So I’ve been in the DC area for close to a week now, and so far things are going very well. Well…technically today is a snow day but hey, I’m using the opportunity to research my bid list, which is due on Wednesday.
So, what is my bid list? My career development officer (CDO) gave everyone in our specialty a list of available posts that we are to rank and return to her. It includes approximate dates for departure (ranging from ASAP to this fall) and she also gave us a list of some of the basic specs of the post. One huge item to consider is what’s called “equity.”
It’s super important to consider equity when putting together ones bid list. A very safe, walkable, affordable and geographically desirable post is often at a very low or nonexistent equity. It means you won’t have a hard time living there (for the most part) and that your time spent at post will be relatively easy on you and your family. A post with a higher equity is one where the hardship and danger ratings will make things more difficult. Some extremely large cities that would typically be very coveted still have high equity because of things like pollution, air quality, burning garbage, large # of smokers, bad traffic, etc.
So, why wouldn’t I simply bid on the “easy” posts with western amenities and cafe culture? Because that would give me little to no equity for my next tour. Those who have a higher equity get better placement on their next post, simple as that. So if I were to take somewhere like Paris or Munich on this tour (low equity, and by the way these are not on my list) there would be a very low chance of me getting something like that on my 2nd tour, and I would basically be at the bottom of the list when it came to considering my preferences next time around.
So really, it’s all about risk and reward. Do I go for the more desirable post now, and leave myself vulnerable for the next bid list? Or do I buckle down now and go for the higher equity? How important is public transit? Do I NEED to go somewhere with good weather, or can I handle 6 months of snow? Am I ok with a small 1br apartment downtown, or would I prefer a post where I can have a stand-alone house with a pool and yard? Do I want to go somewhere that allows me to ship thousands of pounds of consumables (food, toilet paper, etc) or do I risk it at a post where I simply shop on the local economy? And perhaps most important of all (for me), can I handle being a single woman in this location? Are there things to do, restaurants to visit, weekend trips to take? Will I be assaulted or harassed just for walking down the street without a man by my side?
So, lots of thinking to do, and lots of research. I’m choosing not to post my list except with a few very close friends and of course, my immediate family, just because I don’t think I can handle having too much outside input at this point. There are also security concerns to consider, and frankly the thought of publishing it just made me a little uneasy.
So, you are welcome to make your guesses, and when I announce my next posting on Flag Day (Feb 25th) I look forward to sharing the good news with you all. I WILL say that no unaccompanied posts are on my list, so for now don’t worry. I don’t have Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Yemen, or Egypt on my list, but again, no guarantees for next time.
So, understand my concern for equity now? Back to my research…