What to Know For Homecomings

Hello all 🙂

I am writing this blog post on my flight to Little Rock! That’s right today I get to see my airman! I just saw him about 3 weeks ago, but when your airman gets back from deployment they will have all sorts of leave time available to them. They are given 2 weeks of paid leave where they must stay within so many miles of the base they are stationed at. Once those 2 weeks are up, they can then choose to use some of their leave to return home, or save it. Because of my work schedule in June, Taylor chose to save his and now we are going to be able to take quite the amazing trip together.

Tonight I land in Little Rock and tomorrow we start our drive back to Nevada together. We will be taking 3 days and stopping at places on our way. Thanks to one of Lauren’s previous blog posts I was introduced to Roadtrippers and have our whole trip planned out from start to finish! One of those stops includes the Grand Canyon, which is a little off of our route, but I am sure it will be totally worth it!

So enough about my road trip and back to business…well not really because this is a pretty exciting blog post! Today I get to write about the day your significant other COMES HOME!! It is a day neither of you will forget especially if it is a first deployment. There is nothing like the feeling of accomplishment you get when you are in the arms of your airman again!

return

Again, remember Silence means Security! Keep our loved ones safe by staying hush about deployment dates and arrivals.

Again, remember Silence means Security! Keep our loved ones safe by staying hush about deployment dates and arrivals.

I went over this in my previous deployment overview post, but thought I would just recap briefly. Just like when they deploy, you won’t know when your significant other will be coming home until what seems like last minute. When Taylor left we thought he would be coming home May 15th, but once he got there they told him it would be anywhere from May 15th.  Even though this is frustrating, especially if you are trying to make travel plans, just remember it is a safety precaution taken by the Air Force to ensure the safety of your airman.

On May 3rd, Taylor called me with a for sure date of May 20th. Again, this was not information that I shared on social media. He told his mom and then I told my parents so they knew when I would be leaving. I also had to figure out work because as the Game Day Producer for a Triple A baseball team I am not exactly supposed to miss games, but I was going to have to. So, I had to take my boss aside and figure out work plans with her. Other than that though nobody else really knew when I was leaving, or when he was going to be home.
It was not until his plane landed on the flight line and I was in his arms again that I put anything on social media.

travelplans So obviously with me living in Nevada the first thing I had to figure out were my travel plans. I did not want to mess with being late on the day of his arrival, so I made my flight reservations for the 19th. This way I was there a day before he was supposed to be and would not have to worry about not being there to welcome him home. Because I was going be getting there before him I also needed to make sure I had a ride from the airport. So I got a hold of his best friend and roommate Travis, who was able to pick me up and take me back to their house.

I also planned it out so I would be there with him for the full 2 weeks of paid leave he was given. The past couple times I have gone to Little Rock he has always had to work, making doing things or going places difficult. So I knew that with all his time off it would be the perfect opportunity for us to really enjoy being in Little Rock together.

baseid

If you are married to your deployed airman, then this is not something you will have to worry about. However, if you are not make sure you go into the general base information building outside of most main gates and get a base id the day before their return. The morning of I guarantee you there will be a line of people waiting to get base ids. So to save you time just do it the day before.

Needing a base id was another good thing about having Travis. Make sure you have someone who can take you in to get a base id. If you don’t know someone who can go in with you to get you a base id my best advice would be to call, or go in to find out what you will need to do to get one, so you can be there to welcome your significant other home!

gettingreadyMost significant others get all cute and dressed up for the return of their airman. There were significant others dressed in anything from skirts and high heels to others, like myself, in a nice pair of jeans and a cute shirt or blouse. There is really no specific way you have to dress. I chose jeans because I knew that I wanted to jump into Taylor’s arms the minute I saw him and that wouldn’t have been very easy to do in a dress! 🙂 Then there were little kids all dolled up in matching red, white and blue attire with signs welcoming their daddy’s and mommy’s home from Afghanistan. Many of the significant others had signs as well, but for me I was just keeping it simple. It was out first deployment and I was just so excited to jump in his arms that I didn’t want to have a sign to worry about. However, maybe next time I will make a sign.

