Guide to Military Moves
Here's How to Cope
Are you someone who moves frequently? If you're in the military, chances are you do, but don't worry. You are in good company. Every year, around 14 percent of the population will move. While that sounds like a small number, it's actually over 40 million people! That's a lot of movement!Interestingly, the demographic of the mover tends to dictate how far they move. Those in their 20s are the highest concentration of the movers each year, and couples with young children in the home are the most likely to tackle a long-distance move. After people reach their 50s the likelihood of tackling a big move drops significantly, and after the age of 70, the move percentage is less than 2 percent a year. Of course, for those in the military moves are more freqent, with a new PCS every 2 to 4 years, on average. No matter which demographic you fall in, though, the days before and after a move are stressful.Not only are moves stressful, but they can also be expensive. Just the cost to hire movers, not to mention all of the eating out and the packing supplies, averages about $770, and a cross-country move is going to be even more. It's not uncommon for a move to cost between $3,000 and $5,000 once you add up all of the costs. Add any unique items, like a piano, that require special care and you will add to that cost even more.If you're facing a move in the coming months or year, you have a lot of planning ahead of you. Even if you've moved before, some of the details may be different, and the timeline is definitely going to be unique to each move. It's important to start planning as early as possible.Whether you move within the same country or move to a new country altogether, tackling a move means extra expenses and extra stress. This guide is designed to help you identify those stresses and make the right plans to keep your move as stress-free as possible.
Moving Often? Prepare for These ChallengesIf you're lifestyle or job requires you to move a lot, you're going to find that the lifestyle brings some unique challenges. Here are some problems and challenges you may experience.
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- Learning a new city. The first few weeks you'll find it difficult to get just about anywhere. You will need to become very familiar with using your GPS to get you around town. However, if moving is frequent, you'll quickly learn tips and tricks to learn a new city in no time.
- Learning where the best deals are. When you need shampoo or a toothbrush, you won't know which store has the best prices. This can contribute to the costs of your move. To help, stock up on necessities before you move if possible.
- Losing things. It's inevitable that you'll lose some items during and after a move. Other items will get broken and have to be replaced. This is simply the reality of moving.
- Disruption of friendships. Moving makes it difficult to maintain friendships, especially for children who aren't connected to social media. The psychological impact of this can be high, especially with young children.
- Finding work. Moves often happen because of a job, but if both adults in the household are employed, that means the other party will need to find a job. That's not always easy. It also means that the other party will have to leave behind his or her job, which may be a difficult career move.
- Difficulty finding things you need. When you arrive at your new home, and can't find your toothbrush, you face one of the realities of moving.
- Finding medical care. It takes time to find a doctor you love and trust. When you move, you have to start that process all over again. If anyone in your home has special needs, that makes it even more difficult.
- Loss of your village. What happens if you have to run to the doctor and can't take your child with you? Most likely you have a trusted sitter you can call. In your new location, you won't. This can make small problems turn into a big hassle, simply because you've lost your village.
- Financial strain. With the high cost of a move, frequent moves can dig into savings and make financial challenges for families. Even when a company pays for a move, you will have additional expenses, such as an increased need to eat out, that you will need to cover.
Tips to Help Anyone With Their MoveNo matter how far you are moving, and how many time's you've done it, you're going to want to start planning as soon as you know a move is coming. Here are some tips that can help anyone with a move to ensure that it goes as smoothly as possible.
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- Clear your calendar. Moving takes time. Take some time off work, hire a sitter for the kids and do whatever you can to free up some time in your schedule to focus on the move.
- Have an essentials bin. Pick up a clear plastic bin with a lid, and use it to pack the essentials you will need the first night in your new place. This will ensure that you have those items on hand that you can't live without, and may even save you money by ensuring you don't have to run to the store at the last minute for something you can't find that you must have.
