If you haven’t heard yet, we moved to Germany, on the military’s dime this summer…
Once we got to Germany, I kept telling myself that when we finished getting settled in, I’d put together a post about our experience, but honestly, we still aren’t completely done settling in and probably won’t be for a while. Sooo for now I’m going to go over what we did to get here and our first day in Deutschland!
Our last few weeks in the states – which were pretty crazy! If you are moving due to the military, some of these terms might make sense, if it’s never applied, count your blessings.
- Orders, we got orders in February, but then had to initiate the EFMP process in order to receive amended orders with my name on it. This didn’t seem like a big deal since I don’t have an extensive medical history or need any specialists, but if you’re moving overseas, EVERYONE accompanying a service member has to go through the process. At Fort Bragg, they were pretty strict with waiting until our 90 day window of arrival in Germany before anything could even begin. Once we were able to schedule an appointment we did, and I was simultaneously pulling all my health records I could get my hands on, including my vaccination records (not sure if it was even needed, but it was a good reason to get my records together). On our appointment day, we had a virtual meeting (due to COVID) that lasted about 10 minutes tops. After that my husband received approval about 24 hours later, and we had amended orders in our possession within the week!
- Household goods- My husband and I were in a unique situation since it was just us and we didn’t have that much to ship. Granted, my husband would not skip a chance to share that I have wayyyyy too much stuff, but when it came down to it, we were able to schedule the movers based on his approved weight allowance as a single solder and even with the slight boost thanks to him having a command sponsored dependent added, we just had wiggle room that wasn’t really needed. Note: we opted to skip sending Unaccompanied baggage and dedicated a suitcase for some basics until our stuff arrived since we shipped so far in advance. I included a list of items we packed in this suitcase below in the Luggage section. Timing: Our items took exactly 2 months to get from our home in North Carolina to our place in Hohenfels.
- Car- We opted to ship my car since it was newer, had more bells and whistles, in better shape and just the better car of the two. My husband sold his the day before we flew out, and we were able to use his car for everything needed for the month and a half between shipping my car out of the Charleston port, and us flying out. Looking back, while my car was certainly the better of the two conditions wise, his car would have probably fit in better her due to size overall. Thankfully we don’t have a larger vehicle, nor have a need for it here, but his car would have made parking a tiny bit easier here, and not understanding all the signs is stressful enough as it is. Fast forward three months: my car broke due to cracked cylinders even though we got an oil change and everything else suggested by the mechanic, and I mean everything suggested, the day before we shipped it. My suggestion, go ahead and get an oil change soon after it arrives just to be safe.
Last few days/arrival:
- Dogs- This portion of our move was hands down my most stressed and disappointing portion. One it was beyond expensive. Yes, I whole heartedly appreciate the Army paying for our move here, but we had a 10 day window to get all their medical paperwork completed, to include mailing overnight to get officially stamped, then overnighted back to us in time for our flight out of BWI. The whole process for our two 8lb dogs was about $1,200. My heart feels for those families that have larger dogs and have to go through this same process, but deal with the logistics on a larger scale. Flying Patriot express we paid $250 ($125/dog). They flew in cabin in their kennels and under our seats. We brought a gallon ziplock bag worth of food with us, but bought a bag upon arrival in Ramstein and a dog bed to hold us over. If you have a chance stop at the Ramstein PX, we were able because our awesome sponsor was able to meet us in Ramstein to pick us up. If she wasn’t able to, we would have had to take the shuttle from Ramstein to Hohenfels, which picks you up right at the terminal, so the PX wouldn’t have been possible. Also, if you’re traveling with pets, even though they fly in mesh bags in cabin, they have to have a hard shell kennel to travel underneath the shuttle bus. What we brought for our pups: three bowls, one for water and two for food, a handful of toys, ziplock with a few treats (which was helpful for quick bites on the flight), shampoo and obviously leashes / harnesses. Suggestion: Pack some flea/tick/heart worm medication just in case things take longer than expected. When we got here the vet on post was in the process of PCSing out and the incoming vet was still in-processing, so it took a little longer than expected to get our pups in to be seen and eligible for a dose of flea/tick/heart worm meds.
- Luggage- Once again, my husband swears we brought too much and this was one way we could have made our traveling easier… and he’s right. Between the two of us we had 2 checked in bags, a carry on and a dog kennel each. I had two bags, he had a large rolling duffle and then we had one bag that had house hold items. Our carry on bags had our electronics, PCS accordion folder and our legal documents. Since we opted to skip shipping anything ahead through unaccompanied baggage, we had one checked in bag dedicated to survival until our house hold goods arrived. Lucky for us, our plan worked out and our household goods were delivered within 10 days of us arriving! For clothes, I brought way more than I needed.. looking back I freaked out and brought something for almost every occasion. I even brought a pair of dress pants and a few work tops, which actually ended up coming in super handy for a job interview I landed the week we arrived. That alone, saved me the hassle of having to run around trying to find interview worthy clothes. My husband brought a few every day choices and a set of uniforms, but I’m sure your service member would have a good idea of what to pack for work! In our ‘household goods’ bag we had:
- A can opener
- Plastic ziplock bags variety
- Set of utensils for two
- A hotel sized dish soap
- A sponge
- A lysol wipe container
- A roll of toilet paper
- A paper towel roll
- A skillet
- A pot
- A serving sized spoon
- Two reusable Starbucks cups for hot items / to-go
- Two plastic drinking cups (Trevis)
- A plastic cutting sheet
- A secured cutting knife
- Two plastic containers + lid. (These hold heat, doubled as bowls for cereal or soup, etc.)
- Adobo (must have seasoning of choice)
- An air mattress (which we didn’t need majority of the time because our sponsor did get some basic furniture set up for us but we were able to use it on our last night since furniture was picked up midday on a Tuesday then our house hold goods were delivered Wednesday).
- Linen: Two towels, air mattress fitted sheet, a queen sized quilt (we came in summer), one light throw, two pillows, one kitchen towel and one bathroom hand towel. ** Vacuum sealed bags were out good friend here
If you’re PCSing or about to, take a second and breathe. There’s a ton of information and moving parts that take place before, during and after PCSing. Especially when it’s OCONUS since a lot of parts take quite a bit of time to reach you, but no matter what PCSing is tough on the soul, mind and pocket. BUT it really all does work out in the end, and you will survive 99.9% of all the obstacles thrown at you. Not to mention, a good amount of things you would think to be a challenge end up going wayyy smoother than you would have ever imagined. YOU GOT THIS!
In fact – I know how stressful this whole process can be, and sometimes too much information in one read is overwhelming. I tried to cover the main points but if anything, and I mean anything is stressing you out or on your mind, feel free to shoot me a message below and I’ll be happy to elaborate, guide or even help track down some answers for you!