Article by: Tara O’Meara
Receiving military PCS orders isn’t the only time military families move. Sometimes we move because the house we thought would be perfect wasn’t everything we had hoped for. Sometimes we move because our families expand and we feel a need to have more space. Sometimes we move because our neighborhood feels unsafe and unwelcoming. And sometimes we move because our landlords want to sell the house or raise the rent higher than we are willing to pay. The big difference between those moves and a PCS move, is that during those moves we are completely on our own. The military isn’t going to say… oh hey you are not happy, here let us hire a moving company to help you out.
My husband and I have made these in-between moves more than I would like to remember. Heck, in the last six years we’ve lived in five different houses. Just saying that out loud makes me cringe. Who in their right mind would move that often… oh wait that’s right, it was us. And each time we moved for a variety of reasons. The first time was because we were about to get married and we wanted to start expanding our family, starting with a dog. Then we moved because our landlord decided he was ready to part with the house and didn’t want to deal with it anymore. The next move was a PCS. And that brings us to our most recent move.
This last move was the most personal. When we PCS’d due to military I was very pregnant, and so we chose our house online without ever getting a chance to visit before signing the lease. They accepted our two dogs and had a fenced in yard. Since they fit our “must have” list I figured I could live with whatever else we found at the house. I was wrong. That house was the worst place I’ve ever called “home”. The house was outdated, the floor had a tilt and everything was off, the ceiling would leak every time we used the shower, a third of the outlets in the house didn’t work, the yard was overgrown, the carpet in the upstairs bedroom was roughly 20 years old. I’ve been in frat houses that were better cared for.
A majority of the neighbors were uninviting; there were only two neighbors on our entire cul-de-sac that I even knew their names. The other neighborhood kids would taunt our dogs and then the parents would criticize us for allowing our dogs to bark. Cars were constantly being broken into, and one night when we were watching a movie we heard someone trying to open our front door. I can honestly say it is the only house we’ve ever lived in that I felt unsafe.
We had signed a lease, so figured we would make the best of it. We hired professional cleaners to deep clean the carpets, we replaced the broken light fixture in the kitchen, and bought a new dishwasher since the old one had frayed wires and always smelled like fire. We cleaned up the yard and trimmed at least five feet of dead branches for the bottom of at least four massive pine trees. We took down three overgrown trees that were starting to grow into the house, and replaced the rotted out beams under the deck. It was a constant struggle to make the house feel safe and welcoming. After a year and half, our landlords mentioned they wanted to sell, and we offered to leave early so they could get the house on the market. That was the best thing I think we’ve ever done.
Yes moving was a pain and yes, it was expensive. But it was absolutely worth it. I didn’t realize how miserable I was in that other house. I didn’t want people to come over because I was embarrassed. I would set the alarm while my daughter and I were home by ourselves during the day in order to feel safe. It really was more than just a bad house physically, it was a bad house for our family mentally.
We’ve been in the new house for just a few weeks and the change is incredible. I am so much happier. We play outside every day, we hang out with our neighbors, and just the other day I had a little girl knock on the door to see if our daughter could come out and play. I’ve come home from running an errand to find kids on our front porch playing with our sandbox. Neighbors wave and are inviting. There is a sense of community that I don’t think I’ve ever experienced first hand before. Our dogs spend hours running around the backyard, some of it even barking at squirrels and no one cares, they have dogs too and know sometimes they just bark, and that is okay. Just the other day I ran a quick errand and when I got home my husband was amazed I left the door unlocked. But I wasn’t even worried.
The new house isn’t perfect, but the small imperfections are so much more manageable because we are happy here. At the other house even the smallest issue felt overwhelming. If this move taught me anything, it is that it is okay to make a change that will make you happy, even if it feels a little crazy. Moving is hard work and can be frustrating, but sometimes moving out of a bad situation can really improve your outlook on more than just the house. Sometimes you have to cut your losses and move on rather than making something work. Sometimes you can’t fix broken, sometimes you just have to run from it and not look back.
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Author Bio: Tara is a military spouse, mommy of one beautiful little girl and also two crazy puppies! She started her blog, An Aiming High Wife to bring military spouses and families together to be each others greatest support system. She enjoys sharing her adventures as a military spouse, mom, crafter and kitchen adventurer. Recently she became a contributor for Military Spouse Magazine. When not writing, she loves spending time with her family. They love to travel and really experience every adventure the military sends their way!