Sunday, June 16, 2013

Military Move to Germany: Part 2

To read part one, click here:   

We literally took a plane, a train and automobiles to get to Germany.  We got up at 0430 Eastern Time on a Monday and arrived in Germany the next day in the morning.

I've been moving with the military for 28 years (I spent 20 years in the Army and my husband is still on active duty) and here is something very unusual that happened during this move...we got to travel with our friends who were also moving to Germany!  They lived two doors away from us in Texas and when they found out they were moving to Germany I stalked researched their moving dates so that we could be on the same plane!   I confessed my researching to my friend and she said she was glad we were flying together- whew!  Our younger kids and all of their kids played together almost every day in Texas so it was great to share this exciting trip together!  Our friends are going to a separate Post, so after we arrived and were "inprocessed" (Army term for getting checked-in), we went our separate ways.  I'm sure we'll see other soon.

First Ten Things I Did After Arriving in Germany 
During a Military Move
The day after we arrived my good friend picked my up at the Military Guest Lodge and started getting me what I needed to survive.  I had no car and no (required Military issued) driver's license so that was a huge help.  Otherwise I would be riding a bus around from post to post.

My kids slept until about 2:00 pm and I got up early and got a ton done! I have teens now so now I can leave my kids when I need to go somewhere unlike the last time I moved here with 5 kids ages 2-10.

So, here's what I did the first few days in country this time.

1.  Get registered.   The viscous need to get "on post"  (on the military installation) to start getting settled.  To get on post you need to have your military ID registered at a post in Germany.  The registration office is ON the post.  So, you have to explain to the (armed) guard that you just arrived and you are on your way to the registration office.  My ID was "archived" in the computerized system from the last time I lived here so the guard let me on post to get registered.  

2.  Local Bank Account.  I don't think it's possible NOT to get a local bank account when you live here (with the military).  Thankfully, there is an American bank on post.  My husband set this up so now we can use to to transfer money to buy a vehicle, get a cell phone plan, rent a house, etc.  When living here with the military we use both US dollars and Euro because the post takes the American money and we use Euro in Germany and other European countries.  When we travel to countries that don't use Euro (ie:  Switzerland, Turkey) we do a currency exchange at the bank before we go.  Some people have two different with US dollars and the other with Euro. 

3.  Driver's license.  Military and family members are required to get a European driver's license that's issued by the military if they want to drive here.  To get this license we have to have a US driver's license.  Then we have to take a test that has questions about the German driving laws and many of the street signs.  There is a website with a study guide, a printed study guide and a class that you take before you take the test.  This is the third time I've taken the test...I've never taken it without almost falling asleep from jet-lag though!  My husband and I took it a few days after we arrived and we both passed!  Now we can drive.  But, we don't have a car.  Our one vehicle that the Army shipped is on a boat on it's way here.  Thankfully we have wonderful, trusting friends here and one of them gave us his truck to borrow, however we refer to it as der Tank because, compared to the compact European vehicles, it drives/looks like a, um,  tank.  Not complaining though!  It seats 5 so we are still bumming rides when we all need to get somewhere.  Then we took our kids who have military IDs (all Army kids get an ID when they turn 10) to get them registered so they could get on the military posts.

4.  Cell Phones. Cell phone options have changed significantly since we left Germany three years ago.  Last time I couldn't get an unlimited plan so I had a pay-as-you-go phone so I wouldn't go over my allotted usage.  Now there are plans with unlimited calling and text, etc.  Yessss!  However, many people still prefer the phone where you buy minutes as you need them.  We can get mobile phones from stores on US posts or from German stores.  It took me a few trips to the store to see what t5he options and prices are;  there are many.  I chose an unlimited plan with data and I bought a few cheap pay-as-you-go phones for our family so we have "commo" while we are getting settled.  We have numerous friends here so my kids are going in multiple directions with friends already.

5.  Ration Card.  I cracked up when my husband came home from his office the first day and said, "Here's your ration card."  The ration card is an anachronism, left over from post WW II days when items such as alcohol, cigaretttes and coffee needed to be rationed.  To buy those items at the PX or Commissary we need a ration card and we are limited to a certain amount each month.  It's somewhat comical because the Germans don't ration these items and we can go downtown to local German stores and buy as much as we want!  And, it's often cheaper and better.

6.  Went out to German restaurant and a...


 local town festival where people lined the streets eating a drinking.
Street Festival

It felt we were back home at the local festival. 


Nutella Crepes

7. Library Card.  This really doesn't need to be on the top ten list but while I was out and about I stopped at the local military library and got a Library Card.  No books.  Just the card. But it feels good to have accesses...and it's a necessity if you homeschool!

8. Internet/phone access. Ahhh...our Lodge has internet!!  Access to the world!  And, we have "Magic Jack" so we (read that, "my husband") hooked it up to the computer and now we can make phone calls to the US for $20/year- total.  We used the Magic Jack in the States and it cost about $70 to buy it and $20/year to make calls throughout the US.  At night we need to take it off the hook so we don't get the telemarketers calling during our night (we are 7 hours later than Texas time).

9. GPS.   Most Americans who are here with the military have a GPS to navigate in Europe.  The Post Exchange (PX) has numerous GPSs to chose from.  As we look for houses and cars, having a GPS is invaluable so it's one of the first things I bought.  She does sound awkward trying to pronounce the German street names though!

10.  Look for cars and a house...I'm saving this for Part 3.  Check back next week or sign up to become a follower if you haven't already.  


  1. Sounds like y'all are having a good time already!! The kids are getting so big! Please give them my love!

  2. We've been looking for a house for a few weeks and there aren't many available that are close to the military posts. Hope you are doing well!!!