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May 2024

Military Appreciation Month: Relocation Checklist




How to research your new station and community


Tips to manage new schools and financing


The small details most military movers neglect




How to research your new station and community


Tips to manage new schools and financing


The small details most military movers neglect

As our military friends know a little too well, frequent relocations and permanent change of stations (PCS) come with the territory. Picking up life e and moving to a new duty station is a mixed bag. Sure, “new” can be exciting, but all the uprooting disrupts our routines and can pose educational or career hurdles for the entire fam. 

Not fun. 

So, in our salute to Military Appreciation Month, we’ve put together a short checklist to make your next move smooth.  

Research Your New Duty Station  

Start by familiarizing yourself with the base or post you'll be assigned to, including its location, amenities, and housing options. 

Gather Details About the New Base/Post 

Location, location, location is still important for military members.  How far is your new post from your current residence? What amenities are offered on base (housing, gym, childcare, etc.)? And what kind of options do you have when it comes to housing? 

Remember to research your new duty station's Basic Allowance for Housing (BAH) rate. Knowing this, along with local housing market prices, cost of living, and average rents, will help you make smart choices for your family's finances – but more on that later.  

Expert Tip

The BAH may cover much of your mortgage payment and help pave the way to a new home. 

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Study the Surrounding Area  

But don’t give all your attention to the base itself. Do a little digging on the surrounding cities, towns, and neighborhoods. Proximity to essential services, crime rates, and school districts – more on that later...again - are just a few of the factors to keep in mind during your studies.  

Connect with Local Community Groups  

When it comes down to it, nothing beats getting insights straight from the source. Venture outside your new space and into your new community and see what people have to say. 

Try joining online forums or Facebook groups specific to your new duty station. Connect with current residents and military families stationed there to gain those oh-so-valuable firsthand accounts. A little insider knowledge can help you make informed choices and hit the ground running upon your family’s arrival. 

Decide on Housing  

One of the most important tasks on your relocation checklist is securing suitable housing for you and your family. 

Can’t decide if you should rent or buy? The Knowledge Center has got you covered! 

On-Base vs. Off-Base  

Do your due diligence and explore both on-base and off-base housing options. On-base housing offers convenience and a built-in community, but availability might be limited. Meanwhile, off-base housing provides more variety and flexibility, but could require additional research and longer commutes. Decisions, decisions.  

Weigh the pros and cons of each before making your decision.

Military Housing Services  

You’re not in this alone! Utilize military housing services and tools, such as the Defense Department’s Plan My Move and the Automated Housing Referral Network (AHRN), to simplify your search and gain access to exclusive resources. You could even connect with local landlords, for off-base rentals in particular.  

Expert Tip

Schedule house-hunting trips or virtual tours, if possible.

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Prepare Documents and Paperwork  

Okay, here’s the not-so-fun part. Gather all necessary documents and paperwork, including lease agreements, rental applications, and proof of income or employment, and keep them filed in a labeled binder or folder. Having all the fine print you need organized and readily available will streamline the home search process. 

Plan for School 

Don’t learn the hard way; if you have children, ensuring a smooth transition to their new school environment should be near the top of your list.  

Research School Districts  

Research the educational options available to your kids in your new area, including public, private, charter, and even homeschooling alternatives.

Every family has their own priorities, so come up with your top priorities and values first. Think about factors like academic performance, extracurricular activities, and class sizes before making your choice.  

And here’s a pro-tip: District websites often provide comprehensive information about schools, including things like performance data and school policies.

Once you've shortlisted potential schools, you could even schedule a few visits to experience the campus firsthand. Don't hesitate to request meetings with the principal or teachers to ask specific questions or address concerns. Your visit should offer a holistic understanding beyond what's available online. 

Enroll Easier  

With a school selected, it’s time to rock the enroll. Once again, boot up your internet and head to the school’s website to check out the enrollment procedure.  More than likely, you should be prepared to provide the following documentation: 

  • A completed application form 

  • Your child’s birth certificate  

  • Proof of residency  

  • Up-to-date immunization records 

  • Emergency contact details  

And since your child is probably transferring from another school, you may also need to provide their student transcripts.  

Moving to a new state? It’s not a bad idea to familiarize yourself with the Interstate Compact on Educational Opportunity for Military Children.

Manage Your Finances

Financial planning is the right move for a stress-free...move. Handle the monetary side of relocations with the greatest of ease by... 


When relocating on military orders, take steps to avoid negative impacts to your credit score. Close out and transfer all accounts to your new location. Keep all receipts, as you may receive reimbursement from the military for certain expenses. 

The military typically covers many relocation costs, such as hiring a moving company or temporary lodging. However, exceeding maximum allowances could require out-of-pocket expenses. Maintaining a healthy budget will help manage unexpected costs effectively. 

If you're new to budgeting, consider reviewing our beginner's guide to making a budget. It can provide useful tips and strategies for financial planning beyond your move.

Entitlements and Reimbursements  

When you're a military member about to make a Permanent Change of Station (PCS) move, take advantage of the entitlements and reimbursements available to you. These handy benefits can go a long way in offsetting those moving costs and alleviating some of the financial stress that comes with relocating. 

For starters, make sure you're clued in on programs like the Temporary Lodging Allowance (TLA) and the Dislocation Allowance (DLA). The TLA can help cover those short-term housing expenses when you're between homes, while the DLA is a flat-rate payment designed to help with all the incidental costs that pop up during a move. 

Depending on your situation, there may be other reimbursement opportunities waiting for you. 

Make a Few Last-Minute Updates  

One last thing you certainly can't afford to overlook is updating all your banking and financial information. 

Get in touch with your bank and let them know you're relocating. They'll be able to help you transfer your accounts over to a new local branch, if needed. And while you're at it, update the billing address on any credit cards you own. The last thing you want is for those statements to go missing in the mail.

Take one last good, hard look at any other financial accounts or automatic payments you've got set up. Streaming services, utility bills, you name it – anything that's tied to your old zip code needs to be updated with your fresh new address. 

Welcome to the Neighborhood, Solider! 

Once the cardboard boxes are unpacked and waiting for the recycling truck at the end of your new driveway, it’s time to get involved in the new community! Or, if all this talk about relocating has you thinking about financing your next move, remember: buying while serving is possible, especially with a VA loan

And speaking of remembering, don’t forget that you have the support of the entire team here at Atlantic Bay when it is time to make your family’s move. You serve us, so we’d be more than happy to serve you!