Tuesday, August 17, 2010


A horrible sense of dread is rising within me, getting worse the more I think about it. Changing the subject doesn't seem to matter - my mind soon returns.

Today, we received Dave's contract for the new project and the coming year. Most things are unchanged, but they have dropped our housing allowance. As part of a typical expatriate package, the cost of housing is covered by the employer to allow for an employee to maintain a house "back home," and to keep the employee more globally mobile. Our housing allowance seems to have been cut by about $500.

Had we received this news a few weeks ago, it would have had very little impact. We would have looked at housing with the new cap in mind, and settled for what was necessary. However, we were told to expect the same standards as in Shanghai, and so shopped accordingly. We've decided to stay in the serviced apartment, which is about $500 above our previous housing allowance - bringing that newly to $1,000 above.

I certainly ought not whine about needing to pay such an amount in rent every month. But I feel a bit screwed by Uncle H-- here. They said jump, and we jumped - in record time, I might add. We asked all of the appropriate questions and maintained constant communication with the appropriate people throughout all decisions. And now, at the point that all decisions have been made, we receive word that we were operating under the wrong assumptions.

We've arranged to move into this apartment, where we reside at the moment. So, I've bought plane tickets to fly back to Shanghai this weekend. I've arranged movers to pack the house on Saturday, with all of our things arriving in Shenzhen by the middle of next week. As this apartment provides dishes and sheets, I've arranged to sell much of our belongings. And I've informed the agent who showed us around that we are no longer interested in anything else.

This is a decision which needs to be confirmed or changed immediately. There will be a flurry of informing buyers not to pick up towels and tea cups, contacting agents to view new places, changing airline tickets and pushing back the movers. This needs to be confirmed or changed immediately. And unfortunately, I have no faith in Uncle H--'s ability to do that.

The problem is not in possibly having to pay our own rent. The problem is in making choices tethered to a not-so-benevolent uncle who can yank back that chain whenever it feels convenient.

Dave is in Shanghai for the week, which could help. He will be able to walk over to Joyce's desk and have a personal conversation with her, rather than make phone calls and send emails from down here. But it also means that he's not coming home for another few days. And this is the hard part about moving, isn't it? Making new friends is loads of fun, and is happening quickly here. But where's my Bible Study ladies, where I can lay a bomb like this and receive immediate prayer and pats on the back?

No comments: