Moving overseas can be stressful, but knowing what to expect – especially where expenses are concerned— can help you manage your family’s budget. AHRN.com reached out to military spouse blogger Melissa Gilliam Shaw to share her experiences budgeting for hotel stays and eating out during a PCS to Germany.
PCSing to Germany will require your family to plan for hotel stays in the U.S. and Germany, and for meal costs while traveling overseas. Unfortunately, because each family’s situation is unique, I can’t tell you exactly how much money to budget for hotels and meals. I’ll do my best, though, to share what our family has learned during our PCS to Germany and our subsequent PCS within Germany.
Hotel Stays in the U.S.
Exactly how many nights of hotel stays your family will need in the U.S., where those hotel stays will be, and how many of those nights will be reimbursable, varies from family to family. The most important advice I can offer is to read your orders in detail, and to ask any questions about budgeting and reimbursement of the proper military officials.
We were stationed in Colorado and had orders to fly from Baltimore to Germany. We chose to drive our vehicle to a port in Baltimore so that we could drive cross-country, visiting family en route. We were allotted a finite number of reimbursable hotels stays from the time our household goods were picked up to the date we flew from Baltimore to Ramstein, Germany.
Your family will also be told how many nights of hotel stays are reimbursable. Once you have that information, you can begin budgeting accordingly. Your family will almost definitely be required to pay for all hotel stays out-of-pocket initially, for later reimbursement, so be sure you budget for those expenses, even though they will technically be reimbursed later. Also, be sure to keep your receipts!
If your family chooses to stay in hotels for more nights than your service member’s orders allow, then your family will incur those costs personally, without reimbursement. It can be helpful to decide as a family whether those additional hotel stays are an affordable indulgence, or whether it’s best to stick to the number of hotel stays that are fully reimbursable.
Hotels Stays in Germany
Your family will need to reserve German hotel or military lodge accommodations well in advance of your PCS to ensure availability. As with U.S. hotel stays, your service member will have a fixed number of reimbursable nights’ accommodation. The number of reimbursable nights’ accommodation is extended when adequate housing isn’t available for family members in a reasonable amount of time.
Once your housing office presents you with “adequate” housing, you have an important decision to make — and this decision could have a big impact on your family’s budget. You’ll have to decide whether to accept the housing that has been offered or whether to reject it. If you accept it, your family should be reimbursed for your lodging costs until the housing you’ve accepted is ready for you to move in.
If, on the other hand, you reject the “adequate” housing that has been offered, your family could forfeit the right for any further lodging reimbursement. This means that if you reject the housing that’s been offered to you, the military isn’t obligated to continue paying for your hotel costs. Prevent unnecessary expenses by accepting adequate housing when it’s offered.
Just like with lodging, each family’s meal per diem is unique. The best budgeting advice I can offer is twofold: First, make sure you understand your family’s specific per diem rules, and budget within them.
Second, when you call your new duty station’s lodge to reserve your family’s room(s), request a room with a kitchenette. Most of the military lodges here in Germany have rooms with kitchenettes that allow your family to cook instead of relying exclusively on dining out. For the military family on a budget, a kitchenette and a trip to the commissary can mean big savings.
Preparing for an OCONUS PCS? Check out Melissa’s other OCONUS PCS Budgeting Tips:
- Budgeting For Your PCS To Germany
- Budgeting For Your PCS To Germany: Traveling With A Pet
- Budgeting For Your PCS To Germany: Adapting To EU Utilities
- Budgeting For Your PCS To Germany: Your Vehicle
- Budgeting For Your PCS to Germany: Licenses and Passports
Meet Your Contributor:
Melissa Gilliam Shaw is a freelance marketing professional and the creator of MilliGFunk: a blog about resilience, adventures, and deeply planted roots. Melissa’s husband is an officer in the Army, and they live in Germany with their daughter and their scruffy rescue dog who still hasn’t forgiven them for making her fly cargo from the U.S.A. to Germany. You can find Melissa on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Bloglovin’, LinkedIn, and Google+.