I decided to write this blog because honestly there isn’t a lot of information out there about this topic, especially for spouses. So, hopefully I can give you a little insight on some of the things ex-military spouses might not tell you.
If your spouse is anything like mine he was so ready to be out of the military. He was thankful for the opportunity, and what it taught him, but ultimately he was ready to be FREE!! Me on the other hand, I was sad about leaving all the friends and memories we had made, I was sad seeing all of our things in boxes…again. I was sad to leave the life we had there, BUT….. this BIG change also meant no more deployments, long field ops, sleeping alone, or plans that CONSTANTLY changed (if you know, you know).
So amidst of all these mixed emotions, you are bound to forget something or wish you had done things differently. So I put together five things to do before transitioning out of the military that I wish I would have done.
- Start Packing Your House Early
This is one thing I wish I would have known and taken into consideration. My husband and I moved ourselves, and didn’t choose to have the military moving service pack our house.
Start by packing the things you don’t need in the coming weeks such as home decor, seasonal items, and seasonal clothing you don’t need at the time. Also, LABEL EVERYTHING. I labeled all of our boxes so when we got home I knew where everything was and it made unpacking so much smoother.
Pack all of your essential kitchen items last, along with furniture, this may save your from eating fast food for ahwile, but eventually you will be sleeping on an air matress and ordering pizza for a few nights because it is hard to avoid it in the end! Just make the best of it!
- Look for a Place to Live
This may seem like a “no brainer” but it was something we wish we would have put a little more effort into before moving. If you are lucky you could stay with family during the awkward transition time, but if you don’t this would be a very important step to take. Look at houses or apartments within your budget and be transparent about your situation. The house buying process can take awhile, and so can getting approved for an apartment. It is best to be proactive so you are not stuck staying in a hotel or with a relative for a long period of time.
I would say it is best to start looking at least a month or two before you know you’re moving or once your spouse has a set EAS date or is taking terminal leave.
- Start Looking for a Job
My husband and I were lucky to find jobs fairly quickly after coming home, but this is aso something I wish I would have been more proactive about. Finding a job can be hard in general, let alone trying to move and find a job. It also depends on your profession and type of work, also the type of work your spouse wants to go into as well. Do they want to stay in the same/similar job they had in the military or do they want to pursue a something completely different?
My husband was a Tank Crewman in the Marine Corps and his job did not transition to any civilian jobs, so that is also something to think about when looking for a potential job. Again, I would start looking for a job once your spouse has a set EAS date, or about one to two months before you move. I would also be very transparent with your future employer about your situation.
- Hire Someone to Clean your House
This isn’t something that is completely necessary but it is something that I wish we did, especially since we lived in base housing. Some places are more strict than others, but amidst the chaos of moving sometimes this allows you to worry a little less about the minor details especially with dogs and kids.
- SAVE. SAVE. SAVE.
Lastly, my most important tip is to SAVE. YOUR. MONEY. It is important to have savings in general, but saving for the transition of getting out of the military is the most important tip I can give you! Moving can have its unexpected expenses such as a Uhaul or moving truck, storage units, food and travel. Also, having savings for when you move can also provide some cushion if you or your spouse can’t find a job right away, or you have an unexpected expense when moving into your new home. I would try to save enough for you and your spouse to live off of for at least 6 months (if you can) just in case the unexpected happens!
Now I know these may be generic or “no brainers” to most but these tips definitely would have helped me to transition back into civilian life with my husband. The military lifestyle can make you very comfortable in your situation because you always have a steady paycheck, benefits, housing, etc. That can be a big reality check when you get into civilian life. So, I threw it back to the basics to help you out and give you some tips that definitely would have saved me and my spouse some money and tears in the moving process!