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Jul 102018
 

Once again, it’s PCS season — a time when thousands of military families find themselves as temporary nomads, moving from one duty station to the next. Some drive, others fly. We pack up kids, dogs, cats and all our furniture. We sleep in hotels, RVs, friends’ houses and sometimes in tents at campsites. But no matter how we choose to PCS, there are some experiences that will be the same with every move.

Lizann

During my husband’s military career, we have completed most types of PCS moves. We have moved cross-country and overseas, do-it-yourself moves and moves with children in tow. With each experience, we’ve learned a lot and made plenty of mistakes. All these learning experiences helped me become the seasoned spouse that I am today. Now I’m able to share our moving tips with you. Here is some advice that rings true no matter what type of move your family is going through.

  1. Start early. You can begin months ahead of time to prepare for a big move. It’s true that you can’t do anything official without hard copy orders. But even before you have them, you can think ahead about what you need to get rid of in your house. Clean out and get rid of old clothes, toys and furniture. Either donate it or host a yard sale. If this is your first move, you should attend a PCS class on your base that will walk you through the steps of a government move or speak with your relocation assistance point of contact at the Military and Family Support Center. Don’t forget about your budget for the move. You’ll want to start saving money and to cover household expenses and non-refunded moving expenses.
  2. Get organized. Moving can be hectic, but don’t let the responsibilities overwhelm you. Make lists and create a schedule to spread out tasks so you won’t be rushing during the final week. Your Relocation Assistance Program specialists can help you with this. You can talk to them about your moving location and date and they will help you plan out everything—from job and house hunting, to government paperwork, to deciding how to move your POV (your vehicle). They can help you locate and think through checklists of travel plans, items to hand-carry and official paperwork the service member needs to complete. It takes the guesswork out of a PCS move and helps you stay on track.
  3. Do your research. You can learn a lot about a new base before you move. Look into housing options to see if there is a waiting list and how to get on it. Know the school options for your kids. Look for jobs for yourself and start making professional connections in the area. All this can happen before the move. MilitaryINSTALLATIONS will show you what is available at your new duty station and connect you to their website, so you can easily find numbers for important offices like base housing and the base school. The more you learn ahead of time, the better you can prepare your family for the move. Also, if you have little ones and need child care, don’t forget to register by visiting MilitaryChildCare.com
  4. Work together. The whole family moves, so things will be less stressful when the whole family works as a team. Make time to talk to your kids and answer their questions about the move. Find ways to take breaks or make the moving process fun. Let older kids be involved in some of the planning and decision-making. Communicate with your spouse so you are working together, not against each other.
  5. Ask for help. Ask friends to help you pack and move if you are doing things yourself. Accept offers from neighbors to watch your kids or share a hot meal. Borrow bedding or sleeping bags for the last night when you are sleeping on the floor of your house. When you are planning your PCS trip, consider staying with friends or family along the way to save money.

Whether you are moving within the same state or relocating overseas, any military family can follow these moving tips to have a smooth PCS experience. Share your tips with us!

Seven Mistakes to Avoid as a Landlord

 Posted by on June 19, 2018 at 12:11
Jun 192018
 

When military families buy a home near one duty station and are sent somewhere new, renting can be a great alternative to selling the property. Renting your home may be option If the property is rented at a price that covers the monthly mortgage payments, the family can live on the BAH (Basic Allowance for Housing) at their next duty station. Having a rental property essentially allows you to build equity in your home without paying for housing at both locations.

Lizann

However, becoming a landlord is not always an easy adventure. When considering renting your home, keep these things in mind.

  1. Hire a property manager. If you have a newer home, the regular maintenance and upkeep should be minimal. You may be tempted to manage it yourself from a distance, especially if you are renting it to an acquaintance or colleague. What could go wrong? Many things. If there is an emergency water leak or heating failure in the middle of the night, you can’t waste time using Google to find a plumber or repairman. If there are legal issues with the tenant or the payments, you don’t want to go through the eviction process on your own. Property management companies will take a portion of your rental income (typically around 10%), but in return they will handle emergencies and repairs. They also take care of legal issues like designing the lease, conducting credit checks for prospective tenants, and filing eviction paperwork when payments fall behind. Finding the right company can make your landlord experience more successful.
  2. Take credit scores seriously. When screening potential tenants, pay attention to their credit. A low score is a huge red flag! These tenants can present potential problems: late payments, property damage and other unpleasant issues.
  3. Reinvest your rental income. Ideally, your monthly rent should cover your mortgage payment, property management fees, taxes, insurance and additional costs. If you are making a profit on the property, don’t use it as spending money. Instead, I highly recommend that you save the extra money in a special account for long-term repair projects. You may not need to paint, replace carpets, repair the roof, or stain the deck this year. But when those repairs are needed, you’ll want to have funds saved to cover them.
  4. Ensure renters are following their contract. Just because the contract says “No pets allowed” doesn’t mean the tenants are following the rules. A property management company should conduct screenings of the exterior and interior of your property, then send you photos of the current condition. Not only will this alert you to lease violations, but it will also help you plan long-term repair projects.
  5. Don’t rely on a local friend. When you move, it might seem easy to have a friend drive by the house to check on things. Maybe they are handy enough to be on-call for repairs. But unless your friend is listed in the lease agreement, they don’t have any authority on the property, and the tenant can deny them entry. Plus, if your friend is in the military, they may get orders to move. Using a property management company will ensure consistent maintenance on your home.
  6. Make sure you have good insurance. As a homeowner, you are required to have property insurance. In some areas, you may need additional coverage for floods, wind and hail. Insurance costs are typically paid through your mortgage escrow account, but don’t ignore them when planning your annual budget or filing your taxes. Check with your lender about necessary coverage!
  7. Don’t rely on the rental income to pay the mortgage. It’s wonderful to have renters whose monthly payments cover your mortgage. However, a landlord should always have enough savings to cover at least two months’ mortgage out of pocket. Your tenants may fall behind on payments. They may break their lease early because of military orders. Or the property might sit empty for a while in between tenants. Your BAH probably won’t cover both your current housing and your mortgage payments, so it is your responsibility to have a cushion of savings.

Part of military life means moving– and renting your home might just be a good fit for your family. Making sure you’re protecting your investment and avoiding common pitfalls will help make your experience a pleasant one. Share your landlord tips with us in the comments!

Five Reasons to PCS Camp

 Posted by on May 29, 2018 at 09:27
May 292018
 

For most military families, a PCS can involve a lot of time in hotel rooms. Inevitably, you may get tired of the cramped quarters, rules about pets and limited cooking options. What if there was another PCS lodging solution? A way you and the family could stretch your legs and enjoy open spaces, relax in nature and cook over a grill or firepit?

Lizann

During one cross-country PCS, our family spent a week camping in a tent and driving from one national park to the next. At first, it seemed like a daunting idea that might be more work than fun – especially since we were travelling with our four young children, who had never camped before! But once we got going, we quickly realized that this was a wonderful way to travel and make memories along the way.

If you are PCSing this summer, I recommend making camping part of your journey. Here are five reasons why:

  1. Save money. Instead of staying in hotels or in military base lodging, use your military ID to get free access to national and state parks (active-duty members get a free annual pass). You may pay a nominal fee to reserve a campsite, but the money you save on hotel rooms will more than cover the cost of camping supplies. If there are no national parks along your route, you can find affordable camping at local and state parks.
  2. Get more sleep. Because we were travelling with kids, one of our main concerns was finding a way for everyone to get enough sleep each night. If you have ever tried to get kids to settle into beds in a hotel room after a long day in the car, you know that it’s not easy. However, camping allowed our children to run around each evening, climb on logs and explore the campsite. Some campgrounds even had playgrounds! Once the sun went down, they quickly fell asleep. Without TV, we all went to bed earlier and got more sleep than we would have in a hotel room.
  3. See the country. A PCS is a great opportunity to explore states you have never visited before. What better way to plan your trip than by looking at a map of national parks? These are some of the most beautiful places in the country, with unforgettable scenery. Visiting parks will give you a new appreciation for any state, even if it is one where you have lived for several years. Get out there and see America’s natural beauty!
  4. Make it an adventure. Not only will you get off the beaten path but you will enjoy meals around the campfire and s’mores under the stars. Exploring new parks and trails will give you a sense of adventure that you don’t feel when driving down the highway. If possible, take some extra leave time to make it a leisurely trip, so you can spend a few nights at each park. This will break up the driving time with some relaxing down time.
  5. Get the whole family involved. If you have children, a camping trip is a great way for them to be a part of the planning. Get their input about places they want to see and things they most want to do. Whether or not you are experienced hikers, there are a variety of activities at any park: challenging hikes, easy family-friendly walking paths and ranger stations with hands-on activities.

