I am an expat…
This post was originally from the blog, From Casinos to Castles. The author has now lived the exciting life of both military personnel and American wife to a German husband and so has compiled a nice list of what each side of this coin experiences and has come to the conclusion, with no offense intended, that military personnel and their families are not expats…
The blog post begins with a very nice, clear definition of exactly what an expat is, and then explains the distinct differences between expats and military families. Additionally, Deanna does the math on what Europeans, or at least Germans would be paying for gasoline if Europeans/Germans used gallons instead of liters, because you know that liters are less than a gallon – right?! The price difference is AMAZING and I can safely chalk not having to drive and own a car at the moment as a blessing and luxury!
Here is a tasting of the blog, “Sorry Military Families, You’re Not Expats”:
- You do not have a foreign bank account and still receive your income in U.S. dollars. You bank at American banks, on base, that are set up to utilize that particular country’s banking system.
- You receive a USAREUR license, not a foreign driver’s license. While the test you take is similar, it is not as extensive as the one you’d take without your military umbrella. You are not required to attend any sort of driving school (aside from the short safety briefing) or have your license translated. The fee you pay is minimal in comparison. (last known, $10)
- When you shop off-base you refer to shopping in the “economy”.
- You have VAT forms making you exempt from paying local sales taxes.
- We have foreign bank accounts, no access to U.S. dollars and pay bills through the foreign banking system.
- Depending on what state you are from, in Germany you must either take the written and practical test, only the written test or you’re lucky and your stateside license transfers over completely. Based on those first two scenarios, you have to enroll in driving school. Furthermore, you must have your stateside license translated and pay all appropriate fees. We also must acquire our own study guides which are not always provided for free. (In my case, it’s a total of €250)
- The “economy” is my home, no differently than the U.S. is your home when you are there. Expats don’t use such terms as there is no other shopping option such as the commissary or BX.
- We pay the sales taxes with no exemptions. (19% here)
There are so many other really great points of distinction, but I want you to check out the whole list and read the blog posting. The post ends quite nicely too. I must say, in my opinion this post was nicely said.
Additionally, I recommend you also read the comments – not something I would normally suggest in news articles but this isn’t a news story, so we’re all good. The comments are full of other people’s experiences with this too.