Being a family in the Army of the new millennium presents many unique challenges. Not the least of those challenges is that of adjusting to new surroundings upon entry into the Army family, and to moves periodically thereafter. Planning and preparation in advance are keys to adapting successfully. Initial entry to the world of the military can be a particularly anxious time for you and your family. The information you obtain now about the post and surrounding area where you will be stationed will assist in making the transition smoother.

BEFORE YOU MOVE, be well informed on survival tips to help you and your family as you face the unique challenges and opportunities of the mobile military lifestyle.

Call ACS Devens 978-615-6091 for a relocation e-packet and information related to living in Massachusetts.

Before You Move

Dividing the process into basic stages is the way to organization. Although the unexpected can never be ruled out, most military moves can be anticipated. Basically, the best strategy is to plan "backwards." In other words, decide what you want as your end result in the new location and plan from there.

In general, the more complicated the lifestyle, the more complex the move and the greater the need for pre planning. A single officer with no dependents, no mortgage, one car and few household goods can afford to think about transfer in vague terms. However, when you have family and extensive personal property, it is necessary to be more specific.

Housing at both ends of a relocation is obviously a critical factor. Even if you are unsure of your destination, it is wise to begin thinking early about future possibilities. Homeowners have a special need to begin gathering information early. The decision to sell or rent your house is usually determined by factors such as market conditions, need for capital to reinvest, housing availability at the new station, anticipated duration of the upcoming PCS, and the odds of returning to your home in the future.

If you plan to sell your house, consider the time, cost, and tax implications, as well as the need for major or minor repairs. The expenses incurred in readying the house for market cannot be deducted in computing the actual gain on the sale of the home, nor are they deductible in determining your taxable income.

Part of the pre-move mind-set is avoiding long-term local commitments. For example, when orders are expected in six months, expensive club membership fees and major investments in area-specific activities (such as scuba diving gear or cross-country ski equipment) may not make good economic sense. What does make sense is planning ahead for the inevitable expenses of relocation.

The Finance Office can inform you of your options regarding advance pay and travel funds. With all the entitlements, special pay, allotments, advance pay options and income tax breaks, however, moving can still be expensive. Setting up a special savings plan in advance of the move or making invested funds more readily available will reduce stress on yourself as well as on your credit cards. In addition, families facing the loss of one income during the transition will feel additional financial impact. Start saving now because moving costs money. Experts say 3 to 6 months pay in reserve will cover emergencies amply.

Request a sponsor from your unit at the new installation well in advance of your move. A sponsor will probably be able to answer a lot of the questions you will have, and can save you a lot of time by filling you in on where to find goods and services.

Be sure to get your new mailing address. You'll need at least a temporary new address, at your new location. Send out change of address notices to people/companies who send you mail. Go through your bills, financial papers, address book, etc., and make a list of addresses, account numbers, telephone numbers, etc., for later use.

Leave a forwarding address with your post office and your old unit.

Collect all important papers, records, ID cards, wills, etc., and keep them safe and accessible throughout the move. Pick up your children's school records or arrange for them to be sent to their new school. Don't forget medical records. Some may be held by civilian medical providers in their office. Carry medical records if you may have medical service needs en route.

If you have been renting an apartment or house off-post, request an inspection as soon as your household items are removed. Get a commitment in writing that your security deposit will be refunded.

If you get married before you PCS, you must inform your losing unit commander and follow the procedures exactly as you are given. The military will not pay for travel and housing if you do not follow proper procedures.

Contact Army Community Service (ACS)978-796-3023, Relocation Assistance Program well before you leave to obtain information about your new installation. Information is available at ACS on installations world wide. Request a Standard Installation Topic Exchange Service (SITES) booklet on your new installation, which is packed with everything you wanted to know about your new community, and maybe some things you didn't think about. Welcome Packets are available for most bases, world-wide, in the ACS Welcome Packet library.

Travel Planning

In transit costs - the Army will pay a certain amount of the travel and lodging expenses incurred en route from one duty station to the other. If you decide to take leave en route, however, that will of course be at your own expense. There may be several additional costs such as transportation, lodging, and food bills. The expenses should be budgeted in your finances prior to departure so that you will not face financial difficulties en route. There are several regulations regarding en route costs; for instance family travel is not authorized at GOVERNMENT EXPENSE TO A TDY training course en route. If your family wishes to join you under such circumstances, it must be a personal expense.

As mentioned earlier, the Army does provide for most of the direct costs of all military moves. And in recent years, the Army has significantly increased its efforts to expand entitlement to soldiers and families for relocations. Now first term families are eligible for paid family travel on stateside PCS moves and have received a significant increase in weight allowance for their household goods. In addition, temporary lodging expenses (TLE) are now being paid for CONUS moves. In order for you to be aware of these allowances, we have listed several of them below. If you believe you are entitled to these or any other costs or allowances, please see your Finance Officer for verification of payment.

Shipment of personal belongings - clothing, furniture, and all other household items are moved at government expense.

Travel costs - the cost of food, lodging, and transportation en route are paid by the Army. Restrictions and requirements can be clarified at your finance office.

Temporary lodging - two types of payments are given for food and lodging. The Temporary Lodging Allowance (TLA) is paid to personnel traveling overseas and is set at a fixed amount for the soldier and each family member. TLA payments are usually made for 10 days after arrival overseas and for 10 days prior to departure from the country of assignment. TLA can be expended under certain circumstances. Temporary Lodging Expenses (TLE) is paid to soldiers and their families for up to four days on statewide assignments. This is to offset lodging expenses while you are house hunting or waiting for quarters.