Camping doesn’t have to be intimidating, and it may end up being a fun and memorable trip that your family will be eager to repeat next time – so consider it the next time you plan your move!

Do’s and Don’ts of Purging to Move

 Posted by on March 19, 2018 at 09:51
Mar 192018
 

Whenever we get ready to move, I have an overwhelming desire to purge, consolidate and get organized. This summer, we will execute our eleventh Permanent Change of Station, and that doesn’t include the number of times we’ve moved houses during a tour due to a variety of situations.

Cassie

More than once during one of these moves, I’ve found myself wishing I had kept something I had donated, or wishing I got rid of something we hauled across the country. Here are some thoughts on what to take and what to discard or donate during your next PCS.

Keep:

  • Furniture. Every house is different, and it’s rare that you will live in more than one house with the same square footage. It’s also rare that you will use your furniture in the same spaces in each house. If you are moving from a large house to a smaller house, store your furniture, even if it means storing it for two or three years and paying the monthly fee. The moral of the story: Storage may be expensive, but replacing furniture is even more expensive.
  • Curtain rods, window coverings and décor. Everyone’s taste changes over time and it’s nice to have new décor and window coverings when you move. It makes the home feel cozy and up-to-date. But I have found myself replacing that set of antique keys that went out of style, or that table lamp I didn’t need anymore, with items that are eerily similar to the original. If you are in the mood for a change, store the window coverings and décor and pull them out at your next duty station. You may find that what is old is new again when you haven’t seen it for a few years.

Ditch:

  • Expired medication, cleaners and pantry items. Ask your installation hospital if they will discard expired medication for you – never toss meds in the trash. If you don’t live near an installation, ask a local pharmacy. Study the expiration dates and discard anything that will expire before you move or while in transit.
  • Open items. Contracted military movers should not move open items, but some will still try. Three guesses on how fun it is to clean up a moving box of pantry items covered in spilled olive oil, powdered sugar, or my personal favorite: chia seeds. I’m just saying.
  • Broken items. Either fix your broken items or kiss them goodbye. Chances are that if it has been sitting at the bottom of your “to-do” list at this duty station, it will still be there at the next one. (Looking at you, 20-year-old broken coffee mug).
  • Alcohol. Contracted military movers are not authorized to move alcohol – so ditch the booze.

Donate:

  • Clothes. Donate clothes you don’t wear (sorry, skinny jeans) or that are not suitable for your next duty station’s climate. Consider local churches, military thrift stores and nonprofit organizations willing to pick up bulk donations free of charge.
  • Baby items and toys. Most local shelters and some after-school programs will happily accept donations for little guys.
  • Food items. If you have unexpired items that you don’t want to take with you, donate them to the local food bank.

Here’s the truth: Regardless of how much you purge and how much you plan, moving is hard. But getting organized and clearing out the clutter before you arrive at your next duty station will make the transition less stressful. Start organizing folks – your next move will be here before you know it!

De-Stress Before Your PCS

 Posted by on March 12, 2018 at 10:28
Mar 122018
 

New stations, new relationships and new adventures lie ahead whenever we prepare for another (or first) Permanent Change of Station. Part of the appeal of military life is the opportunity to move to new places, but let’s be honest – moving can be scary and a lot of work. Below are some simple but helpful things you can do to make your PCS as stress-free as possible.

