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The Department of Defense (DoD) is charged with coordinating and supervising all agencies and functions of the government relating directly to national security and the United States armed forces. The mission of the Department of Defense is to provide the military forces needed to deter war and to protect the security of our country.

The Department of Defense is America's oldest and largest government agency -tracing its roots back to pre-Revolutionary times. Today, the Department is not only in charge of the military, but it also employs a civilian force of thousands. With over 1.4 million men and women on active duty, and 718,000 civilian personnel, DoD is the nation's largest employer. Another 1.1 million serve in the National Guard and Reserve forces. More than 2 million military retirees and their family members receive benefits.

Perhaps you are working for the DoD or interested in working for the DoD. Here is a forum to share your experience with the DoD.
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blaydese  
#1 Posted : Wednesday, June 6, 2018 4:19:29 PM(UTC)
blaydese

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Hi Folks,

I'm a GS-11, Step 5 w/39% COLA here in California:

$60,138.00 (BASE) $23,622.00 (COLA) $83,760.00 (TOTAL)

If I take a GS-12 position in Japan, it'd be at GS-12, Step 1:

$63,600.00 (BASE) $0.00 (COLA) $63,600.00 (TOTAL)

I know for a fact that they CANNOT use CONUS COLA when factoring
OCONUS salary. I know this because it happened to me once before.

I know there's LQA for civilians living off base, but that's matched
99.9% to what you owe on rent & utilities, thus, no funds from
that to pay mortgage payments on a house back in California.

We'd have to:

1. Sell the house.
2. Rent out the house.
3. Not take the job offer.
4. ___________?


:-(

Thanks,
Regards,
blaydese
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someoldguy  
#2 Posted : Wednesday, June 6, 2018 4:26:25 PM(UTC)
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Are you sure there's no COLA for Japan? I have known a few folks who said their COLA was huge... but COLA may not be exactly the correct term.

I think it is all based off what the State Dept gets, and they use terms like "post differential."

I just checked, no "post differential" for Japan... post differential is a 'hardship' allowance. But it shows the COLA as either 25 or 42 percent (though that is not a straight calcuation) plus a huge LQA

https://aoprals.state.go...e=1&CountryCode=1128

Edited by user Wednesday, June 6, 2018 4:32:01 PM(UTC)  | Reason: dug up a little more info

DISCLAIMER: You read it on an open internet forum :)
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blaydese on 6/6/2018(UTC)
blaydese  
#3 Posted : Wednesday, June 6, 2018 5:00:33 PM(UTC)
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Originally Posted by: someoldguy Go to Quoted Post
Are you sure there's no COLA for Japan? I have known a few folks who said their COLA was huge... but COLA may not be exactly the correct term.

I think it is all based off what the State Dept gets, and they use terms like "post differential."

I just checked, no "post differential" for Japan... post differential is a 'hardship' allowance. But it shows the COLA as either 25 or 42 percent (though that is not a straight calcuation) plus a huge LQA

https://aoprals.state.go...e=1&CountryCode=1128


Someoldguy,

Thanks for the link, I was not aware of that, so that basically says I'd get 25% of my base pay in COLA for Iwakuni.

Again, thank you! I'm going to ask my personnel office for more details.

Also, if anyone else has any input, much appreciated.

Thanks!
Regards,
blaydese

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FatHappyCat  
#4 Posted : Wednesday, June 6, 2018 5:09:15 PM(UTC)

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This is an absolute no-brainer; take the job...

For starters - some of the terms you're using is incorrect. Being in CONUS, you don't get COLA. COLA = cost of living adjustment which is taking the difference between the cost of living in the US versus the increased cost because of being overseas. You're probably referring to locality pay I assume. COLA, post allowance, and all the other fun stuff here in Japan is only a couple of hundred bucks a month. It's not going to match your locality pay; it's not meant to.

With that said here is why you should take the job.

1 - Financially you will be MUCH better off. LQA is going to be your equivalent of the locality pay you are giving up except it's not income and is not taxable. I don't know what your mortgage is but I'm fairly certain it cuts into that $23,622 (39%). Assuming you don't leave the house vacant for the 3-5 years you'll be here, your ACTUAL take home pay at the end of the month is significantly higher. LQA + rent income alone is why people almost never want to leave overseas even if the rent doesn't actually cover the mortgage. I've been here in Japan for almost 2 years now and my house back in NYC only covers about 2/3 of the mortgage as opposed to me having to paying the full amount had I not moved.

2 - A higher step at a low rate is just that; a low rate. Step 5 means you're getting increases every 2 years. As a 12/1, you're going to be a 12/3 in 3 years. I actually took a grade down to come overseas going from 13/3 to 12/00. I calculate, as long as I can find another 13 before I leave here, I'll 2-step up to an even higher position had I chosen to stay as a 13.

