing at the Housing Office. Check specific entitlements at the Department of Defense Per Diem Travel and Transportation Allowance Committee.
Automobiles and Insurance
In addition to housing costs, the purchase of an automobile and required insurance is another expense for which individuals should plan. Used car prices range from $1000 to several thousand dollars depending on the vehicle. All car owners are required to carry liability insurance and Japanese Compulsory Insurance. Liability insurance can be purchased in three-, six-, or 12-month increments. The cost of liability insurance depends on age, pay grade, length of coverage, and liability dollar amount. The cost for 12 months of liability insurance can range from 20,000 to 70,000 Yen. The longer the timeframe for the insurance policy, the more money saved. The cost of your JCI can range from $400 to $1,000 for a two-year period of time. Additional automobile expenses include yearly road tax ranging from 7,500 to 32,000 Yen and a parking permit fee of $100 if living off base.
An emergency can happen even with the best-made plans. Should an emergency occur while you are in transit, contact the nearest military installation if possible. All the military services and the American Red Cross have reciprocal agreements to help military members and their dependents in an emergency. If you are not near a military installation, contact the American Red Cross (ARC). If necessary, you can contact the Misawa ARC at 011-81-176-77-3772, 011-81-176-77-3016 or DSN 315-226-3016. Once you have arrived at Misawa AB contact the Airman and Family Readiness Center for further assistance.
Carry your important papers (orders, passport, traveler's checks, last leave and earning statement, etc.) with you; DO NOT pack them in your luggage or your household goods. Write down and carry with you the telephone numbers for your relatives, your sponsor (both DSN and commercial), your gaining unit and the Command Post at Misawa. These numbers will be invaluable in case of an emergency.