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Don’t Do Another Military PCS Move (or any Move) Without Reading This!

“Here we go again…same old ‘stuff’ again…marching down the avenue”…..yes, that’s part of an Army cadence. It’s Groundhog Day, ala Bill Murray, and we get to do it all over again…you all know the drill right? Wouldn’t it be great though, if you had all your ducks in a row and there were no surprises and you could actually look forward to seeing and doing new things rather than drown in all the issues surrounding a big move? Well, it can be done. I am thrilled to have the expert advice of Jacki Hollywood Brown, a professional organizer help lead us through from start to finish on getting your family moved. Let’s get it done and move on to the next thing!

Your biggest challenge is going to be getting things packed up and gone and doing it with the least amount of hassle as possible. The Army does make it easy to get started on this quest with the ubiquitous transportation briefing. Your first milestone will be getting a copy of your husband’s orders to his new duty location. Absolutely NOTHING can happen without this valuable document. With this in hand, you can schedule your transportation briefing and all the other appointments you will need. You and your husband will attend this briefing together. If he is deployed, congrats, you get to do it by yourself. Make sure you have a copy of a power of attorney first though. Don’t fret…many thousands of wives have done it before you, and with the resources you will get here, you can do it almost blindfolded.

Don’t have your orders yet? Don’t fret that either. There are a few things you can do ahead of time, so when you DO get them, things will run ever so smoothly for you and your family.

I’ve already talked in the past about some things you can do NOW. Be sure to read

Yet Another Military Move and Change of Duty Station Coming Up

About a week ago, I also started sorting through our household junk. I also mentioned having a good property inventory of your stuff. It’ll make it so much easier when (notice I say when and not if) you file a claim, plus you’ll have a handy record of serial numbers and other identifying information in addition to the movers’ list. Don’t fret if yours is not as detailed as mine. The easiest way to do a property inventory is to take a video camera, go room to room (make sure cabinets are open so you can see what’s inside) and start filming with your commentary. I’ve even gone as far as to list what DVDs, videos and computer programs we have. These are all just material possessions, so if they get lost, stolen, burned up in a fire or dropped in the ocean (don’t laugh, I’ve seen a container of household goods dropped into the water up in Bremerhaven, Germany. It DOES happen, although very rarely), you can easily replace them. We knew someone who lost EVERYTHING in a warehouse fire, and they spent MANY MONTHS, trying to recreate their household inventory, to the point of having to call businesses where they purchased their TVs and computers, designer gowns and china set, trying to get duplicate receipts. They even had to comb through old family photos their relatives had, looking for photos where household items, such as their expensive leather couch, were pictured. Save yourself the headache and heartache and do a property inventory now. Please take the time to read

Let the Sorting Begin!

and

The Property Inventory and Your Next Move

In your dealings with the transportation office, try to arrange for a door to door move. This is not always possible but ideal. The Army will actually pay for you to scout out your new location (at least for stateside) and find a rental or house to buy. This is called 10 days permissive TDY. If this home is ready for you when you move, your moving truck can drive from this house to your next home. If not, you’ll have to have your stuff offloaded at the destination, put in a warehouse (where things potentially get lost or disappear) and then reloaded on another truck before delivery. Sometimes you also end up waiting longer, because of trucking shortages or scheduling conflicts. If you’ve already got the truck, you can be that much ahead! Always, always keep the phone numbers and points of contact of the outgoing transportation office, the incoming transportation office and your movers’ handy. You may need to get in contact with them somewhere along the line. I’ve actually had to call our outgoing transportation office more than once when a mover insisted one thing, but I knew it was supposed to be another thing. Let your transportation office help sort it out, and don’t go it alone.

Let’s go over the general information on things that shouldn’t (and in most cases, can’t be moved)

  • Hazardous materials (your lawnmower and powertoys have to be empty of gasoline).
  • Explosives (fireworks), chemicals and compressed air (as a general rule, I get rid of anything liquid, except my aromatherapy bottles and our wine collection).
    • You’ll find that different movers have different rules. I like to double bag small liquids I want them to pack. As far as the wine, almost every mover we’ve had did not have a problem transporting it, even overseas, but be prepared to be disappointed if they tell you they can’t do it! Research this ahead of time if you can.

You may also want to think about the following things if you’ve got them (if they are not covered in your transportation briefing, please ask about them)

  • Boats, kayaks and larger items
  • Patio stone, rocks
  • farm machinery
  • dog houses
  • fences
  • empty bottles and preserving jars
  • hobby materials (rock collecting anyone?)
  • trailers

When I start going thru our junk, prepping for the move, I like to go room by room. I have a checklist (which frankly, I don’t use anymore cause it’s imprinted in my brain after all these Army moves). But, if you are not well versed in moving or this is your first move, use a checklist. Depending on how long you can keep your family from messing with your organization, you can start this up to a week out from moving day.

