Military Separation and Finding “Home”
Thanks to Lincoln Military Housing for sponsoring this post.
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?
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.
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?
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.