This seems to be a popular topic amongst the foreign service blogs this month, so I thought I’d play too. Fortunately we don’t have to bid until next year, but I thought I’d post my thoughts and a few links to other blogs. Next summer I will look back and take comfort knowing that other people dislike bidding as much as I do.
Approximately one year before leaving post, all federal employees (State Dept and others) have to “bid” on the next post. It’s a vile, vile process. Based on the list of available cities, you have to choose six that are at your grade level, places you have researched and are willing to go to. I’ll let the other bloggers explain the process in more detail, but let’s just say, as fun as it sounds, it isn’t, and you may or may not end up in one of your original six choices.
In no particular order, these are the questions I ask myself when thinking of where we might move next.
Is it an accompanied post? Meaning, are spouses and children even allowed to go.
Hardship. Is it time to do another hardship post? (required every seven years)
Medical care. I have a class two medical clearance because of the amount and seriousness of my allergies and allergy-induced asthma. Because I have a class two med clearance, there are many places we can’t go, thus limiting the options even more. Does the city have quality medical facilities? Does post have a good working relationship with local doctors and dentists? Do they speak English?
How medically “safe” is it? What immunizations are required? Are there many dangerous diseases that affect the area? Is it necessary to wash the produce with bleach water? Is it necessary to take ongoing medication to prevent certain diseases?
Housing. What do the post reports say about the housing pool? Apartments or single family houses? How far is the commute to work? Is housing assigned or is it necessary to find your own housing? Is furniture provided or must you buy it yourself, then leave it behind 2-3 years later?
Language. What language is spoken, how difficult is it to learn, does post have a language program available to family members?
Vet care. Is it available, reliable, does the vet speak English?
Internet. How reliable and fast is the internet?
Mail. Is it an APO or pouch post? Having had both, I will mention how much I detest the pouch (no glass, no liquids).
Pollution. What is the air quality like? Do they burn coal, trash? Due to my allergies and asthma, would I be allowed to live there?
Crime. How safe is the city? Are there many housing burglaries and break ins? Is it safe for women to be out alone? Is there a terrorism threat?
Climate. What is the weather like? Distinct seasons or hot and dry all year?
Groceries and household items. What is available, not available? How expensive is it compared to other places?
Can we/ should we take a car? Small car or SUV? Some countries have restrictions regarding importing vehicles (age, left hand versus right hand drive). What are the rules of the road, or are there any?
Activities. Are there interesting things to do in the city? Is it safe to leave the city and explore other parts of the country? How difficult is it to travel to other places?
Of course people who have children have even more issues to think about (schools, extracurricular activities, reliable childcare, etc)
As I said, it’s a vile, complicated process.
For much better explanations of “bidding” and other peoples’ thoughts, please check out
Life After Jerusalem: Bidding
Email from the Embassy: Apples vs. elephants: The Bidding Process
Diplodocus: So Where Have I Been?
Girl In The Rain: The Bid List Is Out