The BIGGEST Challenges Military Families Face with Moving

Moving is a frequent part of military life, but it comes with a host of challenges that can overshadow the excitement of new adventures. For military families, these challenges range from emotional upheaval to logistical nightmares. In our comprehensive guide, we delve into the biggest hurdles faced by military families during relocations and provide strategies to overcome them.

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What Will Military Movers Not Move?

Moving is a staple of military life. While it does come with new and frequent adventures, it also brings a set of challenges that are difficult to overcome. It can quickly turn the excitement of a new place into a logistical headache. Here’s a rundown of these obstacles and how you can overcome them:


The biggest worry when moving as a military family is your children because the effects can be catastrophic without proper love and support. Frequent moves can affect their sense of stability and impede their learning curve when young. Moving schools every couple of years is never fun, especially because it’s so difficult to make friends in the beginning. 

Here are some steps to help support your kids in this life-altering time:

  • Open Communication: Establishing an open communication line between you and your children will make the move exponentially easier on their young minds. Acknowledge the fears that you and they may have and try to answer any questions they throw at you. Dive into those heart-to-heart talks; this is also a great way to form a special bond with your children. 
  • Establishing Consistency: The faster you get back into a routine, the better. Most children aren’t fans of change; they crave stability, so try to maintain your family traditions, mealtimes, and bedtime routines. Create a “home” atmosphere even if you’re halfway across the world.
  • Involvement: Involving your children in the move helps them feel included and in control of the situation. It can also help reduce their anxiety by thinking of the move like a game.
  • Mental Health: Monitor your children’s mental health closely. Check in with them often, offering your support when needed. 

Remember, there’s no shame in needing professional help. Professional resources are available like counselors who specialize in military families if needed.

How to Pack

If this is your first rodeo, here are some key tips on how to pack as a military family:

  • Make sure you book a moving company early on (~ 1- 2 months before)
  • Declutter and Downsize
  • Find discounts for military families
  • Bring everything you need for the kids (you can live without some things)

Financial Implications

It’s not just the emotional and logistical parts that affect military families, there’s also the financial implications too. Even with allowances and reimbursements from the military, out-of-pocket expenses can add up quickly from deposits for homes to replacing belongings that got damaged from the move. Budgeting for unexpected expenses can be tricky, especially when reimbursements from the military are delayed or don’t cover the full cost.

Frequent moves disrupt the jobs of the spouses, however, nowadays remote work is more popular. The loss of a second income can put great strain on the relationship and financial aspect of a family. 

The cost of housing and living adjustments can fluctuate based on the economy and country you’re living in, leading to discrepancies in the expected budget.

Here’s what you should do:

  • Effective Budgeting: Develop an in-depth budgeting calculator online or using Excel to account for moving expenses, cost of living, and much more. Update this regularly as this is what will keep you organized throughout the move and beyond.
  • Maximize Military Benefits: Learn about all the military benefits available to you and make full use of them. Also, take advantage of the financial assistance services offered by the military. These services offer personalized advice on your income and expenses. It’s basically like having an in-house wealth manager.
  • Build an Emergency Fund: This is the most important tip for military families because unexpected obstacles can arise at a moment’s notice. Build an emergency fund of up to 6 months' worth of income and set up automatic transfers to a savings account to consistently grow the fund.

Long Distance & International Relocations

Military reassignment isn’t always a simple across-the-the-street move; they are usually a long-distance or international relocation. Longer distance and international moves add a level of complexity that local moves don’t have, from customs and added logistics to shipping items and cars across the world. 

Here are 3 tips to help you handle this long journey:

  • Early Planning & Research: Start by researching your new home’s culture, customs, attractions, and language. Knowing what you can expect before you get there can reduce anxiety for your long trip ahead. Begin planning the logistics of the trip. Things like housing, groceries, healthcare, shipping addresses, etc.
  • Culture & Language Learning: If you know the country beforehand, learn basic phrases from the language so the shift isn’t as jarring. Familiarize yourself with the local customs and laws to protect yourself in a foreign land.
  • Leverage Military Resources: Many military bases offer relocation assistance programs for families assimilating into a new culture. Some examples may be language training and cultural orientation.


Constant change makes it very difficult to socially integrate into a community because there’s always a potential move on the horizon, making it hard to lay down roots. Building meaningful relationships is especially hard because there can be cultural differences and a lack of time to build those bonds. Children face their own challenges by trying to assimilate and keep their grades up in school. 

Here are some strategies to assimilate into your community:

  • Participate in Base Activities: Many military bases welcome families with briefings, events, and clubs to help families settle in. 
  • Explore Local Events and Clubs: Look for local events, hobby clubs, or volunteering opportunities to meet people with similar interests.
  • Social Media: Utilize the power of social media groups and forums to find local support and those who empathize with military families.

Emotional Toll

We get it. Every move can feel like a series of losses – friends, family, community, a sense of self/confidence. This grieving process is emotionally taxing, to say the least. The logistics of moving, along with the uncertainty of a new location can be extremely overwhelming. 

Being a military family, you learn to adjust to new environments quickly which is a great skill. Living in diverse cultures and communities brings you a newfound sense of gratitude and perspective. 

Here’s how to navigate this stressful time:

  • Open Communication: Share your feelings and fears with friends and family to break down those walls and strengthen your bond.
  • Seek Support: If you need it, don’t be afraid to console a professional with your struggles and mental health. These counselors can provide immense value and strategies to bring back a happier you.
  • Focus on the Positive: Although this can be a very daunting change, focusing on the positive aspects of the move, like a new adventure, meeting new people, and learning about different cultures, can help you keep an open mind. 
  • Build New Connections: Whether moving short or long distances, actively participate in community events to ease the transition between old and new. 

Mission Accomplished

Military families are truly the unsung heroes. It’s not every day you meet people who can pack up their lives at a moment’s notice and start fresh across the world. 

So here’s a big salute to the strength and spirit you show through the ups and downs. We appreciate everything you do.

We hope we offered some great insight into the unique challenges military families go through while moving, and some expert tips on how to overcome those obstacles.


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