Kelly

  • Get Rid of Stuff. A PCS is a great reason to purge. Have a garage sale, list items online or donate to charity. This is best done a few months before you move, or seasonally. As your move gets closer and you find a new place to live, you can sell or donate larger items that won’t fit, or you do not want to store. Money from anything you sell can go toward your moving fund.
  • Create a PCS Binder. Over the past few moves, we inadvertently created what I now refer to as the PCS Binder. Every piece of information needed to PCS goes into this binder. Ours has a zippered pocket in front where I keep pens, permanent markers, sticky notes, paper clips, tape, stamps, etc. Inside, I keep a small hardcover journal. Any information that we might need access to before, during and after the move goes into the book. Names of utility companies and account numbers, realtor names and numbers, the name of the moving company and contact info, prospective home options, school info – you name it, it goes in the book! We’ve referred to it more times than we can count. A word of advice – do NOT keep bank account or credit card information here.
  • Stay Healthy. Most importantly, take care of your health and wellness during this time. There are a million moving parts during a PCS! It’s important to keep your head clear and your body calm. Meditate, exercise, eat well and try not to schedule a lot of extra activities or overextend yourself. Also, do your best to get some sleep. I know how the mind can run wild, but you probably can’t do anything about your PCS in the middle of the night.

For a stress-free PCS, remember to utilize the resources available to you, including an entire section dedicated to PCS on the Military OneSource website. There is plenty of information out there, so set aside time to read through and take notes as needed. Remember: Be proactive when you can, stay organized and ask for help if you need it. You’ve got this!

Nov 142017
 

Last Sunday afternoon, our family of four walked out our front door together. We walked right by both family cars (lemons that we paid a grand total of $4,200 for when we arrived in Japan). We walked down the sidewalk of our duplex-lined street, passing neighbors, busy playgrounds, our commissary, the building where mommy volunteers and eventually wound up at the base theater.

Kristi

I paid $12 for four tickets and we shuffled inside to grab popcorn and drinks before our movie. In line, we saw friends and made plans for future lunch dates. Once seated, I did the classic mom move and divided the popcorn between kids with just enough time leftover to squeeze in an adult conversation with my husband before the previews started. We were quickly interrupted by our 6-year-old son who tried frantically to get me to take the popcorn tray I had just given him. When I asked him what was wrong, he replied confidently, “They’re about to play the anthem, mom. I need to stand up.”

It took exactly three movies in that theater for my son to remember to stand for our anthem before the start of our movie — something a civilian movie-goer would probably find strange. I was so proud that my usual Star-Spangled Banner goosebumps rose twice as tall. The anthem ended, we sat down and I passed the popcorn tray back down to my son.

The differences between a Sunday afternoon here and one back in the states, living off base, are subtle. However small, though, our life is different here. We are different here. Maybe it’s because we’re getting our first real taste of base living, or our first real taste of overseas living — maybe some combination of the two. Before any big move, parents ask themselves something like, “Are we doing the right thing for our family?” We asked ourselves that very question before moving to Japan. The answer is revealed in little moments like our son remembering to stand in the theater; our lives have been shaken up in the best ways by moving here.

  1. We start our day with morning colors. I never have to look far for Monday motivation — it plays every morning at 8 am, without fail.
  2. We pause for Kimigayo. Out of respect for our host nation, we remain standing for the Japanese national anthem that directly follows our own. Our kids know the name of the song and why they are standing for it. That, to me, is a real-life lesson in respect.
  3. We walk. The value of our cars in the second sentence of this blog was not a typo; we paid next to nothing for them. They get us from point A to point B, unless point B is within walking distance, as it usually is on base. I drove to the pool once. By the time I found a parking spot it was within sight of our house and I felt ridiculous. We haven’t driven to the pool since.
  4. When we do drive, it’s painfully slow. There’s a poorly translated cautionary sign at the end of our street that reads “Dead Slow.” If you’ve ever driven on base, you get it — you’ve probably even thought it a couple of times. The 30 kph (less than 20 mph) was tough to adjust to, I’ll admit, but I don’t mind it now. There are so many pedestrians and bicyclists, many of them kids, that I prefer to take it slow and keep everyone safe.
  5. We watch old movies. Our theater shows movies long after they’ve premiered in the states, including the one I mentioned earlier. I feel confident in speaking for everyone when I say that not a single person cares.
  6. We get creative with groceries. It’s fantastic living right down the street from the commissary, except on the days it’s awaiting a shipment. Walking down the bread aisle only to find dinner rolls and otherwise empty shelves was a first for me. But, I’m not complaining. Our local Japanese grocery stores have fresh produce and plenty of opportunities to be adventurous. It’s nothing like grocery shopping stateside, but that’s why it’s an adventure!
  7. We take care of each other here on base. Family members, classmates, neighbors, friends, it doesn’t matter. We recognize that we’re all together here in this community. Regardless of rank or situation, we tackle things together.
  8. We fall asleep to TAPS. Even on the worst day, when nothing went right, it’s a little reflection and a little perspective.