Just remember, don’t feel obligated to get all dolled up and have a sign welcoming your airman home…you have just accomplished one of the hardest obstacles in a military relationship…just be there to welcome that airman of yours back home!

waitinggameThe good thing about having Travis was that I had an inside scoop on when Taylor would be landing. He went to work after picking me up from the airport and called around 7:00 a.m. to tell me that they had all been told the plane from Afghanistan would be landing early. He was able to get off work and come get me from the house.
However, you really do not need a Travis to know when your airman will be landing. They told us the plane would be landing between 9:30 and 10:00 and it ended up landing a little after 9:00. So find out an approximate landing time and then just get there early!

homecomingwait

Waiting for his plane to land. This is all of the people standing behind the rope they had set up that we were not allowed to go past until they stated getting off the plane.

Because I had Travis I did not really have to figure out where on base Taylor would be landing. Most of the time your significant other will land around their squadron building. If you do not know where this is, or where they will be landing find this information out the day before by calling, or going into the information office that is normally located outside the main gate.  Taylor also called me during his layover when he landed back in the states. They gave them all an idea of when the plane would take off again and how long the flight would be, so I had a bit of an idea myself when he would land in Arkansas.

Once we parked at the squadron building, we walked down to the flight line where they had breakfast items, coffee,  juice and little flags you could have to wave as the plane landed. Of course I took one because I thought it would be a neat souvenir to have from that day! 🙂

They had a rope up that you were not allowed to pass until the plane landed and the cabin door was open. Because we got there early I had a pretty good spot where I knew I would be able to see from when they began getting off the plane. When the plane lands and the doors are open they will let down the rope and everyone is free to run toward the plane and to their airman.

I knew that when they finally let down that rope it was going to get crazy. So once the plane landed, the cabin door opened and they began coming down the stairs I just walked towards the plane and as I walked I looked for Taylor. I didn’t want to run because I was worried I would totally run right past him….and anyone who knows me knows this would happen to me. When I finally saw him I began running towards him and jumped into his arms! I have never felt so relieved and happy to see him. There is seriously no feeling like it! For the first time in a little over 5 months I felt at home….in the arms of my airman.

Once again having Travis was awesome! He took pictures and got ones that I didn’t even think he would! Then we took a couple more pictures and went to go pick up his truck. Because of course he was almost as happy see it as he was to see me 😉 just kidding, but the boy seriously loves his truck. So Travis took us to his truck and then we drove to where they had told us they could get their luggage. After he had his bags and received his in processing folder the rest of the day was ours!

*Remember homecomings vary from military branch to military branch. For instance, Army homecomings are usually ceremonies where all the soldiers are in formation! – Lauren

homecomingdayThis will be different for everyone just depending on how your airman feels once they get off the plane. For us though this was a busy, busy day! Because Travis moved Taylor and himself out of the apartment and into their house while Taylor was in Afghanistan, he hadn’t seen the house yet. So, we left base and went directly to their new house. This was really good because he was able to kind of settle in and get changed before we went to lunch, which he was super excited about. He had been craving chips, salsa and a hamburger for so long and now he could finally have it all! So I took him out to lunch at Chilis and yes I paid 🙂 it felt good to feed my airman his first meal back in the states! I am pretty sure he enjoyed every last bite!

The next thing we did was go to Burlington Coat Factory where we bought him all sorts of new things for his new house. I wanted to make sure that he felt as at home as possible on his first night back. We bought new bathroom towels and a new bedding set! A new house calls for some new things!

