We recived Patrick’s offer last Friday. We were pleased and he began filling out the paperwork to accept the offer. He finished and faxed in the final letter today. We received a Welcome Package that the same day from state. My first impression was that it was a very thick folder full of more paperwork to read, understand and then fill out. As I looked though it more I decided that the government needed to update their folders a bit (as if they don’t have enough to do). Really, though, how hard is it to make nice copies of word documents that are aesthetically pleasing? I know a great design firm that can help with that…
In the end we are happy with the salary offer and thankful for the Welcome Package because it means that we are one more step closer to the September class and our ultimate goal of serving our country overseas.
I saw your previous comment about housing. Most people are not going to put pictures of their house on the internet because of security issues, and comparing for you will be difficult because housing varies widely depending on where you’re going and rank in the service. The OBC (Overseas Briefing Center) at FSI is accessible for spouses and has a folder for each post with info on housing, lifestyle in that city, etc.
But when you do finally find out where you’re going, GSO (General Services something…Office, maybe? I’m still super-terrible with acronyms) at your post will send you pictures of the housing they’ve assigned you with information on the square footage and rooms. If you think it’s inadequate for your family, you might have some room to negotiate, and apparently there is a three-month rule out there somewhere (if you get to post and hate your housing, you can request to move within the first 90 days). Also, if someone else at post is willing to trade with you, you can trade. We’ve had several trades here, singles trading with couples, for instance (so the singles could have the hip apartment in the awesome part of town and the marrieds could have a bigger house, though further out).
Anyway, when GSO tells you about your housing, ask lots of questions – how far is the commute, what is the storage space like, how wide are the doorways (so you’ll know if your baby gates are the right size), is there any other embassy/consulate housing in the neighborhood (if you’re a SAHM you will want neighbors to hang out with!), is it walking distance to a grocery store and coffee shop, etc. We did not ask these questions and should have. Our house is just fine, but it did turn out to be in a neighborhood with no other consulate housing and nothing walkable, which has its ups and downs, but at least we have two cars so I am not stuck by myself on the opposite side of town from everyone all day.
Your husband will also get a sponsor – another officer at post who helps ease you in. Ask your sponsor what his/her opinion of your housing is. He/she will probably be familiar with it, because someone else from the post likely is living there currently. Your sponsor may even be able to send better pictures than the blurry pictures from GSO.
Thanks for all of the info! So much to think through. I’ve heard someone say they had an Excell spreadsheet that they used when bidding. I wonder if there are any out there that we can see.
My husband did all his bidding by himself last time, so I don’t know much about the process. Some friends of ours basically went through the list and crossed out everything that they didn’t qualify for and everything that doesn’t work timing-wise. You figure out the timing by counting back from the start date for each post to their departure date from the current one. Basically, departure date + home leave + time required at FSI for language/other training (though you won’t be factoring in home leave this first time), and you figure out how far that date is from the requested start date.
That left them with a couple dozen choices, and they started researching based on what sounded interesting. They had little symbols for different things – how interested in it they were, what the housing sounded like, entertainment options, etc. It looked like a scribbled-up version of a cheat sheet for a test in high school. 🙂
But if you find out where that spreadsheet is, I’d love to see it. It sounds like it would be interesting.