Living in Europe, traveling, seeing the old world…these are usually the visions families have when getting the news of a new duty station overseas. But then reality hits and there it is, the pile of “what to do next” and “how to do that”. Thankfully the internet has made things much easier and google can be a close friend during this time of need. While your move and tickets and or hotel may be all paid for by the government, try putting some extra cash aside in the months before the move, you may encounter some unexpected costs. If you end up not needing the back up money, treat yourself to your first European trip with it.
The first thing you should be doing is checking your and your family’s passports, are they still valid? Also remember that if you want to travel within Europe, you need an actual traveling Passport and your no fee Passport is not to be used for that. Be sure to store them somewhere, where the movers can’t get to them. Also check your orders and make sure all your family members are on it and their names are spelled correctly. Make sure your driver’s license is current and not expiring anytime soon. Remember to get your medical records and your pets records together. Your Pet also has to be chipped and be current on their rabies vaccination. For more information check this page:
Always have a back up plan when it comes to shipping your furry friend, you may not be able to book a spot for them on the rotator, or there may be restrictions during certain times of the year, because of heat. Check out crate recommendations and buy or order the proper size pet crate plenty of time ahead.
One of the important things you need to consider is your max packing weight when it comes to packing your household goods. With that in mind, a walkthrough is a good idea. If the possibility is there, family can be a great help especially storing goods until you come back, alternatively you can also take advantage of a storage unit. This is the perfect time to do some purging also, flea market pages and yard sales can bring in some useful extra money. You are probably already aware of Germany having different electrical outlets and voltage in the lines. So, unless you are sure you will be living on base, where you can plug them in or don’t mind running transformers, it might be worth considering to leave appliances back in the US. Plus, FMO will supply you with things like washers, dryers and alike. Small things like blow dryers, mixes or vacuums can be purchased at your new destination, there are some great bargains to be found at the yard sales and many may not be aware of it, but its often cheaper buying those things off base and using a VAT form then buying them at the BX/PX.
I usually started moving preparations by doing a room by room walkthrough of the house, just writing down what’s coming, what’s going and what is being stored. The next step is taking pictures and cleaning up stuff that is getting sold and posting it online. All of this can be done several months before the move. I usually prepare a room I can put stuff in and then lock, so I don’t have to worry about the movers accidently packing stuff that is not going into the container. A PCS binder can be a great tool during this time. Start up a folder for your inventory, take pictures and save receipts and serial numbers of higher value items. Also check with the moving company about whether additional insurance is needed. Be sure to have the movers pack electronics properly, original boxes can be quite helpful with that.
One complaint I hear all the time is about how small German ovens are, so if you have supersized baking sheets or pans, don’t worry about bringing them. Most German houses also do not have AC, so be prepared to spend some cash on fans or a portable AC unit. You can find good deals on the German/American yard sale pages from people that are PCSing back home.
If you plan on taking your car, be sure to schedule your car for detailing and getting it ready to be shipped. BBQs or smokers have to be cleaned to be able to be shipped.
I also make it a habit to burn all my important documents and pictures on a CD or copy them on a memory stick that I keep with my family back home. Just in case something gets lost or damaged during the move, they have a copy safe at their home. Storing stuff at the parent’s home can be a lifesaver when it comes to breakable heirlooms and other valuables that you do not need in Germany, because great grannie’s china may not make it to Germany in one piece.
Depending on what area of the USA you are coming from you may need to adjust your wardrobe a bit. Germany does have 4 seasons, we get very cold days with snow, but the summer can get hot too. If you have a way to get some bargain winter clothes, go for it and pack them up.
Another thing to consider is that while you may have the PX and BX to shop in, their stock and selections are limited. That applies especially to bedding or school supplies. You wont find the same format of school supplies in German stores, paper is different size and of course all the stuff is in German. Bedding comforter and matresses are different also, different sizes and the blankets are usually duvets with covers and not comforters.
If you can’t live without certain local seasoning mixes or Mexican spices, stock up ahead of time. If you are an avid crafter again stock up ahead of time. Germany does have crafting stores, but they are not as common and things are often ordered online, If you are hoping for a Michaels or Hobby Lobby you will be sorely disappointed.
It is a great idea, to start looking for Facebook groups or pages that are ran at your new destination. You can learn a great deal about your new place, meet people ahead of time and make new friends. You can even start house hunting, check for bad apples when it comes to rentals and learn about customs and laws. A lot of information on Germany is available on the world wide web, even in English, you can find land lord/tenant laws, base regulations, traffic laws.
If you own any dogs, it will be a good idea to look at the laws in Germany regarding the keeping of dogs. Check restricted breeds in Germany, Europe and on base:
Be aware that long term kenneling is not allowed and if needed check into doggie daycare or start looking for a dog walker.
Another thing you need to be aware of is that you most likely won’t be able to just bring guns that you may own. If you want to hunt in Germany and bring your own guns, take plenty of time ahead and do the required research to ship them legally.
Once the big moving day is over and household goods are picked up, you can do a last purge by having a garage sale.
Canceling subscriptions, club memberships and putting in a moving notice and or a change of address should not be forgotten either.
Every move is stressful, but if you start planning ahead it can run smooth and eventless. Hopefully we can help you out and make it all as painless as possible.
See you in Germany!
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