Whether it’s your first military relocation or your fifth, moving can be stressful. There’s lots of planning, paperwork, and packing to take care of in a short period of time. But with the right organization strategies, you can stay on top of everything you need to do and pull off your move like a pro. To help make your next PCS move go as smoothly as possible, here are our top 10 relocation tips for military families.
1. Utilize the available moving resources.
Work with your Transportation Office (TO) or Personal Property Shipping Office (PPSO) to make sure that your move is within regulation and as stress-free as possible. They will help you understand your moving options, make arrangements, and answer any questions that come up during the moving process.
2. Plan your transportation.
Most military service members who are moving within the United States choose to drive to their new location in their own car. However, if you’re moving overseas, you’ll have to book flights for yourself, your family, and any pets you’re bringing through the travel office. The government will also ship one car for you at no cost that you can use to get around once you reach your destination.
3. Check to see what military discounts may apply to you.
Many restaurants and hotels offer military discounts, which can help you save money while you’re traveling to your new base. You may also be able to get discounts on some of the moving services you need, such as self-storage, pet transportation, car shipping, and truck rentals.
4. Determine your desired type of housing.
Next, you’ll want to decide on your ideal housing situation. Will you rent or buy? Often, buying can result in lower monthly payments giving you more leeway for other expenses.
Additionally, what type of property is ideal for your family? Do you want a single-family house, a condo, an apartment, a townhouse, or something else? Do you want a backyard, a pool, or other particular features? What do you want in a neighborhood? Key factors include the quality of schools, level of crime, median income level, and proximity to parks, entertainment, and shopping.
You can find all of this information on house-hunting websites like Trulia and Realtor.com. After performing research, you can narrow down your search according to specific criteria. To simplify the research process, connect with a real estate agent that knows what to look for in your area.
5. Get preapproved for a mortgage before you shop.
If you’re buying a home in your new city, a good first step is to get preapproved for a mortgage. What does that mean? You apply for a mortgage, submit all the documentation to verify your income, have your credit checked, and so on.
Upon approval, we will give you a letter that says how much you can borrow and what interest rate you qualify for. You can use that information to find the perfect house in your price range and make an offer with proof of funds.
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6. Make preparations if you’re moving from overseas.
If you’re moving overseas or coming back to the United States after living abroad, you’re entitled to have 1,000 pounds of your belongings shipped by air. This means that they’ll arrive before the rest of your household goods. Although it’s hard to decide what goes in this shipment, try to stick to items that you use daily or need to feel at home like kitchen utensils, your child’s favorite toys, and your bedding. Pack and ship these items as soon as you can so that they’ll arrive shortly after you move into your new home. Aside from that, be prepared to live without the rest of your belongings for up to several months.
7. Keep essential items handy.
There are some essential items you should keep with you during the move. Make a list of these items ahead of time, and be sure to keep them with you.
They can include but are not limited to:
- Vehicle documents
- Precious or irreplaceable items that can travel with you
- Military orders
- A full inventory of your belongings
- Government-issued paperwork such as birth certificates, marriage certificates, Social Security cards, and passports.
- Medical records
- Housing information
- School records
- Employment records
Additionally, pack an overnight bag with all your must-have items like medications, chargers, toothbrushes, pajamas, and so on, that you will need right away.
8. Color-code your boxes.
A military move can come with many challenges, so you’ll want everything to go as efficiently as possible. To help you and your movers figure out where everything goes, try color-coding your boxes with brightly colored duct tape. Use different colors for each room to stay organized and make sure to keep “first-day” items handy.
Once you arrive at the new house, put a strip of the corresponding tape on the door of each room so that the movers can put away boxes without your assistance. This way, you can take unpacking room by room.
9. Connect with a sponsor.
Once you are all moved and beginning to settle in, a sponsor can be a great help. It is a personal connection who knows the area and can answer any questions you have. In most cases, it’s an individual who has a family status and a rank similar to yours. They can help you through in-processing and can just show you around town. You can find a sponsor through the Military and Family Support Center at your installation. Look for the relocation assistance service provider.
10. Stay in touch with old friends.
Military families can move around a lot, but you should still prioritize relationships with those who matter most to you. Make sure to keep up with old friends that you may be leaving behind. Stay connected by sending your friends cards in the mail, setting up regular video calls, and flying out to visit them when your budget allows. If you have kids, Military Kids Connect can help children ages six to 17 to connect with others whose lives involve frequent moves.
We understand that moving can feel overwhelming, especially if you’re simultaneously trying to coordinate a home sale or purchase. We hope these 10 moving tips for military families can help ease the process for you. As always, if you have any questions, we’re here to help. Give us a call or if you’re ready to get prequalified, start your application online today.