  • Remove all batteries from electronic items (you don’t want a beeping timebomb to scare anyone, or batteries to leak or your items turning themselves on).
  • Remove curtains, have them cleaned and put them aside.
  • Take prints and paintings off walls. I dust them and then lean them up against the wall. If your house is too cluttered, then go ahead and just clean them and leave them on the walls. I know movers are so thankful when you stack your smaller frames into a pile. It makes it easier on them.
  • If you are taking any ceiling fans or light fixtures, take them down, clean them and think about if they need any special packaging. I do have an antique light fixture that travels with us, so I do plan for this.
  • Identify any awkward-shaped items such as antiques, hobby items, large mirrors or bicycles. Movers have special boxes for that stuff. I always mention our two grandfather clocks (they send a special person out to secure and pack those), bikes and our extremely large framed print (which so far, has made it every move…knock on wood…).
  • If you have portable air conditioners you’ll be taking along and will get packed, you’d better unplug them and let them drain and dry out. You don’t want mold growing in your stuff as it travels.
  • Rope in all your stuff. If you lent out books or other items, ask for that stuff back or go ahead and say good-bye to it now. Don’t forget your gym locker, storage locker, safe deposit box and any other place outside your home you might have items stored, including your local dry cleaner.
  • For every item you have a box for, such as some electronic items, put the item on top of or next to its box. Don’t pack it yourself, or else the movers can shift liability to you should something happen to it.
  • To try to take a bite out of identity theft, you might want to take personal files or items and put them in a smaller bin or box and label them as “children’s artwork” or “dollhouse furniture” or “whatever” and then tape it shut.
  • If you have black shoes and lighter colored shoes, put them in plastic bags or shoeboxes first. Don’t learn the hard way that black shoe polish is almost impossible to get off white shoes, especially if they’ve been rubbing together for months as they travel overseas. Keep this in mind too with other items the movers might throw together to fill a box. Try to keep like items together and do some prepackaging if necessary. I use bubble wrap and Ziploc bags so the movers can still see what’s inside.
  • Do not wax or stain your furniture in the weeks leading up to moving day. The furniture pads and blankets the movers use could get stuck to your stuff and leave a mark.
  • If you have a piano, get a professional to prepare it for movement. Also let be sure your moving company knows about it before moving day. Some movers will send out a special team to pack it up.
  • Decide what you will do about your houseplants. Will you give them away or sell them? Will they survive extreme temperatures in the truck? Can the moving company move them to where you are going? If you are going overseas, you won’t be able to take them along. If you can have them packed, don’t overwater them (mold growth) and guard against leakage. If you don’t want to deal with the plants themselves, why don’t you take cutttings of them instead. They should survive at least a few days if you prepare them properly.
  • If you have highly valued collectibles, I would suggest transporting them yourself. My husband has a HUGE stamp collection and every move would bring tons of anxiety. He finally got over it by insuring his large collection separately and letting the movers pack it. He now takes a small binder of his favorites to take along. In the old days, he would break up his collection and have someone mail him each box insured..piece by piece (that would now take forever). Just think over how you would recover should your collection disappear, and plan accordingly.
  • The movers can pack pre-packaged and canned food. I try not to do this. You never know what kind of temperature extremes the stuff will be exposed to, plus…it’s food and who knows what it will come in contact with, especially internationally. I start eating that stuff six months out and come up with some of the strangest meals in that time, and whatever is leftover gets donated to the local food bank.
  • If you’re taking your refrigerator, dishwasher and washing machine, be sure to dry that stuff out at least 24 hours ahead of time. You don’t want to give mold a chance to grow. If that stuff is going into storage, investigate how to prep it for that too. Read Prepare Appliances for a Move.
  • If you have firearms, know the moving regulations, especially at your next duty station. I know you can’t take guns overseas anymore. Have a plan for that stuff as well.

For electronics, I take a few extra steps:

  • Use garbage bag twist ties to tie up cables.
  • Clean and dust off the item.
  • Lay the remote on top of the item, or tape it on top.
  • Some electronic items need to be prepped for moving, such as tying down the arm of a turntable or parking hard drives (older computers). Leaf through the manuals to see if there’s anything special you must do.
  • I keep all manuals in one central location (a drawer in our sideboard) and make sure the drawer contents get packed.
  • I keep all additional cables and attachments in a bin labeled electronics. You never know what your set-up will be at your new location, and you want to be able to dig through your stash before running to the store to buy something you already have.
  • I make sure I separate my local cable provider’s remotes, cable boxes, computer routers, modems and the like lest it accidentally gets packed with our stuff.
  • Make sure important information from your computer is backed up. I like to back up My Documents folder and make sure my photos, music and video are included as well. I have a pocket-size external drive that we carry with us, along with my husband’s laptop. Be sure to note any passwords and other documentation you won’t have access to. You can put some of this stuff online, let’s say in your Google Mail account. Take an email message and type up any information you may need (I use clues and not the actual passwords, as well as alternate names for the websites they go with. Be sure not to have any identifying information, such as your first or last name or address anywhere in this email account, just in case it does get hacked).
  • For small items, such as craft items or Legos and kids’ toys, I will package them in Ziploc bags or small bins. Your movers will love you for this. If the stuff is breakable, I wrap the little stuff in bubble wrap and then put them in a whatever size bin works best. I do this for Christmas ornaments, and honestly, I accept the responsibility of those items packed, because I know I packed them well in bubblewrap, and they are secure. It would take the movers days to individually wrap all my ornaments, and I know they will travel safer with the way I packed them.
  • For your well-packed small items, such as my ornaments that are in large Rubbermaid bins, ask the movers if they will just move the bin with the stuff inside. Just get them to tape it shut and stick a sticker on the outside. I had a mover once take everything out of each bin and put the items in a box. He then stacked the bins and bubblewrapped them separately. That just created more stuff and more work at the other end.

As I tackle each room, I separate out stuff that will not be moved with the movers. Set that stuff to the side, along with your suitcases. I stack things there as I go along. If the stack gets too big for our vehicle, I realize I’ll have to put some things back. With everything in one location, this is much easier to notice! Instead of boxes, I like to use small bins to keep things organized and tidy. Of course, with this overseas move, I won’t have this small luxury…everything goes and nothing but a few suitcases gets stacked. As I’ve mentioned before, if we must take items with us, before shipping our vehicle, I make sure it is not bigger than a medium size box worth of stuff and plan to have a friend or relative ship that box over to us once we have an address. Or, you can ship it to the headquarters address of your new unit. You can get that information from your sponsor. When you move, you are supposed to be assigned a sponsor who can help you with lodging arrangements, airport and travel arrangements upon arrival and any other questions you might have about the unit and the location. I believe having a sponsor is even mandated by Army regulations, so if you don’t immediately get one assigned to you (it will be a fellow soldier, most times, higher in rank than your husband if you are enlisted), ask for one.

