Saturday, April 6, 2013

Moving Day!

We are a "new" Army family, PCS'ing for the very first time.

Even with the excitement of moving to Europe, PCS'ing has been extremely stressful!  Not only is this our very first PCS, but it's an international one, and Eric & I have been separated since January while he's at training 1300 miles away.  I think that half of our stress would not exist if we were together during the preparation for our move.  

This is the check-list with when things should be done by that I have been living by for the last 7 has calmed my obsessive nature.  Without a check-list I'd have everything done within 24 hours.   

For an international PCS there is so much to consider and so much to get ready for!  But don't mistake my stress for complaining!  I am ecstatic at the opportunity to live and explore Europe!  I'm just ready to get there already!

But before we can get there, the Army has to come pack up and ship our things overseas.  This has taken a lot of planning, organizing, and consideration....

The Army gives us a weight allowance for moving our things, anything over their allowance is at our cost.  And they will only pay to ship 1 vehicle overseas, a 2nd will be at our cost.  There is a lot to consider when deciding if something is worth shipping overseas or not.... 
  • Will we need it?
  • Will we use it?  
  • Can we live without it?  
  • Is it worth its weight? 
  • Will we miss it? 
  • Will it fit in our new home?
  • If lost or damaged, will we be able to replace it?
And then there are the Army's rules about what we can/can not take overseas:
  • No liquids.
  • Nothing flammable (i.e cleaning supplies or hairspray)
  • No food (even non-perishables)
  • No major appliances
It is impossible to get housing until we are actually in Germany, making figuring out what we want/need over there lots more complicated!  German houses are different from American houses.  They are smaller, use different electrical outlets, and don't typically have closets, which are proving to be major factors to consider when deciding what we'll ship, store, or sell. 

Something else to consider.... It takes anywhere from 4 -16 weeks for our things to make it to Germany by boat.  I would rather live in the States without my things for as long as possible than in Germany without my things.  Since my husband has already been living without them for the past 3 months, this was all up to me.  So, I decided to get everything shipped as soon as possible in the hopes that by the time Isabelle and I arrive at the beginning of June, our things would be waiting for us.  {Knowing my luck though, it'll take the full 16 weeks before I see my things again.}

So after a lot of organizing, paying close attention to and thinking really hard about what we use and what we don't, Eric and I decided to store most of our stuff here in the States and live as minimally as possible in Germany.  

When we are finally settled, we are not planning on being at home ever.  We want to travel!  We want to see every bit of Europe that we possibly can!  So we think that we can live pretty minimally since we aren't planning on being home very much.  {And if that doesn't work, there's an IKEA just an hour north of us!!!}

After months of discussion & organizing, this is how we grouped our things:

Shipment #1:  HHG (Household Goods): This is all of our things.  But only everything that we want in Germany will be in this shipment... couches, mattresses, dining room table, etc... 
We've opted to only take our guest bed, which is a full mattress, rather than our master queen bed since German houses are smaller.  And since their electrical outlets are 220 voltage, we've decided to not take any of our lamps.

Shipment #2: UB (Unaccompanied Baggage): This is the essentials we will need immediately after getting off the airplane.... pots & pans, towels, blankets, etc...   
We've decided to put all of our things into shipment #1 and not even worry about UB.  This could mean that if our things have not arrived by the time we do at the beginning of June, we will have to purchase a lot of things to get us by!  But, putting everything we want in Germany into 1 shipment has saved us a lot of hassle on the front end.  We'll see how well this worked on the back end once we walk off the airplane.

#3: Storage: Everything that we will not need in Germany.  So, this really isn't a "shipment" but it does have to be packed up and moved.  Everything that we are putting into storage will be staying in the States under the Army's care.  Large pieces of furniture that we are not taking are our grandfather clock, curio cabinet, our queen sleigh bed & mattress, lamps, books, end tables, and all of our lawn care stuff.

#4:  Our valuables that can not be replaced are going to my mother-in-law's!  This isn't really a "shipment" either.  These are the things that the Army will not be taking care of or be responsible for.  My Grandma Sue's artwork is in this group.  I can't handle the thought of her art being on a boat, my heart jumps when I think about it.  I'll be sad to not see it for 3 years, but I would rather it be safe with my mother-in-law than risk it getting damaged.  They are originals and priceless, they are all I have left of her.  Our wedding pictures, Eric's oak chest, and all of our baby books and pictures are also going to my mother-in-law's.

To help keep things organized, and to minimize any chance of miscommunication, I made these 'Do Not Pack' signs and put them on the big things that are not going to Germany.

So after deciding all of this, really concentrating on what we use/what we don't, talking and planning with Eric, talking and planning with the movers, and lots of organizing, MOVING DAY IS HERE!!!!!


  1. Hi Melissa, my name is Stephanie and I love to read your blogs. I am not an army wife, but my husband works in the oil industry and we have to move a lot for his job. We have lived in Norway and England and currently we are living in Mexico for the past 2 years, but we will move later this year to the USA (Houston,Texas) So I know how it´s like to pack up all your things and go to a strange country, other culture, language and missing your family. I am from the Netherlands by the way, and I wish you, your husband and your daughter a great stay in Germany. Don´t forget to visit my country one day, its beautiful ;)

  2. Thank you, it's nice to hear that you like my blogs! We are VERY excited to see Europe! We want to see every bit of it that we can, so hopefully we will make our way to the Netherlands, I hear it is a gorgeous country! Thank you again and good luck with your travels, I hope you like my country as well :)

  3. You made sure that you'll have a smooth sailing moving process, huh? Everything was done according to what you planned; all your belongings were packed and safely covered. The process of moving out is definitely challenging. But with the way you did it, you've made it easy and in good order. Congrats!

  4. Aside from labeling those moving boxes, it's also great that you wrote a number on each of them. This will help you determine if you've loaded and unloaded everything from the trailer. You have a lot of boxes out there, so losing them is definitely a risk; what you did was indeed a smart move.