Dislocation Allowance - a one-time payment which is equal to your BAQ or quarters allowance. This can be collected before you depart your duty station.

Family Separation Allowance - a small monthly payment which begins only after you have been separated from your family for 30 days. This payment is made only for separations resulting from directed Army duty and may be made for extended TDY, unaccompanied tours, or delayed daily travel.

Advance pay and casual pay are alternatives if you have extra financial obligations at moving time, but they can create even further financial needs themselves. When repayment time rolls around, you may be forced to borrow money from AER or ARC, just to "make ends meet" until your normal pay is resumed. The bottom line is DON'T DO IT unless there is no other alternative---even then it would be better to get financial counseling to be sure that YOU REALLY DON'T HAVE ANOTHER ALTERNATIVE.

 After You Arrive

Arrival at a new location doesn't mean the moving process is complete. Obviously it takes time to get settled. For income tax purposes, be sure to keep receipts of your expenses while in temporary lodging.

Before the unpacking begins, there is plenty to be done. The transportation counselor at your new assignment will handle the arrangements necessary for you to receive your shipment from the moving company. Once again, the military member has the responsibility to establish contact with the government shipping control office as soon as possible, to ensure the best possible service. More often than not, you have to contact the moving company as well.

When receiving your household goods, make sure you have your inventory list and that you check each item carefully. Examine in particular all "high risk" cartons, such as china, crystal and electronics, and any cartons that appear to be damaged. Movers are expected to place each item in the room you indicate, unpack all cartons and reassemble all furniture and equipment disassembled by the movers at origin.

After a full day, most people choose to set aside some cartons for unpacking later. Living with cardboard boxes is an expected part of settling in. Just remember that damage to contents discovered after delayed unpacking must be documented carefully to make an insurance claim.

If you need cooking utensils, etc. go to the Army Community Service (978-615-6091) office loan closet. Also, ask ACS for information about housing off-post, as none is available on post. ACS can also provide community information and assistance to save you time locating the services you need. Your sponsor can be invaluable in helping with the settling in process.

Contact your loved ones to notify them that you have arrived safely at your new duty station.


Reporting Procedures

Billets are available for Army Reserve and National Guard soldiers when at Devens for training. Call ACS for information on billeting for Reserve and National Guard soldiers.

Persons in PCS status are authorized 30 days in Temporary Lodging Facilities. Hanscom Air Force Base billeting require reservations. Reservations can be made by calling 781-225-4444.


Vehicle Ownership

For information about vehicle ownership in Massachusetts, go to  Before you register your car, you need insurance certification issued by a licensed Massachusetts insurance company. You may register at any office of the Massachusetts Registry of Motor Vehicles and must present a title, bill of sale or past registration.

However, if you have a European license only, you must take a test in order to receive a Massachusetts license. You will need to bring with you: Proof of your insurance, title, license, your current address, telephone number, and your I.D. card.

Excise tax is assessed on the value of the vehicle. However, if the vehicle is registered in the soldier's name only and soldier is not a Massachusetts resident, then the tax is waived. If the vehicle is registered in the name of the soldier and a family member then they are required to pay half of the assessed amount. If registered in the family member's name only, the full amount must be paid.

Massachusetts follows a no-fault car insurance system, and state laws require drivers to carry certain types and minimum amounts of auto insurance.

No-Fault Car Insurance in Massachusetts

Massachusetts is a no-fault state when it comes to auto insurance. This means that when an accident causes injuries, each person files a claim with his or her own insurance company for personal injury protection (PIP) and other benefits.

Typically, drivers in a no-fault state like Massachusetts cannot take one another to court for costs associated with the crash, unless certain conditions are met. In Massachusetts, the thresholds that let drivers step outside of the no-fault system and hold another driver liable for a car accident are:
- The injured person must have incurred at least $2,000 in reasonable medical expenses, and/or
- injuries resulting from the accident must include permanent and serious disfigurement, fractured bone, or substantial loss of hearing or sight.

Massachusetts Auto Insurance Requirements

Vehicle owners in Massachusetts are required to have an auto insurance policy that provides, at the very least, the following coverage:
- $20,000 for any one person's injuries
- $40,000 for each accident where more than person is injured,
- $5,000 for property damage in each accident, and
- $8,000 for personal protection (PIP) benefits per>accident.

PIP benefits pay for the policyholder's own medical bills if he or she is injured in a crash. Some policies also apply PIP benefits to anyone in the policyholder's vehicle and/or the policyholder's dependents. Injury liability amounts cover losses if a seriously injured driver sues the policyholder, as does the $5,000 in property damage liability coverage.

A driver who wants insurance coverage that will pay for repairs or replacements for his or her own damaged vehicle must buy additional coverage known as collision (for accidents involving another vehicle) and comprehensive (for accidents involving weather animals, or objects).

Collision and comprehensive aren't required in Massachusetts, but many drivers choose this kind of supplemental coverage to provide additional protection if their vehicle is damaged or destroyed in a crash.

Vehicle insurance in Massachusetts is required. For more information go to

For more Web site information
on this subject, visit

Massachusetts Registry of Motor Vehicles

Housing and Billeting

Billets are available for Army Reserve and National Guard soldiers when at Devens for training. Call ACS for information on billeting for Reserve and National Guard soldiers.

Persons in PCS status are authorized 30 days in Temporary Lodging Facilities. Hanscom Air Force Base billeting require reservations. Reservations can be made by calling 781-225-4444..