How to Create a PCS-Ready Home

 Posted by on September 19, 2017 at 09:31
Sep 192017
 

You can’t live out of boxes for weeks just to PCS prep your home — you’ve got to have space to live in the meantime. But there are things you can do that will make your life easier when PCS orders come in and you find yourself breaking down one household to build another. Here are my tips for making your home PCS-ready:

Julie

  1. Create a home inventory. No matter where you are in the PCS cycle, it’s important to make a home inventory. In case of damage during a move, fire or theft, you’ll know what you have, its condition and value.
  • Organize your home inventory by room to make it easier to check off as you unpack.
  • Include item name, brand, serial number, date of purchase, description and its condition and value. If you are still making payments on an item, note where you send payments, the amount still owed and monthly payment amount.
  • Take photos of expensive or precious items to prove condition and include in the list. Capture the brand logo, serial numbers and receipts in the pictures with the item.
  • Save your inventory in the cloud, on a thumb drive and print two copies. Staple the receipts to one copy of the printed inventory and store it in a fireproof safe or safety deposit box. Keep the other printed list with you so you can use it to check off the items when you unpack.
  1. Purge early and often. It’s less work to get rid of something than to pack it up and unpack it later. Only keep and move what you love.
  2. Pack room by room. Request that the movers pack boxes by room and do not pack multiple room items in one box. This will speed up your unpacking and make the process so much easier.
  3. Color code by room. Use different colored tape to mark the boxes for each room, then prep index cards with the tape colors and attach them to the corresponding doorway in your new home. Matching the colors makes it easier for movers to place boxes and quicker for you to put things away since they are already in the correct space.
  4. Guard your bed hardware. Place each bed’s hardware into a separate Ziploc bag and label it. Then tape it securely to the bed frame. If you want to sleep in your bed again — do this.

Check out “Resources for Smoother Moves” for more tips. With this advice in your PCS tool box, you’ll be a moving pro in no time!

OCONUS PCS: Think Outside the Gates

 Posted by on September 12, 2017 at 10:53
Sep 122017
 

Now that I’ve outgrown the phase, I’m not ashamed to admit that I felt trapped when we first moved to Japan. The pre-household goods delivery time that I usually filled with shopping, exploring my new town or day trips was a true test in patience. Not only did I not have a house or a car, but the thought of my first solo venture off-base stressed me out.

Kristi

What if I forgot what all the road signs meant?

What if I forgot to drive on the left side of the road?

What if I couldn’t find my way back? (Some people are blessed with an internal compass; I’m not one of them!)

If you have any of these fears about moving overseas or venturing out now that you’ve relocated, know that they are totally justified. I still find myself freezing up and forgetting all ten words of my Japanese vocabulary from time to time — luckily this is a culture where silence and a bow go a long way.

But, as justified as these questions are, they grow into irreversible walls between you and adventure outside the gates of your base. Confined to base, you’re basically living overseas without leaving the USA — and then you’re missing out on the best part of OCONUS orders. True, you can survive on installation events, commissary and exchange shopping and the handful of American fast food available on base, but pushing beyond your comfort zone can make your time OCONUS something you’ll remember fondly, versus a sentence you were forced to serve. Let’s break down those intimidating walls and get you prepped for a foreign adventure!

