The world’s longest to-do list

Last week Nate and I went to a training at the FSI about the logistics of moving overseas for adults.  It was a solid two and a half hours of being told what we need to do before we move and why.

In addition to getting Athena’s transportation sorted out, going through our stuff, and renting out our home, we also have to scan all our important documents; put together wills, health directives, and powers of attorney; get lots of insurance; inventory all our things; and other stuff that my over-loaded brain is probably forgetting.

What I want to know is how did the people that left for post eight weeks after swearing-in manage to do everything?

It’s overwhelming thinking that moving from place to place every two or three years is going to be the norm for the next twenty or so years.  Maybe eventually we’ll just be so used to it, it won’t seem like a big deal?  Right now I’m struggling with finding balance between wanting to just get rid of everything and go minimalist, and keeping the stuff that I’m emotionally attached to.

Then there’s the idea of having to recreate a network of friends every time we move.  I know we’ll bump into people that we already know from time to time, but mostly we’ll be making new friends at each post.  Just thinking about that makes me tired.

Anyhow, the training was really helpful, although going from working 9-5 to a training from 6-8:30 was not exactly fun.  But I’d highly recommend it and I’m glad that they offer it in the evenings.

And because there haven’t been enough pictures of Athena lately, I’ll end with this one.  She had a playdate with some fellow DiploDogs, and they look like triplets!

Athena is in the middle, with her little snaggle tooth

Athena is in the middle, with her little snaggle tooth

The local hire tax

I think the Foreign Service is awesome.  I am incredibly grateful for the opportunities they’re giving us, and I honestly look forward to spending the next 20 to 30 years as part of the FS family.

But it really sucks being a local hire.

We don’t get per diem.  From July 2014 to May 2015, non-local hires are raking in approximately $10,117 of per diem, completely tax-free.

We also have to pay for our own housing, utilities, internet, etc.  From July 2014 to May 2015, this is costing us around$25,200.

So basically we are missing out on about $35,317 of free money.  Those with higher rents/mortgages are losing even more.

Every time I meet another local hire, I feel an instant camaraderie, like, “Oh good, you’re getting screwed too.”  Misery loves company!

Another thing I find irritating: if you’re an EFM with a job, kiss nearly all those wonderful training opportunities at the FSI good-bye.  There are only like six trainings offered on weeknights and weekends.  So most of those extra trainings, like allowances and finances in the FS, or even language training, are completely out-of-reach.  I think they assume that most EFMs in the DC area are unemployed.

Last night we went to a training, and at the end the instructor asked how many of us were EFMs that were hoping to be employed at post.  My hand shot up because, yes, of course I want a job when we’re in Dhaka!  Well, the training for EFMs seeking employment at post is during the week, when I’m work.

Looking on the bright side, at least we don’t live in Baltimore or down near Quantico.  Then we still wouldn’t get per diem or housing, Nate would have a truly hellish commute, and we’d be too far from Arlington to take advantage of any extra trainings.

I know I can’t/shouldn’t complain too much (don’t bite the hand that feeds you, and all that) since my husband loves his job, we see each other a lot more often than we used to, and we are moving halfway across to world, which is exactly what we’ve wanted for years now.  But getting the short end of the stick sucks.  At least we only have three and half more months to go!