Well, the day finally got here, and now I’m sitting in my new home about 1,700 miles away from Smalltown, U.S.A. We drove 1,700 miles and across 4 different states in 2 days with a dog in the backseat, and with the help of family and a good friend, the moving trailer was emptied and now that everyone is back in their respective homes, instead of unpacking the tons of boxes or washing laundry, I’m writing this blog post on tips and tricks for moving in the military and on base housing.
- The Housing Application: This thing is a BEAST. I met a woman at the dog park yesterday who had her husband here to help with the paperwork (unlike mine…grrr), and they were still just as confused as I was! Don’t be afraid to call the housing office for help; that’s what they’re there for! Tip though, when you turn it in, make sure you tell them to contact you if you’ve done something incorrectly. Leave your phone number, your email, all that good jazz, even though it’s also on the application. If you don’t take control of the application process, the housing people don’t have any qualms about throwing it out if there’s something you’ve missed.
- The Housing Office: these guys are, once again, here to help you. But there’s a lot of families trying to move and there’s a lot of paperwork for your application to get lost in. So take control of your application process and call them. Ask questions if you’re confused. Take down all the names, numbers, emails, addresses and whatnot that they give you, because it will come in handy when Jessica answers the phone when you’ve called for the fourth time and she asks who you spoke with yesterday. Now that I’m here and right around the corner from the housing office, it’s a lot easier to deal with than trying to figure everything out alone from 4 states and 1,700 miles away.
- DitY move or let the military move you: if you and your spouse were married before they received their orders, you rate either being reimbursed by the military for your move, or letting the military hire movers for you and getting it done that way. If you weren’t married before they were assigned to their unit and got orders though, you’re out of luck and will be paying out of pocket, like we did. Pros of a DitY (do it yourself) move is that you pick the movers, you pick the dates, you are in total control of your move. You keep the receipts from gas stations and hotels and the military will reimburse you for all of your moving expenses. I haven’t heard anything good about letting the military move you, however. The same woman at the dog park moved in 3 weeks before me and she is STILL waiting on half of their belongings since they let the Marine Corps move them. So of course, it comes down to your personal preference, but those are the tips and tidbits I’ve picked up the past month or so.
- On base or off: my husband and I decided on living on base, for which rent is the equivalent of our total allotted monthly BAH. Why? Well, the major reason being that we have a 100 pound Lab/Dane mix, and no apartment will look the other way due to his size. Even if they did, what apartment complex would have enough space for his long legs? More reasons being that 1) Camp Pendleton is like a gated community. I personally feel much safer living in this neighborhood full of Marines than living out in OSide or San Clemente. 2) The amount of space we have and the amenities included in our rent is way better than what we could afford in town. California isn’t like Smalltown, where $1,500 a month put you in a decent apartment in a decent neighborhood. 3) everything I need is right here. The commissary and PX are right down the road, the gym and pool are here, there’s a privatized military beach, the library (the most important, obviously) is super close.
People will tell you horror stories about onbase housing. When I asked for help on my application, I got told not to bother with it because onbase housing was terrible. They told me about rat problems, lazy maintenance, lack of space, etc. But I ignored the negativity directed at me and signed my lease anyway, and I am LOVING my new home. It’s not huge, but it’s only 2 people and a dog, so more than enough room for my little family. I don’t have a backyard, but there’s a dog park right up the hill. I haven’t seen a single rat, I put a work order in yesterday and maintenance was here this morning and fixed the problems I pointed out. Different strokes for different folks, of course.
I am loving my house, and I am loving turning it into my own home. I hope this post helped anybody who was confused or debating how to go about it. Until next time!