We're all packed up and living in a hotel now since this is the start of our 10 day predeparture allowance. The movers don't come until Thu and Fri but I want the full use of my predeparture allowance. I haven't been collecting per diem as a local hire so I'm taking advantage of the one allowance I do get during training. It gets us out of the chaos of our apartment to a simpler environment. We can better figure out if we've forgotten to pack anything this way. We'll also stage things better for the movers instead of being organized for living there.
Most of my classmates have been living in temporary furnished lodging and collecting per diem since February so this is old news to them. One interesting tidbit about their per diem is it drops over time to 50% at 61 days and 25% at 121 days. The State Dept lodging program companies take this into account so people don't have to make up the difference. I don't understand the logic for providing per diem but then cutting it over time but that's the system. Meanwhile, I've collected 0% per diem over the same timeframe just because I already lived in the local area when I was hired. That's the rules even though we sold our house over 2 months ago and needed temporary lodging like everyone else.
My non-local hire classmates also received 10 days of predeparture allowance but it was for any temporary lodging expenses prior to arriving for training, so hardly anyone knew about it to properly take advantage of it. Many people tried to stay cheaply with family and friends because they didn't know their hotel and food expenses would be reimbursed for up to 10 days. It's definitely a big challenge for new hires to try to figure out what will be reimbursed when they haven't even inprocessed to the job.