Cost of Living Allowance (COLA)

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Cost of Living Allowance (COLA)

The Cost of Living Allowance (COLA) — also known as Goods and Services Differential, Commodities and Services Allowance, or Cost of Living Index –  is a critical element of international assignee pay. It is the allowance you provide and update over time to protect assignees against excess goods and services costs in a host location. AIRINC’s approach to COLA is holistic, we believe high quality data and support go hand in hand. We provide COLA based on robust methods, calculated by our in-house research team. You also receive access to dedicated experts who proactively and promptly support your COLA needs.

Your COLA Options

It is important to tailor your COLA to your policy goals. We make it easy for you to select your desired subsidy level and ensure the allowance is aligned to your guidelines. Available for over 150 home countries and over 1000 host cities, the COLA can be configured to a set of pre-selected criteria.

AIRINC COLA Your Options Table

Your COLA Support

The most common questions about COLA come when the allowance changes. You receive comprehensive support from AIRINC, the way that works for you. Whether you prefer self-serve, live support, or a mix, AIRINC’s service is included.

COLA Change Reports:

COLA change reports are employee-friendly, self-serve documents that can be used to address assignees’ questions or to proactively understand changes.

Dedicated Support:

Client support teams are assigned to you based in your region. They promptly respond to your questions.

Proactive Notification:

AIRINC monitors your usage of COLA data and proactively informs you when large changes are pending.

How You Access COLA

We make it easy for you to access and receive COLA data according to your needs.

You can receive COLA Tables via:

  • API connections
  • The format required by your technology system
  • Excel workbooks

You can receive individualized calculations through AIRINC’s International Assignment Calculator (IAC). Options include:

  • One Individual Calculation for specific assignee by salary and family size
  • A batch of individual calculations for a group of assignees.


You can order data instantly on-line as needed or subscribe to a set of data on an annual basis.

COLA Delivery

You can receive COLA tables (offering a range of COLA data at multiple salaries and family sizes) or individual calculations (one COLA value at a specific salary and family size).

How we calculate COLA

Our goal: To capture the reality of assignees’ spending needs, accurately measuring cost differences between the host and home locations. We believe our approach is closely aligned to the way assignees actually consume goods and services, delivering you a more accurate and defensible result. AIRINC is unique in that we measure cost differences arising from both price differences as well as the shopping adaptations assignees make. Our in-house researchers canvass thousands of prices on a continuous basis to capture the pure price differences in a large market basket of goods and services.

They also research circumstances in each host location, adjusting their calculations when local conditions require assignees to adapt. Examples of adaptations include considerations for local commuting patterns (e.g. driving in Houston vs. using public transportation in Singapore), accessing child-care (babysitters in lieu of family support), and drinking water (using purified water when tap water is not advised). Capturing price differences in this way provides you with a COLA that reflects your assignee’s actual experience, giving you the comfort that your employees are supported properly.

What does AIRINC’s Cost of Living Allowance look like?

Your COLA Partner

AIRINC’s thoughtful approach to COLA makes receiving COLAs for your company easy and reliable. When you choose AIRINC as your COLA provider, you get more than just the data, you gain access to a dedicated team of experts to help support your program, your way.

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