Thursday, May 25, 2017

Sometimes I have entertaining dreams...

As I was waking up this morning, I had a dream about my former best friend.  It was more like a funny vignette, really.  I dreamt I was working in men's wear store, just like I did over twenty years ago.  She came prancing in and said she needed help finding clothes in a size 2.  I haven't seen her in person in years, but I highly doubt she wears a 2.

Anyway, I was very pleasant and businesslike when I said, "You do realize you're in a men's wear store, right?"

She rolled her eyes and pointed at a couple of ladies' fashions hanging on racks.  There were maybe two outfits and neither would be appropriate on a woman our age, regardless of the woman's figure.  I kind of shrugged and she grabbed this mini jumper looking thing and went into a dressing room.  I think her husband was with her.  I had a good laugh.

Bill and I did some more talking about our possible move to Italy.  This job that he's being offered is an excellent one.  It's a well-connected, high powered position and it would really be great if Bill could do it.  Unfortunately, because we live in Germany, it's likely that Bill would be considered a "local hire".  Local hires are not usually authorized "living quarters allowance" (LQA) because there's a law designed to discourage people from "homesteading" in Europe.  If you get hired in the United States, the government pays to move you and pays for your housing.  If you get hired somewhere else, you may or may not get LQA.  It depends on whether or not it's clear you were planning to move back to the States.  You have to produce a document from your employer specifying that they were planning to repatriate you in the US.  Bill has such a document, but it may not be specific enough to justify getting LQA.

Personally, I think this is a pretty stupid law because a lot of good people get discovered as overseas contractors.  Bill got his offer because he's worked with the people in Italy.  They know him and like him.  If we had been in the States, it's likely that he would not have had that contact.  What's more, if he doesn't take the job, it's likely that someone from the States would... and they would be getting financial help.  So the money would be spent anyway, but on a candidate that wasn't at the top of the list.

If Bill took the job, we'd have to move back to the States within 3 to 5 years.  The same would be true of a person who was hired in the US.  What the law is supposed to do is prevent people from staying in Europe indefinitely and give other people the chance to live abroad.  So what difference does it make where a person was hired?  If they were hired abroad, they'd still have to move back to the States in 3-5 years.

If this job were located in Stuttgart, it would be a lot easier to accept it without a second thought.  We could live on less money every month if we're already established.  But we don't want to pay thousands of dollars to move all our shit to Italy and then take a big pay cut.  There's a lot that goes into moving.  It's not just paying the moving company; it's also having to find a house and paying the start up fees for moving in (three months rent, anyone?).  It's having to pay taxes on the salary, too.  As a contractor, most of Bill's salary is currently tax exempt.  Maybe we could do that if we were younger, but we have to think about what happens when Bill retires.  On the other hand, getting into the GS system is also a good thing for Bill's retirement.  It's pretty hard to get laid off from a GS job.

Supposedly, there are GS jobs opening up locally.  They haven't been advertised yet.  I think if LQA doesn't come through, Bill will probably stay a contractor and then apply for the local GS jobs.  We live in an inexpensive place now and we like our landlords.  A move to Italy means new landlords and loads of money spent.  And even if they did give us LQA, there is always the chance that some asshole down the line will say we shouldn't have gotten LQA and demand all the money back.  Bill just got finished paying off the government for the bonus he got in the 90s when he temporarily left the military.

So... this is a difficult dilemma.  It would be nice if the logjam would break.

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