Military family standing together with little daughter pointing.

How to Get Settled in a New City: 11 Tips for Military Families

Moving to a new city can be tough on a military family. Not only is it difficult to leave your home, but it’s also hard for kids to leave behind their schools, their friends, activities they loved, and everything familiar to them. Fortunately, there are tons of ways to make the transition go smoothly for your family. From getting the kids into a routine to creating moving traditions, check out this guide on how to get settled after relocating for a military move.

Set Up Your New Home

Woman unpacking items from box. Photo by Instagram user @damovingco
Photo via @damovingco

One of the most important things when it comes to getting your family adjusted to their new surroundings is making the house feel like a home. Unpacking all of the boxes, letting your kids decorate their rooms, and putting up pictures are all things that can give your new house a cozy feel, as well as help establish some familiarity for you and your kids while you adapt to the area.

Get Back into a Routine…

Little boy and girl reading a book in a fort.
Photo via @raisingwhasians

If you’re changing bases for the first time and have a fear of moving to a new city, maintaining a routine is a great way to feel comfortable in your new home. If your family had Friday movie nights, Taco Tuesdays, or playtime after dinner each night in the previous location, continue those routines in your new setup. That way, your children know what to expect in the midst of so much change.

…But Don’t be Afraid to Switch it Up

Little boy and woman reading a book together. Photo by Instagram user @justthethr3ofus
Photo via @justthethr3ofus

While getting your kids back on a routine is helpful in creating some stability, it’s also important to mix it up a little to help them slowly adjust to bigger changes. Do your kids have an hour of TV time before bed each night? Replace that with story time, playing a board game, or designating one night a week for a movie. Get up early every morning to make lunches? Set aside time at night with your significant other or kids to make lunches for the next day.

Create New Traditions

Mom and two kids sitting at table eating. Photo by Instagram user @mosaic_homes
Photo via @mosaic_homes

Similar to creating routines for your military family, establishing fun traditions in your new city is another fantastic idea for getting settled. Having Sunday brunch at little cafe nearby, picking out some fresh produce at a local farmers market, or taking a walk to an ice cream shop after acing a test are just a few traditions that could make moving a little easier and more exciting for your family!

Meet Neighbors & Make Friends

Woman volunteering for the USO. Photo by Instagram user @usojax
Photo via @usojax

Meeting new people is essential after a military move, and there are tons of opportunities both on and off base to do so. Introduce yourself to your neighbors, connect with people on your base’s Facebook page, join the Family Readiness Group, grab happy hour drinks with some coworkers, sign your kids up for an after-school activity, volunteer on base—your options are endless!

Master Getting Around the Area

Woman picking pink flowers from a tree. Photo by Instagram user @astonmerrygold
Photo via @astonmerrygold

Knowing the layout of the land in your new city is one of the best relocation tips for military families trying to get settled. Walk or bike around the base and your neighborhood to see where certain shops are, find the recreation center or commissary, and get a feel for the atmosphere and the people there. It’s also important to take the little ones to see their new school to help calm any jitters they might have.

Figure Out Commute Times

Man driving on the road looking at his gps. Photo by Instagram user @garmin
Photo via @garmin

Along with being aware of where everything is, knowing how long it takes to get from point A to point B can ease your mind when moving to a new place. Before the first day of school or the first day at your new job, spend a weekend mapping out your route and figuring how long it takes to get there. If there are multiple ways to get somewhere, travel all of them and time how long it takes you. You should include grocery stores and doctors offices as well, as those are places you’ll most likely frequent.

Be a Tourist in Your New City

Mom and son feeding a bird at the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo. Photo by Instagram user @cheyennemountainzoo
Photo via @cheyennemountainzoo

There’s no better way to become a local after a military move than exploring the city like a tourist! Create a list of all the places in the area that you want to visit—think museums, art galleries, amusement parks, popular restaurants, and sports arenas. Then, when your family has some time available, make a plan to visit these attractions and learn what makes your new area so great!

Focus on the Positive

Woman eating a shrimp dish with salad. Photo by Instagram user @socarratnyc
Photo via @socarratnyc

A key component of settling down at a new base is staying positive. Maybe you had your sights set on a family-friendly military base with year-round sunshine along the coast, but instead you’re somewhere that experiences all four seasons. Rather than focusing on the things you can’t change, hone in on the positive things about your location like all of the incredible food you get try in your new city or the fact that your family will get to experience another country’s culture after an overseas move.

Have Something to Look Forward to

A group of kids sitting around for soccer practice. Photo by Instagram user @starfootballacademy
Photo via @starfootballacademy

One of the best tips for moving to a new city and getting settled is finding something that you or your kids look forward to doing every day. Whether it’s going to a fitness class each morning at the base recreation center, attending summer camp, going to the movies, swimming at the pool, or participating in a trivia night, having an activity or event to look forward to can help you feel part of your community.

Stay in Touch with Old Friends

Woman talking on phone in brown jacket. Photo by Instagram user @m_grueneberg
Photo via @m_grueneberg

Just because you’re relocating to a new city doesn’t mean you have to say “goodbye” to the friends you’ve made at other military stations. Staying in touch with friends is a good way to talk to or see a familiar face while going through a new and difficult transition. Not to mention, they might have also experienced a military move and can offer some advice about how they settled in their new place.

Always having to move around can be hard on a military family, but once you finally get settled into your new city, you’ll be able to experience all of the fun your new city and station has to offer. Need more tips on how to adjust to a new base? Here’s advice from military wives on adapting to new homes!

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Whether your family is doing a PCS move or you’re moving to a temporary station, Extra Space has convenient storage facilities throughout the U.S. to help with your transition. Find a storage unit near you!

Relocation Tips for Military Families