Moving to a new duty station can be a really fun and exciting time for many families. Military moves overseas are challenging, difficult and stressful, even if you are truly excited about your new duty station.
We just PCS’d to Okinawa, Japan and it was a whirlwind to say the least. Preparing emotionally in the months leading up to our move was an understatement to say the least.
There is so much we overlooked and wish we would’ve done differently looking back. The good news is we made it in one piece.
The other good news is I am going to share our mistakes with you so you can avoid them if you are preparing for future military moves overseas.
1. Store your vehicles if you cannot bring them.
If you maintain your vehicles well and they are paid off, I would recommend storing your vehicles, even though you need to pay storage insurance while overseas. Moving overseas kind of puts you in an awkward predicament when it comes to selling a vehicle.
Typically, you need your vehicle up until very close to your move date, which is a less than ideal situation when it comes to negotiating a good sales price. Time isn’t on your side and you are more likely to sell your vehicle for less than it is truly worth. I vote for storing your vehicles.
2. Evaluate how much you REALLY need to bring.
One of the things that we really overlooked was what we should and shouldn’t bring. The fact that the government would issue us furniture during our tour in Japan slipped our mind. I don’t think we would’ve brought nearly as much stuff had we remembered that.
Even items like beds and mattresses, the government provided us with what look like a brand new bedroom set to use until our own items arrived. When we saw that it made us wonder why we shipped our own stuff halfway around the world.
3. DO use non-temporary storage.
When moving overseas the government will usually move items you don’t want to take overseas to non-temporary storage and keep it there until you return to the states. They move it and store it at no cost to you. We opted to use our enclosed trailer and drove it back to the Midwest to store at my in-laws house.
Government storage is not climate controlled, and we were concerned the hot and humid summer would have a negative impact on our furniture. At any rate, moving our stuff back to my in-laws was a lot of additional work on our part, and we have to move it to our new home once we return to the states.
I’m not sure that it is worth the additional work. Non-temporary storage seems like a much simpler, practical plan.
4. Read the informational stuff.
Being stressed about the move, it seemed our brains turned to mush. To add to the mush, we also did read our Welcome aboard Package and other information as closely as we should have. We definitely looked at it, but I would say re-reading it several times is well worth it.
5. Don’t bring your garage shelves.
Seriously. Who does that anyway besides us? Probably no one. I think that’s just the truest sign that we were so stressed our brains turned to mush. I put this here, hoping to get a few laughs. Cause really, I’m pretty sure we were probably the only ones who were absent minded enough to bring our garage shelves.
6. Set aside a good amount of money.
Like I said in my post, The Hidden Costs of PCS Moves, moving isn’t free in the military. Loss of money over the sale of a vehicle, throwing away all liquid cleaning supplies and toiletries, and buying new things for your new home that the government doesn’t supply are just a few examples I explore in that post.
Having a good amount of cash on hand to cover expenses will eliminate financial stress during the move. This is one thing we did right, and on top of everything we did wrong, I’m so glad money wasn’t contributing to the stress.
7. A few words about pets.
We did not have pets, but if you do, be weary of hefty expenses creeping up on you. If the government books you on a flight and there is no room for your pets, you still have to take the flight. This means you will need to find a way to get your pets overseas (if you choose to do so) and you will be responsible for paying all expenses.
This can run thousands of dollars. Seriously. I’m not saying don’t get a pet or bring pets overseas. Just keep this in mind if you have pets or are considering getting a pet.
Read: How to conquer a PCS move with pets (and not regret it!)
Want more on Military Life?
- 20 Must-Have Documents for Your Next PCS Move
- The Hidden Costs of PCS Moves
- Are DITY Moves Worth It for Military Families?
- Best Overseas Moving Checklist for Military Families
- 10 Books That Will Help Military Kids During a PCS
Moving doesn’t need to be stressful! All it takes to have a successful move is to stay organized. When planned well, all you’ll need to do during moving day is load the truck so that you can take your
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Hey, great info. I have a question. We just move to DC, and We will stay for 3 years here, I’m thinking about getting my furniture since we have a new home we need basic thing like coffee tables and dinning table, nightstands… etc. I I
Know moving overseas has a weight allowance depending on the rank, but I’m not sure how much it is. We are not planning to buy a bunch, we don’t have many things but I will love to bring my own furniture. Is there any advice on this ? (Exactly, mattress 2 , bed 2, dresser, dining table, small table , sofa, daybed, nightstand 2, book shelve, coffee table, bench 3 and chairs 6 and stool 2…. I think that’s the big ones, we just have a small apartment downtown) I know the allowance is on rank, but not sure where can I find this information.
I have a question… my husband got a job in Germany and we won’t be moving until January. I’m currently working and not sure how much notice to give them before resigning? I’m afraid to give them too much notice, they decide to let me go earlier, and be out of those paychecks. On the other hand I don’t want to be a bad employee and only give two weeks notice. Are there certain laws regarding this issue? Thanks for any advice.
There really is a lot that you should keep in mind when moving overseas with the military. As the article points out, one thing that you will want to look into is the amount of stuff you bring. After all, you might want to consider having a garage sale or doing a little spring cleaning before your move.
# 2 is golden. I can’t count how many times we see people who move stuff they don’t need to move. Alot of the objects can be thrown out or can be replaced. When moving oversees, its always a good idea to get rid of what you might not need.