By Life Lessons of a Military Wife

You don’t have to be a rocket scientist to realize that moving overseas, even under the protective umbrella of the military, will cost you oodles of money.  Some of these expenses the military will reimburse.  Some they won’t.  We’ve all been told to set aside money for moving in general.  Ok, I got that.  You’ve got it too I’m sure, but what exactly are we talking about with an overseas move?  Are we talking hundreds or thousands of dollars?  Here’s how you can sort it all out.

Bottom line up front, you need to sock away anywhere from $2,000-8,000 dollars for your move.  I know that’s a wide range.  Here’s how you can break it down and know what to expect.

·$1,000 for your first lodging payment (approximate).  Yes, you will be reimbursed for hotel/lodging up to a certain amount.  Contact the lodging facility on your new post to make reservations well before arrival (can be done even before you have orders).  They will know what your max allowance for lodging is and IF you can stay off post.  You can only stay off post if there is NOT availability on post.  This is also the time to ask if they have pet friendly rooms.  You will get  paid for lodging in 10 day increments (Temporary Lodging Allowance – TLA) and depending on family size and number of rooms, this could be anywhere from $150 to $300 a day.  Most folks will stay in the hotel from 10 to 30 days before they are assigned or find housing.  If you have a pet, realize there may be daily pet fees or move out cleaning fees.  These are not reimbursable.

·$800-$1,000 in car rental expenses.  Car rentals overseas are EXPENSIVE.  I encourage you to ship your car early, as a stateside rental will be cheaper.  One of my readers just spent $800 on a 30 day car rental and wished she had known about shipping a car early.  Check with your stateside cheap car rental sources and those in your new unit to see if there are any discount car rental places near your new post.  You’ll have to budget for fuel (or a fuel card) as well.

·$2,000-$5,000 for first months’ rent and deposit if living off post.  Army regulations state that those in rank E5 and those junior MUST live on post if it is an Army post.  All others, if there is no availability on post, you will be living off post.  The local housing office on post will help you with home listings and lease negotiations and such.  Rents are higher than stateside and security deposits are much higher too.   Yes, you will get an Overseas Housing Allowance (OHA) that will cover the rent and a small Move-in Housing Allowance (MIHA) but many times Finance can be SLOW and the money won’t appear right away.  Don’t delay moving in by not having the money upfront.  Some landlords will also prorate the security deposit, but you’ll have to ask.  You can also borrow the security deposit from the military, paying it back when you PCS again.

·$2,000-$3,000 for possible utility costs.  When you PCS overseas and live offpost, you will get a utility allowance, but it won’t kick in until after you move in.  And the utility allowance is a set amount, which may not cover actual costs, so you’ll want to be diligent about conserving energy.  For example, some homes in Europe use oil for heat and have a tank that may need to be filled once or twice a year.  This could run $2,000-3,000, and might need to be done upon move in.

·$100-$3,000 per pet.  If you go with the military’s Patriot Express, you will pay $100-200 depending on the weight of the crate and dog or cat.  But, space is limited and depending on where you are flying from, it may not be cost effective for the military to fly your family that way.  Currently, there is no relief or compensation for pet shipping or the other costs associated with shipping and moving with a pet.  Most civilian airlines will charge you cargo rates these days, even if you are on the same plane.

·$500 to restock your pantry.  This is a surprising cost that most folks don’t think about.  I tape and ziplock my spices and send them in unaccompanied baggage but things like flour, bread crumbs, ketchup and all those condiments and things need to be repurchased.

·About $200-300 a day eating out for a family of four.  You will get an allowance for this but rest assured, it does not cover three square meals a day for your entire family.  Be sure to choose lodging that at least has some type of cooking facility and at the very least a refrigerator.

·Doubled car insurance.  It’s not because you are a bad driver, it’s because liability limits are much higher in Europe.  Many stick with their current company (a few insure overseas).  Others go with some of the foreign companies outside the front gate.  Before choosing any car insurance company, be sure to check with current happy customers, especially those who have already had to file a claim.  This is where the price difference and peace of mind will come in.

Those are the highlights anyway.  If you know what to expect, it won’t be too much of a shock.  Since it is tax time right now, I strongly urge you to just put away that tax refund check and save it for your next move.  Keep the money in a bank account that you can easily transfer money to and from, will at least gain some interest and won’t be tied up when you need the money most.  

For more tips on moving overseas, visit Life Lessons of a Military Wife, where a veteran military wife shares tips on living overseas and being part of a military family.

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