Then we went to Verizon. Taylor was going to get a new phone before going to the desert, but they lady at Verizon told him to wait because deploying is hard on a phone. So, if your airman has a nice phone before they deploy make sure they have a really sturdy case that with keep any weather and sand out. Taylor’s Droid barely made it through deployment. By the time we had gone to lunch and shopping it had restarted at least 5 times and factory reset itself. So we spent much of our afternoon at Verizon setting Taylor up with a new phone.
If we had not already been crazy enough we then decided to go and have my ring checked. It was due for its first cleaning and in order to keep the insurance I need to have it checked and cleaned every 6 months. So we went to the jeweler and got that all taken care of.
We got a lot accomplished in that first day he was back, but it actually worked out really well because we had the rest of the week to just enjoy ourselves and being back together again.



thedayafter

kaitlinhomecoming1

The day after your significant other comes back from deployment they will need to go in for in processing and get all sorts of check ups done to make sure they have come back from the desert healthy.

This takes just about all morning, so don’t make any plans for most of the day after your airman returns.

 thisisit

Well that is pretty much it! What you do the day your significant other returns is really all up to you and your airman. Like I said it will be different for everyone. Just enjoy every second you have with each other and never take a day together for granted.

You are now a deployment champ and believe me after this I am pretty sure you will be able to conquer anything else the life of being a military significant other has to throw your way! It is not easy, but it is possible to get through. Always remember that each passing day is just one day closer to being in your significant others arms again!

This is it for me in this June series about becoming a deployment champ! I hope I have given you some insight and helpful hints to guide you along the way!

You may hear from me again later down the road, but if you ever need anything or have questions feel free to find me on Facebook! I have been through a lot with my airman and like helping others and giving any advice I can!

Together we can all get through anything! 🙂

Kaitlin Haugen

Week 5 – How To Relax During a PCS!

Play, Laugh & Smile.

roadtrippers

Great site to plan a road trip! *Week 5 of A Month to PCS at The Real Sweetheart*

Those three things are key to a relaxing and fun PCS. With the overall process being a tad stressful on everyone, including the kiddos, why not make one of the last steps of the journey a fun one?! So, try out a few of the suggestions below on your next PCS to make it a special, fun and relaxing one!

  • Make your PCS into a Road Trip.

*Try using roadtrippers.com – it’s an amazing site that not only gives you the directions, but also has entertainment, food, historical place suggestions and more! I’m not saying you have to stop at every sight seeing place, but try a couple to make memories!

  • Consider taking extra leave during a PCS.

*Now this one may seem weird, especially considering your spouse is probably taking PCS leave (Permissive TDY) already, but taking an extra 5 days of personal leave can make the PCS more enjoyable due to an extended time frame.

  • Instead of staying at a hotel overnight, try meeting up with family in an area.

*On our way up to Fort Lewis from Reno, we stopped at Blair’s Aunt’s and Uncle’s place in Klamath Falls and stayed the night. Not only was it nice to catch up with them, but also nice to feel welcomed by family in the middle of our move.

  • Pack games or make up games to play in the car.

*This is one that I loved to do when I was younger – the license plate game. Seriously it had me on lookout for hours. What you do is write down the 50 states on a piece of paper, then every time you see a state license plate you check it off your list. Plates from outside of the states like British Columbia were extra points. I never saw an Alaska plate when I was little and it infuriated me! Anywho, just an idea – try this or make one up of your own! Any games are fun!

A fun little box of questions to ask on the road!

A fun little box of questions to ask on the road!

  • Try making road trip question cards or buying some.

*Table Topics conversation starters are too fun! Years ago I bought a set of these to ask my dad questions about the ’70s at dinner time. It was funny to see how he answered, and interesting to see what he would laugh or smile about! Try picking up a Family Edition set or one of their many other fun sets! Both you and your kids will be laughing and (best of all) talking!

So I want to know – what do you do to make a PCS more relaxed or enjoyable?

Lauren

*I can’t believe it’s already been 5 weeks since I started this series and with it being the last post of *A Month of PCS*, stay tuned for June’s mini series going to be announced next Monday! Have a great weekend!

Previous Posts for *A Month of PCS*

Week 1 – The Basics to a PCS!

Week 2 – On or Off Post?

Week 3 – Who Moves Our Things?

Week 4 – Making the Move!

Getting Ready to Make the Move – PCS Style!

Packing Up and Moving Out.

