Home Moving Tips Moving Advice from an Army Wife

Moving Advice from an Army Wife

by Ali Wenzke

Thank you to Rebecca Alwine for her guest post this week. Rebecca is an army wife, mother of three, and lover of her adorable pirate dog. Over the past 13 years, she’s moved 7 times.  Her motto: work smarter, not harder.

As an army wife, I learned that military moves would be easier in some ways, but harder in others. Yes, packers would come to my house and put my life into boxes. Then, they would disassemble my furniture, load everything in a truck, and drive it across the country. On the other end, the movers would reassemble everything, maybe even unpack some boxes, and then come back a week or two later and collect the materials. We would even get paid gas money to move. But, as you can probably imagine, military moves are not perfect.

Military moves can be hard sometimes

With a military move, sometimes things get lost. Sometimes things get broken. Sometimes you buy a beach chair after you’re tired of sitting on the floor for a week. Over the past 13 years, my husband, Steven, and I have moved 7 times.  When our kids were just 2 1/2 years old and nine months old, we moved from Wiesbaden, Germany, to Fort Meade, Maryland. A little more than a year later, we moved from Maryland to Fort Huachuca, Arizona. Moving doesn’t necessarily get easier, but you do get better at it.

Our family continued to grow and we later moved our then 8 year old, 7 year old, and 1 year old from Arizona to Pensacola, Florida. To our kids’ dismay, we moved twice in seven months from Arizona to Florida to Georgia. When we were leaving Arizona and knew we’d be going from Florida to Georgia in a short time span, one of my kids wanted to go straight to Georgia so he wouldn’t have to make friends twice.  The kids say they don’t want to move again . . . unless we move back to Europe.  Understandable.


Photos are property of Rebecca Alwine.

I spent my early years preparing for my military moves

Childhood often prepares us for things we will see later down the road, even though we don’t know it when we are young. When I was in middle school, my parents moved us from New Jersey to Virginia. I remember watching my parents pack up the rental truck, which they then realized was a bit too small, despite being the biggest size. That meant they had to leave some things behind. Doing so at the last minute was hard. I watched them unpack that same truck into a rental house, in a strange town with no friends. Sure, the kids “helped.” However, as I was the oldest at 12, I’m not sure how much help we were.

I learned that we don’t need a lot of stuff to be happy

Throughout that first year in Virginia, we lived in three houses. One was an old house with fun closets and lots of room. Then, we moved to a two-bedroom townhouse on a ski resort for the summer. The four of us kids made one large room work by positioning bookshelves and dressers so we could each steal a corner. Then, with the help of neighbors and friends, we moved into the house my parents built where I stayed until college.

When I first went off to college I learned how annoying it was to move stuff like clothes, linens, lamps, decorations, and a desktop computer. Even though my entire life fit into the back of my parent’s minivan and I had no furniture, it still felt like a lot of stuff.  It was tedious to lug everything from far-away parking lots and up flights of stairs, in and out of dorm rooms for three years. I moved a couple more times until I met the man of my dreams, we got married, and I settled into a life of, well, moving.

This is really all I needed in college.

My expert advice as an army wife

If I had one piece of advice for someone making her first military move, it would be this: Empty your drawers into two-gallon Ziploc bags. It’ll reduce the number of things you have to find later on. For those of you finishing up your military career and making the transition to a civilian move? I recommend spending as much time preparing your house to pack as you would when the movers are coming. It’s worth it to be organized.

This last time my husband and I moved, we moved around the corner. We bought our first house. Since this wasn’t a military move, we had to do it ourselves. So, I did what any self-respecting military spouse would do . . . I hired movers.  The movers disassembled and reassembled furniture. They moved my piano and helped my husband move the TV. We bought them lunch. I packed up boxes and crates, and we moved the rest. It was pretty easy.

Overall, moving is what you make of it. Our children consider it an adventure, mostly because we do. Moving means a new house, new ways to decorate, the potential for new friends. But it also means we go together as a family, our stuff comes with us, and we make new memories. Embrace the adventure!


Rebecca Alwine is an army wife, mother of three, and lover of her adorable pirate dog. Over the
past 13 years, she’s moved 7 times. Along the way Rebecca discovered she enjoys coffee, lifting weights, and most of the menial tasks of motherhood. Her days consist of CrossFit workouts, audiobooks, and pretending to cook while her Instant Pot does all the work. Rebecca’s motto: work smarter, not harder. You can follow her adventures on Instagram at Rebecca_alwine.

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