If you ever saw the movie; The ‘Burbs, you may have an unfounded fear of meeting your new neighbors. You’re in luck! Most people live normal, everyday lives, just like you and me. Moving into your new home and getting to know your new neighbors should be exciting, not dreadful. In the past, meeting our new neighbors hasn’t always been one of my top priorities while we work to get settled. But it really should be.
What’s the first thing you do when you arrive at your new duty station, unpack, grocery shop, or explore the community? These are among a few of the first things we do when my family arrives at a new duty station. Meeting the neighbors doesn’t normally take place until we’ve gotten settled. Sometimes while we’re dragging insane amounts on boxes to the curb, the night before trash pick-up, I make that awkward eye contact with the next-door neighbor. Within about a month or so, you’ll know everyone in your area. Believe it or not, there’s a less awkward way to meet your new neighbors.
Meet the Neighbors
Tradition may state we should bring a pie to the neighbors’ house with your entire family, but a friendly hello will do just fine. You’d probably want to do this within the first few days of moving in, before hanging up your entire collection of family pictures, awards, and flat-screen TVs.
Get Out of the House
Attending a community event is an easy way to interact with people from your neighborhood. At Fort Carson, they had a Community Spring Clean-up and other neighborhood specific events. And if you live off the installation, you may be able to meet people through the homeowner’s association or the local school. All of these events are great opportunities to get to know the people who live nearby.
Start with the Military Community
Another way you can meet people in the military community is to go to the family services center. Just about every installation has one; they just call it different things. (You know, Army Community Service, Fleet & Family Services, Airmen and Family Readiness Center.) This should be your first stop once you get moved in. They have a lending closet, where you can borrow things like tables, coffee machines, and other basic household items for free until your things are delivered. You can also take free guided tours of the local town.
There are plenty of ways to integrate yourself and your family into your new duty station. Going to community events, signing up to volunteer, or just sitting outside your home on a beautiful day are all great ways you can meet new people. All it takes is a little bit of curiosity and tenacity to jump start your latest friendship within the military community.
Over the course of the summer, the military community sees moving trucks come and moving trucks go. Which means when the school year rolls around there are many, many new faces. For those who are experiencing a new school year, or even have children starting school for the first time in a new place, there are so many questions and concerns. When you add the military to this equation, it can quickly become a circus.
We’ve talked to some teachers, administrators, and parents and put together a few things that may ease your mind as you look to the school year.
Forms & Lists
In this technological age, most of the preliminary registration can be done online. But don’t let that fool you into thinking you’re done. As you enter into a new school district, you’ll also need to fill out several pages in person, and for each child. They range from media releases to internet conduct policies. And don’t forget the immunization records that must be on the correct state’s form. In case you were wondering, no Georgia will not accept a Florida form with the same information on it. Because that would be easy.
Shopping for school supplies can often seem like trying to hit a moving target. Yes, there are lists online and in the local stores, but is that really what teachers want? Try to talk to the PTO/PTA or the school and make sure ahead of time. Usually, those lists are pretty accurate, and you might as well pick up some cleaning wipes and boxes of tissues because the teachers need those too!
If your child is going to ride the bus (and let us be honest, who has time for car loop?) you’ll want to familiarize yourself and your child with the practice. Make sure you know what time the bus is coming and where it is picking up. This is an excellent opportunity to meet the neighbors as well! Also, learn the procedures for what the bus will do if you are not home to meet the bus or if your child misses their stop. You may also want to talk to the bus driver on that first day, so they get to know you.
Talking to the Teacher
Upon the first day of school, or the orientation day, you’ll want to let the teacher know that you are a military family who just moved here. This will help that teacher help your child, particularly if a deployment or separation is looming. It will also start your parent-teacher relationship off on the right foot. Don’t feel bad if you can’t volunteer for field trips or come into the class every day, the teacher wants your support, and they can get that in many different ways.
Don’t forget, if you have any questions or concerns regarding the school district, the school itself, or the teacher, don’t forget you have a School Liaison Officer on the nearby installation. Most schools close to installations are ready for military children, at any time of the year.
PCS moves can be daunting tasks. Moving means more than just finding a new place to live and work; it can also mean finding a new favorite restaurant, hair parlor/barber shop or place to shop. While some duty stations have full selections right outside the gate, the reality is that some duty stations are a little harder to love. Here are 5 foolproof ways to find hidden gems in your new city.