Try bulk packing hanging clothes by surrounding them with a clean trash bag! *Photo and Idea by

Try bulk packing hanging clothes by surrounding them with a clean trash bag! *Photo and Idea by The Wicker House blog.

This part of a PCS is probably the most calming for me, because I’m dealing with things I know. This is time to organize, throw away any junk and clean! So pop a DVD, or two, or three, into the player and get to packing!

Here are Some Packing Tips to Help You Out!

  1. Start packing the little stuff first. Knick-knacks, pictures, art on the wall – Dust it off and pack it up! *Head to U-Haul and pick up packing paper. Make sure to use it liberally!
  2. Pack well. *Remember you are not moving across town with a PCS. Boxes should be packed tightly, yet not overpacked. The right size box for the right stuff works wonders!
  3. Go to the Dollar Tree and get Color Coding Labels. *These colored dots make it easy to tell what boxes are for what room.
  4. Go tape happy when securing the boxes! *I promise you won’t be sorry! Even try using masking tape on mirrors or picture frame glass – this gives the fragile object a little more support during the move.
  5. If you have extra time, number the boxes and write the contents down on a Packing List. *This way you can make sure no boxes were lost during the move if the military is moving you. And if one was lost, what the contents inside them were.
  6. Leave the kitchen and bathroom for last. *Your family will be thankful they can still make something to eat!
  7. Plan ahead outfits to keep out and rotate washing. *This will keep you out of digging through your boxes a couple days later. Trust me – I was one of those box diggers and wished I had just planned out my outfits! Remember to wear moving clothes – not sundresses! *Guilty*
  8. Give yourself enough time to be able to clean your house/apartment before you leave. *Plan ahead!
boxlabel

Number your boxes to insure none were lost during a move. Great for those who are having the military move them or doing a partial DITY move!

Important Paperwork & Things to Keep On Hand

  • Birth Certificates, Marriage Certificate
  • Social Security Cards, Passports
  • IDs for anyone over the age of 10
  • Car information (registration, insurance, car title)
  • School, Employment, Pet and Bank Records
  • Medicine that is currently being taken and extras like Benadryl, ibuprofen, etc.
  • Checkbooks *To avoid any identity theft!
  • A Packing List *This is just for you to stay organized!

And probably the #1 thing to keep on hand during a move…

  • The Official Orders

Most of these are common sense, but dealing with a PCS can be stressful, so keep a check list for yourself to stay on track!

Lauren

Month of PCS – Who Moves Our Things?

The Big Move.

moving

Let the packing begin!

Not going to lie – this post is a biggie. So let’s get started!

When it came to Blair and I making our first PCS up to Fort Lewis, we instantly knew how we wanted to move – DITY Style. 😉 That being said, doing your own move isn’t the only option and isn’t meant for everyone; you can do it yourself (DITY), kind of do it yourself (Partial DITY) or let the military move you!

First thing first is to evaluate your current life situation and personality before deciding though! So:

  1. Do you have children or a dog?
  2. Are you moving over 700 miles with this PCS?
  3. Are you able to spend $1000+ out of pocket right now?
  4. Do you have multiple cars?
  5. PCS-ing during Spring, Summer, Fall or Winter?
  6. Are you a “road tripper”?
  7. Are you able to live without your belongings for possibly a month or longer?

Some of these questions may seem weird for newbie military wives to ask themselves, but trust me when I tell you that answering these are a must to happily PCS-ing stress free!

If you answered YES to Questions 1, 2, 4 and Fall/Winter for 5, having the Military move you may be the best bet!

If you answered YES to Questions 3 & 6, NO to 7 and Spring/Summer for 5, DITY moves may be for you!

It’s vital to sit down with your sweetheart after answering these and talk it out. PCS-ing is a team effort, so make sure you are on the same mind-track when it comes to how you’ll be moving!

Now onto the next step – setting up your move!

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movetypes

Which move did you pick?

This section is split into 3 parts: DITY Move, Partial DITY Move and Military Move. While some of the steps may vary, the basics and key steps are included!