Some things to keep in mind while going from room to room

  • Wash your bedding a few days before moving. It just travels better that way. That goes with anything else too. Don’t pack dirty or broken items, cause believe me, it’ll be depressing dealing with that stuff on the other end. You also want to make sure these items are completely DRY before they get packed. Mold is not your best friend.
  • Make sure the movers wrap your bedding and couches in plastic. Your mattresses will get so dirty and icky without it and your couch will too. If it’s leather, it’ll get all scratched up. Insist on this. Many movers want to take shortcuts
  • I like to leave the disassembly of furniture to the movers. Again, because of the liability and responsibility issues. You don’t want the movers to say, hey, we can’t do anything about the missing pieces, cause it was noted on the inventory form that YOU disassembled the thing. On moving day, I keep Ziploc bags on hand and request that they tape the bag to the item. How many times have you hunted for stuff at the other end? Part of your job on moving day will be to walk around and make sure that is getting done. Don’t totally rely on the movers!
  • You don’t want to move with dirty clothes. Wash your dirty stuff as close as you can to moving day, and make sure that stuff is DRY.
  • Don’t let the movers take all your clothes off the hangers. They have special boxes, called wardrobe boxes, for clothes on hangers. When the movers do their walk through before actual moving day, they should be calculating how many of what type of boxes they will need. I had a mover show up one time with not enough of these wardrobe boxes, and since dumb me didn’t know any better to stop them, ended up taking TWO FULL days at the other end, trying to separate a puzzle of over fifty hangers and then rehanging each item that had been put in a regular box. Insist they use the right box for the right item. And while you’re at it, take off all your dry cleaning plastic to keep moisture out as well as replacing your metal hangers with plastic ones. It’s amazing when you go overseas especially, how sea water can corrode things it doesn’t directly touch!

There are a few things I just don’t pack because of the “ick factor”

  • kitchen trashcans
  • outside garbage cans (mine are almost destroyed anyway by the time we move)
  • bathroom plungers and toilet brushes (these things are very inexpensive, plus there’s something that can be said of a fresh new home with brand new toilet brushes, plungers and even bathroom rugs and doormats)

The day before moving day, I make sure I do these things

  • Keep electronics usage to a minimum. For example, you don’t want to pack a hot computer in a cold environment. This will create condensation and could damage your computer.
  • I pick a bathroom, a room or our car and EVERYTHING that will not get packed by the movers, goes in there. If it’s a room, put a sign on the door to not pack the stuff inside! This also becomes my oasis when I need a breather from the movers or let’s say you have a baby whose diaper needs some changing. One of our very first Army moves we made the mistake of having a party and having to scramble to get cleaned up and ready for the movers the next morning. A bag of garbage got packed overseas. It was NOT pretty.
  • With that being said, make alternate arrangements for kids and pets. Set up a playdate or get a friend to help out. Most are very happy to be helping you in some way. Kids can get very upset, especially the younger ones, when they see their stuff getting packed up, and pets just plain get in the way. I’m sure you’ve heard of countless cats disappearing and showing up hungry or worse at the other end.
  • Be sure you have your prescriptions and medications put away. Make sure you have plenty of your prescription medications to carry you over the next appointment timeframe at your new location. Sometimes your current prescription can’t be moved to another pharmacy. Plan for this.

The day of your move

  • The movers will descend on your home like a colony of ants. I keep my wallet, keys, cell phone and personal stash either locked up or on me. I take one part of our house while my husband takes the other. We kind of supervise what the movers are doing and are there to answer questions or make comments. At the same token, we don’t get in their way. Many of these guys have been doing this for MANY years and don’t need someone to tell them how to do their job. You may want to point on items that need special packaging to the head boss (you’ll know who he is right away). To sound less threatening, I say something like, “last time, the movers packed this item using x and the item came out on the other end damaged, broken, etc”.
  • Have your military spouse’s professional items stacked separately. Anything that has to do with his job, such as books and gear, even his computer, can be counted as a professional item. Why bother? When you’ve been around as long as I have and accumulate tons of stuff, you want to stay below your weight limit and considering how heavy books are, this makes a big difference for us. Just something to keep in mind.
  • Try to group your “high dollar value” items together. These are things more pilfered than your normal junk, such as stereo equipment, computers, cameras and TVs. They will get identified on your moving inventory by serial number. Double check these serial numbers against your list from your property inventory.
  • Next to the furniture items on the movers’ inventory list, you will see combinations of letters. This identifies the condition of your item. For example, “CH” means chipped and “BR” means broken (this may be mover-specific, so check the top of the inventory form). Don’t let them write the wrong code on there. If something is labeled as broken…and it isn’t…good luck trying to get a claim paid should the movers actually break it!
  • Each box and each item will have an item number sticker. This number will correspond with the matching item on the movers’ inventory sheet. Make sure each box makes it to the truck. Make sure the boxes also say something on the outside, such as “kitchen” or “master bedroom”. This is why when you first start going through your junk, you put things back in the correct room and with like items.
  • Watch as the movers move your boxes and items into their truck. If it is a cross country move, the items will go directly into the truck. If it is an overseas move, they will go directly into shipping containers on a flatbed truck. It is your responsibility to watch that each shipping container is sealed after it is filled. Look for the seals. I have heard that you can request shipping containers for stateside moves as well. It’s not highly publicized, because it is more expensive, but you can request it at the Army’s cost and not yours.
  • If the movers take more than a day packing your items (which most times, they will…it takes them three days to pack our 20 years worth of stuff), don’t let them talk you into putting items on the truck and then coming back tomorrow. You don’t want to leave items out of your sight until you see that the shipping containers are sealed and your property inventory is complete and signed. If you have any problems, have the number to your transportation office handy and call if any issues arise.
  • Borrow a cooler and fill it with water and ice for your movers. They will be more inclined to treat your stuff nicely. Along the same lines, order pizza for all for lunch and make sure you tip them when they leave. When they are finished packing, we like to tip about $20 per person. Don’t give the money to the head boss, give the money to each packer individually and thank them for their work.
  • Before the movers leave, do one last sweep of the house. Open EVERY cabinet and drawer. I had to box up and move an entire kitchen cabinet of spices overseas one year, because the movers had inadvertently forgotten to open the thing and pack the stuff.

