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5 Must-Know Tips for Surviving Your First Big Military Move

It may not seem like it, but planning a big military move is a lot different than planning a regular move. Trust me, as a former Navy wife, I’ve been there and done that a few times! I’ve moved as close to the next state over to as far away as the other side of the world in Japan. I’ve also helped countless friends prep for their moves, and watched my aunt move about 10 times during my uncle’s 20-year enlistment.

While I’ve been crazy lucky not to live through any major horror stories, I’ve definitely heard all of them first hand, from my friend who ended up unpacking her FULL garbage can a month after leaving Japan to my aunt unpacking her (thankfully still alive) lizard on the other side of the country! I’ve gathered up some of the best tips that I’ve learned over the years to help you get ready for your first big move. Check them out, then visit Spouses Guide to Surviving Military Relocation to learn even more tips!

5 Tips to Survive Your First Military Move

1. Get rid of anything that you really don’t need

Getting rid of things you don’t need to take with you is the first thing you should do while preparing for a big military move. Start with the big stuff. If you’re moving overseas and can’t take your car, for example, decide whether you want to sell it, donate it, or store it. Keep in mind that you might need to maintain insurance and registration depending on where you store your car. Other big things to consider: home appliances, ginormous TVs, and heavy furniture. Sell what you can and save the money for essentials on the other side of your move, then donate the rest to incoming military families who can use it.

In the week or so before your move, go through everything else and really decide if it’s worth taking along. Remember, you have a weight allowance! The night before the movers arrive, you’ll also want to empty out your garbage cans throughout the house and throw out any trash that’s sitting around, otherwise you could end up with moldy pizza boxes mixed in with your kitchenware!

2. Designate a place for all the things you don’t want packed

During the days before your move, you’ll want to pack up your valuables and other stuff that you don’t want shipped. Stick them in your bathtub if there is enough room, then blatantly mark the tub as a “do not pack” zone. Put yellow tape across it and hang a sign to drive the message home. Don’t assume that just putting sticky notes on your “do not pack” items will be enough. Physically put your items in one spot and make sure the entire team of movers knows not to touch the stuff in that spot. If you’re still using your garbage can, you might want to put that in the tub, too. Why the tub? Well, it seems to be the universal “don’t touch this stuff” location in my experience.

3. Return everything to its rightful room

If your house is anything like mine, you’ve got at least a few cups and plates in rooms other than the kitchen, cables & chargers all over the place, and so on. A few days before your move, put everything back in its right place. Put chargers & cords in plastic bags and either tape the bag to the the electronics or label them cords and put them all in one big bag.

Even if you keep a super neat house, go through each room at least once and arrange things in the way you’d like to unpack them. For example, if your kids have certain favorite toys, group them together so they have a better chance of ending up in the same box. That way, when you arrive in your new home, you’re not digging through 50 boxes of toys to find their top three favorites. 5 Must-Know Tips for Surviving Your First Big Military Move

4.Rent rather than buy as much furniture as possible

When I lived in Japan, we rented pretty much all of our furniture. My husband moved there a year before I did, when we were still just dating. He was living in the barracks.  We got married when I went to visit him, and when we moved into housing, we had nothing. Not a single thing. Well, we had a 13″ TV, but that’s it. I actually built a stand for the TV out of coffee cans! We rented all of our major furniture, then bought a few pieces along the way. When we moved home, we just returned the furniture. That way, we had plenty of space for the smaller, unique-to-Japan pieces that we bought and didn’t have to worry about finding a place to store a sofa on the other side of the ocean.

5 Must-Know Tips for Surviving Your First Big Military Move

Before your move, visit the CORT Furniture Rental website to find out if they are available in your new location and browse through their amazing selection. They’re available in all 50 states and over 80 countries throughout the world, so there’s a good chance you’ll be able to use them for all your furniture needs. Rent whole rooms or just the pieces you need. They are incredibly military-friendly. If your orders change suddenly, they’ll let you out of your contract without a hassle, and their lease term options let you keep your furniture for as little or as much time as you need it. Plus, they have super stylish and gorgeous sets that match your personality!

5. Plan ahead for your next move

Yeah, I know, you just got settled into your new place, you don’t even want to think about doing it all over again in a couple of years! I hear you, but trust me, you want to start planning now so you can avoid all the craziness the next time around! My number one tip: DO NOT accumulate too much stuff at your new duty station. Set some ground rules now for your family. For example, if you’re living overseas, you may want to make it a rule that, aside from absolute essentials and disposable items, you won’t buy anything that you can’t get back home. When we were in Japan, we only bought furniture and household items that were absolutely unique to the country.

Another good tip: make a “1 in, 1 out” rule. For every new thing you buy, one old thing must go. No cheating and buying a 5-foot-tall toy and chucking a 5″ one! What goes out has to be roughly the same size or weight as what comes in. If you don’t want to go to those extremes, you can also designate a box or bin for each family member and tell them that once they fill up that box, they can’t buy anything new without getting rid of something old.

Moving in the military is definitely a bit more challenging than a regular move, but with a little planning on both ends of your move, it doesn’t have to be a painful experience. The bad news? You’ll most likely have to do it all over again within 4 years. The good news? After the first few times, you’ll be a total pro! My favorite tip: saving time and money with CORT Furniture Rental! I love browsing their online showroom and imagining what my next home will look like!

Have you made a big military move already? What are some of your best tips? Tell me below! 

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