Start small. We took friends up on a ride to the beach to get us out of the temporary lodging facility. Then, when I first ventured off base by myself, I drove to that beach because I was comfortable navigating there. I was prepared and confident, which made me excited to travel again.

Do your research. Research is not as daunting as people make it out to be. You don’t have to learn it all in one night. Research where you’re going, ask around about it, know expenses and get directions. Set yourself up for success before you leave base, and don’t forget that you have two incredible sources of information at your fingertips: word of mouth from others in the military community and Information, Tickets and Tours (ITT), which can book trips for you and arrange for transportation!

Be their guest. From day one it was drilled into us that we (as in all of us stationed here) are all ambassadors for the United States. Do the U.S. proud by being a gracious guest. Respect the local people, the environment and the customs.

Be safe. Make sure you know what you’re getting into when you venture out; bad neighborhoods and bad weather exist in all parts of the world. Stay informed and aware of your surroundings. Be sure to have your military ID, emergency contacts and enough cash on hand so you’ll always be prepared and able to get back to base.

Don’t wait. Leaving Japan with regrets scares me much more than getting lost or saying konnichi-wa (good afternoon) when I should have said ohayo gozaimasu (good morning). I am making a point to see something new each week (even something as small as trying a new restaurant). This commitment to adventure is serving me well so far. Our first two months have been packed with adventure, and we are just getting started!

Moving Overseas: It Takes a Village

 Posted by on August 8, 2017 at 09:52
Aug 082017
 

When I originally got into blogging, my very first (short-lived) blog was called “No Thanks, I Got It.” That should sum up how ridiculously independent I am. I would rather make a pyramid of chairs to finish painting the high point of a living room wall than ask the neighbor to borrow a ladder. That’s not a strangely specific metaphor, I’ve actually done that. I’ve always hated asking for help. I’ve never liked burdening the people I care most about for favors, however small.

Kristi

Then I moved to Japan. I was awake for 40+ hours, not counting the times I dozed on the plane for a few minutes only to be awoken by:

  • My head jerking back to the upright position
  • The beverage cart bumping into my seat
  • The drool taking over my face
  • My child asking me for something to eat or play with

When my family of four finally landed in Japan, my head was still in the clouds somewhere over the Pacific. It hit me right about then that I was in the middle of a country where I didn’t know the language, we didn’t own a car (let alone have drivers’ licenses) and neither my best friend nor my mom were anywhere on the island. I felt overwhelmed there in the terminal – people and thoughts swirling – as we followed the masses of tired travelers stumbling toward the exit.

I’ve learned quickly that offers for help aren’t rhetorical here; they are legitimate and we have needed each and every one of them. If your sponsor is supposed to set up your mailbox, it will get done. If you’re expecting a ride at the airport, it will be there curbside and your driver/new favorite person will even install your kids’ car seats for you. If you have an amazing sponsor, your kitchen will be stocked with food – perfect for when you’re wide awake and starving at 3 a.m. If a total stranger offers to spend the day watching your kids while you attend an all-day “Welcome Aboard Brief,” she will show up and have activities planned.

Living here is slowly teaching me that it is okay to accept help and that there is nothing wrong with asking for it. I have accepted rides around town as I learn my way from place to place and have asked for recommendations on where to shop. The people have made all the difference for my family so far.

Because I remember clearly what it feels like to stumble off of that Patriot Express, I’m learning to be better about offering help, too. Incoming families can barely tell right from left (and it doesn’t help when you see cars driving on the opposite side of the road) and need someone to take the reins until they are comfortable enough to steer. Not to mention, paying it forward makes me feel a little less indebted to the wonderful people who helped us get settled.

Community is a concept that’s alive and well in the military, but I have spent nearly nine years as a military spouse without having to ask for favors – until now. That wasn’t the case leading up to our OCONUS PCS, or as we’re getting settled in our new home. It turns out I may just be one of those “It takes a village” spouses after all!

Jul 032017
 

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!

Dani

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!

All materials copyright Military OneSource, 2012. Blog content held jointly by writer and Military OneSource, with shared rights to republish with appropriate attribution.