Because of the nature of this rather unexpected situation, I have chosen to write an ongoing log and publish it to a blog once everything is completed in the form of a mega-post.
In mid-October, I was contacted by the chief executive of my company’s American branch office, offering me a job in management/ human resources/ recruiting…whatever. This caught me so unawares, that I needed a week to fully process what had just happened and if I was just imagining it all. I mean that in the most literal fashion. The morning after my wife and I looked at each other and asked “did that just happen?” It’s a definite level up from teaching, but it means that as a teacher, my career would be over. The benefits alone are absolutely amazing and I would make approximately 10k more a year. If you calculate benefits as well into that equation, I could add another 10k to that figure. The kicker… I have to move to Utah.
Extricating myself from Japan will be problematic though, as I am fully invested here… and I just bought a sofa! The first issue is my pension. I am invested in the Japanese system, and the US and Japan have a bilateral agreement regarding pension funds. It looks, however, that both countries balk when you try to claim it and pretty much do a Lucy and Charlie Brown with a football on you.
It was highly recommended to me to do a lump sum withdrawal out of the Japanese pension system and reinvest it in a Roth IRA upon return to the US. Lump sum withdrawals will return 80% of what you put into it up to 36 months, which is about the time I have been in Japan. A friend of mine is leaving Japan after investing in the pension system for 7 years, so she is really getting screwed, since the lump sum return caps off after 36 months. End result… 4 years of her investment down the tube.
Another issue is getting a green card for my wife. We had a green card once but had to abandon it when we moved to Japan. The process of getting a green card again is going to be a huge pain in the ass, and expensive as hell. The filing fee itself is $420 USD and the process is different from the last time we filed. When we played this game the first time, everything was done through the US embassy in Tokyo, but they stopped doing that, which means I have to send everything to Chicago. Which makes a large pain in the ass an enormous pain in the ass.
October 30th 2014
Yesterday my wife went to the dentist, and if you know Japanese dentists, you know that it’s impossible for them to do a single 15 minute procedure. Instead they break up the procedure into 5 minutes a month for 3 months. Anyways, my wife told the Dentist that the procedure she wanted done will have to be faster since she is moving to the US. I don’t know why, but her saying that makes this whole thing feel like less of a probability and more of a certainty. I also am starting to look at things differently now, like this is my last time to do something in Japan. This is the last time I will see those autumn leaves in Japan…
There are two time windows that are opening up. One possibly in the the spring and one in the summer. The spring one would be the easiest because it’s at the end of contract, and I can just choose not to renew. The other time is in the summer, which is mid contract and a touch awkward. While spring is the best time to do it, it’s financially really difficult. The spring move is dependent on someone else leaving, and they won’t have that information until a few months before but I have decided to prepare as if a spring time move was a sure thing. To do that I, unfortunately had to change methodology of my student-forever-loan to a income based plan. The beauty of that is because my US income tax is zeroed out because I make a foreign income taxed here, my monthly repayment is also 0. The principle will still accrue, but in the short run, this is a far better option.
I have been in constant contact with the chief executive about this position, and he assured me it is definitely in the works. They even have me on the budget for next year. And while it’s great he has given me lots of time with this in order to square myself away, it’s too early to give me anything in writing. So while he constantly assures me, I have this imaginary Cuba Gooding Jr. on my shoulder chanting “show me the money!”
Even though I don’t want to, we are putting up the Christmas tree for sale. This is really the only chance we have to sell it if this all pans out. So this year will be the year the Grinch stole Christmas.
I am acutely aware that this is the last time I will see autumn leaves in quite a while. I doubt there are many leaves in Utah. A military friend showed me an on base Facebook group designed for selling stuff, and it seems like a fairly ravenous crowd, so hopefully I can offload some stuff there. Only issue is that they only use US dollars.
I just got a call from the chief executive this morning on the way to school. saying they are in a bind and may need me by January. This isn’t particularly desirable since it has me leaving in mid contract and puts my local board of education in a bind. This is great news for me because it makes my position there almost a certainty. They are more zeroed in on an April departure though since it is a clean cut.
