Three men setting up a moving truck

Staying or Moving When Your Spouse is Deployed

Your spouse is deploying, and you might be tempted to pack up and move closer to your family. The change of scenery might be nice, your parents could help with the kids and you could reconnect with old friends — all great things to distract you from the deployment. However, staying put has its own advantages.

Deciding to stay or move is a personal decision, and you and your family should consider how moving will affect different parts of your life, such as:

  • Finances
  • Medical access
  • Family members with special needs
  • Employment
  • Children
  • Family time
  • Your military support system

Should I move? Making the right decision

Staying or moving should be a family decision. Before you call the movers, do your research and consider all the factors that could impact you and the family. Make an informed decision by considering the following:

  • Your ties to the community. Maybe you already have a support system that can help you with potential challenges during the deployment.
  • Your children. Their involvement in school, sports and other activities will likely be disrupted if you move. But if you have a baby or toddler, parents or relatives might help you with child care.
  • Where you'll live. If you plan to move in with your parents or relatives, discuss the arrangement. You may have good intentions, but sharing a bathroom or having extra cooks in the kitchen can be tough for some.
  • Your finances. Your bank accounts could take a hit if you move because you'd pay to move your family twice — once when you leave and again when you move back to the installation after the deployment. Moving or storing your possessions costs money.
  • Pre-deployment family time. The time before a family separation is precious. You may want to take a last-minute vacation or just spend those last few days or weeks together before your partner leaves. If you decide to move, you could spend time packing and preparing to move.
  • Your housing situation now and after you move. Moving could affect your housing benefits. If you'll be renting when you move, your Basic Allowance for Housing, or BAH, may not be enough to cover the rent because it's based on the housing market where you now live. If you live in government quarters, you could lose your housing if you leave, so check with the housing office about leaving your quarters vacant until you return after the deployment.
  • Special medical treatment or services for your exceptional family member. Specialized care and services may not be readily available in your new location.

Staying on the installation

You may have a number of valid reasons for moving when your spouse deploys. But consider the following advantages to staying on the installation:

  • Installation services: The commissary, exchange, recreational activities, Military and Family Support Center, family and community support, legal assistance and more are available to help save you money and keep you busy while your partner is away.
  • Unit activities: This is a great way to stay connected to your spouse's unit and participate in programs for families in the deployment cycle.
  • Medical care: This is readily available on the installation or in the local community. Check with TRICARE for more information on medical services in different areas of the country.
  • Other military families: The comforting I-know-what-you're-going-through support of other military families is something your friends and family back home may not be able to offer.
  • Safety and security: Staying on the installation can give your service member peace of mind knowing that you and your family are safe and secure.
  • Family routines: Keeping to your regular routines during a deployment brings a sense of normalcy for your family. The same school, sports teams, Girl Scout or Boy Scout unit, piano lessons and clubs can keep your children occupied. For you, keeping your job, being familiar with the community businesses and resources can give you a sense of routine, too.
  • Settling into the military community: Putting down roots during the deployment can make your partner's return home easier. This may or may not be the last deployment, so establishing routines and creating connections in the community can help you and your family live the mobile military life.

Deciding to move

After you've considered all your options, you may decide that moving closer to home is best for you and your family. Remember to do these things if you choose to move:

  • Give your contact information to your spouse's unit.
  • Contact TRICARE. Talk with a TRICARE representative about how your health care benefits will cover you and your family.
  • Notify installation housing or your landlord that you'll be moving.
  • Change your address with the post office. Make sure your mail is forwarded.
  • Keep in touch with your spouse's unit contacts. Visit the unit website often. Remember, there are many resources within the Family Readiness Systems to support you — chaplains, behavioral health professionals, the Military and Family Support Center, or Morale, Welfare and Recreation.
  • Stay connected to other military spouses or support programs. Your local Red Cross chapter and State Family Program at the Joint Forces Headquarters are great resources for information.

Visit Military OneSource for all your military-related questions or call 800-342-9647 to speak with one of our expert consultants who provide confidential assistance in a number of areas. Talking with someone who understands can help you make the right decision.