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Life Lessons of a Military Wife (overseas in Europe!): Yet Another Military Move and Change of Duty Station Coming Up

Life Lessons of a Military Wife (overseas in Europe!)

My goal here is to make your life easier, especially those who are in the unique situation of being a military spouse. Yes...I've been around...but in a good way...and hopefully can share those tips, tricks and shortcuts with you too. I've been on this military bus for over 40 years now. My goals in life are to have a well-run home, few money worries, well adjusted children, money socked away and whatever happiness I can scoop out of life.

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After life as an Army brat, being in the Army myself and marrying a soldier, I can honestly say I have a bucket full of life lessons I can share to help you make your everyday life easier and enlightening. Don't waste your time making unnecessary mistakes and benefit from others who have come before you on your journey through life.

Friday, September 21, 2007

Yet Another Military Move and Change of Duty Station Coming Up


I've been dreading even talking about it. We've known now for a few months that we are going to be moving next year..another permanent change of station (PCS). It's a duty assignment we really wanted....Germany, but, this time we are moving with two inquisitive kids, a cat and a 100 lb dog! Since this move next summer deals with a few more logistical challenges, I thought I would put together my thoughts and start planning now, so I can stop being a worry wart about it! Here's what I've come up with so far.

If you are renting, check your lease and make sure you give advanced notice of your departure (I wouldn't do this until I physically had orders in hand...less chance of plans being changed and you having to move prematurely); if your lease has a military clause, regardless of the timeframe before you move, you can get out of your lease early (remember that the next time you rent; ask for a military clause)


To make things easier, there are some things that can be done at this early stage. I've already started below. I keep the following information in a lightweight binder or notebook which will go with me when we move (I just recycled it from the last move):

  • Make a list of accounts with phone number and addresses that are going to be stopped when we move, such as telephone, electric, cable, and the newspaper
  • Make another list of accounts where you will forward the mail, such as your mobile phone, any magazine subscriptions, insurance, mortgages, investments, credit cards and bank accounts
I also recommend doing the following:

  • Try to find out as early as possible who your sponsor will be at your next duty station; they can send you housing and school information, maps and brochures; feel free to ask about hotels and also restrictions for pets and any other requirements you may have
  • Get a forwarding address you can use; it's usually the headquarters address for your new unit; verify this with your sponsor; you will use this address when you fill out your forwarding mail form at the post office before you move
  • If you have pets, start researching the requirements online; what shots and health records are needed and are there any quarantine requirements; if your pet has never been in a crate, I suggest getting them used to it now; most pets love the safety and security of a crate if they get used to it beforehand; read about crate training so you do it right
  • If you have other pets, such as fish or houseplants or anything else living you will not be taking with you, start giving away or selling that stuff earlier rather than later
  • Take stock of what you have in your pantry and freezer; the last time we moved, it took us over 6 months to eat all the residual stuff; I know you can move with canned and boxed food items, but it just seems unappetizing to me, knowing the stuff was moved in an uncontrolled environment where heat, bugs, moisture and who knows what else could get to it; start eating it now
  • If you own your house and will be keeping it, start advertising on the sites below about 6 months out; as it gets closer to your move date, start advertising in the newspaper and other avenues you can think of; identify who you are going to have manage your property; so far, we've had good luck with neighbors watching over our home for a more economical fee than if you hired a realtor (with ulterior motives) or a property management company (which typically charges 10% of the rent); just make sure they are handy and can work a hammer and such
  • If you are selling your home, now is the perfect time to start decluttering it and getting it ready to show; start asking around for referrals to find a good realtor
  • Make a list of furniture and stuff you want to get rid of and at least start getting rid of it now; we have the added fancy of deciding what to put in long term storage and what to take with us since we are going overseas; "long term storage" is just your stuff roped off in a big warehouse with other servicemembers' stuff who also went overseas; I have heard countless stories of things being misplaced or lost; if you have family heirlooms or special items you don't want to take overseas, make arrangements with a close relative to keep them for you while you are gone
  • Try to get the kids excited about the new duty station; focus on the positive; go online and look at photos and travel sites; contact the travel bureau there and request brochures and activities for the kids through the mail
  • If you are going overseas, make sure everyone's passport is current or will be when you move; check everyone's shot record too
  • Don't forget collecting your childrens' school reports and any other records they may need
Since I am somewhat a stickler of small details, I keep a few other things in my binder. I have dividers on:

