As your family begins budgeting for your OCONUS PCS to Germany, there are some things to consider that you might not think of if you’ve never lived overseas. From adapting your home to European electricity to getting your German and international driver’s license, little expenses can quickly accumulate. AHRN.com reached out to military spouse blogger Melissa Gilliam Shaw to share her experiences budgeting for an OCONUS PCS.
An OCONUS PCS has so many nuances that a domestic PCS doesn’t, and not all of them are intuitive. I hope that this series of posts, written from my own family’s experience living on two different German duty stations will help your family think through — and budget for — your upcoming OCONUS PCS.
Cleaning Supplies & Other Chemicals
The military won’t ship chemicals in your household goods, so before leaving the U.S., you’ll have to dispose of all of your family’s cleaning supplies, paints, and other chemical products. Be sure to budget for replacing these items during your first few weeks in your new housing overseas.
Condiments & Cooking Supplies
If condiments and other food items require refrigeration or freezing, you’ll need to use or dispose of them before your OCONUS PCS. From ketchup to ice cream, salad dressing to frozen meals, you should budget for replacing all of your refrigerated and frozen food items when you arrive overseas.
Additionally, movers won’t be able to move other cooking products that have been opened. Cooking oils, flour, cereal, and other food items that have already been opened will need to be eaten or disposed of before your move. Expect your first Commissary trip in Germany to be an expensive one.
The good news is that you should be able to ship your cooking seasonings like cumin, rosemary, cloves, or cinnamon. We had a large collection of kitchen seasonings that were all able to make the trip to Germany with us — even the ones we’d already opened.
Homes in Germany don’t have wall-to-wall carpeting like they do in America. Your German home, whether on post of off, will very likely have tile, laminate, or parquet floors. Unless you’re comfortable with cold, hard floors throughout your home, you should budget for area rugs. While you can sometimes find better deals on them, the average 4’x6’ area rug we’ve shopped for has cost around $125.
Curtain & Curtain Clips
Finally, German homes don’t come with mini-blinds or other pre-installed interior curtains. Instead, German homes have ceiling-mounted curtain tracks that hold rolling curtain clips. Curtains and curtain clips vary in quality and price, but our experience has been that curtains cost around $40 per panel at AAFES, and clips cost $5-$10 per bag. One bag usually works for one or two curtain panels. A standard window would require one or two curtain panels. Our living room in Wiesbaden required four panels, at minimum. Outfitting our home with curtains and curtain clips was one of the single most expensive aspects of getting settled in our new home in Germany.
In the next few weeks, we will review other aspects of an OCONUS move that will influence your PCS budget and planning. From transporting your pet overseas to the differences in EU electricity to driver’s licenses and vehicles, we’ll look at the different components you should include in your planning.
We want to know:
What part of your OCONUS move stresses you the most?
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+.