DITY Move:

  • As soon as the Official Orders are in, contact your apartment office, landlord, etc. and notify them of the move. *The Official Orders will have the report date for your Active Duty spouse on it, so make sure to give enough notice keeping the actual move in mind.
  • Do research and book your rental truck. *We saved so much by using Penske (Hertz). Our 1-way 5 day rental cost was about $600 for a 26 foot truck. Pretty good considering the same for a Uhaul was way over $1000! Also, the point of booking ahead is to ensure they have that truck on the date you want.
  • Plan out the drive and make day goals. *For instance, we drove from Nevada to Washington – a 722 mile drive. Day 1 was used to pick up the rental truck and load it. On Day 2, we set a goal of leaving and making it to Southern Oregon and staying with family to help out with the expenses. For Day 3, we set the goal of making it to Fort Lewis. And Day 4 to unpack and return the rental truck.

Partial DITY Move:

  • Notify your apartment office, landlord, etc. of the move.
  • Set up the move with a Private Moving Company – Do research first for the best rate!
  • Plan accordingly with the Moving Company – are you going to follow them? Are you going to drive straight there and have them meet up with you? Are they going to leave before you?
  • Still make Driving Goals for yourself. *Obviously if your family is flying you don’t need to make these goals.

*Still consider the notes from the previous section – DITY move – when planning a Partial DITY Move.

Military Move:

  • Notify your apartment office, landlord, etc. of the move.
  • Contact your military branch’s nearest base’s Transportation Office. *If you aren’t near a base, this may cause some problems with the military moving your things. Never hurts to try and call though! Blair and I ran into this seeing as though the nearest base was Navy and we are Army. That is one of the reasons why we ended up moving ourselves!
  • Pack your things beyond super well! *The military is notorious for being rough with boxes and furniture!
  • Plan your drive or flight time accordingly. *Give yourself enough time to get to your new Duty Station and mentally prepare for the days ahead. You won’t want to plan on following the military movers – military movers can take up to a month, if not more, to arrive with your belongings.

*Despite this move not being a DITY, previous notes are still good to consider!

STOP HERE – IMPORTANT INFO! If your landlord tries to tell you that you are breaking the lease by moving out before the end date and that you have to pay extra fees due to that, pull out your Military Lease Clause knowledge! You are protected! To learn more, check out Military OneSource’s page on this here.

Alright- next section is some tips on how you DITY movers can actually make money during this move! Let’s go!

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moneymoneymoneyTips and Tricks on Making $$$ off of your DITY Move:

*I actually just sent these to a newbie wife I’ve been talking to the past couple of weeks, and I think it fits perfectly into this post! So a shout out to Melanie and her family! Her husband gets home from AIT very soon (Yay!) and then it’s moving time!

  • Rent smart. Like I said, we used Penske (Hertz) and it was by far the cheapest. And they have a military discount!
  • Weigh the rental truck after it’s been completely loaded and is completely full with gas. You have to provide weight tickets to get reimbursed, so why not make it weigh the most it can! *You have to use weighing stations at truck gas stations like Love’s. The state weigh stations won’t help you.
  • That goes for the final weight ticket too. Weigh it when you have completely unloaded and gas isn’t full!
  • Keep every single moving receipt in a Manila Folder. You get reimbursed for a certain amount of lodging and food a day. *If you want to make a little more money in the long run, just buy lunch meats, snack foods, etc. for food to stay away from paying out of pocket for full on meals at restaurants.
  • Mark mileage!

Something to note is that ranks have different weight limit amounts you’ll be reimbursed for during a DITY move. Make sure to look for your spouse’s rank weight limit when it comes to moving things! *For the most part, I’m pretty sure you all will be fine when it comes to your stuff though. We moved a lot in a 26 foot truck, including a TON of heavy heavy furniture and still met the weight limits! But better to be safe than sorry!

Phew! That was long, but I hope it gave some of you newbie wives a place to get started! If you’re a military wife and have some PCS tips, tricks or recommendations of your own make sure to send them my way by emailing therealsweetheartblog@gmail.com or commenting below!

