CONTRIBUTED BY LINDSEY BARROW
PHOTOS COURTESY OF LINDSEY BARROW, CHRISTINE BRUNS & AMY HICKERSON
When my family was moving to Korea, one of my first thoughts was, “What are we going to do before our furniture arrives?!” Since furniture is a big no-no in unaccompanied baggage, most of us are without our own furniture for a couple of months. Fortunately, the government has a great loaner furniture program to assist families until everything arrives.
The government furniture is very basic; in fact, I had a friend refer to it as “Flintstone furniture” because of its lack of cushioning. What it lacks in comfort, however, it makes up for in convenience and cleanliness. Could you imagine sleeping on an air mattress for three months? Not me – my kids would have an air mattress popped in no time!
All joking aside, government issued furniture is a great resource when you are PCSing in and out of Korea and it will be one of the first things you will want to take care of. When you arrive, one of your first stops will be housing. After you accept your living quarters (on or off base), take the paperwork housing gives you over to TMO. Here, the active duty member will start/stop allotments and will also apply for the loaner furniture. TMO and FMO work together on this one, and they will coordinate the drop off for you. We were able to get our furniture delivered within hours of getting the key to our apartment on base.
The furniture comes as a package deal. We weren’t able to choose what we received; it was all or nothing. Fortunately, FMO has a good idea of what families need. This is what came in our package for a family of 5:
Dining room: Table and chairs (x5), Computer desk and chair (the chair was pretty comfy!)
Living room: Couch, chairs (x2), lamp, tv stand, coffee table, end table
Kids bedrooms: twin bed (x3), nightstand (x3) TV stand (1 total), lamp (x3), 6-drawer dresser (1 total). We used the TV stand as a dresser, and two of our kids shared the 6-drawer dresser. We made it work.
Master bedroom: full size bed (yes, full size), 6-drawer dresser, nightstand (x2), lamp (x2)
The housing website has a few things listed that we did not get due to lack of availability such as a buffet and bookcase (we didn’t have anything to put in them yet so it was no big deal). Furniture is picked up when your HHG arrive. We asked if the loaner furniture could be kept for the duration of our tour here (many overseas locations have this option and a lot of families use it due to restricted weight allowances) but we were told that wasn’t possible.
The furniture package from FMO is separate from the loaner package that you can get from the Airman & Family Readiness Center. Those kits are on a first come, first served basis and include kitchen items (mixer, dishes, coffee pot) and small baby items such as a pack n play. The loan closet kits from A&FRC are available for 30 days with the option to renew as long as there is nobody on the waiting list. We did not use the kit because my husband was here for a considerable amount of time before we arrived.
Our things finally showed up about two months into our tour here and FMO came and picked up the furniture the same day we had our HHG delivered. They did a quick inspection of the furniture to make sure it was in good condition, we signed off on it, and that was it! Housing, FMO, and TMO really have this process down to a science- it was very easy and convenient.
The photos in each collage are examples of what three different families on different military installations received as loaner furniture here in the ROK. As you can see, fabric colors and furniture styles may vary according to what is available at any given time, and while it might not be what you would pick out to purchase yourself, having a bed to sleep on for those “in between” times is a terrific resource available to our military families.
Did you take advantage of loaner furniture when PCSing in or out? What was your experience like?