A Family Checklist for Moving OCONUS
When you receive orders for a permanent change of station overseas, you will have a lot of preparation to do before you move. Fortunately, Military OneSource and the installation’s Military and Family Support Centers provide assistance to service members and family members who are making a permanent change of station.
Consider these helpful steps to plan your move overseas
When you receive orders, Military OneSource or your installation-level relocation assistance program are your places to turn to assist in this journey. As soon as you receive your orders, it's time to start planning. Here are some of the first things to consider:
- Obtain command sponsorship: If you intend to take your family with you overseas, you'll need to obtain command sponsorship. This designation, which will appear on your orders, ensures your family will receive travel compensation, housing support and legal protection in your host country.
- Think housing: Whether you stay in government housing or receive an overseas housing allowance, there are certain things to consider before you leave, including how much stuff to bring.
- Set up your move: Visit Move.mil or contact your transportation office to set up the logistics of your upcoming move as soon as you receive your PCS orders. Follow this moving checklist, and a few other steps to make your move a smart move.
- Check your finances: Moving can be costly. You’ll likely face unexpected expenses even with the military picking up your tab for travel and household goods. Be sure you'll be able to cover any last-minute surprises and keep records of reimbursable expenses. If you need assistance, financial support services are available.
- Don't overpack: Take inventory of all your belongings before the movers arrive and decide what you'll really need. Find out your “household good weight limit” and stick to it. If you don't need something, don't bring it. Remember, it will likely take a while for your regular household goods shipment to arrive.
- Prepare for a new culture: Even the most seasoned travelers may experience surprises when moving to a new country. A new language, new food and different customs take some getting used to. One of the best ways to prepare: attend a Far Away Places Workshop; which is specifically designed to help you and your family anticipate and prepare for moving to a foreign country.
Resources to ease your move overseas
The resources to help with your transition are already in place. These include the relocation assistance program, emergency financial help and the military-wide sponsorship program.
- Contact your Military and Family Support Center to talk to a relocation assistance service provider. These experts can provide information, education and resources, including the Far Away Places workshop and online tools to help you navigate the moving process or connect you with additional resources like those below.
- Use Plan My Move: Military OneSource's online moving tool can help you make smoother work of an overseas permanent change of station.
- Check out MilitaryINSTALLATIONS, an online directory of information about U.S. military installations worldwide.
- Sponsorship: A sponsor can be your very best resource for figuring out what your life will look like overseas. Sponsors can tell you about your new unit and life on base, as well as fill you in on cultural norms and quirky customs. They might even pick you up at the airport.
- Help for kids: Kids are resilient — and military kids are more resilient than most. Still, it's important to prepare them for the huge change of an overseas move. Your current and new installations will both have the resources to help.
- Family members with special needs: If you have a family member with special needs, consultants with the Exceptional Family Member Program can help you make sure their needs are met during your move.
- Health care: Contact TRICARE to notify them of your move and discuss your options for care at your new location.
- School liaison: Many installations have a school liaison program to serve as a bridge and facilitator between schools and military families. Find your installation’s school liaison contact information on MilitaryINSTALLATIONS by searching for “School Liaison Office/Community Schools” under programs or services.
- Housing: Contact the housing office on your installation to begin the process of finding a place to live in your new location. Also, HOMES.mil is a service that connects service members and their families with housing rentals located near military bases.
Embrace your new home and community
Living overseas gives military families a wonderful opportunity to experience the world as very few others can. It takes some work, but with the right preparation you can have the adventure of a lifetime.