Preparing to Leave Germany

“I embrace in advance what I am presently incapable of understanding.” – Elizabeth Gilbert

In approximately six to eight months, my husband and I will be moving back to the States.  We don’t have orders yet, but our departure is inevitable.  Already, I have signs of nostalgia as we prepare to leave.  Every encounter is met with a twinge of sadness as I realize it might be my “LAST” – Last chance for Christmas markets, last season to Ski the Alps, last squadron ball and the list goes on.  So, needless to say, the thought of leaving Germany makes me sad.  Yet, in all honesty, I am excited too.  Excited because I know a new adventure awaits me back in the States.

So being the Type-A person that I am, my thoughts are already consumed with preparations for the move.  Admittedly though, I am feeling a little helpless and out of the loop. Emotionally I am annoyed that we don’t have orders, but am logically aware that this is the norm.  So, I am currently living in a state of peaceful anxiety.  Ha – whatever that means!

As a spouse, there are many things involved in a PCS move that are – and will always be – out of my control.  So no matter how manic I become, I have to remind myself to calm down and breathe.  Understandably, most big-ticket items like housing, transportation, finance and so on can’t be done until our orders are cut.  And even then, most of the tasks will fall on my husband’s shoulders.  But in the meantime, there are a lot of small things that I can do now to lessen the burden later.

With that being said, I have started keeping a running list of things I can do to assist.  Your ideas and suggestions are encouraged as well.  Feel free to comment below with your input so it can be added to the list.  Hopefully this list will continue to grow and become a helpful community resource.


  1. Start a savings account for unexpected expenses that we may encounter during the move
  2. Start packing-up seasonal clothing and decorations that have passed
  3. Ensure our vehicle information is correct and complete – customs, sales tax, title transfers, etc…
  4. Ensure we have turned in all of our VAT forms and none are missing
  5. Read over our housing contract and develop a move-out plan
  6. Make sure all passport, birth certificates and command sponsorship information is complete and correct
  7. Attend the ACS Smooth Move Class that is offered monthly


  1. Attend the levy briefing with my husband
  2. Research our next duty station and develop a plan for arrival
  3. Work with my husband to develop a list of clearing appointments

I’ll expand in detail on each of these items in their own separate blog.  Sign-up now to follow my blog so you are kept in the loop.  Over the next few months, I will provide you with the resources available to you as a spouse.

On a final note — as an Army spouse we are constantly living in a world of UNKNOWNS.  The majority of us don’t know when we will be leaving Schweinfurt or where we will be going next.  This can be frustrating.  However, we must remember that we cannot worry about the things that are out of our control.  I may not know where I am going next or when, but I do have control over the plan I establish to get me there.  That’s why I am starting now.  Hope you can join me in doing the same.


2 thoughts on “Preparing to Leave Germany

  1. Good advice, Michele. 🙂 Since you welcome other tips, here’s some of mine:

    1. Start purging your home, one room at a time, so it’s not overwhelming at the last minute. Plan which items will go to Freecycle, recycling, the trash, or other friends (we gave away or sold 220v small kitchen appliances, transformers, a vacuum cleaner, Christmas lights, etc.).

    2. I used full page calendars printed from Microsoft Outlook for three months of moving planning (in pencil). I found it was easiest to first mark down the reporting/sign in date for our next installation based on the orders, and then plan backwards. I then marked the dates for: HHG and temporary baggage pick up; shipping both cars; giving written notice to the landlord and scheduling a pre-move out inspection; getting a health certificate for the dog; moving to a hotel; giving notice for my job, etc.

    3. If you’re a spouse with a full-time job, give notice to your employer and allow for decompression time before you PCS. I had two weeks of time to just enjoy being a tourist in Schweinfurt. I was also able to do last-minute moving stuff like mailing boxes of items we couldn’t pack/put in HHG.

    4. If you have contracts with companies for mobile phones, cable/Internet, etc. make sure you are properly notifying them *in writing* of your intention to break the contract. Ensure you are meeting their specifications for advance notification (i.e., 60 days, 90 days, etc.) Have a German-speaking friend help if necessary. Don’t be shocked if you have to buy out the remainder of your mobile phone contract since military orders do not guarantee you can walk away from the contract without penalty. If your contract is set to automatically renew months before PCSing, cancel it with the proper notice/time frame, and use pre-paid phones if need be for the rest of the time in country. Basically, avoid one more headache that too many Soldiers fall victim to when they’re in the throes of PCSing.

    5. Purchase an accordion folder and organize all documents related to the PCS that you will hand carry while traveling: vehicle titles/shipping info; marriage/birth certificates; HHG inventories, etc.

  2. Pingback: Preparing to Leave Germany Part 2 « Closure 2014 Blog

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