A perk of being part of a military family is being able to travel, see new places and meet new people. As a service member’s spouse, I have learned that living in different areas has helped me grow and evolve as a person. Although moving to a new place is exciting, it can also be a stressful time. Here are a few relocation tips for military families to help along the way.
Utilizing Military Movers
A huge help that the military provides during PCS (Permanent Change of Station) season is having movers come to your residence and pack all of your belongings for you. Having a company assist in moving has made this process so much easier for us. The military gives families the option to move on their own, but having others come and take care of packing for you (without having to pay a dime for their service) tremendously lessens the stress.
**Courtesy tip: Normally movers aren’t allowed to accept tips after they are done packing all of your belongings. A common courtesy that some families do is buy the movers coffee or lunch (for example ordering pizza). This is not required, but we’ve learned that it is a nice gesture to show how much the movers are appreciated.
When moving in and moving out of a duty station, the military will pay for lodging. This helps with not having to worry about finding a hotel and paying for the nights spent there. Check with your branch of service to see exactly how many nights are covered. Even if they do not pay for all the nights spent at lodging, a good portion of it will be covered.
Cooking While in Lodging
Eating out 3 times a day for a week or two can get pricey. Something we’ve done that has helped with saving money on food is cooking while staying in lodging. Speaking from experience, military lodging normally has a small kitchenette (along with kitchen supplies). We would go grocery shopping, and cook our meals in our room. Not only will this save money, but it is also a healthier option for you and your family.
Buying Prepared Meals
If there isn’t a kitchenette in your hotel room, or you do not have the option to cook, I highly suggest purchasing prepared meals. You can find them at the commissary, but our personal favorite has been shopping at Trader Joe’s. They have a good selection of prepared meals that you can pop in the microwave. The price of these meals will only be a quarter to a half of what you will pay at a restaurant.
Packing an Electric Pot
Purchasing an electric pot (not referring to an Instapot) and bringing it with us while moving has been a game changer. It’s convenient and cooks meals fast. We were able to cook while in the hotel, and also after we moved into our new home. On one specific move, it took us almost two months to receive our belongings. Because of our electric pot, I was able to still cook at home, even though we didn’t have any of our pots and pans.
Other Relocation Tips
Donating Food For a Good Cause
Instead of throwing away canned food, try donating it to a helpful organization. Move For Hunger is a non-profit organization that works with moving companies. They collect non-perishable food and deliver it to food banks across the nation. Ask for a receipt when donating so you can claim a tax deduction during tax season.
Optimizing the Benefits of Your Credit Card
Signing up for a credit card that gives you double/triple the points for all purchases (for example gas, hotels and restaurants) will help you out in the long run. Why not earn something back while spending money?
**A credit card we use is the USAA Preferred Cash Rewards Visa Signature Card. They offer 1.5% cash back on all purchases, no annual fee and zero liability (so cardholders will not have to worry about fraudulent activity).
Saving receipts from your move will come in handy during tax season. From your gas, food, car rentals, hotels and even storage will all be things you can claim when it’s time to file your taxes.
Saving Money on Gas
Gas prices are continuing to rise, so keeping in mind where you fill up your tank is important. Gas on post is normally cheaper, but what do you do if you aren’t near a military base? I’ve recently discovered a free app called Gas Buddy. Gas Buddy will show you the prices of the all the gas stations near you, so you can go to the one with the best price.
Moving Companies That Offer a Military Discount
If you decide to move on your own, we highly recommend looking into companies that offer a military discount. Here is a list of companies we found that do offer a special rate for service members:
- Go Mini’s
- Zippy Shell
- Budget Truck Rental
- Penske Truck Rental
(Please call these companies to ensure that they are still offering their military rates.)
Restaurants That Offer a Military Discount
This is something I always ask at every restaurant. Many restaurants offer a military discount, but it may not be advertised. Before the check comes, ask the waiter if their establishment offers a military discount. If they do, it will normally be a 5-10% discount off your bill. It may not seem like a lot, but you are still saving some money.
Hotels That Offer a Military Discount
On one particular move, my husband and I had to drive across the country to our next duty station. While we were traveling, we were able to find a few hotels that offered a military rate. Discounted hotels include:
- Best Western – 10% off best rate
- Hilton Hotels – 10% off
- Motel 6 – 10% off
- Super 8 – 15% off
Moving every 2-4 years can be stressful, but having the military’s support makes it a bit easier and more manageable. It’s important to plan ahead and take the necessary steps to ensure that all future moves will go as smoothly as possible. Being part of a military family and moving every few years can be challenging, but it gives us the chance to see new places and meet new people. I personally like seeing PCS season as the military paying us to adapt, learn and grow. In my opinion, it’s one the best things about being part of a military family.