Asked and answered
Published: July 1, 2011
While I was busy with FMO, TMO, TLF and other PCS acronyms, a reader posted a question on the Spouse Calls blog about an overseas move. Some other readers picked up the slack for me, posting excellent responses to the writer’s concerns about housing and his children’s transition.
Although his question was about a specific location, these answers are applicable all over. Here are some excerpts from the question and answers:
I am not the spouse that traditionally would comment on this site, but rather the service member. Your article (“Get a Move on,” May 16) struck pretty close to home, since we too are beginning a PCS move over the ocean. PCS moves are nothing new to my family but PCSing overseas is new.
We have been preparing our four- and six-year-old for this move. We have them pretty positive and excited about it. Like most kids, they were not necessarily happy about moving. My wife, being an awesome mom, has done a great job preparing them for it.
Unlike all our previous moves, we have a good amount of stress building associated with finding a home. We will be arriving at the end of the summer move cycle … about one week prior to our kids starting school. I have been told that finding housing in the Kaiserslautern, Germany, area can be a challenge.
We are very concerned that it will take some time to find a house. This will make an already hard move for the kids harder. Based on your experience living overseas, do you have any advice in order to assist us in the search for a house both before we arrive or after?
We arrived in the Kaiserslautern area (last) August. You are correct to be concerned about finding a house to rent in the immediate local area. It is difficult, but by no means impossible.
When looking at the classifieds for houses, look for the ads that post a move-in date after your arrival. Don’t rule out on-base housing, and get on waiting list as soon as you can.
You should visit the various schools and decide which elementary school you would like your 6-year-old to attend.
When considering location, assess your adaptive savvy when it comes to driving the local roads. Houses are sometimes more plentiful farther from the base. If you are confident and have no difficulties, then a longer drive will not bother you. Remember to imagine your drive in all seasons, and with your type of car.
If you find a house that will work for your family, but it isn't perfect, it is sometimes better just to jump on it. Hesitation will often find the house rented the next day.
Call immediately on any houses that sound good!
Know that you won't truly feel settled for about six months.
Start a list of places you want to travel and book something within a few months of arrival or you'll get behind.
While you're waiting for your household goods to arrive, do regular day trips in the area on weekends and enjoy the good weather while it lasts.
Your children are still young enough to avoid the shock and awe you and your wife may experience. Worry less about any potential trauma they might suffer – very unlikely – and focus on what you can control. Involve them in the process.
Give them their own carry-on backpacks and let them pick what they want to take with them.
Children this age love to be in charge of something (such as) the moving accessory box: scissors, rolls of tape, labels, markers, etc.
Engage your kids in the process of your new home's “hope chest,” things to make the new house a home. To keep down costs, hit the thrift store.
No matter how well prepared you are, things are going to go awry. It’s Murphy's Military Moving Law. It will still work out regardless of the worst mistake you make.
Having just spent five years in Germany at two separate assignments, the best thing I can add to this advice is "Amen." Thanks so much to these readers for offering words of wisdom from their own hardwon experiences. Chris, I wish you the very best on your move.
For a little Christmas in July, don't miss the link to Diana's holiday moving-fiasco-turned-fantastic-memory in the link above.