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Relocating Overseas with the Canadian Military

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Moving in the military is quite common. As a CAF member, you could be posted to a new base with very little warning. This is normally jarring but it is even worse if that base is overseas. Now you need to prepare for an international move with very little time to spare.

The main differentiating characteristic of a military move is the lack of time you are given to prepare. Unfortunately, international moves require more preparation than domestic moves, so when you get posted overseas, you really need to scramble. When you first learn of your assignment in another country, ask yourself and your superiors the following questions to decide what you need to learn or do next:
  • Can my family come with me?
  • Should my family come with me?
  • What can/will be covered by government reimbursements?
  • Will my transportation officer hire international movers, or do I have to find my own?
  • Why am I being posted in this location?
  • Will housing be provided for me in this new country?
  • What will my job be in my new location?
  • What is the condition of the base I am going to?
  • What furniture or appliances are going to be included in my new home?
How much financial assistance you get and the exact nature of your housing will vary case by case. Your superiors should be able to provide you with most of this information, but if you need more assistance head to the Brookfield Relocation Services website to find additional resources for understanding and executing your military move.

Get rid of your old home and extra things

If you are leaving your home and there is no family left behind, you need to either sell it or rent it out while you are gone. It will be tough to do this in the limited amount of time you have for a military move. Also, keep in mind that as a soon-to-be expat, you can't check in on tenants with any regularity. Military personnel will often end up selling their homes quickly at a loss. If this happens to you, the government can cover a portion of this loss, but not beyond $150,000.

You then need to limit the amount of items you are moving overseas. Shipment containers have a hard volume limit, so if your shipment goes beyond a certain threshold, you'll have to pay much more for a larger container. If your items are shipped by air, weight becomes a factor in pricing, as well. International shipments do not always arrive at their destination in a timely fashion, so anything you pack in the shipment should not be too crucial to your everyday life. 

Here is how to make sure you take only what you need in your shipment and get rid of everything else:
  • Separate necessities for your personal luggage during moving day.
  • Organize your unnecessary stuff into sell, donate, and throw out piles.
  • Sell valuable items you don't want in a garage sale or online.
  • Donate unsold items to charity or family members.
  • Throw everything else out unless the home is still being used.
  • Make a final inventory of things that need to be shipped. These items should be necessary for home living, but not crucial on a day to day basis.

Research your destination

When you move overseas, you should take some time to research your destination. Military moves don't afford you a lot of time for research, but a fair amount of information on the base should be available from your superiors.

You still should search for other information on your target country:
  • The political climate
  • The most common language
  • Customs regulations
  • The most common religion
Culture shock will be eased by the fact that there will be a base of your countrymen to socialize with no matter where you are posted. You will not always be with them, however, so you still can experience some culture shock.

Remember to keep all receipts and document all moving expenses to get everything possible covered by the government. International moves are expensive, so any help you can get is needed. Being a member of the Canadian Armed Forces is prestigious partly because it isn't always easy. Luckily, service members are given ample aid during this difficult relocation.

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on November 11, 2014 - Moving Expert
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