Happy PCS-ing!

Lauren

Other Posts for *A Month of PCS*

Week 1 – The Basics to a PCS!

Week 2 – On or Off Post?

Week 4 – Making the Move!

Week 5 – How to Relax During a PCS!

How To: Get A National Parks Pass for FREE

Summertime.

militarypass

Our 2013 National Parks Pass – We can’t wait to use it!

I can feel it coming and I’m excited! Camping, hiking, and just being outside makes me very happy. So although it’s been pouring on and off here for the past 24 hours, I decided to go out and get our first Military National Parks Annual Pass for 2013!

Now the best part about getting the pass this year? It was completely, totally, no-fees free. That’s right – FREE.

But before you run out your door, please note that this is only available for Active Duty Military! (Civilians pay the standard annual pass costs.)

If you are in the Joint Base Lewis-McChord area, head South to Nisqually National Wildlife Refuge to pick up one for you and your family! You can also pick up one at any National Park Ranger Station or National Wildlife Refuge Office if you are stationed somewhere else. 🙂 All you will need to bring with you is your Military ID!

The ranger I spoke to at Nisqually explained that the Annual Pass – Military comes along with some extra steps when using them:

  1. Do not lend the Military Annual Pass to other family or friends.
  2. To successfully enter the National Park or Refuge, you will need to show your Military ID along with the pass itself.
  3. The pass will allow other passengers entrance into the parks. Meaning, you, your active duty spouse and any other passengers inside the car will be allowed into the park – so not just those with Military IDs!
  4. Both you and your active duty spouse will sign the back of the pass. So if you just so happen to forget your Military ID and your spouse has their’s, you will still be able to successfully enter the park when he gives his CAC Card to them.

For more FAQs on Military Annual Passes, check the U.S. Geological Survey’s Military Pass Site here.

Enjoy!

Lauren

P.S. Today marks Blair’s first year in the Army. It’s hard to believe that last Mother’s Day I was dropping him off at the recruiter’s and now a year has already passed. I’m extremely proud of him for who he has become throughout this whole experience and proud of him for all that he has done. This also goes for all the soldiers already out there – without you guys, we would not be a FREE country! Thank you for your service!

On or Off Post?

militaryspouseappreciation 2First of all – Happy Military Spouse Appreciation Day!

Today is a day to pat yourself on the back! It takes a lot to be a military spouse – dealing with deployments, early mornings, late nights and those 24 Hour Shifts! The list goes on!

But go ahead and treat yourself to something! Trust me. Don’t feel guilty! I’m sure your solider wouldn’t mind you spoiling yourself just a little, because I can promise you that he is extremely thankful and appreciative for the love, respect and laughs you  give him.

Want to buy something little for yourself and save some money? Here are some places that offer Military Discounts!

  1. Old Navy – 10% off the first of the every month (the Old Navy here has the military discount everyday, so check your’s out!)
  2. Aeropostale – 20% off with valid military id
  3. Lady’s Foot Locker – 20% off
  4. Eddie Bauer – 15% off
  5. Payless Shoe Source – 10% with valid military id

Now to Week 2 of *A Month to PCS*! – On Post or Off Post?

categoriesPicking Your Home.

When it comes to PCS-ing, one of the most stressful and difficult things is finding a place you can comfortably call home.

But a good starting place is to consider whether you plan to live On Post or Off Post.

Below are some pros and cons of each broken down into categories! Remember to keep a list of your own Pros and Cons list as well!

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on

1. Proximity

Pros:

  • The drive is considerably shorter due to not commuting – wake up times are later due to less of a commute.
  • Some bases have bike lanes available to avoid driving and gas costs.
  • Your spouse can come home easily to shower after PT and eat.
  • You are closer to base amenities: PX, commissary, base hospital, etc.

Cons:

  • Your spouse is closer to work, so he or she might be more likely to be called in for a 24 Hour Shift or details.
  • Your spouse might feel like they never truly are able to leave the “work environment”.

