A Step by Step Guide on How to Move Your Family to Guam Without Any Drama Whatsoever
We’re baaaaacck! And in case you’ve been out of the loop since my last post (over two years ago), here’s a recap: I spent 8 months living by myself in Norfolk, VA prepping for a deployment, then I deployed for 7 months, then I came back. And then, we PCS’d (military slang for moved) to Guam. So basically, we’ve followed the standard progression of any normal family of five from Northern Virginia…
Bottom line: our kids are older, my hair is thinner, and my wife is *loving* the Navy more than ever. Which happens to be where this whole blog picks back up…
So. If you’ve ever wondered how a legit professional takes his family and moves them to Guam without ANY drama/tears/tantrums/ iterations of ”oh-my-gosh-why-are-you-doing-this-to-me”, then listen up. Because I’m about to educate you.
STEP ONE: BE DEPLOYED WHEN YOU GET YOUR ORDERS TO MOVE FROM THE EAST COAST TO GUAM.
This is huge. You see, when faced with orders to move to a small island kinda near Japan (but really not near anything), your spouse may want to talk to you about all these questions she has, like “where are we going to live?” and “when is all of this going to happen?” and most importantly, “where the heck is Guam?” Fortunately for you, you will be on the other side of the world, incapable of answering any questions whatsoever. It makes the news that much easier to digest.
STEP TWO: GIVE YOUR WIFE A LAUNDRY LIST OF THINGS THAT MUST HAPPEN IMMEDIATELY BUT THAT CANNOT BE ACCOMPLISHED WITHOUT WRITTEN ORDERS, WHICH ARE COMING. WE THINK.
Medical screening needs to be completed. Are we sure Brody had his tetanus shot? Movers need to be arranged. Car needs to be shipped. We need to get on the base housing list. We need to enroll the kids in school. We need to do it now!
Problem is, nothing happens until written orders are in hand. And getting written orders from the military can be as enjoyable as a 16 week seminar in “Commercial Paper.” Or (foreshadow alert!) a 36-hour flight to Guam. Super fun.
STEP THREE: COME HOME FROM DEPLOYMENT AND COMMENT ON ALL THE THINGS YOUR “WOULD HAVE DONE DIFFERENTLY” TO PREPARE FOR THE BIG MOVE.
My wife just *loves* comments like these:
“You scheduled the pack out for a Tuesday, huh? I would have gone with later in the week.”
“I see we let the kids color and paint all over the floor and walls in the dining room while I was gone.” Or…
“Did you forget about the lawnmower I left in the garage while I was deployed?”
Stuff like that goes over real well in our house.
STEP FOUR: RENT OUT THE HOUSE OF YOUR WIFE’S DREAMS TO A FAMILY OF COMPLETE STRANGERS.
You love this neighborhood, huh? Well this is no time to get all sentimental on me. Paint the walls. Clean the carpets. Replace the carpets. Fix the grout. Stain the deck. AND FOR HEAVEN’S SAKE DON’T LET THE KIDS WALK ALL OVER THE DECK I JUST STAINED!!!
Fun like that…
STEP FIVE: MOVE IN WITH YOUR MOTHER IN LAW FOR A FEW WEEKS WHILE YOU ARE HOMELESS AND EVERYTHING YOUR FAMILY OWNS IS ON ITS WAY TO GUAM.
Yep. I’m just gonna leave this one right here without further comment. Moving on…
STEP SIX: HAVE THE NAVY BOOK YOU SUPER CONVENIENT FLIGHT TO GUAM.
Sometimes Always the Navy likes to spend as little as humanely possible, without any consideration for your well-being or the well-being of your family. So a direct flight might make a whole lot more sense and cut out five hours of flight time, but if it’s costs an extra $10 in the system, you’re not getting that direct flight.