I think that wraps about everything up…literally. Be sure to read the booklet It’s Your Move, put out by the military. Lots of helpful tips and resources can be found there too. Also don’t forget the monster moving guide at about.com. I guess I’ll be revisiting this subject again, AFTER our move to Germany in June. Maybe I can do a little After Action Review, as the Army calls it. Review what went right and what went wrong in hopes that I won’t make the same mistakes next time! If you have any tips and tricks to add, please add them in the comments below! I’d also love to hear your moving stories, whether good or bad!

Related post: Yet Another Military Move (what you should be doing six months out)

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52 Responses to “Don’t Do Another Military PCS Move (or any Move) Without Reading This!”

  1. Reasa says:

    This is another post that is timely. We will be movingin June too and this is the first time we will not be doing a DITY move. I am anxious and relieved all at the same time.

  2. Funny about Money says:

    Wow! What an AWESOME post! You should have this printed as a pamphlet to hand out to military (and other peripatetic) families.

    Once I figured out my mother moved on average every 18 months during the 32 years of her marriage to my father. She was an expert who could pack up a household in a week. I learned a few things from her, but not enough that packing for a big move ever feels “easy.”

    On the other hand, we lived overseas all the time I was growing up, and so we didn’t accumulate very much stuff. Paving stones? Farm machinery? Don’t think so. :-D

  3. ****Veteran Military Wife at Life Lessons of a Military Wife**** says:

    You’d be surprised at what you accumulate when you have your own home, plus a lot of Army assignments (in particular for the enlisted) is being stretched out to twice as long as typical. I’ve had friends with horses, and believe it or not, they took them everywhere but overseas!

    Maybe if I get organized enough, I’ll get out a moving pamphlet too. Anything to help anyone out!

  4. Tara says:

    A friend directed me to your blog, knowing we had been here so long I forgot what it was like to move. Four years really isn’t that long for most people but for the Army that is a lifetime.
    What a wonderful refresher. We are on our way to Okinawa, Japan and I will now be able to sleep at night knowing I have it under control. THANK YOU!

    I also get to do the wonderful what goes into storage game. Good times.

  5. Anonymous says:

    We have moved many times and yet there was something I overlooked this last time we had a PCS…make sure you inventory all your kids video games, especially the little cd ones cause we found out after it was too late to file for our “missing” property that 3 mini gamecube cds were MIA from inside their Gamecube covers! Yep those are little enough to be removed from the cd cover and placed in a jeans pocket no doubt! At $50 a video game we will always do inventory from now on and watch them closely being packed. We lost $150 worth on this one!

  6. Hayley McCoy says:

    Hi, can you possible tell me how the process works if you husband is at AIT and your at home when I comes time to move? Im really confused about that.

  7. ****Veteran Military Wife at Life Lessons of a Military Wife**** says:

    It is my understanding, if you were married beforehand, you would be authorized an Army move (meaning the Army pays for it). The key is those set of orders your husband will get assigning him to his first duty assignment. You, as a dependent, also have to be listed on those set of orders, as it would be an “accompanied move”…everything hinges on that. You can’t make any appts, move, make arrangements, until you get that. With those orders, your husband can make arrangements with the transportation office. If you are not near each other, than you can get a Power of Attorney for you to do that (he can contact his chain of command to get to the legal office). Good luck!

  8. Hayley McCoy says:

    thanks so much. I currently dont have my license, it was suspended for 6 months. My husbands car is here with me in georgia. He is in Virginia. We plan to have the army move all of our things, can my husband get leave so that he can come home and get the car and me so we can go to whereever we are suppose to go? We havent gotten his orders yet so we dont know where we are going. Thank so much for you help.

  9. ****Veteran Military Wife at Life Lessons of a Military Wife**** says:

    Yes,he should be getting leave enroute.

    If you don’t have a lot of stuff, you may want to consider a DITY move

    http://usmilitary.about.com/cs/assignments/a/ditymove.htm

    Also, FT Bragg’s transportation office has LOTS of good info to help you understand the whole moving process (there’s nothing like it in civilian life)…or you could google the transportation office where your husband is doing AIT

    http://www.bragg.army.mil/ito/

  10. Stephanie Miller says:

    This will be our very first move together. I'm the worrier, and he seems to think it will all be fine – but I know better ;) I was wondering about the storage thing – I've heard two different things – the first is that you try to schedule the movers to come right before you have to leave so that you get there around the same time so the stuff does NOT have to go in to storage. The other is that, it will go in to storage no matter what, so the sooner they come to get it, the better.

