12 Moving Tips for Military Families
12 Tips For Moving Out: A Guide for Military Families
It’s no surprise that military life involves a ton of organization and forward-thinking. Even holiday block leave—your annual friends and family vacation requires meticulous planning. When it comes to a Permanent Change of Station (PCS), most families could benefit from a few tips to make the moving process smooth. With this handy guide, you can cut out some of the stress from moving and focus more on road trip ideas for your journey.
The specifics of your PCS will vary based on the type of move you decide on. The military offers a Transportation Service Provider (TSP), or you can choose to pocket your reimbursement with a Personally Procured Move (PPM). Both options have their pros and cons.
With a TSP, a government-provided company will assist with packing up your house, moving, and unloading in your new home. They will even assemble some of the furniture. This option is typically considered hassle-free since everything is organized through the military. The service is insured, meaning you will be reimbursed if anything is lost or broken during your move. The only downside is that you are at the mercy of their schedule, which can be difficult during their busier months.
On the other hand, during a PPM, you are responsible for your own timing. You get to decide when and how your move should go, which can be a perk but can also be overwhelming. Hiring your own movers, scheduling the moving day, and timing the move-in just right all take extreme organization and planning. The benefit is that the military will reimburse you for the same rate as if you’d used their moving services. So, if you can somehow make the move cheaper, you could potentially make money on the move, which is always a plus.
Whether big move, small or long distance move, these tips will hopefully make the process a little smoother and less stressful.
Moving Day Tips
Here are a few tried and true moving tips, curated from military families who have moved so often, they are officially seasoned pros.
1 | Declutter | Even if your move is months away, there is no reason why you can’t start intentionally dwindling down your possessions - you'll be grateful that you started early! It’s only natural that your house will expand while you live in it; gifts from friends, school projects, last-minute purchases, new clothes. We acquire so many items during the course of even a few months, and most people don’t regularly throw out the old to make space for the new. Even if your family is relatively low-maintenance, chances are there are still plenty of items you can part with. Start small; encourage the kids to start going through their toys and clothes. Do the same in every room in your house. Schedule regular trips to your local Goodwill or other donation locations. Purge your house of everything you don’t want to pack.
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2 | Start Planning Early | As soon as you receive orders, you can start lining up a few basics. Even if it’s too soon to nail down an exact moving date, you will probably at least be able to plan a moving week. Start researching movers (if you are choosing a PPM), create your to-do list, and depending on how far you’ll be traveling—look into hotels. There may be some overlap between moving out and moving in, and you’ll want to research quality accommodations beforehand. Consider Westgate Resorts to add a little fun to your journey. With plenty of family-friendly locations to choose from, you can find the perfect place to kick back after a long day of moving out or to rest up before you officially move into your new home. With resort-quality pools for the kiddos to splash around in, you can add some vacation vibes to your move.
3 | Moving Day Binder | Moving to a new place requires a lot of paperwork, which can be easily misplaced in transit. Create a binder to hold any and all documents you may need during the process. Your relocation orders, birth certificates, marriage licenses, new base contact information, car titles, medical documents, insurance paperwork, reservations…you get the idea. If you’ve organized your packing with certain designations, this is also a good place to keep track of that information. When the time comes to sign the kids up for a new school or to re-register the cars in a new state, everything you need will be right there in the binder.
4 | Inventory | During a TSP, your packed items are stored in a warehouse before being finally moved into a new location. Although it’s unlikely, it’s not impossible that certain items might be misplaced during this process. That’s why it’s a good idea to take a solid inventory of all your important items. This can be as simple as using your phone to take pictures of everything you own and cross-referencing when you begin the unpacking process. We always think we’ll remember everything we own, but we usually don’t, especially when there are so many other things to think about. This will also help you out in case something gets broken during the move and you need to make a claim.
5 | Packing Tips | Although it may seem as simple as throwing items into boxes, there are actually more efficient ways to pack up your belongings. Research tips that could potentially make the process easier and save you time. From bubble wrap and packing tape to moving boxes, be sure to have these on hand so you can start packing.
6 | A Labeling System | Designate each room a specific color, and go around the house putting corresponding-colored stickers on items. This will make packing day so much easier, as everything has a specified place. Then, when unpacking at the new house, each box can be placed in its appropriate room.
7 | Ziplock Bags for EVERTHING | Ziplock bags can be your best friend during the move. Use the quart-size bags to keep everything in your junk drawer together or use the sandwich-size baggies to keep things like bedframe screws/hardware from disappearing. When in doubt, throw it into a Ziplock. At least you know you’ll find it at some point.
8 | Do Not Pack | If hiring professional packers, it’s vital to establish a ‘do not pack’ zone…otherwise, they will pack it. Even the smallest items—like cellphone chargers or batteries—will be packed unless otherwise specified. Consider designating one wall or closet to hold everything that shouldn’t go into the moving truck. Your Moving Day Binder should be set aside, along with personal items, or anything you may want right away in your new home. Don’t forget to set aside at least one roll of toilet paper, a few towels, and maybe a pillow or two.
9 | Cleaning Day | You’ll need to leave your old house in good condition, so plan to do a last-minute cleaning once the moving company takes away the last of the boxes. Now you'll see the empty spaces and cleaning will be much easier to do without a bunch of people—i.e., kiddos—hanging around, so consider having one spouse take the kids to a hotel while the other stays back and finishes up the cleaning. Westgate Resorts offers a military discount!
10 | Military Discounts | Speaking of discounts, take advantage of military discounts during your move! Most places or services offer some sort of discount, and you can save so much money just by asking. Things like getting your car serviced before the road trip or getting those gym cancellation fees waived are offers that are probably available to you, but you just hadn’t considered before. Make this part of your pre-move research.
11 | Investigate the New House | Make sure to fully search your new house before the chaos of unpacking begins. Check for things like carpet stains, scratched walls, or loose cabinets. Take pictures of anything that may be concerning, just so you have the evidence later because chances are good that you’ll eventually be moving out.
12 | Positivity | Above all, try to keep things light. Moving is an essential part of military life, and for your family’s sake, it’s important to minimize the stress. Turn packing into a game for the kids, with them trying to fit their belongings in as few boxes as possible. Make unpacking exciting by setting goals and rewards: for every 5 boxes unpacked, the family gets to do something fun! Maybe pizza for dinner or checking out the new park down the street. Whatever you decide, do your best to cast a positive light on the transition.
Final Moving Tips
Hopefully, your moving experience goes off without a hitch. The key is in preparing early and thinking through all possible scenarios. A few extra tips to keep in mind:
Take pictures of complicated set-up items, such as the back of televisions, so you can easily reference how to plug everything in when you are settled in your new home.
Try to avoid the busy season (May-August) if possible, but if not, plan for services being slightly more expensive than usual.
Utilize your community! Take your friends up on their offers to babysit the kids or to give you their leftover moving supplies.
Take a deep breath, use these tips, and keep moving forward. You got this!
Interested in finding more tips, tricks and vacation ideas? Check out our Travel Blog for everything you need to know!
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* Westgate Resorts is in no way affiliated with the attractions featured in this article. Items or places listed are current as of the publishing date of this article. Please call or visit the respective website for the most up-to-date offerings and details.
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