Happy to have a guest post from Charlene Wilde about dealing with relocation! If you would like to guest post on Soldier’s Wife, Crazy Life, please visit my Duty Station Guest Post page or make sure to send me an email for more details!
Dealing with relocation this summer? These tips can help.
As many military spouses know, the summer doesn’t just mean that kids are out of school and beaches are open for business. At this time of year permanent changes of station become more frequent and dealing with the challenges that come with relocation is a reality for many military spouses and their families.
With so much on your plate as a military spouse, the last thing you want to worry about is adjusting after a move. As someone who has moved every two years for the past 15 years (with and without children!), here are some tips and best practices to make the transition smoother.
Effectively manage your budget:
Relocation provides the perfect opportunity to assess, and possibly reset, your financial posture. At the core of this is updating your budget. If you have experienced a PCS in the past, learn from what has and hasn’t worked in managing your finances. For example, if you’re moving to a base abroad you will most likely need to purchase a car when you get there. If you move to a city with readily available and reliable public transportation, it might be time to part ways with your car and pocket some additional cash for savings.
In terms of preparing for the move financially, you may be eligible for military advance pay as support. If you use this option, the military service member would be paid an advance of basic pay not exceeding three months to cover non-reimbursable moving expenses. It’s important to remember that this is a loan that you will have to pay back and not simply free money.
Next, consider how much of your budget needs to be allotted to housing in your new city. While you will get a basic housing allowance, be sure to do your own research and determine the cost of living in the area and understand the market. Will you want to rent, or would it be more financially advantageous to buy? This is just one of the important questions you and your spouse need to discuss.
You may also not have the luxury of being able to view a new home or apartment in person. If that is the case, be sure to find a local realtor with knowledge of the military community. Unfortunately, there are plenty of people out there who may not have your best interest in mind or who lack an understanding of the needs of a military family. Use trusted, military-spouse-focused social media pages (like this one) and resources in the area to get advice from those who have gone through the process.
Tap into the military spouse community:
Remember, you are never alone in this journey! As briefly mentioned above, it is extremely important to use the contacts and resources around you to help aid in this transition. While it may seem overwhelming to meet new people, the military spouse community is extremely supportive. Be proactive and consider joining the various spouse groups on base as a way to introduce yourself in-person to a new community and meet like-minded individuals. For example, Family Readiness Groups are command-sponsored groups that allow you to learn more about the new unit and area.
We live in a world that seems to get more digital by the day, so don’t discount the value of making connections online. Spouse groups on Facebook or elsewhere can be great sources of support and vital information to help with your move. Especially as we approach the summer months when many families PCS, there will be a lot of newcomers who may share the same concerns as you.
Keep the lines of communication open:
Whether it is just you and your spouse, or you’re juggling moving the whole family cross- country, it is essential to communicate openly and honestly with the whole family about the changes that are going to take open place. While talking finances may not be the most glamorous topic, there are also other things to consider when you PCS.
If you have children, make sure to talk about the process early and often. This transition can be tough on the entire family, especially as your children switch schools and have to make new friends. Involve them at an age-appropriate level in planning your move. Sit down as a family and highlight what there is to do and see in your new home in order to build excitement. Plan your budget accordingly so that you can enjoy small trips and entertainment once you are settled in order to learn about your new home.
Preparation can make the stress of a tough move much easier on both you and your military spouse. If you stay organized and open to the support and resources provided, you can tackle a permanent change of station this summer with ease.
Charlene Wilde is a veteran and military spouse. She is the Assistant Secretary of AAFMAA, our nation’s longest standing military financial services non-profit and a contributor to Spouselink, a site that informs and connects Military Spouses.