Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Post Allowance

I've spoken before about the various ways we get paid while overseas in the Foreign Service. Today I'm going to focus on the Post Allowance portion of our pay. Here's a quote of what it's meant to cover.

"Post allowance is a cost-of-living allowance granted to full-time employees officially stationed at a post in a foreign area where the cost of living, exclusive of quarters costs, is substantially higher than in Washington, D.C."

When we arrived in Chennai, we were receiving a Post Allowance of 10% (which is a made-up number based on some weird charts the government publishes). HOWEVER, conveniently, the percents for my current pay and family size equate approximately to US dollars per day. So, when we arrive in Chennai we were receiving $10 per day. Now we're not ones to use name brand products and don't have any brand loyalty. In Chennai, the only expensive items were American branded versions of things, so we were, in essence, making out like bandits. Of course as the rupee inflated (or the dollar deflated) our post allowance eventually disappeared.
Fast forward two years and we arrive in Buenos Aires with a 42% Post Allowance. We kind of assumed it would be the same situation. Of course, 6 days after arriving the allowance was lowered to 30%, but hey, I can live with that. It stinks, but it's probably fair. However, I now understand why we get this allowance. Sure, we've noticed our food budget has quadrupled, but we expected that moving from India to Argentina. What really stunned us was when we were at a baby store, looking at strollers, when my son picked up a toy, and we noticed the price. I don't have a picture of the specific toy he picked up, but it was a plastic airplane that would run for $15 in the US. It was ARS750 or $53. That's when we started noticing that imported products in Argentina are insanely more expensive than in the US. That's why we hadn't really noticed with food items.
Long story short, we're very thankful for our Post Allowance (as well as our access to Amazon and other US mail). I don't envy people who are here with companies that don't provide similar allowances, as some purchases could get very expensive!

The toys shown are ARS 1500, 1000 and 855 ($106, $71, and $60), respectively!

PS: The irony that my last post got a 5% raise (increased hardship differential) my last pay period and my new post got a 12% PA reduction my first pay period, is not lost on me!

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