Finding Home

Military Separation and Finding “Home”

Thanks to Lincoln Military Housing for sponsoring this post.

Finding Home
Sneak peek of our new house

While many others are PCSing this summer, our time has come. The hubs is now on terminal leave from the military and separation is upon us. It’s bittersweet; exciting and scary at once. The reality of no longer being at the mercy of a leave chit feels pretty divine yet I feel a sense of sadness as we get ready for our bon voyage into a different world. This life has been such a part of us; of me. The Navy is the reason we met and an as an Air Force brat I don’t quite know life without the military being part of it. In the last several months our focus has been on making a tough decision; one that many others face upon separation and retirement: Where should we call “home”?

The hubs and I are from two areas of the country that couldn’t possibly be more different. Big city Miami girl met rural Arkansas man in California – a place to where I followed my heart and to where he had followed orders. There were several factors we thought about when making our choice. If a separation or retirement is knocking on your door, soon home will not be where the military sends you. YOU get to make the choice. It can be liberating and daunting all at once.

Here are five things we recommend you consider for your family:

1) Income and Career
I have a job I love. Given my husband’s separation is not a retirement and we will be building a business, the income is important to us. How will a move affect your employment, financial situation and ultimately a career you’ve built? If you choose to move, will your income and/or savings cover the cost of living in a new city? If the non-military spouse is working, can you afford for him or her to leave his job? Are employees allowed to work remotely?

2) Family
Do you want to be close to family or do you love to love them from a distance? Do you want to raise your children near grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins? For many, returning to the closest thing they can call home makes complete sense and having family there to welcome them makes it even sweeter.

3) What about the kids?
If you have children, they are probably used to moving a lot. Been there! If they are finishing high school and getting ready for college, how will this affect their schooling and college plans? Are they on a special course of study a move would interrupt? Have they formed important relationships through community service you don’t want to jeopardize? Will the move affect future tuition costs based upon where you establish residency? While the decision is ultimately yours as the parents, it will affect your child’s future and if you are helping with college costs it can affect your bank account.

4) Adventure
Maybe this is the time to go off to far and exotic places. Have you dreamed of living abroad? The world is your oyster and now you have the freedom to see it at your leisure. Carpe diem! Just remember in some countries foreigners may not buy property. Check out the laws before you leave!

5) Quality of Life & Lifestyle
For some, bliss may be a nice house in the country (my husband), for others a high-rise and city life is right up their alley (raising my hand). Regardless of where you land, ask yourself if the lifestyle is one that will match your expectations. Do you want top-notch medical facilities nearby? Do you want huge malls and to be able to walk everywhere or do you only want to hear the crickets chirping while you gaze upon amazing star lit skies?

My home state of Florida is known for its year-round warmth and beautiful beaches, but I do not want to deal with Hurricane Season. The Northeast offers history, culture and world-famous sports fandom, but can you deal with the winters? The Pacific Northwest is green and lush, but it takes a whole lot of rain to get it that way. How will these things affect you? Will the city and the home you choose accommodate you as you age?

Getting there

Our decision was based upon where my husband’s children live. They have been without their dad nearby for several years. It’s time for them to have him back and soon we will leave California to make a life in Arkansas. We are fortunate my employer has agreed to allow me to work remotely. So now we know where we will end up. Getting there is sometimes a challenge in itself!

While our experience is unique to us, here are three things EVERYONE should do when it’s time to move:

1) Contact your Transportation Office (TO aka Transportation Management Office)
Rules and mandatory paperwork to get things in order can change. They will provide you with the most up-to-date information and guide you through the process. You can Do it Yourself (DITY move) or have the military handle it. Dependent upon the type of separation and your finances, the TO can help you decide on the right type of move for you and your family.

2) Make it an adventure 
Many of you are already pros at moving. Now you can take your time in getting to the next stop and explore along the way. We love a good road trip, so we’re driving, but whether you drive, fly or sail to your next stop, make sure to relax. Breathe. There’s no one to report to on the other end.

3) Don’t be afraid to ask for help and be gentle with yourself 
This process can feel overwhelming (heck, Part IV of the Defense Transportation Regulation is 32 pages alone)! Ask questions. Take a break. You’re allowed to slow down. As the active duty chapter of your lives comes to an end, write the next chapter for yourselves in a way that celebrates how far you’ve come and looks forward to an amazing future you get to write all on your own.

Wishing everyone the best on their new adventures!


