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Relocating

Are you considering relocating your federal career - either by your choice or by Uncle Sam? There are practical issues and concerns to think about when deciding whether or not to relocate. Others have done it while still others have not. This forum will allow for all to offer their insight, post their questions, and help each other out.

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Coffee!  
#1 Posted : Sunday, April 15, 2012 4:10:24 AM(UTC)
Coffee!

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Anyone have any good info on this?  I've done all the google research and have signed up with some realtor websites--just more wondering if there is someone with some first-hand, personal recommendation type info.

Thanks!
simchief  
#2 Posted : Sunday, April 15, 2012 9:15:26 AM(UTC)
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First recommendation; get a sponsor to help transition to Germany.

here is a site that might be able to help!

https://www.ahrn.com/usagstuttgart.php

You must register using an email address that ends with a .mil OR dodea.edu domain. simchief2012-04-15 17:29:11
I'll be shoveling along: <br />Digger O'Dell
oldschoolguy  
#3 Posted : Sunday, April 15, 2012 9:43:47 AM(UTC)
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Try Craigslist.
simchief  
#4 Posted : Sunday, April 15, 2012 10:09:34 PM(UTC)
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Just to make sure above link to housing office works; I registered, using a .MIL email address, site shows there are 144 places to rent in greater Stuttgart area.
 
Recommend, if you do not have a required sufix email available; you find a friend that does.
 
You are required to use housing referral office when you arrive.
 
Good luck!
I'll be shoveling along: <br />Digger O'Dell
simchief  
#5 Posted : Monday, April 16, 2012 10:16:54 PM(UTC)
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Craigslist might be a valued resource; however are you fluent in German? I recommend NOT finding a rental on your own, because local Government rental office (housing office) approval is required in order to draw Living Quarters Allowance (LQA). Housing offices have lists of approved real estate agents who can assist in finding a place, plus agents know required paperwork processes.

I'll be shoveling along: <br />Digger O'Dell
acivilservant  
#6 Posted : Monday, April 16, 2012 10:29:17 PM(UTC)
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simchief wrote:

Craigslist might be a valued resource; however are you fluent in German? I recommend NOT finding a rental on your own, because local Government rental office (housing office) approval is required in order to draw Living Quarters Allowance (LQA). Housing offices have lists of approved real estate agents who can assist in finding a place, plus agents know required paperwork processes.

 
You can actually select an option for the website to be translated into English.Thumbs Up
TsgtChaos  
#7 Posted : Tuesday, April 17, 2012 5:09:15 AM(UTC)
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AHRN is a great site and the housing office will steer you towards it too.  Also Try http://stuttgart.bookoo.com/ or stuttgartyardsales.com They are not as prolific as ramsteinyardsales.com but its is well used.  You may want to look into living on base if you have younger kids.  In Ramstein Civilians live off base but there may be a clause for the Stuttgart housing
TsgtChaos  
#8 Posted : Tuesday, April 17, 2012 5:12:55 AM(UTC)
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Also if you go with a realtor , be prepared to to shell out a months rent as a finders fee on top of your deposit.  And if you do go through a realtor make sure they help you out getting all your utilities set up.  Its the least they could do since you'd be paying then a few thousand dollars.  Also look into "GIbillpay".   It's easy enough to pay your bills in Germany but GI "billpay" will keep all your records for you which will help with your yearly reconciliation.
  

fcarver  
#9 Posted : Tuesday, April 17, 2012 10:16:58 PM(UTC)
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I was doing some reading and it looks like the realtor finder's fee is reimbursable under your MEA (Miscellaneous Expenses Allowance) if you're a DoD civilian.

Anyone know if the deposit is reimbursable in the same way, or is that just out of pocket?

Last, I know LQA covers rent. Does it also cover your utilities? Or do you have to get your utilities "rolled in" to the rent bill for LQA to cover it?
User1  
#10 Posted : Wednesday, April 18, 2012 1:11:38 AM(UTC)
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If you use a realtor, you'll have to pay the fee out of your own pocket.  You can and should structure your lease contractto include utilities.  When you arrive, you'll be required to go through in-processing, which includes a housing briefing.  I just left there about 18 months ago and thought the housing office was quite helpful in relative terms.  One thing at which they are good is protecting you when it comes to the terms of your lease and what should be included to prevent you from being hit with large sums due.

If you're heading out this time of year, you'll obviously hit the PCS season, which is good and bad.  It's good because many people will be leaving, which means lots of places listed with the housing office.  It's bad because it means lots of other people like you will be arriving and looking.  It may take a little time, but you'll find a place using the housing office.  I strongly recommend keeping away from the realtors if you're a federal civilian employee.  Some of the contractors and get the realtor fee covered, but not federal civilians.  The big thing you need to be aware of is the fact that you'll have to put down a fairly large deposit, even if you use the on-post housing office.  This alone is reason enough not to incur more expenses with a realtor. 
simchief  
#11 Posted : Wednesday, April 18, 2012 1:17:31 AM(UTC)
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fcarver speaks truth! Be aware items covered by LQA payment can be specific to region; Germany; Japan, Korea etc. I have always been told "LQA covers 100% of costs for about 80% of those authorized LQA" My example is Korea; LQA covered rent, utilities such as heat, bottled water, and electricity, trash pickup was covered. In Korea the landlord paid agent fees, agent represented me on any problems, such as designated parking area, replacement house keys, getting items serviced, air conditioning, broken window and such. An agent made making four moves in 16-years much easier.

I'll be shoveling along: <br />Digger O'Dell
Knight  
#12 Posted : Wednesday, April 18, 2012 2:17:15 AM(UTC)
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Planning ahead is great but you might want to wait until you have boots on the ground to do any serious house hunting. Let the housing folk help you with this.
 
