So Uncle Sam came a-knocking and finally told us a few weeks ago that we are PCS-ing (for those non-military, it actually means Permanant Change of Station. Or pack up you’re sh*t because we’re moving you). We are super excited about where we are moving to because we will finally be close to family, but with this being our first “real” PCS, its freaking scary.
First of all, we have a whole house full of stuff to pack and move. This time we are having packers and movers come because like hell if I’m packing up all this crap and then watching J and a bunch of his Marines scratch up my stuff while they load it. Again. So I’m pretty nervous about that because I’ve never done it before. I don’t know the procedures. And I hear if you’re not careful they’ll pack up your garbage!
Secondly, we are moving clear across the country. Granted its a place I’m pretty familiar with but we also have to do this with a 19-month old and a dog. We want to stop and visit some of J’s family that hasn’t met E yet, so we have to drive together at least part of the way. I’m trying to convince him to buy an RV so we can just hang out in the back while he drives, but he’s not taking the bait. Dang.
Thirdly, and probably the most-scariest (totally a term in this case) is that we are thinking of buying a house. Military families are constantly putting their lives on hold. For J’s whole career there will always be an impending move. But we also need to set down some roots. Its good for our family, and the Marine Corps is getting better at letting families do that by keeping them in once place for a longer tour. The area in which we are moving to is where we would like to be long term, too. We only have orders for a year but we are thinking we will end up staying for at least 3. Base housing is crazy difficult to get and for a house the same size as what we have now, or even a little smaller, we will be paying more than our BAH (Basic Allowance for Housing). We are tired of throwing our money away on rent, we are financially sound, and we are ready to make a steady investment.
In beginning this journey, we have asked friends and family for advice and their experiences. Some things are the basic house buying procedures, but some things are great advice that we didn’t really think about. Here are some of the wise-words we’ve heard so far:
- Speak with neighbors: don’t be afraid to knock on your potential neighbor’s doors and ask how they really feel about the neighborhood, area, and even other neighbors. They may give you some insight that no realtor ever could.
- Check the neighborhood at different times during the day: sure it looks like Pleasantville at 2pm when everyone is at work or school. But drive around during the early morning, afternoons, and late evening to see how the neighborhood functions on a daily basis.
- Drive to local stores and gas stations: you can really get a feel of the surrounding neighborhoods when you walk into the few places that everyone, no matter what, needs to visit on a regular basis.
- Take your planned route to work during rush hour: commuting is a huge part of living in the suburbs. Can you deal with the drive or the ride day after day. After day. After day.
- How marketable is it?: This is especially true for military families who often end up renting their houses out. Just because you can stand the 50 minute commute, will most people in your situation? Where is large city-center where most people are communting from? Is the space easy to fit different furniture?
- How close it is to Starbucks and Target?: ok, so maybe that’s just for me…
I’ll be honest, not everyone thinks this is a good idea for us for different reasons- the length of time we have orders being the biggest one- but we are exploring our options at this point. We understand that our family and friends are nervous for us. Its unpredictable. Its a scary thing. But its our thing. We aren’t doing it just because we think its time to buy a house. We aren’t doing it because its “the next step.” We are doing it because, right now, we feel like this is a smart decision and the best one for our family. Luckily, our family is wonderfully supportive and although they are relaying their cautionary tales to us, we know they will stand behind us in our final decision.
Do you have any thing you’ve learned from buying a home? Have you heard any advice from family and friends when you were going through the home searching and buying process? Leave a comment below!