2. Style of Life

Pros:

  • You live the true military lifestyle – everyone around you is serving!
  • The MPs (military police) are constantly patrolling – sense of protection.

Cons:

  • You may feel like you are never able to get away from the military lifestyle.
  • You have to enter through the base’s gate to get home if you leave post *Don’t ever forget your military id!*

3. Housing

Pros:

  • You don’t pay any rent or utilities!

Cons:

  • Extra amenities such as Cable and Internet come out of your pocket.
  • No BAH (Basic Allowance for Housing) *essentially you are trading your BAH for the ability to live on post rent and utility free*
  • Inspections of the housing is not uncommon.
  • Wait lists for Base Housing are typically long.
  • There are certain dog breed restrictions.
  • The housing you are given depends on your rank and what is available. *Quality and size grows as the rank grows*

*Make sure to do research on Base Housing for your specific base. I’ve found that Base Housing websites are hard to find, but don’t give up!

*Note: If you are looking to apply to Base Housing and your spouse if still in AIT or OSUT, it may be more difficult for you to apply due to not having Official Orders in hand. Call your base’s housing office for more information – Some bases may vary on this.

4. Area

Pros:

  • Well maintained.
  • Most bases have parks, dog parks, and activity centers (movie theater, bowling alley, etc.).
  • You have easy access to the commissary and PX.

Cons:

  • Proximity to schools may be far.
  • Noises (artillery, ranges, aircraft, etc.) can be considerably loud.
  • Proximity to shopping malls and different types of restaurants may be far.

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off

1. Proximity

Pros:

  • Your spouse is able to “get away” from the work environment living off post.
  • Not as quickly called in to fill on 24 Hours Shifts or details since you live off post.

Cons:

  • Your spouse will have a commute time – Wake Up times will be earlier due to commute.
  • Not able to come home during the day as easily.
  • Gas costs.

2. Style of Life

Pros:

  • You get to choose what school district you live in.
  • Closer to everyday stores and restaurants like Wal-Mart, Chili’s, Target, etc.
  • Able to get away from the military lifestyle!
  • Public parks and dog parks are available for you to enjoy (amount and proximity may vary).
  • You can easily go to places off base as you please  *Meaning you don’t need to get off post to go to the mall then go through the gate to get back on!

Cons:

  • You have to drive commute to base to shop at the Commissary and PX.
  • If you have a medical emergency, you have to commute to the base’s hospital  *This depends on whether you have TriCare Prime or Standard. Also, some neighboring cities and towns of the base have Urgent Care Clinics available for you to go to!

3. Housing

Pros:

  • You get to choose where you live, whether that is in a house, townhouse, condo or apartment! The options are endless!
  • More dog friendly housing options available.
  • You receive BAH to compensate for Housing and Utility costs. *BE SMART with your money! You may be able to save money each month if you plan and spend wisely when it comes to rent. 🙂 Blair and I pocket about $300 a month that goes directly towards savings – I’ll do a post about how to save money while living off post in the near future!
  • Extra BAH money can go towards cable and Internet (not out of pocket!)

Cons:

  • You have to pay rent and utilities.
  • You may not have a yard to let your children or pets play on.
  • You may not have neighbors who are also in the military.

*To figure out your BAH, check here!

4. Area

Pros:

  • Military caused noises won’t be as loud.
  • Neighbors may not be in the military – a chance to grow
  • Easy access to typical stores, restaurants and malls.
  • Parks and Dog Parks may be available.

Cons:

  • Crime rates may vary depending on the area.
  • May not be well maintained.

*Always check out your base’s Military Spouse Facebook page! Ask them questions on what areas to look for housing at and what areas to stay away from. They live there and will be able to help! Maybe even ask what apartments are nice or if anyone is renting their house?

So I’m challenging you! Grab your sweetheart tonight and make your Pros and Cons list on finding housing when PCS-ing. Are school ratings important to you? Proximity to base? How about living on post? Bothered by plane noises? The Pros and Cons for living On or Off Post go on!