- Label clearly. When labeling your boxes, put as much detail as possible about what's inside, and also label them by the room they go in. This will help you and any helpers you have during your move get them in the right room, and will also help you know which ones to open first as you organize that room.
- Clean before moving in. If rooms, like the bathroom or kitchen, need a cleaning, do it before you start moving things into the home.
- Go vertical. Store plates, picture frames and similarly-shaped items vertically when packing. This makes them less likely to break, because you aren't putting weight on them from top to bottom.
- Don't unpack the drawers. Take the drawers out of your dressers and cover them with press-and-seal wrap, then either put them back in or move them separately. This will mean one less step when setting up your bedroom.
- Pick up some stretch wrap. Stretch wrap on a roll can be used to wrap up stacks of boxes and also to add some protection to your furnishings from scratches and dings.
- Take a picture. Grab your cell phone and take a picture of the electronic connections before you disconnect everything. This will make it much easier to put everything back in the right place when you're setting up your computer or entertainment center.
- Change your address. About two weeks before you move, have your address changed on all of your bills, magazines, bank accounts and even on online sites like Amazon or Paypal where you might order something to be delivered. You don't want a delivery showing up at your old house!
- Don't stock the fridge. About two weeks before you move, stop frequenting the grocery store. Try to use up the food you have on hand rather than going to the grocery store and buying new items that you might end up tossing because they don't get used.
- Hire movers early. If you can hire your movers at least a month out, you can ensure that the movers are actually available to help you with the move. Consider moving on a Tuesday, which is one of the slowest days for moving companies, if you have some flexibility with your schedule.
- Schedule disconnection times. Your utilities, media service providers and subscription deliveries will continue if you don't call and have them stopped or disconnected. Schedule these so that you're not without any critical services, but aren't paying for unnecessary services you aren't using.
- Load smart. Make it easier on the other end by loading items from the same room together, so you can unload in a logical manner.
- Spread out your packing. Try to pack a little bit at a time, starting with things like off-season clothing or non-essential decorations that you won't need until after you move, then moving on to the things you're using daily.
- Go easy on your back. Don't load boxes full of heavy items. Books and other heavy items need to be in smaller boxes to ensure that you can carry the boxes. Use the big boxes for pillows, linens and other lighter items.
- Make the beds. Setting up your beds and making them with fresh linens should be your first priority in your new home. This means you can at least sleep, even if you don't get anything else done on your first night.
- Feed your friends. If people are helping you move, take care of them. Provide snacks, meals and plenty to drink. You don't have to pay your friends, but you should feed them.
- Eliminate clutter. The items you don't really need, don't move. Get rid of them prior to your move, and you won't have to unpack and find homes for them in your new home. You can even consider selling it all and starting fresh if you're feeling brave!
- Pack for vacation. A move is no vacation, but pack one "vacation" suitcase per person to have the essential clothing and toiletry items on hand as you unpack.
Tips to Help You Save Money on Your MoveIn the military you will have your moving costs covered, but you can also choose to DIY your move, take the allowance, and pocket the difference. If you move smart, you could actually make some money in this process. However, you're going to need to know how to save money on the moving process, so consider these tips.
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- Use what you have as packing material. Instead of bubble wrap or paper, wrap breakable items in your linens and clothing. You can also place glasses and stemware inside socks, or stuff them with folded socks for added durability.
- Find free boxes. Find sources for boxes you don't have to pay for. First, ask your moving company if the move includes boxes. Then, touch base with stores in your area and have them hold boxes for you. Liquor and fruit boxes are particularly helpful because they're durable and a smaller size, so look at those locations first. While some stores have a recycling program, many will be more than happy to save boxes for you. Finally, ask friends and family to save boxes for you so you don't have to spend money on this.
- Pack yourself. Even if your moving company offers packing services, you can save a little on that bill if you do the job yourself, and you can be certain that you protect your belongings in the process.
