Moving to Your Next Duty Station

10 Ways to Streamline Your Journey

The Department of Defense estimates that the average military family will move six to nine times over the course of their servicemember’s career. As if that weren’t challenging enough, you may have a few days or months to get ready for the next big move. Fortunately, there are a few things you can do to make sure your next change in duty station goes off without a hitch.

  • 01 of 09

    Get a Power of Attorney

    power of attorney
    Getty Images/Peter Dazeley

    If your servicemember is deployed, or will deploy shortly after the move, consider getting power of attorney to make things easier. A power of attorney is legal, written permission for the spouse to act on behalf of the servicemember.

    This will allow you to schedule the move, even if your servicemember has already deployed. You’ll be able to open joint bank accounts and ship or receive household goods. After the move, there may be a lot of legal tasks to take care of. Having a power of attorney...MORE can take a great deal of stress off of your family during a deployment.

  • 02 of 09

    Know Your Limits

    cargo weight
    Getty Images/Sabine Thielemann / EyeEm

    Weight limits, that is! If you choose to have the military transport your household goods to your new home, you’ll be given a weight allowance based on your servicemember’s rank and the number of dependents. Going over this allowance can be costly, and some branches have begun sending overage bills to servicemembers. For about $100 for every hundred pounds.

    Not sure whether you meet the weight requirements? Try the Department of Defense’s household goods weight calculator. Alternatively, estimate...MORE 1,000 pounds per room (taking into account beds, mattresses, and so on), then add the approximate weight of the appliances you’ll be taking.

  • 03 of 09

    Prep Your House for Packing

    Don’t wait to start organizing for the move. Many military families have to move every two to four years, so organize your house in a way that makes packing easier.

    When you find yourself getting close to moving time, start sorting. Donate or sell items your family no longer needs, and break down furniture you don’t use frequently. Start a list of things your family uses daily, and mark their boxes with “Open First,” or plan to hand carry them.

  • 04 of 09

    Build Some Savings Before the Move

    Even though you’ll be reimbursed for a good portion of your moving expenses, you’ll still need to cover certain items out of pocket.  Plan ahead and start setting aside a little bit extra in your savings account so that you can still live comfortably during and after the move.

    Continue to 5 of 9 below.
  • 05 of 09

    Wait to Buy the New Couch

    This ties into the savings and the weight limit. If you can hold off buying any new furniture a year before the move, it’s a good idea to wait. You can sell your old furniture before you leave, which will give you a buffer in your weight allowance. Plus, it’s nice to get fresh, new furniture in your new home, especially while you’re waiting for the rest of your household goods to arrive.

  • 06 of 09

    Keep Copies of Everything Within Reach

    Print out everything you’ll need during the move and put it all in a binder. You’ll want a copy of your orders, moving forms, medical documents, lease or housing information, and so on. Keeping this documentation close by will save you time and headache as you move through the process.

  • 07 of 09

    Plan Ahead for Travel Activities

    Nothing is worse than being stuck in a car, or on a plane with a bored child (or children). Plan activities for the travel time as you move to your new home. This can include hand-held games, books, music, roadtrip family games, and similar activities. If you’re traveling by car, plan a few fun stops along the way to break up the monotony of the trip. 

  • 08 of 09

    Know Before You Go

    Get an idea of the area around you. This can help you plan for housing purchase, downsizing if necessary, or local schools. This can also help to alleviate some of the anxiety you or your family may feel about moving to a new area.

    Continue to 9 of 9 below.
  • 09 of 09

    Double Check Pet Requirements

    pet sleeping
    Getty Images/TAMVISUT

    If you’ll be living on base and are planning to bring your pet, look into the breed restrictions you’ll be facing. Also find out what else you’ll need to get taken care of (current vaccinations, vet exam, etc.). Consider getting your pet micro-chipped to avoid any unfortunate losses while in a new area. 

Whether or not you have kids, saying goodbye to friends and family can be the hardest parts of a military move. You’ll be pressed for time, so in order to make sure you get to see everyone, get everyone all in one place for a party.