    We're struggling with this. We already have our apartment, but he was told at the brief that it would go in to storage no matter what, they couldn't just bring it straight to the apartment.

    How soon should we schedule the movers? Thanks so much!!!

  11. ****Veteran Military Wife at Life Lessons of a Military Wife**** says:

    There are going to be a lot of variables you cannot control here.

    You are at the mercy of the transportation office, especially in the summer.

    A door-to-door move is ideal. Less chance of things becoming missing and broken, and if you tip the guys nicely (and feed them) at the pick-up end, they are more inclined to do a good job at the receiving end.

    The reality is that the military has overscheduled so many of these moving companies and movers, that realistically, your stuff will become part of a rehearsed orchestrated dance and be put in storage. It will then probably be a different set of movers bringing your stuff.

    I would say you can ask for a door-to-door move but don't get upset if it doesn't work out that way and you may not find out you are getting a door-to-door until the movers are actually under way.

  12. Anonymous says:

    My husband is in AIT now and then he has Airborne school. My question is, as soon as he gets his orders could I move our things? We have less then a one bedroom apartment in storage and I was wondering if it would be better to do a DITY move than have to wait on the movers? If I do it this way, if I kept all of our receipts, would it be a guarantee that we would be reimbursed? Thank you for your time.

    Shayla

  13. ****Veteran Military Wife at Life Lessons of a Military Wife**** says:

    Let me suggest you read about DITY moves online (just google it). I unfortunately do not know the process, but it sounds like a one bedroom apartment, depending on what you have, could be something for a DITY move.

    I know you can't make any travel arrangements (airplane tickets, moving company appts, etc) without your husband's orders. A simple call to your post's transportation office could quickly answer if this applies to DITY moves as well.

  14. Mommy J says:

    Thanks for all the timely wisdom. We've been living overseas for 3 years but we moved here separately because we got married after he had already moved. I was totally overwhelmed where to even start since the movers are packing everything themselves. I knew there were things for me to do but didn't know what. I really appreciate you sharing with us "new" wives.

  15. jessy80848 says:

    My husband and I just got orders to PCS to Germany and this is my first move, especially out of country. How long before we leave should I start with the Passports and everything else that needs to be done. How soon before our report date should we leave where we are at and fly over to Germany? Do we have to pay for our pets to go? I have so many questions and noone to answer them since right now my husband is deployed. Someone please help me ease my mind and not go crazy.

  16. ****Veteran Military Wife at Life Lessons of a Military Wife**** says:

    The sooner you get your passports, the better…I would pay for your own tourist passports ASAP and then get your official passports (that the military pays for) later…I believe you can only get those when your husband comes down on assignment instructions (which is the paperwork from DA showing where he is going next, before his orders are actually cut/made locally on base).

    You need to think about leave, ie vacation time. First, your husband has to know how much leave he has accumulated (it is written on his LES – pay stub). Typically, people like to take at least a month between assignments…doesn't always work out that way when your losing unit insists to keep you and your gaining unit wants you there…yesterday! Your husband will have to work that out. If we can, we like to visit family after we move out and before we arrive at our new duty station.

    Yes, everything that has to do with your pets is at your expensive, and I highly recommend they travel with you on the same plane, because it is cheaper. It is about 4-6x more expensive with a pet shipping service overseas and sometimes there are hidden costs involved after your pet arrives that you will pay with cash. Please read some of my pet shipping articles here. The only free thing will be your USDA certificate that you need to fly (check timeframes) IF you see a military vet.

    http://forums.armywives.com is a good resource, as there are alot of overseas wives on there in Germany on the overseas board.

    Good luck and don't let the stress get to you….one step at a time!

  17. Lauren says:

    I just found your blog, and I am so thankful for it! I have a ton of questions for you, but I'll start small. :) My husband is going back to active duty after being out for 10 (!) years. We are PCSing to Germany this fall. Because he is an 0-4, it looks like we will probably be living on the economy. I haven't seen a ton of houses on AHRN that I love, but I've seen several on a couple of immobilien websites. Is it even possible to use one of those instead of the Housing Office? If so, will we really have to pay thousands of Euros in deposits and realtor commissions just to get a house? YIKES! Thanks for any advice you can offer!

  18. ****Veteran Military Wife at Life Lessons of a Military Wife**** says:

    Congrats on coming back in and thanks! The short answer..yes, you'll pay THOUSANDS of euros in commission out of your own pocket if you go out on your own and find a realtor to use. These realtors also know how to work the game in Stuttgart…believe me! I did notice more folks are networking now to get houses…finding out who they are replacing and try to get their house or someone else in the unit…talking with people and checking bookoo and some of the paper message boards, like at the commissary on Patch. The key is to get a hold of that stuff before it gets put back into the housing system. Regardless, even if you find something on your own, you should get an inspector from the housing office to make sure it meets the requirements (security and safety mostly)…and also that there will be a lease w/a military clause.

    The only way to get the govt to pay for the realtor fees is to get a non-availability statement from the housing office…meaning there just aren't enough houses available in their system…this is not an easy document to get, but it's worth a try.

    Let me go back to your statement about loving a house. Please try to rank order the list of "must haves"…most people do not love their homes here…they make concessions and find the best possible home they can.

    As an example, I HATE that we don't have a garage for our cars or any storage for our bikes…our small half basement you can't even stand straight up in and it's not accessible from outside, so a real pain as you see…but I do LOVE most of the rest of the house…I was willing to give that up for the other great things our house offered…still hoping for the landlord to put in that garden shed he promised…but you know how that goes…or at least, here in Belgium…things that forever!

    The Stuttgart Housing Office has a Facebook page as well…feel free to write and ask them there the same question…let me know what they say…

  19. Angelina says:

    Your blog is great to read and really helpful. Thanks for all the advice about planning a move! It will come in handy!