Something I saw in the past is that some landlords are on the post "do not use" list and the local realtors might not know that.
 
 
baron90  
#13 Posted : Thursday, April 26, 2012 12:21:15 AM(UTC)
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Be very careful using a realtor as the fee is actually anywhere from 1 to 3 times the monthly rent for the residence.  You will also need to be prepared to pay the security deposit which is also anywhere from 1 to 3 months rent.  I just returned from that area a couple years ago and housing was extremely tight and very expensive.  My landlord charged me 2200 euros just for the rent.  The security deposit was 6000 euros so the salary advance was definitely needed in my case.  I was lucky enough to find the house through the Stuttgart housing office but they had limited availablility and many people had to commute long distances in order to find suitable less expensive housing.  I additionally had to fork out another $2500 to fill the heating oil tank upon moving in and this was reimbursed over the course of a year instead of in full when I had paid it.  I did get my full deposit back upon departure and had a wonderful landord but he was making a lot of money off of me so I would have been very accomodating if I was the landlord.  The housing office also negotiated the repainting fee into the lease contract rate so I did not have to pay a lump sum at the end of the lease.  Many civilians and service members ending up buying a place and renting it out once they left which you can definitly do and the LQA can be used for the purchase of a property for up to 10 years as long as it is your primary residence.  Also, Keep in mind the reimbursement under miscellaneous expenses is capped:




ALLOWANCE


CIVILIAN


UNIFORMED SERVICE MEMBER



4. MISCELLANEOUS EXPENSE ALLOWANCE (MEA) FOR DoD CIVILIAN EMPLOYEES

DISLOCATION ALLOWANCE (DLA) FOR UNIFORMED MEMBERS

(Covers miscellaneous relocating expenses)

(CIV: 5 USC §5724a(f))

(UNI: 37 USC §407)


An employee with no dependent(s) receives a $650 ($500 if effective date of transfer before 18 July 2011) flat amount or, if expenses are itemized, an amount up to 1 week's basic compensation.

An employee with dependent(s) receives a $1,300 ($1,000 if effective date of transfer before 18 July 2011) flat amount or, if expenses are itemized, an amount up to 2 week's basic compensation.
An employee-married-to-employee couple with no dependent(s) receives MEA under specific situations.

The maximum MEA authorized must not exceed the highest basic salary for a GS-13.

fcarver  
#14 Posted : Thursday, April 26, 2012 3:12:02 AM(UTC)
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baron, since you mentioned MEA, I was reading about it last week and it says that it covers "finders fees traditionally paid to realtors to secure housing in foreign areas". What was your experience?
baron90  
#15 Posted : Thursday, April 26, 2012 3:43:31 AM(UTC)
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again it only covers up to the cap which is only $1300 or 2 wks base pay (if you are married with dependents).  You will need to provide your receipts in order to get reimbursed.  I did not have to deal with this since I did not have realtors fees to pay but several people including my boss did and the MEA did not cover much at all and they ended up paying out of pocket.
Coffee!  
#16 Posted : Thursday, April 26, 2012 5:50:00 AM(UTC)
Coffee!

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baron speaks the truth--yes, you can use it to reimburse realtor fees, but it will only cover up to the 2 wk base pay cap. I've spoken with a few realtors and their fees have come down a bit, but 1.5 times 2000 euros is still a lot of money to fork over just for showing a house. I'm sticking with AHRN--landlords on their seem more than willing to rent their places without a middleman, and most have rented to Americans before
fcarver  
#17 Posted : Friday, April 27, 2012 8:06:09 AM(UTC)
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coffee, are you already working with homeowners over there even though you haven't PCS'd? if so, how's that going?

we're still a couple months out, PCS date is july 16, so we figured it was still too far out to start working with the homeowners.

any advice would be awesome!
Coffee!  
#18 Posted : Friday, April 27, 2012 10:51:22 PM(UTC)
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fcarver-- we PCSd and got here Apr 8th. My advice would be to get an AHRN account now and start looking. If you have kids, try to get ahold of the school zone maps as well. Bring alot of cash--even without using realtors it's pretty pricey. Be ready to compromise on a house--the market is saturated and places go really fast--you'll be coming in at the peak of PCS season and they will go even faster.

That being said, it's a beautiful area from what we've seen and seems like a great place to spend 3 yrs or so. Oh yeah, other advice: ship your car as soon as able, or bring some cash to buy one off the lemon lot. We were only without for two weeks, but it seemed like forever. If you have a Europe enabled GPS, bring that as well.
fcarver  
#19 Posted : Saturday, April 28, 2012 2:28:41 AM(UTC)
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how're you liking AFRICOM so far? pretty cool organization? i was going to be over on Kelley, but found out my group just moved out to the Airfield. we're excited to get over there. it's still seems like a young enough command that there are alot of opportunities

Coffee!  
#20 Posted : Saturday, April 28, 2012 3:23:11 AM(UTC)
Coffee!

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It's good so far, but I really haven't dug in with all the transition type stuff going on. It definitely has a headquarters feel to it if youve ever worked in that environment before (LOTS of high rank), but if you're at the airfield I'd think that would be toned down. Definitely has an awesome mission though and I'm sure you'll like it.

I'm too new yet to give you any really good info, but we are pleased so far. Do you have children and dogs? The Panzer hotel is a pretty good hookup on base, but if you can, I'd try to get off base. Many of them provide meals that are awesome, again, from what I've heard (SI Suites). Again, ship your car ASAP, like the day you get your orders.
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