Pinterest is far from just the visual dream board that it used to be. Pinterest is now a highly functional search engine that can provide you with the resources you need to make your new duty station, the best duty station. By just typing in your city name followed by keywords like Restaurants, Day Trips, or things to do; you’ll find blogs and other publications that offer listicles of new places to try and explore around your area.
The power of social media can be amazing if used correctly. Instagram is great for connecting with other people, but it is also a fantastic way to find geo-specific companies, businesses, and services. By using hashtags related to your new location, you can easily find out where the locals like to eat and play in the area. You can also find people who offer specific products and services. Example: If you’re PCSing to Fort Bragg, you’ll want to hashtag things like #FortBragg#FayettevilleNCFoodie#FayettevilleNCPhotographer#FayettevilleNC
Yelp for Local Favorites
Yelp is an excellent free app used to find the best products and/or services in your new area based on peer reviews. Yelp has reviews on a rating system for things like local restaurants for delivery, auto, and home services. When you move to a new area, you’re walking into everything blindly, and it’s nice to know that there’s a reliable app that offers honest reviews to help you make the best decisions based on your needs.
Military families know that Facebook is an essential hub for PCS moves. Most duty stations have category based groups in which you can connect to other people who are already stationed in your new city. There are groups based on activity, family dynamic, products or services and much more. Simply, request to join the group correlated to your need and ask questions. Joining the spouse Facebook group is one of the best ways to get in the know about your new area. Soon, you’ll be living like the locals!
Try your New City’s Local Tourism Bureau
Tourism Bureaus are often overlooked ways to find the very best that cities have to offer. They are not only for visiting tourists, but newcomers can gain quite a bit from a visit as well. Regardless of size, each city should have a tourism bureau (Office or website) to guide you and provide information about the best places to go in or around the area. A military alternative could be stopping by your MWR or family community services office on the installation. They generally offer the same information and usually know of discounts you can benefit from.
These are our 5 Ways to Find Hidden Gems in Your New City. How do you find your new local favorites when you PCS?
If you’re new to the military life, you may not remember the days where on-base housing came with renters insurance. A few years ago, however, that stopped being the case and there were several conversations throughout the community about the importance of renters insurance.
Basically, if you do not own the house you live in, you need renters insurance. That is what covers your items. The homeowner has insurance that covers the house, but not your personal property within it.
But that’s not all renter’s insurance covers. And for a highly transient community like ours, there are some great benefits to having renters insurance. Here are a few of them.
With the horror stories that come to light each PCS season, making sure your belongings are protected is the smart choice. And, your renters insurance does that! It covers your stuff in storage and transit. It’s often under the “off-site belongings” part of your coverage. This also means if you live in a small house and need to store things or you have a child in college under your policy, the items located there are also covered.
Charges from Housing
Moving can also mean money spent to fix the government house where you lived. Wait, what? Yes, it’s true. Marine Corps spouse Sara Carey just learned this lesson when she left her first duty station. “We were charged about $400 for carpets on move out (base housing), and we opened a claim with USAA, and they covered the damages. Deposited the money right into our account. I simply took a picture and emailed it to the USAA agent along with an itemized sheet of our charges on move out.”
You may have already known about this one, but I learned this lesson in the summer of 2012 when the power went out at Fort Meade for 3+ days. And it was the day after payday, so my freezer and fridge were stocked with food. We lost everything, and with a few photos and a quick claim, my renters insurance covered all of it.
Those Really Weird Things
Renters insurance can cover some bizarre stuff. Like if your dog bites someone, or someone dies in your house. I know, very weird, but it happens. And the shots, the dog training, and even the cleanup are covered by your policy. Renters insurance will also cover volcanic eruptions, wildfires, and earthquakes. And when Hurricane Irma was throttling towards us, that was covered too.
This is probably one of the mainstream things that non-military people think about with renters insurance, but it never really crossed my mind before. Your possessions are insured against theft. Now, it’s important to remember that some of the things in your house, especially electronics and jewelry, may need their own policy.
The Completely Unexpected
Did you see the term “open perils” in your policy? You did read the whole thing right? Right. So anything that isn’t specifically excluded in your policy is, therefore, included! The random stuff like the neighbor kid’s golf ball that went crashing through the back window. The time your teenager backed the car into the garage door. All of those things and more are covered.
Do you have renter’s insurance? If you still think you don’t need it, well, reread this.