Just make sure to take your time and really consider what is best for you and your family!

Lauren

Other Posts for *A Month of PCS*

Week 1 – The Basics to a PCS!

Week 3 – Who Moves Our Things?

Week 4 – Making the Move!

Week 5 – How to Relax During a PCS!

The Basics to a PCS!

The Basics.

Knowing the basic information to anything is key to later mastering it. And it works the same way when it comes to having a truly successful PCS! So let’s start off *A Month of PCS* with some general questions! Ready. Set. GO!

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PCS stands for Permanent Change of Station. An even easier way to think of a PCS is simply a Duty Station change.

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As soon as your spouse receives their official PCS orders to your new duty station, don’t start packing yet! There is still a lot to get organized at the beginning stages and packing will confuse you in the long run!

Some things you can do after receiving official orders include:

  • jblmwivesFind your Spouse’s Duty Station Page on Facebook. For instance, Fort Lewis has a Fort Lewis Military Wives Facebook Page. This gave me a great start in figuring out the areas to look at moving to and the areas to stay away from!
  • If you live on or off post, make sure to give the housing office or landlord notification of your move. *Official orders have the date in which your active duty spouse has to report – you will want to use that date as a rule of thumb when deciding when to move out*
  • Be Proactive. Start looking at the different routes you can use when driving to your new duty station. If you have children, consider making a couple of stops at landmarks to make the drive easier!

question4

moving boxPCSs costs vary. If you’re moving from Florida to Washington, it obviously will cost more than Nevada to Washington. Something to keep in mind is whether you will do a Full DITY (Do-It-Yourself) Move, Partial DITY Move or let the military move you. *I’ll go over these different options during Week 3!

Also, another thing to keep in mind during a PCS Move is that you will be spending money out of pocket at first. It’s inevitable  So plan ahead. Create a savings account to keep $1000 to $1500 in specifically for PCSs. That should cover any food, gasoline and hotel costs during your move.

Don’t worry about losing that money! Once at your new station, your spouse will file paperwork to be reimbursed for any spending. *There are spending limits – so no, that doesn’t mean you get to eat lobster every night during your move!

question3

No – Do not be worried at all! And don’t always listen to what you read on the Internet. I’ve found that most spouses that go to the Internet to write opinions usually are bitter over something.

So, be and stay positive! Moving can be stressful – you are moving away from family, friends and all of the things you know. Think of this as an adventure, because that’s all life is. Life’s an adventure!

question 5

As Shakira says on The Voice, “This is a Toughie One.” As a new military spouse, you will most likely run into this situation. And pulling from my experiences and experiences of other newbie Army wives, you will want to try and jump into planning the move right away.

This is where you need to slam on your breaks and reconsider all of the info you have.

Most likely your spouse was told simply where he or she will be stationed, meaning they don’t have their official orders in hand – Official orders typically aren’t given to the soldier till the final stage of AIT or OSUT.

Now you may ask why do you need the official orders to get started and it’s quite simple on a couple of different levels:

  1. Nothing is 100% certain until you have it typed out, in hand, on the Official orders. 
  2. If you are applying to On Post housing, most bases will prevent you from applying unless you have your Official Orders sent or faxed to them.
  3. As hard as it is, accept that you can only do so much to plan ahead. Do the research of the area, including traffic times on the routes to the base! Look at some neighboring cities or towns by the base. Ask some fellow wives on the base’s Facebook page for spouses on what apartments are great and affordable. Think about what you can do to make life easier for your soldier when he arrives home after his AIT or OSUT graduation.

Overall, the basics to a PCS come down to being Proactive. As a new military wife, you have to do some research because your sweetheart most likely isn’t right next to you. And remember to stay on board here at The Real Sweetheart for the upcoming weeks of *A Month of PCS*!

Lauren

Other Posts for *A Month of PCS*

Week 2 – On or Off Post?

Week 3 – Who Moves Our Things?

Week 4 – Making the Move!

Week 5 – How to Relax During a PCS!

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