Hello readers! Sorry it’s been a while! Kyle came home from a long training exercise in Yuma, AZ a couple weeks ago. I’ve been caught up with spending time with him and just haven’t felt much like writing. However, I’m back! Today I’m going to share with you what it was like for us to move with the military, as well as share some tips. We’ve been in our new home in Twentynine Palms for just over two months now. The journey to get here was long, expensive, and confusing; however, it was also memorable and extremely exciting. The entire process began for us in late June of this year. I won’t bore you with all the in’s and out’s of setting up a PCS (permanent change of station) move with the Marine Corps, but I will offer a few tips.
Start as early as possible.
Although my husband received orders in February, we did not get married until late May. I started the process as soon as I could after getting settled into our home. The summer is the busiest PCS (permanent change of station) season. You’ll be vying for the dates you want, the movers you prefer, and necessary nights in hotels. As soon as you know where and when you’re moving, book the lodge on base.
This was our biggest issue during our move. Let me explain something that the military neglected to tell us: you are required to stay at the lodge on base if there is a room available to you. Yes, the military will reimburse you for up to ten days in a hotel (either at your prior duty station, or at your new duty station). However, in order to receive that reimbursement, you are required to stay in their hotel. If said hotel is unavailable, you must acquire a letter from the front desk stating so before booking elsewhere. Then and only then will they reimburse you for your nights spent at that other hotel. We were able to stay at the lodge on base for a few nights, then we had to check out. We got our letter and stayed a couple nights at a hotel in town. Then the lodge had a room, so back to base we went. It wasn’t available the entire time we needed it, though. We had to return to the hotel off base until our house was ready. While not the end of the world, this back-and-forth was irritating (especially with a puppy). Take my advice and book the lodge early!
There are a couple classes you’ll want to take on your base. First, sign up for ‘move.mil’. This is when you fill out all the paperwork for your move. Next, ‘Smooth Move’. This class will walk you through the moving process. They usually want you take these in the reverse order; however, we flipped them due to time constraints. Doing so allowed us to leave the ‘Smooth Move’ class early (woohoo) because we had already completed the ‘move.mil’ portion!
Set up power of attorney as soon as you can.
I cannot emphasize how important POA is. As a military spouse, you will not be able to set up a single aspect of your move without it. Go to the legal building on base and get both a general POA and a special POA. It will take less than 15 minutes and will save you many headaches. Heaven forbid your spouse is in the field when your home is ready, when the movers come, et cetera – you will need POA to do anything. Go ahead and set up with expiration date for about three years from now. This should also get you through at least one deployment (during which you will also need POA to do anything with your bank, phone company, housing, et cetera).
Stay in touch with your unit’s FRO (family readiness officer).
Our FRO in Kings Bay was INVALUABLE during our cross-country move. All I had to do was call her and she outlined the entire process for me. When my husband was out of reach due to time in the field or time in a secure part of base, she was able to get in touch with him. Know your FRO!
Stay freakishly organized.
I recommend having a folder with all your move-related paperwork, usernames, passwords, et cetera readily available throughout the entire move. I kept ours in my (admittedly very large) purse throughout the months of June, July, and August. I knew exactly where my husbands orders, our move inventory, our receipts, and our POA were throughout the entire process.
Save any and all receipts.
When in doubt, save it. Make a note on the back about what you purchased/spent money on. Better to have all your receipts than to be missing the one you actually needed. Just throw ’em into your moving folder!
Take time to stop and enjoy the ride.
The military is taking care of all your belongings. All you have to do is get to your new duty station by the date on the orders. Chances are, there’s at least one interesting thing to do along the way. Our trip from Kings Bay, GA to Twentynine Palms, CA went like this…
First stop, Louisiana (~10 hours from Kings Bay). We stayed with Kyle’s family for roughly three weeks. He had a lot of leave time saved up, so we took advantage. Being able to relax and visit with family and friends helped alleviate the stress of a cross-country move tremendously.
Next, a stop in Fort Worth (~7 hours from St. Martinville). We stayed the night at Kyle’s sister’s house. If you have family or friends along the way, try to stay with them. This will allow you to save your per diem pay for more interesting stops along the way.
Up next: Amarillo (~6 hours from Fort Worth). All we did in Amarillo was stay at a really nice hotel. It was wonderful to just lay down and stretch out. On our way out of town, we did swing by the Cadillac Ranch – very neat! Correct me if I’m wrong, but I’m fairly positive this is the only place in the entire country where you can see Cadillacs half submerged nose-first at the exact same angle as the Great Pyramid of Giza. In my personal opinion Stanley March could have possibly found a better use for his millions, BUT he opted to bury some expensive cars. Whatever floats your boat, Stan…
On to Flagstaff (~9 hours)! We did take a brief rest in Albuquerque around lunch time, just to stretch our legs and let Milo out for a bit. We made it to Arizona by sunset. We stayed an extra night here because we LOVED it. We saw the Grand Canyon! Looking back, I wish we had also stopped to check out the meteor crater on the outskirts of Flagstaff. The weather was perfect and the people were so nice. If it’s on your way, definitely make a stop here! You won’t regret it!
We drove the rest of the way to Twentynine Palms from Flagstaff (~6 hours). This was by far the worst part of our drive. The vast expanse of nothing but desert was anything but welcoming. Coming over the hill and seeing the town of Twentynine Palms for the first time was awful. After living here for a couple months, the people I’ve met on base have made this duty station feel like home.
My last piece of advice for you: get involved at your new duty station as soon as you can. Meeting other men and women in the same boat as you will make all the difference. I joined a kickball team within a month of moving in. In doing so, I’ve met the most incredible group of women. I’ve found families to babysit for. I’ve found people to work out with. Even though all my friends and family are on the other side of the country, I’m not alone. Thank God for that!
Please feel free to ask me any questions you may have and I will do my best to answer. If you’re gearing up for a PCS move, best of luck! Try to stay positive and enjoy the ride!