  20. Angelina says:

    Your blog is great to read and really helpful. Thanks for all the advice about planning a move! It will come in handy!

  21. Anonymous says:

    Thank you for this wealth of information! I’m DoD CIV and am moving my hubby & kids to Germany…your blog is amazing!! ;) thank you!

  22. Mrs. Bailey says:

    OMG… Thanku sooo much. We’ll b movin in less than 2 wks 2 Hawaii n I didn’t know what questions to really ask, but you’ve answered ALL of them! Being new to the military life as a spouse is beautiful, but can b very confusing because u don’t really find out things until the last min. U r a life saver!!

  23. Hope Boyd says:

    Hello,
    Thanks so much for all the information. I have a question. My husband is AF and is stationed in Korea for a year before we go to Ramstein in Germany in March 2013. We put all our things in storage in the States and I am here with him in Korea until Jan. 2013. We will go back to the States the end of Jan. for 30 days and the movers will come pack up our things to ship over. I’m wondering what is the best way to insure that we inventory and make sure they pack things correctly since everything is alreay in boxes form a previous moving company that moved us into the storage facility? (It’s kinda complicated I suppose…) I just don’t want to our things to get to Germany and be broken, damaged and stolen and we can’t file a claim because we didn’t take the proper steps before hand. I know you are Army and we are AF but the rules are basicly the same. (or so it seems as I was reading through your blog) Any help or advise you can give would be most helpful as this is our first move overseas but not our frist move state side. I have been a military wife since I was 21 and I am 46. Thank you again. H.B.

  24. Ruben Dela Cerna says:

    HELP! I’m a prior service Army Reserve member that’s about to get back into Active duty. My first duty station will be in Korea. I won’t have any official PCS orders till I go back to MEPS on 04DEC12. My Army Liason told me I have to report back to MEPS on 04DEC12, Swear in, Receive orders, and fly out to Korea on the same day. I’m a single Soldier who owns a house, two dogs, and lots of house hold goods. UGH… I’m pretty frustrated because I can’t do anything without official orders (transportation, housing, ect..) So my question to you is… WILL I GET REIMBURSE IF I PACK AND STORE ALL MY HOUSE HOLD GOODS BY MYSELF prior to getting official PCS orders. I’m afraid that If I wait till December 4… That would be the last I see my belongings. I need your advice!!!!

    Respectfully,

    Ruben
    ruben.delacerna@us.army.mil

  25. admin says:

    I would contact your POC at the MEPS and explain your situation. Start with your supervisor and then work your way up. I don’t know how things usually work at MEPS, but I would think if you have HHG, a house and pets to worry about, things can be done differently. Let me know how it works out. Congrats on your new assignment!

  26. Amy says:

    I read about the hangers, changing to plastic. I have all felt hangers, has anyone had problems moving with these? Especially overseas?

  27. Alexis Gonzales says:

    Hi thank you so much for writing this its hard we our 21 have a 4 year old and 2 year old and moving to baumholder Germany smith barracks in 3 months!!! I’m freaking out and creating about 200 lists ATM lol but anyways I wanted know does the military pay for our passports and how soon do they get to us? Also I plan on putting my lotions and perfumes in double ziplock airtight wrapped in bubble and in tupperwares is that smart because these are pricy items?? Thank you!!
    A.G.

  28. admin says:

    Yep, that’s what I do with all my expensive lotions, essential oils and that kind of stuff. I also have an old toiletry case that folks used to take on the airplane, and I put that ziplocked stuff in there…but Tupperware will do just fine. You should find out more about your military or should I say SOFA passports as you get your orders. These are different from your tourist passports, if you already have those. Your SOFA passports the military will pay for…just make an appointment at your onpost passport office. It can take a few months to get those back, especially in high season. Rest assured if you have tourist passports, you can still travel without your “official” SOFA ones. I went for YEARS without a SOFA passport. But these days the European countries are more strict and ask more questions, so you need to have a SOFA passport when you leave Germany’s borders. It shows that you are allowed to stay in Germany beyond the 90 day limit. Safe travels!

  29. Meagan Miller says:

    I have recently gotten married to my husband and he has just finished AIT and airborne school and is in Alaska now. This will be our first move with the army and since he doesn’t get to come home before I move, neither one of us really know how the moving process works or really how to go about doing anything. After reading your post it has helped with how to do some of it but I don’t know how to get started or anything. can you help me ?!?!

  30. Meagan Miller says:

    I have recently got married to my husband who has just finished with AIT and airborne school and is currently at our duty station in Alaska. This will be our first move with the army and neither one of us know how to go about the whole moving process or how it all works. He was unable to come home before going to our duty station and I’m left with getting our stuff moved to Alaska and I learned alot from your post, but I’m still unsure how to get into that process of actually moving. help me please?!

  31. admin says:

    Congrats! He should take his orders to his local transportation office on post, and they should guide him on what to do next. Make sure the military knows you are married and you are in the system, meaning you have an ID card and you are in the DEERS database. If you got married after his military orders were cut, the military is not obligated to move your things, just his items. If you got married before, you are authorized to be moved at military expense.

  32. amanda says:

    does anyone know how long it takes to be reimbursed the money for damaged belonging from the move. we already submitted a claim.

  33. admin says:

    Uggghh…it can take months from my own experience.

