When Matt filled out his DREAM sheet in October we were soooo excited. The thought of spending the next four years in Florida or Cape Cod were so exciting to us. For some insane reason I actually thought we would get one of our four picks….ha WRONG.
I was at home on maternity leave with our six week old daughter when Matt came home with his orders. When he walked into the house and asked me what I thought about spending the next three years in Kodiak, Alaska I thought he was kidding. It wasn’t until he left the house to go back to work while I was crying that I knew he was telling the truth. This guy was moving me 5,000 miles away to a remote island in ALASKA.
I’m a beach girl. I love the south, warm weather and being able to spend my summers on the water. There’s a beach in Kodiak, but it’s never warm enough to actually put on a bathing suit. My family lives in the same town as us now (I met Matt while he was stationed here) so I also had to face the reality of leaving them as well. The first few weeks after hearing the news was really tough. I had just had our daughter in November so my hormone levels were still skyrocketing. My poor husband had to deal with a crying baby AND a crying wife!
After a few weeks of self-pity and freaking the hell out over moving to Kodiak, I finally got it together and realized that this can be such an amazing opportunity. We’re going to get to live in one of the most beautiful places in Alaska. Being in Kodiak will be great for Matt’s career but also will give our family lots of time together without the usual everyday distractions that you normally would have. Life is more simple there and it could be good to detox for a few years. And the best part is after my husband’s three year tour there we will get priority pick!
I have a type-A personality, so after the move officially sunk in I went into planning/organizing overdrive. This is our first move as a married couple and it’s an OCONUS (Outside the contiguous United States) move at that. There was SOOOOOO much to do with such little time! Here are a few tips that I have figured out along the way.
1. Ask Lots of Questions
Lean on your sponsor. Ask them lots of questions about the area, schools, weather, important tidbits, etc. No question is a stupid question. Luckily for us, there are a lot of people on my husband’s flight line that have been stationed in Kodiak. So there was no shortage of people willing to give us advice or answer our questions. At the time I was working as a civilian at the airstation and had contact with several Active Duty personnel that were currently stationed in Kodiak. I sent lots of emails with questions and reached out to my contacts. By reaching out to my contacts I learned about the military housing we will be living in and also received TONS of great advice on the road trip. People are willing to help, you just have to reach out and ask.
2. Get your Passports Early
If you’re crossing country borders this is essential. We will be driving through Canada on our way to Alaska, so we had to have our passports updated and get one for Madison.. Make sure to have these done early. Receiving your passport can take up to 6 weeks and the process can be a pain. If you’re on government orders you can get a no-fee government passport.
3. Keep a PCS Binder
Keep records of all moving information, bills, health certificates for pets and medical records for family members. So far in our move having a binder full of our essential information has really helped me stay on top of things and stay organized.
4. Plan Early
For our move to Kodiak we had to receive “entry approval” from Base Kodiak. Once we received the approval we were able to start scheduling movers and planning our move date. Planning our drive across country and the stops early was a big stressor off of our plate. Having a plan early has helped us be able to worry about other items on our list (which is getting longer by the day).
While in Kodiak we have to live in military housing. Sizing for military housing is based upon how many dependents you have. We currently live in a 4 bedroom house and will be placed in a 2 bedroom once we arrive. Storage is extremely expensive in Alaska and unfortunately the Coast Guard will not pay for storage for us there (I believe some services do). We have tons of furniture and other extra’s that we will not need. Use the facebook yardsale sites or hold a yardsale yourself to get rid of the things you will not need.
6. Try to Enjoy the Adventure
This is advice I heard from soooooo many people that have either previously done an OCONUS tour or are currently on one. It did take a while for me to get to the point of being excited for our move, but life is always more enjoyable when you take time to appreciate what’s around you. Try to make the best out of your situation. Time flies by faster when you’re enjoying life than when you’re miserable.