This post is brought to you by Lincoln Military Housing. The opinions and text are my own. To learn more about Lincoln Military Housing be sure to visit them by clicking here.


  • Lisa Ladrido

    Best of luck in your move. My son had to retire medically from the Navy and I understand your connection to military life. The Navy was all he knew. However, I couldn’t believe all the support there is for the military once he got out. I can’t wait to hear about your journey. I am also happy your job is letting you work remotely.

    • Heather W

      Thank you so much, Lisa. And thank you to your son for his service. I am so glad he had resources. Yes, I am SO lucky to have such a wonderful and supportive boss – and company who backs me. I give thanks everyday for them.

  • Vatsala Shukla

    Your story sounds so familiar to the one of my parents when my career diplomat Dad retired, Heather. They both came from the other ends of the country and when it came to a retirement city, thankfully, Dad and his colleagues had already created a Group Housing Society in New Delhi which was conceptualized in his office with his colleagues during one of Dad’s home postings so they had a place to settle down post retirement and in a city where they were most active. The kids had flown the coop years earlier and the 4 dachshunds were happy to go wherever they were taken. It is a challenge. Enjoy the adventure!

    • Heather W

      WOW that is really amazing, Vatsala! Thanks for sharing. I know it will all work out. Just ready to get started in getting there!

  • Paula Niziolek

    So many new adventures await! I can see how it’s exciting and sad at the same time. We have two sons who are career Army, one who just made the decision to reinlist for the rest of his journey. Part of the reasons they both choose to make it career was for the very reasons you just stated. Neither one was ready to make the hard decisions that are facing you and your Hubby right now. I wish you all the best and please thank him for his service!

    • Heather W

      Paula, many thanks to your sons for their service. I will be sure to thank the hubs and also thank YOU for raising two sons unselfish enough to choose a career serving this country.

  • Lisa

    Heather was a great post, where do I start, first of all, good job getting near your husbands kids, that is so important. This post is great, is gives someone in your shoes such good things to think about. Enjoy your new adventure, a very exciting time in your life indeed. Keep up posted!! I can hardly wait to see what happens next! Glad you can work remotely!!! Awesome that your employer did that for you.

    • Heather W

      Thank you so much, Lisa! And yes, I couldn’t agree more – my employer is wonderful. Very lucky to have them in my life! 🙂 Thank you again.

  • Beverley Golden

    Lovely post, Heather! I love the two recommendations to make it an adventure and to be gentle to yourself and to ask for help. Aren’t these two important keys in every aspects of our ives. I know your move will be a new adventure for you and your husband and sounds like his children will have their dad close by finally. The life you describe sounds like it has been very fulfilling and brought much joy into your life. I really get that you have also made some amazing memories along the way. Here’s to new memories and new adventures as you embark on an exciting new chapter of your lives together. Look forward to hearing more about your next steps!

  • Kimber Daley

    Best of luck with your new move, Heather! What an amazing (and probably terrifying) feeling, to be able to choose where “home” is now. I hope you find lots of happiness, and I’m so excited for your bonus daughters!

    • Heather W

      Thank you so much, Kimber! Yes – you are spot on – amazing and terrifying at once. I am so lucky to have such a supportive work family. 🙂

  • Delia @ Happy Blogger Plaza

    Best of luck to you, Heather! It only looks super big and terrifying when you look at it as that huge scary thing… But when you break it down in small pieces, it’s quite manageable as with everything. I know you’ll be perfectly fine 🙂

  • Susan Quackenbush

    Good luck to you Heather. My husband served many years in the Navy and although I did not know him when he retired, he tells me he really struggled with both finances and finding employment. I will share this article with him as he loves reading about all things military. Thank you for sharing.

    • Heather W

      Thanks, Susan. And of course as always, to your husband for his service. We are very fortunate that things are going so smoothly right now.

  • Pricilla

    Good luck and congratulations. I’m sure this is a huge transition for both of you. I wish you much happiness in this next stage of your lives.

  • tara pittman

    My son is in the navy and is engaged to be married. He is overseas so they are apart.

    • Heather W

      LOL I will be sure to tell him! Don’t get me wrong – I like that, too. Just in “one week” then back to the city doses. 😉

  • Kara - RofaMW

    We are going through this, but it is a medical retirement for us. We had to also look at places where the VA was easily accessible. We had some nerve racking months, but it’s looking like it’s going to be ok. Good luck to you two!