  34. Amanda says:

    Oh man, they tore holes in both our brand new couches and I’m so impatient with this situation and the claims guy said they submitted it to military so I guess we just wait on them:(

  35. Heidi says:

    Can you tell me how much time the army gives a soldier and his family to PCS? I am not sure if there is a common rule for this, since I can’t seem to find the answer on the internet. I know I am probably wording it wrong. My husband was asked via email by his Branch manager if relocating to Fort Riley KS from Fort Bragg by June 1st was okay? We have major issues with our house. We had a mold problem, which was removed by a specialized mold removal company,and there was a lot of destruction of the walls, and sub flooring, as well as removal of all carpeting, and crown molding. We are simply in a mess, with hardly no time at all to fix these things in two months, not to mention, prepare to rent of sell it. Oh and I am forgetting to mention sifting through 9 years of acquired stuff, that has to be sifted through, dis-guarded, and so on.Thank you so much for your help in finding this answer.

  36. admin says:

    You have a few possibilities here. We rarely get enough time to take any leave between PCSes! Because the one unit doesn’t want to release my DH and the gaining unit wants him yesterday. I’m probably the wrong person to ask. I don’t think there is a set time period as per regulation, or I’m not aware of it. You may have to stay behind and take care of everything and your husband may have to PCS on ahead. We have had to do that before too! Depending on where your husband is in his career, that’s also something to consider. Is this job critical for his career progression? Is he able to push the PCS back a few weeks (his branch manager could help him figure that out). Or can he deny that particular slot and still get a good next assignment? Those are all things you need to discuss. I’ll go ask on my blog’s FB if anyone else can offer insight.

  37. admin says:

    You saw the comments and responses on the Life Lessons FB page wall, correct? Wishing you the best of luck!

  38. Breanne Smith says:

    Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.

  39. Keria says:

    Hi! I sort of have an understanding of how things go but I do still have some unanswered questions! First off I would like to know what is the exact next sttep after AIT! Do all soldiers do airborne & if so what is it? i still live with my parent so i really dont have much to move because i planned on buying everything once i got to where ever he is being stationed or is it best to get everything now and have it moved to the new house or apartment? will he be able to come home and help after AIT? if so, how much time is he given?

  40. admin says:

    Your spouse should have some leave after AIT and be able to come home and move. If not, rest assured, if you were married before he got orders, you are authorized to have your items moved separately to join him. Each command is different on how much leave time your soldier will get, so I can’t tell you that. I personally would purchase things after moving…when knowing how big your home is. There may be a wait time to move into post…sometimes up to year or you may be authorized to live off post which will then be most likely an apartment or rental home. Stay away from those rent-to-own places if you can. Either save up the money, buy second hand or purchase inexpensive starter furniture. We had lots of second hand stuff when we first got married. Best of luck to you!

  41. Uber Movers says:

    Here at http://Uber-Movers.com , we offer several packing options to fit your individual needs. Thus, whether you plan on doing your own packing or prefer to hand over the packing of your items to our experienced professionals, we can provide you with a “customized” package that best suits your requirements. Our standard rates include blanket wrapping and padding of all of your standard furniture for its protection.
    201.942.1010

  42. Samantha says:

    Hello there just found our blog and love it! I had a question this is our first PCS, hubby is still in AIT. I have set up the movers and the housing but I am totally lost when it comes to the plane tickets. What do I do? Who do I call? Or does the hubby do it? Any advice you have will be wonderful!

  43. admin says:

    When your service member has his levy briefing there should be an appt made with your on post travel office, such as SATO.

    All the services and posts handle things a little differently. We have been able to pick any hub (usually East Coast) to fly out of even if it is not the airport near where we are stationed….fight for what you want. As long as it is cheaper or same price, they should be able to support it.

    Many families are being funneled ONLY into Ramstein which is hours away from many posts in Germany. Depending on who your gaining unit is, you may be authorized to fly into a closer airport like Stuttgart,Nürnberg or Munich. Find out beforehand and don’t let anyone bully you.

    Pets are a whole other issue you need to get a jump on, so click on my Pets link, and you’ll see the info you need to ship a pet. Rules and procedures have changed!

    Welcome to Germany!

  44. Keria says:

    Hi this is Keria again! So my Husband now has his orders to go to Fort Bragg. He will report home on the 15th of August for 2 weeks and then he has to report to Fort Bragg to do some type of paper work and then they will give him 2 weeks to come back to Mississippi to move our things! How do we go by getting information in for housing and what about daycare? I’m so excited that I’m nervous!

  45. admin says:

    Congrats! Your husband should have a sponsor at his new location…someone assigned to him who can assist him with any questions, lodging reservations and can send you a welcome packet of your new duty station. You can also contact the Army Community Service (ACS) on his new post (just Google it to get the phone #) and request a welcome packet and that info will be in there. A good sponsor is key, and if you don’t have one you can either ask ACS about it or your husband can ask his new unit. Welcome!

  46. lionel says:

    We PCS from BRAGG recently. When the movers arrived into our home in Fayetteville NC. One of the movers was opening boxes and a roach fell out of the box. This retarded mover stomped on the roach and smashed it on our oriental rug. My wife went off and we called the movers so called supervisors. Now once we made it to the FT.Gordon Ga area, we purchased another brand new home. I called movers once again and informed them that they could possibly infest our new home with roaches. they would not meet us half way. My wife wanted them to open every last box in our garage at the new home in GA and they wouldn’t do this. I called Ft.Gordon QC( Quality Control) and they said the movers weren’t obligated to do this,even though the GOVT paid these retards to work for us or am I wrong? Worse case scenario 1 week later a cock roach was found in my new home at 2am. Any suggestions will be appreciated?

    Lionel

  47. admin says:

    I can sympathize with you. Cockroaches are not difficult to get rid of in comparison to other pests though. I personally would handle it myself. Having movers unpack every single box in a garage will not allow you to find all the pests. You just deal with it yourself on the other end is my advice.

