Military Moves Explained: A Guide for Military Spouses

Military Moves Explained: A Guide for Military Spouses

Serving your country is one of the noblest life calls one can take. However, there are many unpleasantries that accompany serving in the military. One of the most common ones is constant relocation. Each time your military unit moves, you have to follow, and this can be a source of stress. Furthermore, it’s not only you who are affected but your spouse and children. A military spouse and family moves are common today, and with that in mind, it is best to cover all the essentials.

Permanent change of station

Permanent change of station or PCS is also known as military relocation. Ways in you can move your stuff from one corner of the world to the other mostly depend on a few factors. For example, the date of the relocation, or the destination. If you are just getting used to this change, know that you are not alone. Many other military families move all the time. One of the first things you should do is read about their experience.

That is the best way to understand the entire process, and even find out some useful tips and advice.

Types of military moves

There are two types of military spouse and family moves:

  • CONUS – contiguous United States moves
  • OCONUS – overseas United States moves

As you can see, the difference is if you are moving inside the country, or relocating overseas. Even if your move is local, you’ll need assistance, so it’s best to look at all the options.


CONUS, or the contiguous United States moves, includes lower 48 US states. If you are staying on the mainland, there are a couple of options for you.

First, you can always go for a DIY move. This means you get to organize the entire relocation by yourself. Nevertheless, the expenses are covered by the military. The way it works is, you pay for the move, and the military reimburses you later.

Second, the military organizes the entire relocation by hiring specialized military movers, like You can relax and let the professionals take care of everything.

Last, but not the least, you can do a partial DIY move. In this case, you get to pick what part of the relocation will be reimbursed by the military, and what part can be covered by the movers.


OCONUS or the overseas United States relocation includes all the countries that aren’t part of the lower 48 US states, plus Hawaii and Alaska. This type of military spouse and family moves can be a little tricky.

The first thing you should ask yourself is, are you moving to a foreign country? If the answer is yes, you will need a passport and visas, next to other documents. Also, there is the pressure of a foreign language, which will mostly affect your kids.

In this case, they should be prepared on time. If you can enlist them in some introductory language courses, the entire transition might be much easier.

Moving restrictions

One of the more common moving restrictions for military spouse and family moves is the number of belongings you can take with you. The best approach to this problem is to split your items into those you will ship, and those you will put in storage.

As stated before, the military will reimburse the expenses. It is important to know that the military will never leave you in a tight spot. However, there are some complications with finances that you must understand.

The cost of the PCS

While the military will reimburse for most of your relocation expenses, you should know that the check will not clear right away. It can happen that you pay for the move out of your pocket, and then you have to wait for some time until you get the money back.

This can be a hard blow for your wallet. A clever solution is to always have a savings account exclusively for PCS. In this case, you will be prepared in advance to cover all expenses of the move and have enough money until the check from the military clears.

If you are not fond of savings accounts, you can simply save on your own. A good old piggy bank is back, so make sure you feed it on a regular basis. One of the best advice you can get when saving money is to save more than you think you’ll need. Unexpected expenses are common, so be ready for them.

Finding a job for your spouse

One of the biggest issues with military spouse and family moves is that it’s hard to get a job if you are constantly on the move. Finding a job for your spouse may seem impossible, however, there are handy ways to tackle this problem.

First, you should talk to your friends. You must know many other military families with the same problems, so ask them for advice. Listening to someone’s suggestions is a valuable experience.

Second, look for specialized adds that target military spouses. While it may look like there is no such thing if you scratch the surface you should be able to find what you are looking for.

Third, you have a unique opportunity to build up your resume. Each time you move, ask your employer to give you a good recommendation. This way, your future company will see that you are a serious person looking for a job. They will overlook the fact that you might move again.

Military spouse and family moves explained

There you have it. I hope that now you know more about military spouse and family moves. It is challenging, and there are various problems that may occur, but it’s nothing that can’t be solved with a little planning and organization!


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