Now that the chaos has passed, I thought I’d do a post explaining a few things about how a military move works…
First of all, in the British Army you generally move to a new job every two years, but people do often leave posts early on promotion, or if a position is axed.
Most forces families spend an entire career moving around locations within Germany and the UK, we are the exception. Our next house will be our 5th home in 4 countries in less than 4 years of marriage – even by military standards that’s a lot!
We do get a degree of choice about where we go, but the ‘posting preference form’ serving personnel fill in is also known as the “dream sheet” because it’s rare to actually get one of your top job choices. Our last three postings have all been near the bottom of the list, and as such have been a complete surprise!
When we move we are given a shipping allowance based on the size of our family and the place we are posted to. Inside mainland Europe, the allowance is about
80 cubic metres 67 cubic metres, which is a house full of possessions. Further afield like Canada or Cyprus it is much less, currently just 10.6 cubic metres for the two of us. When they collected our removals on Friday we were 4.5 cubic metres over our allowance, and we will be charged for that…
Regardless of the location you are posted to the military gives you the option of having your quarter furnished. Naively when I first took on a house (as a single civilian working for BFBS) I agreed to take it furnished not realising how bad the furniture would be. 5 years later I am very familiar with the MODs nylon covered sofas, 1970s plywood dressers and rock hard beds and so we recklessly use up part of our allowance (2 cubic metres!) moving a bed around the world with us!
Unlike a move within the UK, when you are posted between countries it takes time for your possessions to reach their destination, during this time you live with a couple of suitcases of belongings and a thing called a Get You In/Out Kit, which contains basic kitchen equipment and bedding.
And finally nothing comes from free… There’s an odd myth that persists that military quarters are free to live in, not only are they not free, but when we are based overseas we have to pay a sum in lieu of UK council tax on top of our rent! Rent on houses is scaled according to their condition, a house like the one we are currently in, with no central heating and kitchen and bathrooms which haven’t been updated for 50 years, are cheaper than more modern houses.