Having car insurance is a no brainer. You know you need it, and you shouldn’t be driving without it. Believe it or not, people see renter’s insurance completely different. Many military families go without renter’s insurance because they live on a military installation and believe that; A. Their Insurance is covered by their rental agreement, or B. They don’t think there would ever be a reason to use it, living on post. Both the latter are not true. Having renter’s Insurance is a necessity. It’s great for more reasons than a possible home invasion. Renter’s Insurance covers damaged property within your home, it will cover spoiled food in the case of extended power outages, and it can help replace your most prized possessions in an instance of a natural disaster.
My family uses USAA for our insurance needs. They offer vehicle, renter’s, and life insurance. They are also a banking institution, which I love because I can keep my financial business and my monthly bills in one place. They are not the cheapest, but they are extremely convenient no matter where you are. We switched our policies over to USAA from State Farm when we arrived in Germany. I did some shopping around, and I learned that I could have my car, renter’s and life insurance all in one place! I was all in! USAA offers great coverage and they are consistent and accessible in your time of need. They also offer discounts for having multiple accounts with their company.
Did you know that when you move your belongings, they are still covered by your renter’s insurance while in transit? Also, everything from Military Gear to Hearing Aids are covered by most insurance policies. Renter’s Insurance often costs less than buying five coffees at your favorite coffee shop every month.
In the case of a fire or any other tragedy in a home on post, housing is not responsible for replacing your household goods or any other items lost. Many military members are often under the impression that because they live in a home on post, the housing company is responsible for anything that happens in their home, this is not the case. In extreme circumstances, like a defect in your electrical wiring, roofing defects, or any other housing caused anomaly, would they possibly be required to cover the cost of your things. But, this is a rare occurrence. Even in natural disasters, housing is not responsible for damaged home goods or vehicles. Make sure you are covered.
Contact your preferred insurance agency to get a quote. You can choose how much coverage you need and what terms work best for you. Take time to decide, maybe even shop around. The peace of mind that comes along with having renter’s insurance is well worth the cost. Don’t get caught without an umbrella, during a storm. Protect your belongings wherever you are, get insured. Don’t allow a preventable issue wreak havoc on your personal well-being or your finances.
We’ve got moving on the brain since it’s summer and high moving season, but all too often our furry friends are forgotten when we start discussing a move.
Pets bring us comfort when we’re down and love us no matter what. It’s time we focused on their needs for a bit. I’ve moved across the country twice with our dog. One time we drove from Maryland to Arizona, without our kids, but with our dog. She was so happy to be the center of our world, as she had never known a world without kids.
Our next move found our dog frantic as we took her to a friend’s house while the packers came. She was scared we were leaving without her. But as soon as we put her bed in the van, she calmed down immediately. She knew she was coming with us. She traveled from Arizona to Florida protectively guarding the baby and catching any goldfish that escaped the car seat.
One more move later, she rode shotgun with my husband on the day-long trip from Florida to Georgia and was really excited when we found a house that she could explore. To be honest, our family wouldn’t be the same without our dog, and for that reason alone, we spend time preparing for her to PCS just as we do ourselves.
Putting Pets First
It seems odd, I’m sure, but there are several ways in which our dog’s needs were put first in our moving plans. For example, we only considered hotels that were pet-friendly, and we preferred the ones that didn’t charge a pet fee. We also knew we couldn’t have long stops while on the road because we couldn’t leave her in the car. Even stopping at a fast food restaurant for lunch involved a rotation of who stayed with the dog and the vehicle and who managed the kids. I’m not the only one who does this, I know.
Pet PCS Problems
Military families feel frustration when PCSing with their pets, often due to the extra rules and fees. For example, the pet fee we pay at hotels is not reimbursed by the government. Nor is the cost of flying pets overseas. Flying pets cargo in the summer is almost impossible and, of course, that’s when the majority of moves take place.
Flights changed last minutes due to pet policies, additional expenses, and “rules” that change daily make it seem like the military doesn’t even care about pets. And while we all know that the military didn’t force us to have pets, it still isn’t fair. One family had their dog stuck at the airport for a week after they were given incorrect information from a military veterinarian. Such a disaster!
As you approach a PCS or even a TDY, make sure you are putting enough emphasis on what each member of your family needs. Even the furry ones.
By: Rebecca Alwine
At Military Crashpad, we want you can bring your furry friend with you. Check out our pet-friendly locations!