Nope, instead you wind up with a downright hellacious itinerary that starts in D.C. and goes to Detroit and then to Tokyo and then some random Japanese Island I’ve never heard of before called “Kansai”…and then to Guam. Leave Tuesday morning, arrive Wednesday at midnight. More on this in a bit…
STEP SEVEN: WATCH TIME SLIP AWAY AS YOUR BEST LAID PLANS TO “SEE EVERYONE BEFORE THE BIG MOVE” FALL APART DISASTROUSLY.
If you end up with text messages like this, then you’re doing it right:
Friend: Can you get together tonight?
Me: Actually, I’m boarding a flight and won’t be available for three years.
STEP EIGHT: FLY TO GUAM.
It’s easy! I mean, it’s not like a 14 hour time difference will impact your children in any way.
But here is the REALLY important part: overlook where everyone is sitting until minutes before boarding. Then realize your seat is nowhere near your family’s. Then make your useless attempt at convincing the very nice Japanese couple that can’t speak a word of English to trade seats with you.
Then, sit alone in silence and pretend not to hear the screams from the back of the plane.
STEP NINE: LIVE IN A HOTEL ROOM WITH YOUR WIFE, KIDS AND 15 BAGS OF LUGGAGE FOR 10 DAYS.
To soften the blow of a move to Guam the Navy sends you and your family to a hotel. It’s downright cruelty. From here, you will discover there is an “unanticipated shortage” of base housing and that we might be living there for a while. Welcome to paradise.
STEP TEN: GET YOUR CAR BACK.
Here’s the process: (1) go to office that has your car and fill out forms, (2) go to the DMV to fill out forms, (3) go back to the office that has your car to…you guessed it…fill out forms. But wait! Brand new policy involving…you guessed it again…more forms. (4) Take the forms to customs, and then (5) bring them back for processing. And if you think your work is done? Start back at one.
Even Brian McNight couldn’t make this romantic…
STEP ELEVEN: GO PRETTY MUCH BANKRUPT.
A box of strawberries? $9. On sale. Dinner for five? $75. Kid’s meals aren’t what they used to be. Breakfast muffins? $5 each. The blows keep coming: Phone plans, sun screen, internet, moving costs, therapy. It all adds up SUPER fast, and your ability to make ends meet is ENTIRELY dependent upon the skill and capability of some Personnel Specialist Seaman Apprentice with about five months of experience in the Navy. So good luck with all that.
STEP TWELVE: BE AT WORK WHEN BAD THINGS HAPPEN.
See: “The kids didn’t pass the swim test? So sorry. Gotta run!”
See also: “The air conditioner isn’t working at our rental? Bummer. Let’s talk about this later!”
Hate it when that happens…
STEP THIRTEEN: BE READY TO BRIBE YOUR KIDS WHEN THEY START ASKING ALL THE TOUGH QUESTIONS.
Daughter: Daddy why did we have to move to Guam?
Me: Chocolate, or vanilla?
Oh, and for the older crowd…
Spouse: Didn’t you say we would be making MORE money out here than back at home?
Me: White wine, or red?
And if that fails…
STEP FOURTEEN: MISLEAD (OR, LIE) TO YOUR MILITARY SPOUSE AND TELL HER EVERYTHING WILL FALL INTO PLACE VERY SOON.
My personal go-tos are “I’m sure a house will open up any day now” and “we’re gonna do some amazing traveling real soon.” If you’re really desperate, you may try offering to acquire a new wardrobe. Or diamonds. Or plastic surgery. Or something crazy like that. Regardless, you gotta go big here, because the usual flowers or night out on the town just aren’t gonna cut it. And besides, after all this, a night on the town with you is gonna be the last thing she needs.
STEP FIFTEEN: ENJOY EVERY SECOND. AFTER ALL, YOU ONLY GET 36 MONTHS OUT HERE…
DISCLAIMER: In all actuality, we are having a great time, and making lots of new friends. Most of the time. And I’m told by the local Navy divorce attorney that my wife hasn’t made an appointment yet. So that’s always a good sign.