A woman measuring the wall

A MilSpouse’s Guide to a Successful Move


Military families move a lot and the majority of us expect frequent moves. Since it’s just part of military life, I’ve quickly learned that it’s best to embrace it. After all, moving is part of what makes military families so resilient!

As military spouses, we also know that every move is different – some are overseas, sometimes we’re packing for small children, and depending on where we’re going we pack entirely different things. And you know what? We get better with each move—more fluid, more organized, more prepared. We’re even a little calmer because we know what to expect.

For me personally, there are three steps that lead to a successful move. That’s right, just three! These basics really pave the way for a smooth transition for my family:

  1. Plan ahead. Even if it’s only a month in advance, there is still plenty of time to prepare the necessities. Once you have your packing date from your moving company, break out your day planner or “to do list” app and make plans for:
  • Child care during the packing and unpacking processes (or a plan with your spouse for how you will trade off supervising the packers and movers)
  • A budget for the travel costs if you won’t be getting money upfront to move
  • A file folder, envelope, or binder to store all your important documents, receipts, birth and marriage certificates, orders, etc.
  • Time permitting, sweep through each room of your house for items that you can toss, donate, or sell before your move
  1. Prepare your space. Before the packers come, clear your house of clutter. Even if you shove all the clutter into a big ol’ bag or box, get it off the floors or counters. I generally shove all this into a drawer I label “junk drawer,” though that’s a messy way to do it. Pack up any personal or sentimental items you don’t want the movers to take, like jewelry or family heirlooms. Make sure each room is ready for them to just come in and do their job. Place sticky notes on any larger items you don’t want them to pack. Move smaller items you don’t want packed into a corner of your house or garage.
  2. Pack your first day box. The key to this one is to pack your first day box before the movers come to pack everything else. I’ll be bold enough to say that the first day box is key to a successful move! If you’re like my fellow milspouse friend, Kristi, you may even have several themed boxes. She has the best ideas for what to include in your box (or boxes)! I find the easiest way to determine what to include in your first day box is to break it down into these areas:
  • Need to have – toilet paper, toothbrushes, clothing, and hand soap
  • Nice to have – a curling wand, batteries, lamps
  • Wait for it – big or bulky items, books, office supplies

When in doubt, take as little as possible. Strip it down to the basics and travel lightly to make your trip easier, whether it’s across the state or across the country. Worst case scenario, toiletry items can be bought at a drugstore.

With these simple steps in your back pocket, each move will get just a little bit easier. For more ideas, tips and resources check out these articles. Best of luck on your next adventure!

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