- Buy the insurance. It may seem like buying something won't help you save money, but you can save if you buy insurance in the event that something goes wrong. If your moving truck is in a crash, and you don't buy insurance, you will have many items to replace. If your movers drop a valuable item and it's destroyed, you will end up spending quite a bit to replace or restore it. That said, check what's covered before purchasing, and make sure you aren't getting double coverage with your homeowner's insurance.
- Request a fixed price quote. When getting quotes from movers, find out if they're fixed price or estimates. Fixed price quotes mean no surprises when you get the final bill.
- Claim a tax deduction for donations. When decluttering, donate items that are still in good shape. By doing so, you can claim a tax deduction that will help you save.
- Skip the packing supplies. Bubble wrap and packing peanuts are rarely necessary and can add to your expenses, so find other ways to protect your items using stuff you already have.
- Stay organized. Staying organized will help you save money on your move because you won't be chasing lost items throughout the process.
- Choose the right shutdown date for utilities. Some utilities charge per month. Make sure you're not paying for an extra month by shutting off service a day late.
- Measure before you move. If you can, measure your new home to ensure your furnishings will fit. It does no good pay to move items that don't fit your new home. Sell it before you move, then buy something new when you arrive, if it won't fit. Moving it twice will actually end up costing you more and add to your frustration.
- Lighten the load. Many moving companies charge based on how much your load weighs. Lighten the load by not moving heavy items you don't use and exchanging coins for paper money before you load the truck.
- Eat on the cheap. Stock up on coupons to your favorite pizza or fast food restaurant, and grab the stuff to make PB&J sandwiches. A move is not the time to worry too much about healthy eating, and eating out can add up quickly.
- Enlist a favor for dog and kid sitting. If you're moving locally, consider asking a friend to help you by watching your dog or children for you, so you can focus on the move without having to pay a sitter.
- Ship your books. If you have a large book collection, consider shipping them with Media Mail through the US Post Office. You won't have them quite as quickly, but the cost is far less than the additional cost in your moving truck for these heavy items.
- Time your move well. Move in the off-season, such as the winter or middle of the week, and you may be able to negotiate a lower price on your moving services.
- Check for fees. Check for any hidden or unexpected fees the moving company may charge, and negotiate these if you can to get them reduced.
- Deduct your moving expenses. Learn if you qualify to deduct your moving expenses, and take advantage of this tax deduction if you do!
Moving with Small Children at Home - Ways to CopeMoving is stressful, but when you're moving with small children that stress seems to be amplified significantly. While military kids do learn to be flexible, they're still going to need some help through the days ahead as you prepare to move again. If you're tackling a move and have little kids in the home, you're going to need to do a bit more planning. Here are some tips and tricks to make it a little less stressful for everyone, including your kids!
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- Give yourself enough time. Everything takes longer with kids, so start planning your move as early as possible. You're going to need the extra time!
- Prep the kids ahead of time. Make sure the kids know what to expect about moving. Use books about moving, talk about what's happening and explain your timeline in an age-appropriate way.
- Enlist their help. Get the kids involved in packing as much as possible. Young children can participate by sorting toys or putting soft toys into a box. Older children can help wrap valuables and pack boxes.
- Throw a party. Kids need closure. Have a party to allow them to say "goodbye" to their friends. This can add a happy and excited spin on what can be a sad time for kids.
- Listen to them. When your kids have something to say about the move, listen and take their concerns seriously. Be respectful of their feelings, because they are very real. For instance, sometimes children worry that they will lose their toys in the move. Reassure them that this won't be the case, and even show them pictures of their new room to talk about where their things will go.
- Consider your timing. Moving during the off-season can help you save money, but you may want to consider school schedules to help keep things as routine as possible. If you have young babies or toddlers, try not to time big changes, like dropping naps or potty training, until after your move.
- Have an adventure. Exploring a new area can be fun if you view it as an adventure. Explore the new parks, movie theaters, stores, kids' clubs, library and whatever else you can during this time.
