It’s been about 5 months since our departure from the States and things are slowly coming together, much like placing the pieces of a puzzle in its rightful place. We are definitely settling in to our new life overseas.
Before heading out to our new adventure, I did quite a bit of research on how to have a “worry and stress free” move overseas. After planning and making multiple lists, I really believe there is no such thing! You can only prepare to be organized and hopefully things will be seamless as possible, but the anxiety of moving, let alone half way around the world will sink in and it will catch up with you.
Leaving the comforts of home and my family was the most difficult thing I have done to date. I think giving birth to my son was easier compared to relocating overseas. I am finally able to really enjoy it here and able to see what this new place has to offer.
I read several blogs on the subject of what our new life will be like here and lots of suggestions on what I should dispose vs. keep in regards to material things. I wanted to add a few things that I didn’t read about on several blogs and on-line tips on moving overseas.
Buy a brand new notebook – You will need to write anything and everything that relates to your move. It’s much nicer to have a new notebook that has nothing else written on it unless it involves your to-do list and contact info of what you need to accomplish before leaving. Electronically saving this is also another way to keep everything in a central location. You can utilize your smart phone for this purpose. I’m old school and like to write everything down.Editor’s Note: We have a terrific post about creating a PCS Binder on the site already!
Decide which items you want to keep – Anything with sentimental value, by all means take with you. Even if it seems ridiculous to keep due to its size or lack of usefulness, keep it. If you think you will regret it, just keep it. Hobby related items, you may want to keep depending on where you are moving. You may not have easy access to those particular items.Editor’s Note: For those of you moving with the military, you may also want to take advantage of the stateside permanent storage option that may be offered to you. Any items that you won’t need for a couple of years but want to keep might be better off sitting in a storage unit than making the transcontinental trip overseas and back. Contact TMO for specific information about this option. Also, Germany has different electricity aspects, which might help you decide on which appliances you’d like to bring and which will stay behind. See our article about Appliances: What to Bring and What to Leave.
Have a moving/yard sale – I think it’s only natural to shed a few unwanted items before moving. There are several things to keep in mind on how to have a successful sale, but believe the number one and most important thing to do is to make sure you have exposure. You don’t even have to pay for an ad, however make sure you have clear and legible signs around your neighborhood. Utilize Craigslist and Facebook flea market/second hand groups you already have joined. If not, find them and join. Start using them for the larger and higher ticket items you want to sell. I was able to sell our washer and dryer set, also lots of my son’s baby items I no longer use.
Packing up your Household Goods (HHG) – Now this will vary depending if you are moving with military support or not. I was fortunate enough to be a DoD civilian and had a moving company box everything up and ship it off to our destination. As soon as you have your PCS (Permanent Change of Station) order, make an appointment with your local transport department. For those who are moving on your own, decide if you are going to pack yourself or seek services from a packing company. Call and make an appointment once you know when you need to be out of your current lodgings. Make sure your items are insured while in transit. If you do the move yourself, it’ll be up to you to make sure that everything is packed before they are picked up. To save money, go to big warehouse or grocery stores for used boxes.
Carry-on items – Pack any important documents with your carry-on. You will need to organize these in order to have them handy once you land. A good accordion file holder is good for this type of documents. These documents include birth and marriage certificates, insurance paperwork, PCS order, and anything else that you may need to in-process or present to your employer on your first day of work. Since I have a 20-month-old toddler, I also added a few items that helped with traveling with a child. A comfy blanket and favorite stuff animal. My son loves music so we packed a nice pair of headphones for him. Anything that can keep him occupied like stickers, coloring books, and small light weight toys.
Unaccompanied Baggage (UB) – This is available for those that will be PCS’ing with the military. These will arrive about 3 weeks from shipping from the States. Most of the things we packed was for my little boy, such as more diapers that had already bought before we knew we were leaving, toys, camping chairs that can be used while waiting for your furniture to arrive, kitchen items for cooking and eating, more clothes that you may need for work. This list may vary for others since it all depend on what you may need sooner than later. A friend shipped their golf clubs with their UB.
Medications – If you and your family have prescription medications, make sure they are filled and ready to go before leaving. Do not wait until the last minute to fill these just in case you will need to call your doctor to have a new prescription refilled. Don’t forget your pets’ medications as well.
Utilities – Make sure utilities are turned off once you vacate your place. If you are fortunate enough to have sold your house or just moving from a rented apartment, you can have your utilities scheduled to be turned off the day you move out.
Immunizations – Each foreign country has its own list of required and recommended immunizations. You can check with your local health department on what shots you may need before leaving.
Pets – You may need to quarantine your pets depending on whether certain qualifications have been met prior to arrival. If quarantine is not needed, booster shots will be required and even microchip will be needed as well. Check with your airline in advance and let them know you will be traveling with a pet. Depending on the weight of your pet, you may be able to have them in cabin with you. If they are on the larger end of the breeds, make sure you have a big enough crate for them to move around and get comfortable. Keep in mind there are heat embargo during the summer months and most airlines will not allow you to take your pets with you. Germany Ja has a few articles specifically dealing with PCSing with your pets. How To Ship an Unaccompanied Pet To Germany; PCSing Our Pet Pooches
Vacating – I highly advise hiring a cleaning service. We tried to clean our house before leaving and we were too tired taking care of everything else. At the last minute, we tried to book a cleaning service the day prior to vacating the premises and I could not find one on such short notice. Luckily, my mom knew someone from church who was willing to clean for a small fee.
Donate – Anything else that you weren’t able to sell at the moving sale, consider donating items that can still be used. Not only are you recycling, but it is also a tax write off. I also gave away a lot of my food left the pantry to family and friends.
Forward Mail – Don’t forget to fill out a forwarding address form through your local post office. You can easily do this online and can be done in advance and indicated which day your are moving.
For more tips about PCSing to Germany be sure to visit all of our PCSing articles!