3 - Japan - Do I need to say anything about that? What other job will pay you to move and live in a foreign country that's a hop and a skip from the rest of east Asia? I assume you applied for this position because you want to be overseas and not just for the upgrade because 12s are a dime a dozen back in CONUS compared to OCONUS.

Just about the ONLY reason not to move overseas is either 1 - you plan on leaving your house vacant and your mortgage is through the roof or 2 - you're close to retirement and you need to max your high 3. Other than that, it's ALWAYS advantageous financially to go overseas.....even with the new taxes on the move.

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blaydese on 6/6/2018(UTC)
FatHappyCat  
#5 Posted : Wednesday, June 6, 2018 5:17:38 PM(UTC)

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Originally Posted by: blaydese Go to Quoted Post

Thanks for the link, I was not aware of that, so that basically says I'd get 25% of my base pay in COLA for Iwakuni.



This is NOT true. You're not getting 25% off of your base salary. It's 25% of spendable income which is an extensive calculation of a variety of goods and services compared to the cost of those same goods and services back in the states. The actual amount, which changes frequently, at 25% stands at EXACTLY $337.54 every 2-weeks as of the end of May 2018.

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blaydese on 6/6/2018(UTC), fcarver on 9/11/2019(UTC)
GWPDA  
#6 Posted : Wednesday, June 6, 2018 8:14:30 PM(UTC)
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COLA is actually applied to Hawaii and Alaska. We're the weirdies in this game. Otherwise, real OCONUS jobs get LQA and all kinds of other luxe stuff. Take the Japan job. You'll do well. The only real issue, which someone will surely add, is how the various extras affect pension calculations. In Hawaii, biweekly COLA is essentially langiappe - a little bit of money that doesn't get calculated for taxes or anything else. Just a present in our paypackets.... The real OCONUS benefits are calculated differently.
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blaydese on 6/7/2018(UTC)
blaydese  
#7 Posted : Wednesday, June 6, 2018 8:20:28 PM(UTC)
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Thank you FatHappyCat, that helps me work out the details.

Yes, I plan on taking the job, and the house needs to stay in play because my kids need it to go to school, my son starts college and my daughter is going to be a jr. in college. By being a California resident, I can still use the CAL VET program and they can go to school for damn near free.

Yes, I misspoke when I said "COLA for CONUS" it's the locality pay for the San Francisco area, at 39%.

GWPDA,

Thanks for the info as well.

Yes, I LOVE Japan, this will be my 4th time living and working there, and I'll have return rights back here and be a GS-12, so imagine GS-12 with the 39% locality pay, w00t! :-)

Regards,
blaydese
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FatHappyCat  
#8 Posted : Wednesday, June 6, 2018 9:04:46 PM(UTC)

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Originally Posted by: blaydese Go to Quoted Post
I'll have return rights back here and be a GS-12, so imagine GS-12 with the 39% locality pay, w00t! :-)


You need to double check this. I'm not certain if you exercise your return rights, you get to keep your higher grade. It was my impression that you would return to the exact same grade/step as if you've never left. There's a few HR folks in here that is much more knowledgeable about this than me.
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blaydese on 6/7/2018(UTC)
Endless Summer  
#9 Posted : Wednesday, June 6, 2018 11:27:17 PM(UTC)
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Originally Posted by: FatHappyCat Go to Quoted Post
Originally Posted by: blaydese Go to Quoted Post

Thanks for the link, I was not aware of that, so that basically says I'd get 25% of my base pay in COLA for Iwakuni.



This is NOT true. You're not getting 25% off of your base salary. It's 25% of spendable income which is an extensive calculation of a variety of goods and services compared to the cost of those same goods and services back in the states. The actual amount, which changes frequently, at 25% stands at EXACTLY $337.54 every 2-weeks as of the end of May 2018.



And if I'm not mistaken the amount is dependent on your family size on base.

The bad news is you'll still be paying California state income tax but the good news is you'll be paying it on a much lower salary.
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blaydese on 6/7/2018(UTC)
0018 Hopeful  
#10 Posted : Thursday, June 7, 2018 12:40:34 AM(UTC)
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I was a GS-11 in California and came to Germany. I have been told in no uncertain terms that any promotions I achieve while I am in Germany do not count if I take my return rights.

You will continue to get step increases though as if you ever left.

Some agencies apply this differently though.
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blaydese on 6/7/2018(UTC)
0018 Hopeful  
#11 Posted : Thursday, June 7, 2018 12:42:09 AM(UTC)
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Oh, if you want specifics PM me directly.

