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No, we’re NOT moving to Italy…

Some readers who follow the official Facebook page for my Overeducated Housewife blogs have gotten the idea that Bill and I are considering a move to Italy. That is not the case.

The post that has people confused is one I wrote three years ago, when Bill’s first company lost its contract. Bill had applied for several Europe based jobs and got a tentative job offer for a government position in Italy. Back in 2017, we were strongly considering making the move to Italy and, in retrospect, maybe it would have turned out alright if we’d gone for it. At that time, I wrote a short post about that looming decision. Yesterday, I updated it, and it was automatically shared on the Facebook page by WordPress.

Although it was heartbreaking to turn down the job, especially since we both love Italy, Bill ultimately declined to make the move. He was then offered a position with his current company, which is much bigger and better than the first one was. The loss of the first company’s contract, while very stressful, turned out to be a huge blessing in disguise.

As it turned out, the move to Italy would have come with no support from the government, since Bill would have been considered a local hire. That would have meant we’d have to move ourselves down there. There would have also been no housing allowance and, while housing is less expensive in Italy, it would have really cramped our style. It often takes awhile for government employees to get onboarded, too, so that would have been a huge logistical hassle for us, since we would have probably had to go on tourist status until the onboarding process was done. We decided that even Italy’s wonderful wines and pastas weren’t enough to lure us into that rigamarole.

As some readers know, we just moved to Wiesbaden at the end of 2018, so neither of us is wanting to move again so soon. We may have to move this year, since Bill’s company’s contract is up for renegotiation; but even if that happens, he’d likely be hired by the subsequent company or reassigned. And, as we have found out, we may have to move in any given year, thanks to random stuff that happens in the military and with contracting companies. Contracting can be a frustrating roller coaster ride, which is why a lot of people prefer working for the government.

Anyway… for those of you who are following the Facebook page and noticing the old posts resurfacing, I do apologize if they’re annoying. Last year, when I switched my blogs from Blogger to WordPress, I had varying degrees of success in transferring old material. I wasn’t able to transfer my original blog at all, probably because it was too big of a file. The travel blog transferred, but I’m now left with posts that have screwy formatting and print that is too small to read. I suppose I could have just started the travel blog over, like I did my original blog, but some of those old posts are interesting and useful. I’d hate to throw that history away, especially since we mostly loved our time near Stuttgart.

I’m now in the process of updating those old posts so they can be more easily read. Every time I update the posts, WordPress posts them automatically on Facebook. I could change the settings so it doesn’t do that, but I think some of the old posts are interesting and contain useful information. Some of them really do deserve another look. If you see a batch of posts showing up on Facebook, be sure to check the date on them.

Thanks to everyone for your patience! I hope to be finished with this tedious process in a few weeks or so.


Contractor life with a new company…

I know a lot of people find this blog because they are seeking information about what it’s like to work for a military contractor in Germany.  Today’s post is update number three in my series about military contractor life.

If you’ve been reading earlier posts on this blog, you may know that in April of this year, Bill’s former employer lost its contract.  When we got the news, we worried about what would be coming next.  In that post, I mentioned that April is usually Easter time, and maybe the contract loss would be a blessing in disguise.  For the most part, I’d say that is what came to pass.

In May, Bill was given a tentative job offer for a government position in Italy.  We seriously considered making the move, but it soon became clear that moving to Italy would be a big, expensive hassle for us.  It appeared that not only would the salary be significantly less, but we’d also be responsible for moving ourselves and it looked like we would not get a housing allowance.  Bill applied for another government job in Germany and was on the short list for that one, but the story was the same.  The only difference was that we wouldn’t have to move.

Then, Bill was offered a job with the new contractor.  The new contractor is a much larger company than the old one and has deeper pockets.  Although they did not hire everyone from Bill’s old company, they did take most of the best people.  Bill got a significant upgrade in salary and benefits, although he will have to tolerate being a “hired gun” for a bit longer.

I can now see where people get the idea that government contractors make a lot of money, although I also know from experience that it’s not always the case.  The old company was paying a lot less– basically a salary they would give a captain in the Army rather than a retired lieutenant colonel, although the housing allowance brought the salary up to a more respectable level.  The new company pays a salary more in line with what guys like Bill should be making.

So far, the new company is better.  The contract is better written and lasts a year longer than the older one did.  Bill’s new boss is also great.  Fortunately, both companies had good people in charge who treated Bill well.  That’s a real blessing.  So, with any luck, Bill will be able to stick with this firm for awhile.

That being said…  I do love Germany very much, but I am beginning to think about what will come next.  I don’t know that we’ll want to live here for years on end, like some people do.  I don’t really miss America that much, but I would someday like to own my own home.  Also, whenever you move to a new location, there is the chance to see and do new things and meet new people.  We’ll be in Germany at least another year and probably longer, but I don’t think I’d mind moving to the next station, provided there is support and we don’t end up hanging out in Europe as tourists while we wait for things to get official.  That’s what would have happened if we had moved to Italy.

The funny thing is, the government folks in Italy are still ribbing Bill about not taking the job.  It does seem like a surreal twist of fate.  So many people complain about how hard it is to get a GS job.  Bill was offered one without even being interviewed, although that was because the Italy folks know him and know what they would be getting.  If the new company wants us to move to Italy, I’d be alright with it.  But only if they help us make the move.

I guess what it comes down to is the contractor life is not as stable as GS life is.  The lifestyle can be turbulent, and that makes it difficult to make plans.  Contractors also don’t get any authority except within their own company.

However, it is true that contractors can end up making significantly more money than government employees do and some contractors also offer superior benefits.  That is the case with Bill’s new position.  He’s making more money and getting better benefits.  And he also has a good boss who was kind enough to let Bill come to Scotland with me last month.  The only thing that does suck is that Bill has to earn leave again.  But knowing him, he’ll have those hours made up in no time.

Another bonus to the new job is that Bill’s boss has told him that the company will help him pick up some extra certifications.  For instance, Bill earned a master’s degree in cybersecurity last year.  The new company will help him become certified in that field if he wants.  Or they will help him get certified as a project manager.

Also, as a contractor, Bill has more flexibility.  He can try for jobs wherever he wants to and isn’t just limited to places where the government or military want to send him.  Granted, given what he does now, we will probably always be near a military installation.  But that does not always have to be the case.  The new company has jobs worldwide and, if Bill does well, he could certainly compete for the ones he’s qualified to do.

Frankly, I’m envious of all the opportunities Bill has.  I’m wondering if it’s not time for me to start trying to get into a career again myself.  But then I remember how much I like sitting around in my nightgown, writing blog posts.  Here’s hoping Bill’s new job lasts awhile.  I’ll just focus on being a good partner.

I get to look for more hot air balloons in the near future…