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5 Tips for Military Spouse Who Are Relocating

These tips are brought to you courtesy of’s specialty blog just for military members and their families

Being in the military and moving go hand in hand — and not just for service members.

Military spouses are 10 times more likely to have moved across state lines in the past year compared with their civilian counterparts, according to a 2012report from the U.S. Treasury Department and U.S. Defense Department.

Shifting a household to a new place involves both time and effort. “It may take many days or even a few weeks to get completely unpacked and settled,” saidEllie Kay, who bills herself as America’s Military Family Expert.

If you’re a military spouse with a relocation on the horizon, follow these five tips to help make the transition a successful one.

1. Document your household.

Before moving, create an accurate, complete home inventory, said Kristen Smith, blog manager for, a housing referral resource for the military community, and the wife of an active-duty Army major.

A home inventory that lists what you own will make it easier to track belongings during the move. It also will be helpful if you need to file claims for any damaged goods.

To record your belongings, consider taking pictures of what you own, including the serial number of items. You might also take a video of your goods. The Insurance Information Institute offers free online software to help you create and keep a home inventory at

2. Prepare for storage.

If some of your household will be in a self-storage unit at the new destination, take this into consideration as you pack. Be careful about what you store, Kay said. Make sure you won’t need the items on a weekly basis.

Check whether the storage unit is climate-controlled. If it’s not, consider whether the belongings stored there can sustain both hot and cold weather. For instance, if you have photo albums with plastic pages, they could get damaged from the heat in storage units that aren’t climate-controlled.

Just as an inventory can help you track items in your home, it can aid in locating — and remembering — what you have in storage. If you have a detailed list, “it will save money in the long run,” Kay said. You’ll avoid mistakes such as buying another ironing board when you already have one in storage.

Nothing says you have to get unpacked in three days.
— Military family expert Ellie Kay

3. Keep work in mind.

If you’ve established yourself in a professional career and need to relocate, consider reaching out to networking and mentoring groups.

“Within these groups, you can find spouses who have already blazed the trail, so to speak, within your new community,” said Brooke Goldberg, deputy director of government relations at the National Military Family Association.

A few to try: In Gear Career, the Military Spouse eMentor Program and Military Spouse JD Network.

If you think your current position could be carried out remotely, put together a proposal to show how the setup could work and present it to your boss, suggested Jennifer Dombrowski, a social media and communications strategist who is the wife of an active-duty member of the Air Force.

In the proposal, include a trial period, such as six months. “Set goals across the six months and plan for regular meetings to check in,” Dombrowski said.

4. Get a handle on opportunities for education.

If you’re pursuing a college education, it’s important to do your research, said Allie Jones, scholarship program manager at the National Military Family Association.

Look into options, such as online programs, that can be accessed from any location. Also consider Servicemembers Opportunity Colleges. These schools enable service members and their families complete their college degrees.

The National Military Family Association provides scholarships to military spouses pursuing any kind of degree. For more information, or download MyMilitaryLife, a free mobile app.

5. Factor in an adjustment period.

Take time to get settled in your new home, Kay said. “Nothing says you have to get unpacked in three days,” she said.

Build in breaks from emptying boxes to recharge and become familiar with your new area. If you have children, “take a healthy, brisk walk with your kids and meet the neighbors,” Kay said. Also, consider heading out for ice cream, going bowling or visiting a park.

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