    As far as contacting Quality Control at your Transportation Office onpost, this is the correct route for anything you feel the movers are or aren’t doing properly. Every move I keep them on speed dial and also ask who my after hours contact is.

    If you want to make a mountain out of a molehill…in this case, you can go the IG or Congressional route or file a complaint with the post commander through the ICE system. Best of luck in unpacking. I’m doing that now myself.

  48. Brittanymizuno says:

    This was an awesome post. I read every post and it’s amazing what us military wives (families) have to go through. My question is, how soon should we look for of base housing? Our first station we lived on base. Then because I was pregnant with twins I moved home with my mom, and my husband went to his next station, Korea. Now we are moving to MD, as a whole family and will be driving cross country. This all happens at the end of January 2014 but my husband is so excited he’s looking for house to rent now. No one will hold a home for us for 3 months so what’s your advise for researching homes before we move? And because we are living with family all of our stuff is boxes in storage. What kind of move do we do? Can we still do a door-to-door? What is the definition of a DITY move?
    Thanks for all the wonderful advise. Hope to hear from you soon
    BM

  49. admin says:

    Glad you found some resources here! Congrats on your new duty location. Honestly, we have NEVER been able to do a door-to-door move and if your things are in boxes from the last move, they are in storage anyway, so no door-to-door anyway. I do have friends who take something call “permissive TDY” and your husband can ask about it, where you can travel to the new duty location ahead of time and get money from the government to accomplish this. You pick some dates of your choosing, or one year, we took this two weeks permissive TDY right before our PCS and it was just tacked on the front. Your onpost transportation office can answer questions on that, and you can also google the term. We own some rental property, and I am always amazed at the folks who want to rent our homes sight unseen. I have done this with three renters we’ve had so far. One family sent a friend who lived nearby to come look. Another sent a family member. They were both coming from overseas. Against my better judgment, one rented with just photos from us, but it all worked out in the end. I do NOT recommend doing this. I always tell people that there will always be homes…maybe not 100% of what you are looking for and hey, you can’t have everything on your wish list, especially overseas.

    A DITY move is a do it yourself move. YOu do all the work or packing, buying boxes and renting a truck, enlisting friends or people or however you want to do it and the military will reimburse you. Your truck gets weighed at some point as well. Do a search for DITY move, as I know there is a pamphlet out there and tons of websites that show the specifics. I’ve had friends “make money” on a DITY move meaning they ended up getting more back from the government than what the move cost them. DITY moves I think are great if you don’t have a lot of stuff and since most of your stuff is boxed up already, maybe you can look into that. We have too much junk to ever dream of doing a DITY move.

  50. Faith says:

    Thank you for this blog post. I almost cried when I read it because I am so stressed out. My husband and I are new to the military (Army) and he is in AIT right now. He just recently received his orders. We are moving from Washington state to North Carolina. Usually, I am such a planner and I take things very cautiously but laid back. I want to be ready in advance. But this move is so overwhelming for me because I am scared of being over the weight limit and I don’t know what is worth bringing with us. We don’t own much furniture, but we own so many random hobby things. My Army husband is a musician (drummer / bass player) and so we have lots of music equipment and an large amp. Plus random acoustic instruments. He is also a scuba diver… so there’s his dive tanks which are so heavy, and his lead weight belt. I feel like I’m going to have an anxiety attack, I have NEVER been this uptight in my life! What in the heck. Anyway, this article blessed me immensely. I appreciate the DETAIL you put into it. Every little thing you write helps me because I’m so analytical. Thank you SO much.

  51. maeleeanne1987 says:

    My husband is deployed. He got his orders and I am in charge of doing everything. He can’t get enough access to the internet to do the application on http://WWW.move.mil, So luckily I ran into someone who felt sorry for me and at least pointed out what his order number was and a little about how to read the orders. YAAY me. But now I am on the last question.
    It asks me if I am storing in Lieu of shipping that you cannot do both? Pick Yes or No, Does that mean if I say we need to store it I will be responsible for getting it shipped across country? Am I allowed one option only?

    Will we get assistance for the POV’s we drive across country?

    I have been to the office an hour away twice, they refused to help me until I finished the application, wouldn’t even listen to me about where I was having trouble. How am I to know how to read orders?? My husband just can’t help.
    He has to go to a class before his final New Duty Station.
    Ok that being said we have to store our stuff then ship once he gets out of the class and can find housing.
    We wont have the opportunity to find a house till the later in the summer. I will be driving across country as soon as I get this figured out and he will meet me after his class in CA to find a house.

    Everything is in order legally, POA and Orders in hand.
    I just came out to VA from OK. His orders are for CA. We were married and he left me to get his stuff moved, which I am happy to do. But with no help from the office I am near.
    HELP
    Please and Thank you
    From a worried new Navy wife without direction.

  52. admin says:

    Welcome to the club! For in country moves you must choose storing or shipping. If you ship, it’ll be in short term storage until you get housing. That’s automatic, so don’t worry about that. Only for overseas moves can you put part of your items in storage. You are responsible for getting your vehicles cross country. There is only an option to ship overseas. Most people just follow each other, of if they absolutely cannot drive one vehicle, then they either sell it or they pay to ship. I believe you will only get paid per cents per mile if you drive it across. I would not recommend selling it if you will lose money. You can possibly take it on the back of a trailer depending on what vehicle is pulling it or have a family member help you.

    You may want to ask your questions on this Facebook page, as we’ve only done overseas moves the last 5 years and much as changed…maybe there is someone there who can offer some advice.
    https://www.facebook.com/movinghousemilitaryspouse?fref=ts

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