Move without stress: tips from a military spouse

Guestpost by Melissa on Aug 29th
Alex moving out

Photo by Izzy Plante. Used under Creative Commons license.

Even though I have a Type A personality, moving has never been a great source of stress. Seriously: I get more stressed when I have to drive two hours to the airport by myself. I've moved overseas and back, plus across the United States, and it does not bother me. I packed the house and unpacked the house every time by myself; as a military wife, this happens a lot.

My friends often ask me how I stay so calm during the entire process of a military move, often referred to as a Permanent Change of Station, or PCS. Here are five tips for a no stress PCS:

Avoid accumulation

The less stuff you have the easier it is to put in your home inventory and pack. My partner and I only buy things we need, like a lawnmower, or we love, like a wooden sheep we purchased in England that serves no purpose other than looking cute. Sometimes when I'm walking the dogs I'll look inside the open garages in our neighborhood and they are FULL of boxes — so full no cars fit in the garage! I wonder what is in those boxes.

Create a moving kit

This is different from a first night kit. It lives in a small zippered tote bag. Obviously, this kit should be edited to your personal needs (e.g. don't bring a box cutter on an airplane). The kit should include:

  • Your family emergency binder. Every important document should be in it. If you don't have one, make one!
  • Your home inventory
  • The contact information for your moving company, hotels, and airlines
  • Pens, pencils, and Sharpie markers
  • A clipboard — it's difficult to check items off the moving list when you have nothing to lean on
  • Box cutters and scissors
  • Paper and tape: use them to label the rooms in your new house so movers know where to put boxes and furniture
  • A camera and charger to take pictures of any damage

I have found that having these items on hand when you unpack is invaluable. Also, I think being super prepared tends to make the movers a bit more careful with your possessions.

Attend the PCS briefing and take notes

This is especially true any time you are moving overseas. When we moved from England to the US we were provided with a really nifty timeline/check-list that was really helpful in planning and executing our move.

Is it ever bad to save money?

If you know that you are due for a PCS, even if you do not have orders yet, start setting aside extra money. There will be tons of little things you will probably need to purchase right away.

Don't pack dangerous items

If something has the potential to spill/leak I do not pack it. Usually these items end up in a box in the car or are given away. I would rather buy a new bottle of olive oil than deal with the aftermath of it spilling. And remember to remove the batteries from electronics!

I hope you find this quick post helpful in your next PCS — or even in your next non-military move. Happy packing!

Are you a frequent mover with more to add? List your tips in the comments!

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About Melissa

Melissa is a 28-year-old neuroscientist and military spouse who strives to add a touch of whimsy to everyday life.