Next stop is Riga, Latvia!
I've been to Riga for a weekend but that barely scratched the surface for experiencing a place. I wasn't bidding completely blind since it already left a good first impression as a nice place to be. The earliest we can leave Caracas is August which should put us in Riga around September 2018.
Why Riga? There's a video for that question.
It's a 3-year tour with 2 R&Rs and 5% post differential. That's an extra 5% of pay instead of the 30% I'm getting in Caracas. Some people view that as a pay cut but I just see it as part of the move. A lot of things fluctuate for better or worse between international locations so this is just something else that adjusts. The post differential is based on the difficulty of living in a place so it should be a fair trade-off. I'll still get 2 R&Rs during three years in Riga like I had for two years in Caracas. I was surprised to see a nice place like Riga with R&Rs but I'll gladly take those free trips back to the U.S.
The Cost of Living Allowance (COLA) is currently 30% but that uses a complicated formula based on discretionary spending instead of a percentage of total pay like the post differential. I never could figure out what the rate is actually a percentage of since it's magic in a COLA calculator. Stockholm's COLA is 50% in comparison. The actual cost of living difference between the countries appears to be greater than the difference in allowances so this is a bonus compared to my time in Stockholm.
Riga will be a nice place to live but also a good location for traveling Europe. We can take a fancy bus to nearby Estonia or Lithuania. There's an overnight ferry to Stockholm that's like a small cruise ship. We did that between Stockholm and Helsinki and it was a fun way to travel. There's all sorts of affordable direct flights to other European cities and everything else is accessible with connecting flights. I'll be able to visit even more places I missed the first time living in Europe.
Living somewhere interesting and the long weekend travel adventures will continue!