I personally have had quite a bit of financial hardship based on this move. I could give you quite a few pointers.

I also changed agencies and it has greatly downgraded my quality of life.

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blaydese on 6/7/2018(UTC)
Exit7A  
#12 Posted : Thursday, June 7, 2018 2:38:29 AM(UTC)
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Originally Posted by: Endless Summer Go to Quoted Post
Originally Posted by: FatHappyCat Go to Quoted Post
Originally Posted by: blaydese Go to Quoted Post

Thanks for the link, I was not aware of that, so that basically says I'd get 25% of my base pay in COLA for Iwakuni.



This is NOT true. You're not getting 25% off of your base salary. It's 25% of spendable income which is an extensive calculation of a variety of goods and services compared to the cost of those same goods and services back in the states. The actual amount, which changes frequently, at 25% stands at EXACTLY $337.54 every 2-weeks as of the end of May 2018.



And if I'm not mistaken the amount is dependent on your family size on base.

The bad news is you'll still be paying California state income tax but the good news is you'll be paying it on a much lower salary.


It's based on amount you make plus family size. Here's the current chart: https://aoprals.state.go...ents/SpendableIncome.pdf

That's all I got to say about that.
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blaydese on 6/7/2018(UTC)
frankgonzalez  
#13 Posted : Thursday, June 7, 2018 4:59:29 AM(UTC)
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Originally Posted by: blaydese Go to Quoted Post
Hi Folks,

I'm a GS-11, Step 5 w/39% COLA here in California:

$60,138.00 (BASE) $23,622.00 (COLA) $83,760.00 (TOTAL)

If I take a GS-12 position in Japan, it'd be at GS-12, Step 1:

$63,600.00 (BASE) $0.00 (COLA) $63,600.00 (TOTAL)

You would actually be GS12 step 2, if normal promotion rules are applied. Going to base salary table:

GS11 step 5=60,138>>>go to step 7 (for calculating new grade min step)= 63676.
Look at GS12 step 1=63,600. step 2 is 65,720. So the lowest step as a GS12 not lower than GS11 step 7 is GS12 step 2.

The other aspect is that once you have 52 weeks as a GS12, you are eligible for GS13 positions. So...when you are ready to come home, you can start applying to GS13 positions vs relying on your return rights back to the GS11 position (thought that is a good back up incase you can't land a GS12 or 13 position before you have to leave).

You should have voted Cthulu...the greatest of all Evils
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blaydese on 6/7/2018(UTC)
blaydese  
#14 Posted : Thursday, June 7, 2018 1:18:26 PM(UTC)
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Hi Folks,

Here's some more info / questions:

I have to keep the house, it has to stay up and running here in
California for my kids to go to school from. It will be just me
going to Japan, Japanese wife and our kids will stay here in Cali.

So running paying mortgage is worth it, although I'll be making
less money overall.

Taking the job is going to happen, even if I CAN'T use return rights
after 5 years to a GS-12 job. I made the high three for GS-12 if
anything, and I can apply for GS-13, saying "I have at least one
year experience at the GS-12 level"

I've never heard of someone getting a job, working at it for 3 years,
giving up their return rights at the three years mark, extending for 2
years, total 5, then return to a GS-11 job??? Anyone have proof of that?

Yes, I know I can apply for GS-13 jobs after 12 months, but I like to pace myself.


This link, the 26K, is what does that mean to me?

https://aoprals.state.go...ents/SpendableIncome.pdf

Thanks everyone for the information and assistance.






Side question for the Japan folks:

1. Are they forcing civilians to move on base still?

2. What are my chances of going off and staying off
base for the whole time??

3. I know for a fact the internet service on base is slow,
broken and horrible, Americable is a four letter word in Japan.
Is there word of fixing this?

4. Once I get my PCS orders, can I order through Military Auto
Source ahead of time an E plate and have it near ready when I
arrive? I promised myself I'd never buy a Y plate again, waste
of money. Basically renting a POS for 5 years.

https://www.militaryautosource.com/home



Frank Gonzalez,

I'm not following your math on the GS-12 Step 2, why would they round up from GS-11 Step 5 to GS-11, Step 7?


Regards,
blaydese
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Endless Summer  
#15 Posted : Thursday, June 7, 2018 1:43:55 PM(UTC)
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Originally Posted by: blaydese Go to Quoted Post
Hi Folks,

Here's some more info / questions:

...


This link, the 26K, is what does that mean to me?

https://aoprals.state.go...ents/SpendableIncome.pdf

Thanks everyone for the information and assistance.

