Frequent moves are one of the best — and worst — parts of military family life. On the one hand, you have a chance to see corners of the country or even the world that you might not have seen otherwise. On the other hand, moving is stressful and potentially pricey. The good news is that moves do get a little easier over time. If you are moving within the 48 contiguous US states, you have several options. You can choose to arrange the move yourself,(also known as do-it-yourself or DITY),for which the military will reimburse you through a complicated calculation that doesn’t always seem entirely accurate. You also can select to let military orchestrate and conduct your pack out and move through teams of packers and movers. Or you can do a combination of those two things called a “partial DITY” in which you are reimbursed for moving some of your own items while allowing military-hired movers to do the rest.

If you are moving to a foreign country (including Alaska or Hawaii), you’re going to need passports and possibly visas for your entire family.There are tighter restrictions on how much stuff you can take with you. The military will pay for you to put some of your belongings in storage while also paying to ship the rest of them. It’ll also pay for you to ship one car for you overseas. It won’t, however, pay for you to move your pets. There is help though…Pets Awaiting Warriors, or PAWS, provides military owners with information and support during deployment. One of the things they address is the stress on families during military moves. Sometimes there are situations where the family cannot take their pet with them. Some people turn their pet into an animal shelter hoping it will be adopted, when in fact about 4,000 are euthanized every year. To prevent this from happening there are great charities like Guardian Angels for Soldier’s Pet and NetPet.

Children go through their own stress with moving to a new home and in the military it can sometimes be frequent. They have to leave friends and all that is familiar and comfortable to having to make new friends and adjustments. Including them in the moving process is essential. Have them give their opinion on house selections, neighborhoods, etc…..The military has great websites to help parents. There is kid-friendly advice from how to pack to being the new kid at a new school to staying in touch with friends. Military Youth on the Move and Military Kids Connect are such sites. Military Youth on the Move has a sponsorship program which hooks kids up with peers at their new location. Communicating with another child who already lives in the area and attends the local school can go a long way in preparing your child for what’s to come. And they’ll automatically have a friend on the other end!

The biggest thing to remember is don’t move until you receive your final orders! You have been guaranteed those orders, promised that duty station, received a welcome packet from the command. But don’t move yet. Even if you want to get the kids there for the first day of school remember that orders can get switched when you least expect it.