On average, military families move from post to post every 2.5 years. If military life is quite new to you, or this is the first time your post has involved moving house, it can be quite a daunting process. The Army Families Federation
(AFF), the Naval Families Federation
(NFF) or the RAF Families Federation
(RAF-FF) can provide lots of advice and support on anything from housing and financial matters to helping your children cope with changing schools. If you need practical tips on how to manage your impending house move, here are our top five suggestions.
1. Declutter - carefully!
You should get several weeks’ notice of a transfer. During that time, take stock of what you really use, and what is just taking up space in your home. Some things - such as food and, in particular, anything liquid - are easy enough to get rid of. Use it up during the time you have left in your current accommodation and try not to buy more shampoo/washing liquid/drinks than you’ll use in the coming weeks.
Other items are a bit more tricky. Clothing and duvets that are suitable to life in Britain might be too warm to be of any use if you’re packing off to hotter climes, so you may naturally be inclined to get rid of it before you leave. But at some point, you may return to these shores or to another temperate climate and rather regret having to buy those items again.
Similarly, items such as board games and books might be cumbersome to move yet you may not be ready to part with them. You might also have items of furniture or furnishings that won't travel well but that you want to keep for future use.
If there’s anything you really don’t want to part with for now, you could always put them in self storage until you need them again. For everything else, giving it to people who need it more than you do or selling it for some extra money will make you feel as though your belongings haven’t gone to waste and it’ll be a lot easier for you to move house without the extra baggage.
2. Prepare your children
Children may embrace the chance to have an adventure and start a new life somewhere else, but they will need support to leave their old life behind. They’ll need time to adjust to the idea of leaving their friends and home behind, and there are several things you can do to help them with this (again, the AFF, NFF and RAF-FF can help with this). Liaise with their school and ask that their teachers help them to say a proper goodbye to their classmates. Help and encourage them to take plenty of photos and videos of all the everyday things they’ll miss, including your home, local park, their school (assuming the school gives permission) and even regular walking routes. This will help them to say goodbye to the familiar things they’ll be leaving behind and be ready to embrace their new home.
3. Take an inventory
Rather than listing everything that you’re taking, take photographs. These are not only more likely to jog your memory of anything that may go missing in transit, they also act as evidence of ownership should the worst happen and you need to make a claim. Whilst doing this, take photos of how the wires are all attached between your TV and entertainment systems to make it easier to put it all back together when you arrive in your new home - this will ease a lot of tension on arrival!
4. Moving day bags
Most of your belongings will be transported for you but you may well arrive in your new home before they do. Pack the essentials for your first day or two - a change of clothes for all of you, favourite toys (and electronics!) for your children and essential toiletries. You can buy bulkier items such as loo rolls, cleaning products, shampoo and conditioner etc from a shop local to your new home, and don’t bother with cooking equipment or utensils - accept that you’ll be eating takeaways for a few days! If you’re moving overseas, your belongings will take considerably longer to arrive, so pack more ‘essentials’ accordingly and be prepared to have to buy new pots, pans, utensils and crockery once you arrive if these are not supplied in your new home.
5. Moving day practicalities
You’ll need to clean your old home once all the bags and boxes have been loaded up. Having your children around for this part will make the whole thing much harder! If you’re a couple, one of you could take the children out for a few hours - go to the cinema, or for lunch and shopping, or to your local park - while the other gets those last-minute jobs done. Or enlist the help of relatives or friends whom your children feel comfortable with to take care of them for a few hours.
When you arrive in your new home, take a little time to photograph everything as you find it so that there are no quibbles later on about the state of the carpet or furniture when you move on. Give it a good clean so that the place feels like yours and you can feel comfortable moving all of your belongings into their new places.
If there are any items that you can’t take with you that you still want to keep (perhaps because you don’t want to have to go the expense of replacing them at a later date), you can always store them with us. Our storage units can hold anything from a few suitcases up to the entire contents of your home, for a few pounds a week. We offer a 10% discount
for members of the Armed Forces, so be sure to mention your profession when calling to reserve a unit.