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Open House March 15, 2010

Posted by Neal Snyder in Tools.
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Been to the IMCOM BRAC and Relocation page recently? We’re in the process of moving the furniture, cleaning the windows and pitching the clutter to make your visit a better experience. The page has always been full of good information, but finding it has always been … an issue. It’s getting easier. Check the right column – the “Total PCS Manual” gives you a timeline for your move from the East Coast to San Antonio.

Here’s the link

School surfing March 12, 2010

Posted by Neal Snyder in Real Estate, Relocation, San Antonio life.
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Got kids?  Want ’em to larn reel good?

In other words, how do you find the best public schools before you take that househunting trip?

San Antonio doesn’t make it easy. With 19 different school districts in Bexar County, quality necessarily varies. Finding the right situation takes a little research. Here’s one method:

  • Get familiar with the workings of a school evaluation service like Great Schools (http://www.greatschools.org/). This site takes test scores and parent input to rate schools on a 1-10 scale. One can find ratings by school, and learn what schools are close to a particular location.  One of the many demographic maps on Cyberhomes (http://www.cyberhomes.com/maps.aspx) uses Great Schools data to match school ratings with ZIP Codes, helping you visualize where the good schools are — click on Neighborhood Characteristics, select school ratings, then zoom in on San Antonio.
  • Determine how much weight you want to give school quality against other factors, such as commute, house size, or crime characteristics. Cyberhomes has maps for those.
  • Get to know the names of the schools within the ZIP codes you are interested in, and double-check them on the school rating site. Keep in mind, the post office doesn’t usually talk to the committee drawing the school boundaries.
  • After selecting a house, but before making an offer, check the school boundaries one more time – is the school correct? Frequently, the school on the real estate listing does not correlate with school system information. Most district Web sites offer ways to pinpoint the school serving a particular street or address (here’s a list of San Antonio district sites). For instance, the North East Independent School District offers this service, where users can enter the street of a prospective residence and get the names of the relevant elementary, middle and high schools. It might be smart to check this information and correlate it with Great Schools before committing to a residence.

In San Antonio, if you do your research, it’s easy to find an affordable home where schools are well above average not only for Texas, but for the country.

Ratings are not the only indicators of school quality, and education is not the only factor in choosing where to live. Note also. boundaries, teachers and administrators change.  But when schools are a consideration, and you can’t audit the classse in person, knowing the rating removes a measure of anxiety as you relocate your family.

*Mention of commercial Web sites does not constitute endorsement by the DoD. All opinions are strictly personal and do not reflect the position of IMCOM, the Army or the Department of Defense.

Relocation bookshelf: DNRP handbook March 9, 2010

Posted by Neal Snyder in BRAC, Relocation.
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The DoD National Relocation Program protects your assets when you move. This program buys your house if you can’t sell it and you’re being BRAC’ed. Here’s the link to the handbook and forms:

DoD National Relocation Program – Handbook.

Texas Veterans Land Board September 2, 2009

Posted by imcomtransformation in Moving, Real Estate, Relocation, San Antonio Economy.
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Check out this opportunity for veterans relocating in Texas…
History of Texas Veterans Programs
Texas, unlike many other states, has been historically a “cash poor” but “land rich” state. Since the days of the Texas Republic, Texas has given its veterans land in recognition of their military service. In the days of Sam Houston, that debt for service was paid to Texas veterans in grants of land. Following World War II, this tradition was continued with the creation of the Texas Veterans Land Board (VLB) in 1946 to administer a new program which would provide low-interest, long-term loans to Texas veterans for the purchase of land.

Since its inception, more than 120,000 Texas veterans have taken advantage of this self-supporting program without costing the taxpayers a single penny. The program is funded by issuing bonds authorized by the voters; the bonds, as well as the cost of administering the program, are paid for by the veterans who participate in the program.

In 1983, the Legislature created the Veterans Housing Assistance Program to assist Texas veterans in purchasing a home. Texas voters overwhelmingly approved a constitutional amendment authorizing the issuance of bonds to fund the program.

In 1986, the VLB expanded the Veterans Housing Assistance Program, adding the Veterans Home Improvement Program to provide below-market interest rate loans to qualified Texas veterans for home repairs and improvements to their existing homes.

Commitment letters are out June 8, 2009

Posted by imcomtransformation in HR Plan.
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Every IMCOM employee should have received a four-page document that lays out the specific information on the reasons for IMCOM’s move to San Antonio and the options available to the workforce. Armed with that information, employees are asked to sign a letter of commitment that states their intent to relocate with IMCOM or leave the command by September 2011.

This latest milestone follows town hall meetings for the headquarters workforce at Fort Belvoir and Aberdeen Proving Ground on May 27, where IMCOM Human Resources experts and leaders laid out the plans, options and incentives for the phased relocation to San Antonio that is now underway. The command will reorganize in October of this year and begin learning to function under the new RIST-FST structure. Movement to San Antonio has begun and continues with about 150 people from IMCOM, AEC and FMWRC headquarters moving this summer. More early movers from the region headquarters will also be heading to San Antonio through the rest of this year.

The command is leasing space for about 750 workers to accommodate the vanguard of the existing workforce and new hires that will be brought on after members of the existing workforce have been placed. That space and possibly another leased facility will house the combined IMCOM headquarters until the command’s renovated campus on Fort Sam Houston is ready for occupancy in time to meet the BRAC deadline of September 2011.

The letter of commitment states their intent to move or not and to subsequently accept a specific job offer or not. There are four options: To volunteer to relocate, accept the offered job, and relocate when the time comes; to volunteer to relocate and subsequently decline the job offer; to volunteer to relocate, accept the job offer, then later decline to move; or to simply decline to relocate. Each choice has a set of associated consequences that are laid out in the town hall briefing slides on the transformation web site.

The headquarters town hall also introduced a package of incentives aimed at retaining as much of the experienced IMCOM workforce as possible. Some of those have been mentioned before, including the use of DNRP and paid house-hunting trips, and others. Now, the command is offering an 18 percent relocation bonus to appropriated fund employees who move. This also is spelled out more in the town hall slides.

Find the town hall slides, as well as the slides and original HR plan, as well as information about Texas living, at the transformation website.

Information for Early Movers April 16, 2009

Posted by imcomtransformation in Change Management, Relocation.
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Relocation Resources

The first wave of movers from IMCOM, FMWRC and AEC will be heading out for San Antonio in May and continuing through the year. Many others will be deciding on their future courses of action over the May and June time frame as options are spelled out and clarified.

In the interest of sharing information, we have added a Relocation category to this blog that will be dedicated largely to real estate and community issues. At first, our sources will, of necessity, be people in the real estate business and other relocation-oriented specialties, as well as resources we find on our own.

While the Army does not endorse any of these contributors, collectively they are a valuable resource and we appreciate their contributions.  Still, we hope the early movers will also get involved by chronicling their experiences and lessons learned in submissions to this blog or comments to other posts here. When we start teaching each other through this forum is when we know we’re successful.