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The Frequently Asked Questions

Alot of people have been writing us email, which we really appreciate.  Most of you have ask some questions about living here, in preparation for moving over to LaMadd with the navy.  As much as we'd like to answer you all, we don't have the time normally to get an answer to you in a reasonable amount of time.  As such, we've decided to write this FAQ on living in LaMadd..  However, I highly recommend the newly updated command sponsor team website for the definitive answers to your questions

-Dan and Kat

Is it expensive to live in La Maddalena?  Does the navy pay enough to cover it?

It's not a whole lot more than what it costs to live in the states, and trust me, the navy MORE than adequately compensates you.   In fact, it's almost ludicrous how much money we make here.  

I have a (insert large American 4x4 truck here).  Should I bring it?

That's up to you.  The roads here are narrow, and driving is, shall we say, "aggressive" here.  However, there's plenty of Americans here with large vehicles they brought over.  Heck, we've got a Ford Aerostar, and have been OK so far.  Just remember one thing.  Whatever you bring, you WILL get it scratched and dented while your here.  Accept it and plan on it.

What special items should I bring with me?

The only thing that pops into my mind is making sure you have good tires on your car.  You also may find it useful to have several extension cords, and a couple of good fans for your house.  The house with air conditioning is a rare one indeed.

How much sea time does the Emory S Land (AS39) do?

Quite a bit.  More than you might expect if you remember buildings 33 and 41 in San Diego, as I did.  This isn't an official count, but I heard we spent 170 days at sea in the year 2000, and that feels about right.  We normally spend about a month in, followed by about three weeks out.  We DO NOT do six month, or even three month deployments.  The longest we've been out, to my knowledge, has been about four weeks.

In recent history, we've hit Croatia, France,  Mainland Italy, Sicily, Greece, Crete, Israel, Turkey, and it looks like we'll be doing Spain fairly soon.  Last year, we collected seven months of tax free money (for the Kosovo thing) and one month of hostile fire pay (Croatia).  If you're thinking about re-enlisting, there's an excellent chance you'll be able to do it in a tax free zone and collect that fat old SRB without uncle Sam taking his 28%.  (For you zone B nuclear guys, that $60,000 in your pocket!!!!)

What about the schools? Is it true my teenager gets carted off to London for school?

In a word, yes.

The local La Maddalena DOD school goes up to eighth grade.  This is the only American school in Sardenia, so whether you live in La Maddalena, Palau, or one of the outlying communities, this is it.  You can put your kids in Italian school if you wish, but they better be able to learn Italian quick!  

High school children have 2 choices.  They can either go to London, or to Rome.  Either way, they will be home for Christmas, summer, and Easter.  The parents get flown out (on the Navy's dime) once or twice a year for a week or so for parent-teacher conference.

Home schooling is also an option, but there is not an very strong support group at this time

Tell me about internet availability

The internet is free in Italy.  When you get here, you can sign up to Tiscalinet two ways.  One is to go to the USAA insurance guy and he'll sign you up on line for about $20.  Or, you can find someone who's been there for a while and can speak a little Italian, and he can sign you at http://www.tiscalinet.it/abbonamenti/index.html for free.

Now, when I say internet is free, you'll still be paying for the phone call, which costs "per click". every click, you get charged.  The click rate depends on time of day, day of week, month of year, color of your house, etc.  A buck an hour is the normally quoted rate, but I think it's a little cheaper than that, as I spend alot of time on the internet, and it's never cost that much.

The available options are 56K modem (although most people only get around 33.6kbps or so) or 128kbps ISDN.  ISDN will cost you about $20/month extra, but is much faster.  (well, somewhat faster on throughput and an order of magnitude faster for latency and ping time, which means it feels more responsive. )  You can use either 1 or 2 lines with your ISDN, therefore getting charged per click on 1 or 2 lines at a time.  You can even switch to 2 lines and back down in mid-session.  DO NOT buy an American ISDN modem prior to coming over, unless your are darn sure it supports the DSS-1 European phone protocol.  Best to wait and get one here. 

Who shot Kennedy?

I don't know.

How about shopping?  What's available there?

We have a small navy exchange.  When I say small, I mean small.  Imagine about two 7-11's stuck together and you're in the right ballpark.  Actually, they do a good job of trying to supply essentials, but you cannot rely strictly on the NEX for your shopping needs.  For instance, say you decide you're going to make Mexican tonight.  There's a fair chance when you get up to the NEX that there will be no tortilla chips, taco mix, salsa, or whatever.  You WILL have to do some shopping in town.  The NEX carries a broad but shallow selection of food, clothes, DVD's VHS, CD's TV's Stereo's, furniture, uniform items (DO NOT count on the uniform items you need being there) computer stuff, hardware, cameras, etc. etc.   You smokers are bumming.  We run out of tobacco ALOT.

Most people do lots of shopping on line.  Some places that ship to FPO addresses include www.amazon.com  (except electronics),  www.mwave.com (for ALL your computer needs), www.carparts.com, www.outpost.com, www.jcpenny.com and many places on www.yahoo.com shopping.  It is IMPERATIVE that you get a Navy Federal Credit Union account either before you come over or shortly after arriving (like before you drop your bags at the hotel).  

In town, most things are available, if you look hard enough.  All the shops are very small and specialized.  Just because one hardware store doesn't have what you need, there's still 3 or 4 more to check that may have it.  Olbia, which is about 45 minutes from Palau (and therefore 45 minutes and a 20 minute ferry from LaMadd) has two shopping centers that resemble small American malls.  One of them even has a McDonald's.

Is there any jobs for dependants?

No, not really.  The exchange hires some, and there's a few here and there at places like the child development center, but do not count on getting one.

How often do you go back to the states? Who pays..you or the navy?

Us?  When we PCS back after 3 years.  If you go back to the states, it's either for a medical thing that Naples or Germany can't handle, or it's because you bought tickets back.  The one exception is OTEIP.... A normal tour here to the ES Land is a 2 year tour.  At your one year point, you will have the option of adding a third year to your tour.  There are several incentives you can choose from, and one of those is round trip tickets to the US.  Most people, however, choose the 30 days "basket leave" (uncounted leave).