I’m becoming too focused on the April departure date psychologically and I am beginning to behave differently at work. I have caught myself with the I-don’t – give- a- fuck mindset. It’s pretty common with short timers, to use an out of date military parlance. I’m leaving, so what’s the big deal. If I am not careful I could burn some bridges and with my past history, I always had to use those bridges again.
I just got word that the final budget is going for review at the Tokyo main office. If it is accepted, then it is a green light to finish off this contract and start my new new position in Utah in the spring. It will go to the board on Dec.4… Until then, I just have to wait it out.
We just sold our Christmas tree. I really hated doing that, but if we leave this Spring or Summer and we tried to sell it after the holidays, I’m pretty sure we wouldn’t have been able to do it.
It’s not a theoretical anymore… This is happening. I have it in writing. The only thing that is not confirmed is whether I start in the spring or summer. That all depends on the budget. Time to get the ball rolling.
While it’s still up in the air whether I will start in Spring or summer, I have decided it is the best to part ways with my current job during the spring, since that is when my contract is up and it will be a clean break. We have notified my landlord that we will move at the end of March. I haven’t started the green card procedure yet and I really need to get that ball rolling. We have rented a storage space though, as we will be gradually mailing stuff back and I will be going first to prepare things before she arrives. The really good news is that I have found a place already. I am holding off telling the company for as long as I can because I am worried they might yank some of my allowances. Since I can’t keep my time off and they won’t pay me for it, I took a boatload of time off in February. I am thinking off notifying the company after that.
After looking at my schedule, I decided that I had better inform the company of my decision. Because I cycle through 4 different schools, I will only cycle through each school twice (one school only once more). Because I have been a fixture there for a few years, the schools and the students need time to digest it. Strategically it is too early to announce, but I just feel it’s the right thing to do.
We are now started to sell major pieces of furniture. People are picking these up on Saturdays, so it looks like all my weekends are filled from now to the when I leave. I have also discovered the insane policies of airlines regarding 1 way tickets. Common sense would say that a one way ticket would be 50% cheaper, but it’s actually the opposite. They are 50%- 100% more expensive. A round trip ticket back home costs around 900$ while a one way ticket costs around $1600. Really, wtf! This is why I hate travel, the MF airlines.
The first of many upcoming days of sorting, packing, selling and discarding. We sent a couple of boxes home to the tune of 15,000 yen for about 25kg. The house is a wreck now. I still haven’t started with the green card process, but because I need a money order, which can have steep fees in Japan, I am just going to wire my family in the states and have them cut me a check for the $410 initial processing fee.
My apartment is absolutely trashed. We have sold a lot of storage things so my clothes are just in piles in the closet. My in-laws are being incredibly cool and making a 3 hour drive only to pick up a few boxes to put in public storage. On a completely different note, I am talking with my new boss via Skype every Saturday morning
. As it happens, he is also going to be my landlord as he is moving into a new house and renting his old place. He offered it at such a great deal that I would be a fool not to accept it.
Our apartment is gradually emptying out and a timeline is set. My last day at work is on March 20th, and my final day in Japan is March 30th. On March 14th, my apartment will essentially be hollowed out. The movers are coming to bring our stuff to a storage unit, which will serve as a mid-way point for a many of our items. We can’t afford to ship everything at once, and my wife will stay in Japan for a while with her parents. She will gradually send everything over. What we aren’t sending, we are giving to a recycle shop. I don’t want to say selling because we are only getting 3000yen for easily over 100,000yen worth of home items. If we don’t sell them, we will be slapped with at least 50,000yen worth of disposal fees. The used goods shops use this little factoid of Japanese life to their advantage and offer you literally nothing for many things. They will instead grace you with getting rid of the items for you and moving them out too. The only money we are getting is from the refrigerator. After the 14th, I will be living in an empty apartment for a week and a half.