The first time we moved to a new duty station with my husband’s military orders, it was six hours away to a state neither one of us had visited before. We had one weekend to visit and go house-hunting. We bought the second house we saw. Since then, the military has moved us even farther–across the United States, and even overseas! Each time, we moved to a new duty station we knew nothing about, with no friends or family nearby. Each time, we had to start over again, searching for housing, schools, services, and friends in a town that was completely foreign.
Sound familiar? Maybe you have been through a PCS move before…or you could be here because you have orders for the first time and don’t know where to begin. As soon as you or your spouse gets military orders to a new duty station, the race is on to learn as much as you can about your future home. Military families often have only a few weeks or months to plan their move. During that time, they need to find housing and schools and get settled at a new base. Want to get a jump start on learning about your next duty station? Here are some handy tools that will help you feel right at home, faster.
How to learn about your new duty station before you move
Learn about neighborhoods: It’s hard to decide where to live when you move to a new duty station. If you want to live off base, you need to get to know the town. You can do this from a distance, thanks to the internet. Real estate sites and apps like Trulia will show you home values, local schools, crime rates, traffic patterns, and mortgage calculators. Some even sync with Yelp to display nearby restaurants and businesses. Zillow has the largest quantity of listings, and their app will send you alerts if a price drops or a new property is added in a preferred neighborhood. Finally, don’t forget to use Google maps to look at the base and plan out the service member’s commute.
Find a home with an “agent hero”: House hunting is a challenge when you are living in another state. Especially when you are so busy cleaning out your current house. Ideally, you would search for and decide on a home before you arrive in town. But how can you buy a house if you don’t have the time and money to visit? That’s where Millie’s “agent heroes” can help you. The Millie website has information about numerous military duty stations. Their agent heroes are professional real estate agents who are military veterans or military spouses. They understand the home buying process, and they also know the details of a PCS move. They can anticipate your family’s situation and help you ask the right questions about homes at your new duty station. They can walk you through the entire process remotely, saving you thousands in travel fees. Millie holds their agents to high standards, and even gives you cash back at closing to guarantee a smooth transaction!
Use this affiliate link to contact an “agent hero” from Millie.
Research schools: Local schools are an important part of any military town. Even if you don’t have children, the quality of the public schools in the area will influence property values. So you have to pay attention. But it’s challenging to evaluate schools when standards are different in every state. Don’t rely on rumors. Do your own research to determine what schools are best for your family. Not sure whether your military kids should go to school on base or off base? Public or private? Use sites like GreatSchools or Schoolgrades.com to compare schools in your new town, before you move. You can see how they measure up against others in the area, and also how they compare to state and national averages.
Find services and base resources: Another challenge of moving your family is re-establishing household routines. Who will be your new utility company? Internet provider? Babysitter? Hairdresser? Where can you get affordable groceries? Are there local charities who giveaway food, furniture, or other items to military families? To save yourself tons of time and money, use Facebook pages for your new duty station. You can join these pages before you move and learn from other people’s questions and answers. If you need a quick answer or want to poll the audience (a.k.a. your future neighbors), then base Facebook pages for military spouses are a great resource. Ask for any help you need, because the military community is generally supportive and willing to lend a hand. Just be polite and remember to thank anyone who give you information.