- Don't fear screen time. There are times when screen time can be helpful, and a move is one of those. When your kids' toys are all packed, allow them some extra tablet or TV time to keep them entertained. Schedule play dates with friends they will miss to keep them entertained and engaged.
- Use pictures. If you can't visit your new location ahead of time, scour the internet or the local library for pictures to make some of the areas familiar to your kids when you arrive. Don't forget the things that are important to them, like the local park.
- Put you in your new home. Make some of your familiar personal items the first that you unpack, so your new place will feel like "home."
- Meet the neighbors. The sooner your can meet your neighbors, the better. This will give your kids the opportunity to make some new friends, and also help you build a village.
- Get involved. Get your kids involved in community events as soon as you can find them. Keeping them busy with swimming lessons, sports, and other extra curricular activities will help prevent loneliness from setting in. once they make some new friends, cut back and give them time to play.
Moving with a Special Needs Family Member or Senior? Ways to CopeKids aren't the only ones who need a little extra help to cope with a move. If you have a child or parent who will be moving with you that needs extra help, or if you are a disabled veteran in need of help, you will need to take some extra precautions. Seniors or other adults with special needs are going to need additional support in this process. Here are some tips to make sure that their needs are met well.
Many organizations offer financial assistance for people with disabilities, particularly when moving. Some places to look include:For more help and tips preparing for a move with a special needs or elderly individual, visit:
- Plan for medications. You may not be able to get medication refills right away when you get to your new location. Talk to your loved one's current doctor about ordering refills of medications early, so you won't run out while you're transitioning to your new home.
- Find a doctor ahead of time. If your loved one needs to have medical care, consider searching for a doctor before the move. Find one that's taking patients and at least get a few initial appointments set up. You can always change later if you find that the doctor isn't a good fit, but you don't want to end up without medical care when you need it.
- Coordinate with your insurance. Many older adults or special needs individuals have Medicaid or Medicare coverage. Make sure you work with your insurance provider ahead of time to get the coverage you need in your new location.
- Find special education services. If your special needs individual is a child, find the services available in the local school district and get started on finding the services you need for your child before you move.
- Check with changes in disability benefits. Social Security Disability Insurance and Supplemental Security Income shouldn't change when you move, though you'll want to inform them of your new address, but any state-based programs will change if you move out of state.
- Make your home disability-friendly. Before you move in, take the time to make your home disability friendly. Check for tripping hazards, areas where a wheelchair or walker will have trouble, or outdoor surfaces that could become slippery when wet. All of these can cause trouble for your loved one as you prepare to move in to the home.
- Visit the Centers for Independent Living. If you area has a Center for Independent Living, visit it. This will help you locate the services you might need for your loved one or yourself as you relocate.
- Get help. You're going to need some additional help when moving if someone in your family has special needs, so enlist the help early.
- Consider a crating service. If you have large and valuable items, and won't have the ability to move them yourself due to the disability, consider a crating service. This is the safest and most secure option for moving these specific items. A crating service will come to your home and build a crate for the item designed specifically to protect it during the move.
- Move medical records separately and carefully. Keeping good medical records is critical when dealing with a disability, and you need to move them carefully. Consider digitizing records and using cloud storage, or moving them separately from the rest of your items so you don't lose anything.
- Plan extra time. Plan extra time, because medical needs may arise in the moving process.
- Break things down into small tasks. For disabled individuals and seniors tackling their own moves, breaking the process down into small tasks is important. Taking on too much all at once is going to cause you to be overwhelmed.
Moving is Stressful, but Proper Planning HelpsNo matter what your situation may be, moving is stressful. However, having the right plan in place will make it much easier to manage. Since you're in the military, you know moves are coming, so start preparing now. Learning about the potential challenges will help you to be prepared for whatever comes your way in the days ahead. Whether your move is expected or sudden, take these tips to heart to be prepared and eliminate the stress of the move.