Moving Mondays: How To Move Smarter

Fleet and Family Support Center's Heather Ruppert Cleary
teaches a Smart Move class.

Ten minutes early to class last week, I sat down at an empty table and took several deep breaths. You see, I was stressed -- not because I was about to take a test, but because I am about to move overseas.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m incredibly excited about the opportunity to move and live abroad later this year. But there are a lot of steps my family has to take between now and moving day, and my mind has been racing through questions and an endless to do list. In fact, thoughts of health screenings, vaccinations, passports, car sales and movers have invaded my dreams.

Thankfully, the Fleet and Family Support Center (FFSC) in Monterey, Calif., hosted a Smart Move class on Jan. 24 aimed at answering military families’ questions about their upcoming moves. And, I was determined to learn as much as possible.

I wasn’t alone. Other military spouses eventually joined me at the table that day. All of them were moving this year, with destinations as close as Georgia and as far as Morocco. Like me, the ladies were poised to scribble notes down.

Heather Ruppert Cleary, an education services facilitator at FFSC, led the class and walked us through each step to prepare for our moves (e.g. health screenings, passports and online anti-terrorism training). She went over moving costs, government reimbursements, what we can and cannot ship and what to expect on moving day.

To be sure, each destination presents unique requirements and challenges.  Fortunately, Cleary knew where each of us was destined to move and tried to tailor the information as she went over each topic.

She also invited someone from the Personal Property Shipping Office to answer any questions we had about shipping our household goods.

I loved that Cleary allowed us to ask as many questions as needed to understand each step of the moving process -- even if the questions were as mundane as appliances and electricity overseas. Believe me, I asked plenty of them!

I also appreciated the websites and handouts she shared, describing everything from our new homes overseas to tips on moving. My favorite handout is a checklist that recommends the time frame my family should complete each moving-related task. I’m definitely less overwhelmed thinking about all the steps my family has to take for our overseas move now that they are broken down by weeks and months.

Best of all: Cleary allowed the military spouses to share any stories, tips and information they learned during their own research or based on their own experience with the class.

The Smart Move class is free. If you are interested in taking the class in Monterey, sign up by calling Cleary at 831-656-3175. Below are the dates and times the next round of classes will be held:

Feb. 22: 2pm-4pm
March 22: 10am-Noon
April 18: 11am-1pm          
May 15: 10am-Noon
June 28: 2pm-4pm

Do you have questions about your next move, but don’t live in Monterey? Call your local FFSC and find out if they host a similar class.


* Do you want to know what it’s like living at a particular duty station? Need tips on how to prepare for a move? Or advice on how to handle a deployment? Tune in each Monday for tips and stories aimed at helping your next move or deployment go more smoothly. If you have questions, tips or stories you would like to share, send a brief email to mytravelingtroop@gmail.com 


  1. that class is so helpful. I used to teach it when I worked at the FFSC here. I probably need to get my butt to one of the classes to make sure nothing has changed before we pcs this year. where are you guys moving too??

  2. I love a good checklist!! :) I can imagine moving overseas would be a stressful event. I'm eager to hear what your destination is??

  3. Thanks for sharing Kristina. We shared your blog on the chat page!


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