In the fourth and final post of this limited series Siobhan Fairgreaves looks back on the information she wishes had been available when she first moved into military housing.
I recently had a conversation with a friend and fellow military wife which made me reflect on how different our experience of moving to a new house is when compared with non-military families. This also made me think about what information I wish I had before I moved, or even once I got here.
It had never really struck me how strange it was to move across the country without seeing the house I was moving to, or knowing anything about the area. I’d moved around before becoming a military spouse and was always keen to see the adventure in the unknown. It only really dawned on me how different our life can be when my friend told me her story of driving across two countries, with two toddlers in the back seat, to move to a house she’d never seen, in an area she’d never been to. I’m sure there are many of you with similar stories and it made me think about what could make moves like that easier.
From what I have experienced and observed so far, one of the most important things would be recent photos and measurements. As we were moving from a one bed flat into a house I didn’t need to worry about any of our stuff fitting, and I was reassured several times that there would definitely be curtains, but it was strange to have so few photos of my new home before I moved. I wanted to be excited and show people the photos of what would be my first home with my husband and it was a bit “othering” that I couldn’t. Of course it’s great to know wherever we go we will always have a roof over our heads, but not knowing much about where you’re going can add a layer of trepidation that could so easily be taken away. I can’t imagine how much more difficult it must be for those moving between larger homes with more furniture or access needs. Recent photos, thorough floorplans and accurate measurements would really help to make planning a move easier. I think these would be easy fixes to implement over time considering how similar many of the houses on a street are and the fact that houses ae inspected when each occupant leaves- a perfect opportunity to take photos in a clean and empty house. Of course, the community always steps up and it has been amazing to see so many members of social media groups helping each other out with measurements and photos of their own houses which are built to the same plan.
We are very fortunate that, due to being a couple, we will always have a spare bedroom I can use to work from. This is very different for many families with home offices ranging from a laptop on the sofa to a corner of the kitchen table. Now I think it’s highly unlikely that military houses will suddenly be built with fully functioning home offices but the opportunity to work at a Military Coworking Hub if you have one nearby is an asset that should be supported. Not only does a coworking hub ensure a reliable internet connection, a professional working environment and of course- coffee, it also provides a community and the opportunity to interact with people outside of your home. Sadly the pandemic means physical hubs are closed for now but the digital community continues to encourage and nurture new and existing members. If you don’t have a hub near you, why not contact the Military Coworking Team about setting one up?
I wasn’t at the march in when we collected the keys to our house but was delighted when I found the all-important folder which contained all the information we needed to know about our house. As the person who rushes straight for the welcome booklet when I check-in to a hotel (remember those?), I was excited to learn about the house, what amenities were nearby and what we could explore in the local area. Sadly, in this respect I would be left a little disappointed. Whilst the folder provides a factual overview and has come in very useful at times, it is a little lacking in personal touches. That didn’t stop me reading it cover to cover instead of unpacking though…
I know one of the most commonly flagged issues with military housing is the decorating but honestly, for me, magnolia is fine. Maybe if you ask me in 10 years I might feel a bit differently, but for now I’m quite happy to decorate with pictures and leave the walls as they are. I may have recently started a Pinterest board filled with beautifully decorated rooms but that is something for future me to enjoy. Though it hasn’t affected me yet, I have noticed that a very frequently asked question is what paint is used on the walls, not just the colour, but the specific brand and finish. I wonder if providing a small touch-up kit with an appropriate paint as part of the moving in or out package would help to alleviate further costs and stress for military families.
I’d be interested to hear more about what you think would be useful information for people moving into or between military accommodation. Did you feel prepared or did you have questions? Who did you turn to and how did you know they could help? And am I the only one who doesn’t hate magnolia?
If you would like to contribute to this series please contact Kelly at email@example.com
We have a list of ideas that you could write about, or we welcome any suggestions of your own.