Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Can I Live With You?

I've come to the conclusion that we are never going to find a suitable place to live. We get less of a housing allowance now that Christopher is a WO1 than we did when he was an E-7. They were going to close down the base a few years ago and gave a lot of the on base housing back to the locals. Now, there is a shortage of available housing on the local economy for the soldiers and their families. Sweet. They should have just closed this shit hole of a base down. We are looking at properties closer to Ramstein, which I am totally not opposed to because the further I get from Baumholder, the better! It just sucks that Christopher has to make the treacherous drive up the side of an icy snowy mountain during the winter. Luckily (or not so luckily) he will only be here for this winter and another winter because of his deployment and our PCS date. Most of the people we have talked to live closer to Ramstein and just do the shitty commute. Unfortunately, that means that we will probably have to pay out of pocket for our rent. A lot of people have put in packets to change their housing allowance rates to the housing rates the soldiers in the Ramstein area get but they're still sitting on someone's desk waiting for approval. You would think that if everyone has to live in the Ramstein area because there is absolutely nothing available closer to Baumholder, they would support their soldiers immediately.

I know, you're probably thinking, you get free rent! Military pay is not that awesome, the military tells you what city and state to live in, and the Euro makes the dollar its bitch. I don't even want to get into the horror stories I've heard about people having to pay assloads of money for their utilities because their metering system here is strange. The meters get read once a year so basically you pay an estimated amount (based on the previous year) every month for utilities to your landlord. You have no idea if you've gone over that monthly allowance or not so at the end of the year, you could owe your landlord mucho dinero, you could break even, or you could get extra cash back. And apparently you have to buy your oil in bulk? I don't even know how that works. I don't know if I'm remembering this correctly but you buy anywhere from $1,000-$2,000 worth of oil to heat your house for the year and you have to do this every year or something. Yeah, who knows how this shit works.

Fun facts about the base here in Baumholder:

1. Highest STD rate of all the bases in Europe.
2. Highest sexual assault rate of all the bases in Europe.
3. One of if not the highest suicide rate of all the bases in Europe.
4. Highest pregnancy/birth rates of all of the bases in Europe.
5. Highest male to male sexual harassment rate of all the bases in Europe.
6. Highest reported child neglect rate of all the bases in Europe.
7. It is overcast and gray 75-80% of the year.

Does this sound like an awesome place to live or what?! Exactly where I want to be when my husband is deployed for a year and I'm left alone with my daughter. Sweet! So yes, closer to Ramstein? I can dig it.

Don't get me wrong, I'm excited to live in Germany. Once Christopher gets back from deployment, we are going to have an amazing time travelling around Europe with our daughter. But this initial part? Blows. I'm 8 months pregnant, I want to get my house in order before the baby gets here, and I just keep hearing the ticking of the clock on how much time I have left with Christopher and how much time he gets with the bambino before he packs up his gear and has to say goodbye for a while.

Today, the gloom and doom wins and I'm having a pity party for myself. Today's the type of day that makes me miss alcohol. And Xanax.

At least I still have a few cupcakes to make me feel better.


Chelsea said...

Have you gone by Ramstein housing and picked up an off base housing listing packet? They usually separate listings into pay grades/rent amounts. So for example, up to E-3 is a pack, up to E-6 is a pack, etc. We searched through at least 300 listings. First we went through and crossed out everything that didn't fit our criteria (too expensive, too far, too small, paying own oil, etc). Then we went through and found places that looked good. Then we separated those into piles based on whether or not they had flat-rate utilities, how big, how expensive, and how far from base.

We looked at 3 of those places, and picked what we are in. It's a 3 bedroom apartment. 2nd floor. 1.5 bathroom (shower AND seperate tub -- you don't find nice tubs very often), and has a storage room in the basement. We really like it. It's not our dream home, but it's nice :) oh and we pay a monthly flat rate (built into our monthly rent) for heating and water. Electric through RWE, and we pay about 160€ monthly after they adjusted the monthly payments based on our first 6 months here. Our rent is 745€ per months incluing the 70€ utilities flat rate. My husband is an E-5 in the Air Force and this comes out to about $200 under our housing allowance limit.

It's tricky, but you can do it :)

Have you looking into WIC overseas? They base eligibility on monthly income, and we still qualify for it (I think we stop qualifying in April when my husband gets that tiny raise for being in another year). It's really helpful, and they are really easy to work with here.

My husband is deploying a few months after our baby is born, and I don't look forward to that at all, but we are setting aside money for me to visit the styes for a few of those months, and we will be buying a camcorder for him to record stories and songs for her before he goes. I will use it to send him videos of us while he is gone. And of course we will webcam too. I'm scared to death of him being gone for almost 7 months, but I guess we don't have much choice huh? Yep, I hate the military sometimes too :-/

Sorry you're having a rough time. Text me if you want, I'm free all day lol.

T B said...

We have been using the AHRN website and were told that they no longer do the books? Maybe that's just Baumholder. I'll be in Landstuhl tomorrow for a doctor's appointment so maybe I can swing by Ramstein's housing office to see if they have the books.

We've seen places but unfortunately for our criteria, nothing we can take. A lot of places we like, won't accept our dogs. A lot of places we hate, will take them. We need something on the first floor, preferably with a yard because I'll be alone with the baby for a year and the dogs get taken out 3 times a day. I love the dogs but sometimes, I just want to kick them to the curb. I would never do it, but good God, life would be easier.

I'm pretty sure we don't qualify for WIC. I'm not too worried about coming out of pocket because I plan on going back to work and I'm sure we can make up the difference. Well, if anyone decides to hire me anyway :) The uncertainty of whether or not there are decent jobs available after the baby is what makes us nervous about jumping at a place that's over our OHA limit.

I know a few people though that said screw it because they were tired of staying in military lodging and are currently paying 300-400 out of pocket every month because they found a place that finally met their housing needs. With the baby coming soon, I think we might end up just saying screw it too.

Thanks for the info on the Ramstein booklets! I'll check it out tomorrow!

madge said...

So, the military abbreviations and whatnot are lost on me, but it sounds like a dreadful situation. I really hope you guys find a nice affordable place before the nesting stuff really kicks in. How is the OB/hospital situation there?

Keri said...

Sounds crappy. Finding housing sucks. I can't even tell you how many times we've paid more than BAH amount. Pretty much EVERY time we live off post. FYI for when u move back to the states...from the day he "finals out" of post in Germany, they will give you a generic BAH rate until he signs in his new post. So, if he takes leave, you will only get $700/month..give or take. It may be a bit higher but not much. I used to work at finance, and saw people get screwed coming back from Germany.
I am sure I just gave you some awesome news to ponder. lol. Such a ray of sunshine.

T B said...

Madge - Went to my first appointment yesterday. The facility seems pretty decent but I haven't met an actual OB yet and haven't seen L&D. I don't actually get an OB. I get whoever is on call when the time comes. Yay! I have an appt with an OB next week so we'll see how that goes. lol.

Keri - There's always good news in the Army :) lol. We still haven't been paid for our TDY correctly from his school and considering we had to pay for it all out of pocket, I want our damn money back! He called DFAS last night and..... they said they hadn't even received his shit! LOVING IT!

richelle jean said...

I hope you guys find a nice place.. and going around Europe sounds so fun!

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