Special Feature: Military Relocation Guide

family greeting a soldier coming homeMilitary families tend to move fairly often, as deployment or unit reorganization is common throughout military installations. In the United States Armed Forces, this relocation is called Permanent Change of Station (PCS).

Not only is moving an inconvenience, but it takes a toll on families, especially the kids. Parents can ease the stress for everyone by preparing for this process and staying sane. One place where you can find helpful and inspiring tips, advice and ideas from others who have gone through a military relocation is Pinterest.

Preparing Kids For Change

Change can be difficult for kids and they are keenly aware of everything that goes on around them. Depending on their age, they may not understand the concept of moving, but they’ll pick up on your stress, and that may make them feel uncomfortable. When you talk to your children about what’s happening, be ready to deal with their feelings – which they may be unsure of – and try to involve them in the process when possible. The can help keep the transition from seeming too scary.

Dealing With Grief About Leaving Your Job

An unfortunate consequence of moving is the havoc it wreaks on your career. If you have to quit a job, be sure to give notice and leave on good terms. Getting a reference from your current employer will help you once you’re settled and ready to look for a new position. Military communities are used to the transient nature of their population.


For many people, the only incentive to do large-scale de-cluttering is a major move. Think of this as a great opportunity to get rid of toys the kids no longer play with, books you’ve grown tired of, clothes you don’t wear anymore, and anything else you are ready to let go of. As you pack each room, take the time to go through stuff and place it in bags labeled “throw away,” “donate” or “store,” packing, of course, what you plan to keep.

You can do this with everything, not just clothing and toys. If you have packaged food that won’t keep or isn’t worth packing, donate to a local food bank or soup kitchen. Get rid of any open boxes to prevent pantry bugs from traveling from one place to another.

If your new home doesn’t have the space for all your belongings, consider renting a storage unit in the area. Not only will this option keep your house clutter-free, but most storage facilities are equipped with security guards, cameras or alarm systems, so you can have peace of mind knowing that your possessions are safe and secure. Many offer a discount for active (and sometimes non-active) military personnel, so be sure to ask.


Organization is the only way to simplify and streamline the moving process. With so much to do, remember and keep track of, a 3-ring binder is the best device for filing lists, paperwork or other important information. If so inclined, you can also make a fancy planner to help visualize the big move.

The National Military Family Organization has a useful checklist to help you get organized and remind you of things that are easy to forget when you’re in the throes of chaos. This list outlines what you need to do as far as three months in advance and continues to zero in down to one week before the move, the day of the move, etc.

Do a Google or Pinterest search for military relocation ideas; there are abundant resources available, including templates you can download or print to keep track of the contents of each room, what you have to pack in each room, and checklists to remind you of what you’ve completed or still have to do.

Packing Supplies

Make sure you get packing supplies as soon as you find out you’re moving. The last thing you want to worry about is running out of tape, boxes or marking pens at the last minute. When you buy these supplies in bulk, many places offer discounts.

Uniformly-sized packing boxes will allow movers to use every inch of space in the moving truck. You may want to create a color-coordinated system for your boxes, such as designating red for the master bedroom, blue for the bathroom, yellow for the kitchen, etc., and keep track of these colors in your planning binder.


Moving is a part of life when you’re in the military, but it doesn’t have to be only stressful—it can be an exciting adventure, too.Minimize the chaos by prioritizing everything on your to-do list. Make a separate list for those things you’ll need immediately upon arriving at your new place and pack them in the truck last so you can unload them first.

Don’t forget that your moving checklist should also include the things you need to do to make your new home ready for you. You’ll want to contact the utility company to turn on the electricity, the phone company to install the phone and internet services, and the cable company to set up your cable television before you move in.

Find out about other important details, such as enrolling kids in school, transferring your medical records and choosing a new doctor. You’ll also need to register and insure your car in your new state or country, as well as possibly get a new driver’s license.

Military Help

Anyone who has orders for PCS (Permanent Change of Station), Temporary Additional Duty (TAD), or Temporary Duty (TDY) can take advantage of the Military PPM or Personally Procured Move benefits. Although you are required to handle all moving arrangements yourself, doing a PPM move offers many benefits over a normal military move.

For example, if you use the PPM program, the government gives you a stipend of 95% of what it would pay for your moving expenses, along with the standard moving allowance. The best part is—you get to keep any of this money that you don’t spend on the move. You also get extra time off for taking care of moving arrangements—something you don’t get if the military moves you.

Remember, making a big move doesn’t have to be chaotic, as long as you are organized, prepared and know where to go for help. The military offers many resources and tips to make your move as stress-free as possible, and sites like Pinterest offer many inspiring visuals. Before you know it, you’ll be sending your friends postcards saying, “Wish you were here!”

SSF Team

SSF Team

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