  • Orders and Moving Information (keep a handful of copies of your orders in here as well as the moving paperwork from your movers and any other paperwork dealing with your move)
  • Housing Info (housing info and contacts at your new duty station; if you are buying a house, that kind of stuff goes in here)
  • To Do Lists (I have a generic cleaning and check-out list I use every time we move; I just download it from the computer after adding any pertinent new things from this last location; if it's a checklist, it's in here)
  • Moving Expenses (Keep all receipts for food, lodging and travel in here; I know the military pays for our move, but I like to keep track of what we are spending)
  • Home Repairs (if you own your own home, any home repairs or maintenance needing to be done go here)
  • Rental (if you are going to rent out your home, keep a move-in checklist here, as well as your rental contract and any other renter paperwork)
  • Schools (anything that has to do with the old school or new school goes in here)
  • Car Packing List (yes, I even have a list of what we take with us; since we are going overseas this time, this list will be very short; if you must take things with you that won't go on the plane, box it up a few days before you fly and get someone to ship it to you or use the forwarding address you got from your sponsor)
There are a few more things to think about...I am not done yet! When you collect up all your medical records before you leave, just put them in a big envelope with a clasp. It'll probably be the size of a big telephone book, so plan for that.

If you are going overseas, you are also going to have to think about your vehicles. Will you sell one or put it in storage? You are authorized to ship one vehicle over to most duty stations (in other words, the military pays for it). Identify an early date when you want to start trying to sell that extra vehicle. I know in Germany, almost everyone's second vehicle, if they have one, is one of the many junkers being passed on from one soldier to the next. Unless you have some kind of collector vehicle, I don't suggest keeping it in storage. A vehicle needs to be driven to be maintained, it will lose its value, you will incur costs and the negatives outweigh the positives. Get rid of it.

We already talked a bit about pets. Before you leave, you are going to decide on your route of travel. If by car, you can get a good idea of where you will stay overnight. Collect names and numbers of hotels and call them directly to find out if they take pets. If you are going overseas, try to drive to the shortest point of air travel, which will mean a shorter and less stressful trip for the little doggie or kittie. It also has the added benefit of most likely having a port nearby where you can ship your car from. If you have a pet, find out from your transportation office where your nearest ports are and start researching airports and airlines nearby. Once you narrow that down, see if there are non-stop or flights with less stops to your destination. I've already done some asking around, and there is an overwhelming positive response using United Airlines for pet shipping. Keep that in mind.

Be sure to check out these other military moving resources below:

It's Your Move booklet

Military Moves

Military Travel (PCS) Move Entitlements

Shipping Your Privately Owned Vehicle pamphlet

The Do It Yourself (DITY) Move

Well, I think I've covered most of the bases. Get organized now, and your move will be amazingly less stressful! What tips would you like to share on moving?

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4 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

One thing to add about pets, especially given the large size of your dog: if the pet+crate weighs more than 100 lbs you may be charged additional fees (we'd put our 80 lb dog on a slight diet before PCSing as his crate weighed 25 lbs). Also there are some aircraft that cannot handle larger crates-so if you have a flight to your international flight, check and make sure that shorter flight is in a large enough plane. When we PCSd from Alamagordo, NM to Japan the first leg was in an aircraft too small for the dog crates. Thank goodness for 'doggy grandparents' who could take the dogs for a short time until my husband PCSd!

September 21, 2007 at 9:14 PM  
Blogger LoveMyTanker said...

We had good success flying over with pets and Lufthansa and used www.petair.de when we returned to the states. Be sure not to forget all of the paperwork that you must show at the GE airport when picking up your pet http://www.petair.de/html/u_s__military.html

Best wishes for a successful overseas move!!

September 23, 2007 at 10:34 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'd love to learn more about this binder that you use to stay organized!
Could you elaborate ?

June 16, 2011 at 6:29 PM  
Blogger ****Veteran Military Wife at Life Lessons of a Military Wife**** said...

I'm not sure what you are asking...I thought I did elaborate? I try not to make the binder too heavy...I use those document protectors...you can get some with the flap on the top so things don't fall out if it is upside down...think these are presentation document protectors....you can also use an accordian file, as I've done that in the past as well.

June 16, 2011 at 6:54 PM  

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