-blaydese

The $26k is what your Post Allowance is figured on. For Iwakuni, you take 25% of your expendable income of $26k and end up with about $6,500 in benefits if it's just you. You can search for a PA calculator, I think it's called a COLA calculator.

I hope your wife has a good income.

Edited by user Thursday, June 7, 2018 1:45:47 PM(UTC)  | Reason: Not specified

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blaydese on 6/7/2018(UTC)
blaydese  
#16 Posted : Thursday, June 7, 2018 2:31:57 PM(UTC)
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Originally Posted by: Endless Summer Go to Quoted Post
I hope your wife has a good income.


Nope, she works part time. So all the "less" money I'll be making will go to the mortgage.

Thanks for the breakdown on the 26K.

Regards,
blaydese
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Endless Summer  
#17 Posted : Thursday, June 7, 2018 2:50:25 PM(UTC)
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Originally Posted by: blaydese Go to Quoted Post
Originally Posted by: Endless Summer Go to Quoted Post
I hope your wife has a good income.


Nope, she works part time. So all the "less" money I'll be making will go to the mortgage.

Thanks for the breakdown on the 26K.

Regards,
blaydese


Ouch, that stings...

Are you really sure this is the best option for you? Is staying in your current job not going to happen?

Could your wife move with you to Japan, the kids move into dorms, and you rent your house?

anyway, I wish you the best,
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blaydese on 6/7/2018(UTC)
blaydese  
#18 Posted : Thursday, June 7, 2018 4:57:54 PM(UTC)
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Originally Posted by: Endless Summer Go to Quoted Post

Ouch, that stings...

Are you really sure this is the best option for you? Is staying in your current job not going to happen?

Could your wife move with you to Japan, the kids move into dorms, and you rent your house?

anyway, I wish you the best,


Kids have no place to stay when school is out for summer, winter break, spring break, etc. plus the son is going to Jr. col for the first two years and they don't have dorms.

I know this will hurt, but I'm really hoping I can keep the GS-12 when I return. :-( That bit of info has me bummed, I hope someone can help decipher why? Wouldn't I come back as a 12 and they just find a job back at where I work now?

Speaking of where I work now, it's horrible, I'm being seriously (No exaggeration) used, mused and abused as a GS-11. I don't want to go into more details, but it's caused me to seek mental help.

Thanks for the info!

Regards,
blaydese

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FatHappyCat  
#19 Posted : Thursday, June 7, 2018 5:25:29 PM(UTC)

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Originally Posted by: blaydese Go to Quoted Post
Side question for the Japan folks:

1. Are they forcing civilians to move on base still?

2. What are my chances of going off and staying off
base for the whole time??

3. I know for a fact the internet service on base is slow,
broken and horrible, Americable is a four letter word in Japan.
Is there word of fixing this?

4. Once I get my PCS orders, can I order through Military Auto
Source ahead of time an E plate and have it near ready when I
arrive? I promised myself I'd never buy a Y plate again, waste
of money. Basically renting a POS for 5 years.

https://www.militaryautosource.com/home

5. I know this will hurt, but I'm really hoping I can keep the GS-12 when I return. :-( That bit of info has me bummed, I hope someone can help decipher why? Wouldn't I come back as a 12 and they just find a job back at where I work now?



To answer some of your questions:

1 - They generally kick civilians off base, not force them on. Different times perhaps when you were last stationed here...

2 - Yes you can - high, see above

3 - Why Americable if you're staying off base?

4 - You can get an E plate car here, if you don't mind paying an extra 5-6 k for the conversion. I hate "renting" as much as the next guy but when you're "renting" a car for 5 years for 1-2k, even I won't pass that up. Unlike the states used cars actually run amazingly well. My Y plate car is 03 and still runs with no problem.

5 - And with regards to you coming back as a 12 the government is obligated to find you something, you can do it but only if you return via PPP which means you forfeit return rights. Return rights won't get you a promotion no matter how long you've been gone or what grade you've taken since leaving. Personally if location is important to you, I'd never consider PPP especially in Region 4. You can be a 12, but you might find yourself anywhere from Seattle to San Diego to Denver to North Dakota and everything in between. You might end up in China Lake; there's no actual lake there, it's a damn desert!

You want to keep your 12 and your location, start applying for 12s the moment you get here. I mean you do have 5 years...
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blaydese on 6/9/2018(UTC)
JDSIII  
#20 Posted : Thursday, June 7, 2018 9:14:16 PM(UTC)
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I came from Cali to Germany almost two years ago and can verify your return rights are to the position and grade that you vacated(or within the local area). Don't be too hasty in applying to return home, you have to stay at least two years or repay the transportation costs moving you OCONUS.
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blaydese on 6/9/2018(UTC)
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