So, you (or your spouse) has just completed training at Fort Leonard Wood, and now it’s time to make your first big move - how exciting! But picking up your life to move to somewhere you may not have been before can be stressful, and maybe even scary. It’s not easy to say goodbye to family and start over somewhere new, but with the right attitude and a little bit of work, you can help reduce that fist PCS stress by quite a bit.
We’ve come up with a few tidbits of advice for new military families based on our own military experience, and hope you find them useful!
Getting to know your new home:
Join a Facebook group for the installation you will be going to, and maybe make a post asking members for advice on what they wish they knew before they arrived. If you have any friends that have been stationed at the base you’re headed to, be sure to reach out!
Learn about the job market (for spouses) and any networking organizations you might be able to join. It doesn’t hurt to get the process started before you actually move, especially if licensing is required for your career field. There’s a great organization through the Hiring Our Heroes program called the Military Spouse Professional Network. MSPN has chapters worldwide and is a great way to network with other career-minded spouses, develop your professional skills, and get connected to the community. If your new installation doesn’t have a chapter, you can always start one!
If you have children, learn what you can about the local school systems. This may play a big role in choosing where to live. Also, don’t forget to make a folder for each child that includes work samples and education records (including grade cards, current progress reports, test scores, etc.). We highly recommend this resource from the Military Child Education Coalition.
Get yourself excited by looking up things to do in the area and real estate, even if you’re not ready to pull the trigger on a home yet, or plan to live on base. Getting a feel for the area around you will help immensely when it comes time to make that choice. If you’re able to take a trip ahead of time to scope out the installation, do it!
Also, don’t forget to think about your trip out to the new installation! Will you be driving or flying? Are there family or friends you can stop to visit along the way? Maybe an attraction or landmark you’ve always wanted to see? This can help you get excited,too.
Preparing for the big move:
To reduce stress and maintain order during a busy time, make a list of what needs to be done before moving, and include the timeframe in which it needs to be done. JoMyGosh wrote a great, comprehensive blog post on this topic - it’s worth the read.
Decide what to keep and what to take with you in your vehicle. Most moving companies won’t take candles, liquids, or spices. Be sure to donate or give these away, or plan to take them yourself.
Depending on where you’re headed, you might not have your household goods for weeks or months. Make sure you plan to take any necessities with you as you travel. Keep all important documents with you, like birth certificates, passports, etc. regardless of where you’re moving.
When it comes time for the moving company to arrive, make sure you take photos of all of your furniture so you have proof in case anything breaks during the move. You’ll want to file a claim if this happens.
And for everything else:If you have questions, know that there are tons of people who are happy to help you! Whether it’s your current base, future base, a friend, or someone you’ve ‘met’ on the internet, you’re not in this alone. Don’t be afraid to reach out and ask for advice!