Well, a HUGE thank you to everyone who sent words of encouragement during this PCS.
First off, before we go any further, do NOT take your girlfriend or boyfriend to some remote Air Force Base and expect them to establish a new life. They have no military benefits, if you’re new to the military, you’re living in the dorms, and then you go to work while they are either living in a hotel on a base visitor pass and they aren’t allowed to go anywhere alone or sitting in a foreign city trying to figure out where you’re going to live together when you don’t get a housing allowance. I saw this go VERY badly this week. Just don’t do it. Wait until you’re at least settled or someone cries and freaks out.
The important information is that we are in temp. lodging still, we’re on the wait list for base housing and we’ve moved from 166 to 154 (as of monday). We’re making progress! I have this new roommate who generally won’t go away. He doesn’t pay the “rent” but he does sleep on the couch and buys beer. He officially has a dorm room so hopefully he’ll move into that. We’re having a quiet night tonight after a VERY exciting day.
Today was “BEST NEWS EVER” day… I woke up this morning and looked at our bank account balance. I’ve been monitoring it very closely because we didn’t get an advance. Last night I basically broke down and had a small freak out. We’ve only have so much money, we never got an advance for travel, things are really, really tight and moving has maxed us out. We are basically trying to figure out how to put money down for a security deposit when we’ve got nothing. Well, back to the bank account balance. This morning, through one eye while still lying in bed, I checked the balance on my phone. (Dear USAA, I love you) I started mini shrieking and woke him up (full blown would have woken up my unwelcomed couch crasher). We got a BUNCH of money direct deposited today. After that we went and checked out apartments that we set up appointments for yesterday. Odd thing about apartments around here, they go within the day. They have 2 electricity bills too, one for heat, one for everything else. The rental market in Minot, ND is insanity, witnessed by apartments 5, 6, and 8.
Apartment 1 – Spacious, old, dirty, dead light bulbs, terrifying, questionable parking, 1970’s carpeting in the hallway, hardwood floors, LARGE, 2nd floor. 1 bedroom/1 bathroom $430/mo including all utilities except cable/internet.
Apartment 2 – I walked in and gagged, walked back out. Efficiency $340/mo same utilities as above.
Apartment 3 – TINY, awful parking, basement, TINY (yeah, I know that’s twice), clean, freshly painted, laundry was literally around the corner. 1 bedroom/1 bathroom $525/mo water/trash/sewer included.
Apartment 4 – cool downtown location, old, small, no parking, the bathroom is connected to the bedroom and the kitchen and is elevated?. The best part about this place is that it was not cleaned out yet (yes, minot, nd has such a demand for housing that we will look at an apartment and they will show it even when it’s trashed.). So we’re checking out the apartment and not only are there beer caps everywhere, completely trashed, and cat food in a non-pet friendly apartment… on the shelf in the living room was a huge bottle of lube. Oh yes, totally awesome. 1 bedroom/1 bathroom $595/mo heat and water included.
Apartment 5 – We made this appointment yesterday around 3 and it was leased already at 10am.
Apartment 6 – Same thing as no. 5.
Apartment 7 – Closest to base, parking with plug-ins for block heaters, laundry around the corner, hardwood floors, new appliances, decent sized everything, largest bedroom and kitchen we’ve seen, tan paint (no white!), basement, four-plex, ugliest building ever, straight shot to base, lease breaking fee was $200. 1 bedroom/1 bathroom $460/mo all utilities included except lights, cable, and internet.
Apartment 8 – HOLY crap. We pull up to this address and get out of the car and there are literally 5 other sets of people to see this “2 bedroom” apartment. He lets us all in, and I literally and vocally said, “I’m not even sure what that room is, it can’t legally be a bedroom.” Sure enough, this tiny little bedroom that could fit a cot but not a twin mattress with a frame was technically the foyer and this shady dude called it a bedroom. The other bedroom wasn’t much better and the carpet was early 80’s tri-colored shag. I felt so bad for another military couple because we were waiting on an application to call us back that I gave the wife directions to apartment no. 1 because with some bleach, new light bulbs, and a steam cleaner… I’d be okay with it. I think this apartment was 425/mo. I didn’t even ask about utilities… I ran.
Winner was apartment no. 7! In 2 days we saw 8 apartments and talked to (read: drove to and showed up asking about vacancies) 10 property management companies/landlords. Submitted an application, they called us while we were wasting time at best buy, security deposit is down, WE HAVE AN APARTMENT!! We move in at the end of the month and the place doesn’t scare me, booyah.
Ok, so I know this post is lengthy so I’ll warn you in advance that we are about to get into the nuts and bolts about how to get your money if you didn’t get an advance for travel from the military.
During in-processing at the new base your military spouse will be required to go to finance. Get there as soon as humanly possible. They’ll have them fill out paperwork for mileage reimbursement, per diems for both you and them and all children, if you have any, and last but not least the DLA (if you get it). They will tell you that this takes 7-10 business days to get it direct deposited, we got it in 4. DLA is pretty sweet, it’s a dislocation allowance that is meant to help you pay out your previous lease if necessary and also your new security deposit and all utility deposits, and other expenses that are incurred based on your PCS. The current rate is $1952.08 for an E-3 w/dependent. By the way, I get my rates from here http://www.defensetravel.dod.mil/perdiem/rateinfo.html. I love this website.
If you’re unmarried and this is your first PCS… I’m not sure if you get your DLA but you can totally check into it, it never hurts.
We also received a deposit of mileage at $.165/mile. I believe (and could be wrong) that he was authorized from Goodfellow AFB and I, from Indiana (my Home or Record or HOR). I believe the per diem was also the same as the mileage set up. I’m not really sure, I doubt I ever will be since we can’t figure out how to get into mypay.
Needless to say, I am no longer freaked out about money. I’m happy as a clam, I’ve got everything paid for the month plus next months rent. I can’t wait to go to TMO and start dropping off weigh tickets to get the move money. I’m not 100% what the rate is for a DITY move, but I think it’s about $1 a pound, currently. If that changes, I’ll edit this post. I’m also not sure if I wrote about the joy of getting weigh tickets. It’s not as hard as it sounds, call a salvage yard, recycling yard, etc and ask them if they have a certified scale. Then ask how much they would charge you to weigh the car(s) twice each. We paid $5/ticket at the salvage yard and $10/ticket near Goodfellow. Indiana didn’t even know what we were talking about, we just explained it and it was dandy.
The other thing we took advantage of (thanks to a guardian angel in the unit who’s taken us under his wing and is showing us around and getting us set up) was PERMISSIVE TDY. He got 8 days off work to house hunt. It is amazing and REALLY helpful. I can’t apartment hunt alone. TAKE THE FREE LEAVE! You’re entitled to it, just use it, get a piece of mind and find your apartment without freaking out about work all at the same time. Unless of course you got lucky and they handed you keys the day you showed up.
I’m sure by now you are wondering why we didn’t take the advance… or not. I mentioned it before but let’s explain more in detail. The kid in finance, yeah I’m pretty sure he was a kid, told us that we wouldn’t get the money soon enough. What he really meant is that we wouldn’t get the money in time to move from Texas to Indiana. We would have gotten the money in time to move from Indiana to North Dakota. The burden would have been far less and I would have spent less days stressed out. He talked us out of it. DON’T let him talk you out of it. Take the advance on mileage and DLA (if you get it). I wouldn’t recommend taking an advance on the actual weight of your items because if you’re wrong and get too much, you’re totally paying it back and that would suck.
That’s all I’ve got for now, I’m sure that those of you who’ve done this already are bored by now but Hey! I warned you. Have a good night guys.