1. Leave all of your electrical appliances in the US! This is easier said than done I know. We rely on coffee machines and blow dryers so much. However, after living in a hotel for almost two months and being in our apartment for not quite two weeks, let me say that it is just so much easier to save money and buy what you need (need, not just want!). Of course using converters or transformer converters is an option, but if you run an appliance on something like that for a long while it will end up with some issues.
We were lucky to buy various appliances from another family leaving the area just as we were arriving. We accidentally brought a few things with us, but they’ve been repacked and stored. And I made a huge mistake and plugged my sewing machine into a converter and blew the … well I’m not sure what it is, I suppose the motor. I have yet to find someone to fix it but we are trying the local sewing machine store one more time.
We are far from Paris, which means we are far from a store that has a regular audience of American’s with their American appliances. We are also far from our post office, so ordering from Amazon isn’t as easy as we hoped. We did find the cords we needed for the xbox, wii, desktop, and laptop but it took going to four different stores on three different days to do so.
2. Your hotel may not have a washing machine or dryer. We stayed at a fantastic hotel (more on this soon) but they didn’t have any washers or dryers. The first time we needed to wash clothes, we took them to a service that would wash, dry, and fold for us. It was expensive and wasn’t immediate so we asked the hotel staff where a close laundromat was, and we took our clothes once a week to wash.
The first time was an experience and from that I say this – do not use the largest, industrial dryer. It will be too hot. Anything with lace will be destroyed, like the new tank top sweater set you bought days before leaving the US, and also your underwear. Your baby’s pajamas will lose the softness, probably because the fuzz is burned off from the heat. It’s just not a good idea to use the industrial dryer even if you think it is a good idea because you can dry everything at once.
3. Be flexible. This is a given any time we move, but moving overseas presents a whole new set of stuff to think about. I’m not sure of the rest of France, but where we live most stores open between 9 and 10 AM (a couple, like the grocery store, open at 8) and close between 7 and 8 PM. There is no Target or Walmart, no one stop and you can get everything you need. So there are many small stores and most of them close for lunch, between 12 and 1:30, even the bank closes for lunch. Just about every store is closed on Sunday’s, but there is the odd store that is open on Sunday and closed on Monday. The first Sunday when we realized there was nothing opened and we didn’t have anything to eat, we ate at McDonald’s. Unfortunately we have eaten more at McDonald’s in the past (almost) three months than we have in at least seven years.
4. Have a lot of cash saved for your move. I suppose this is a “duh” thing to say, duh you need money to pay for the hotel and for food. But you will be paying for this for possibly quite a while until you are paid back (this assumes you are a military family and the expense of your hotel will be covered under the permanent change of station move). We paid out of pocked for everything for two months before we were paid back, and admittedly we were shocked when we saw money in our account as ‘fast’ as we did. Two months is a relatively short amount of time to wait for the money, others have told us it would be anywhere from two to nine months, based on their experience. We stayed in a hotel for seven weeks, so that adds up quickly (more on moving expenses soon). When you have no kitchen you also have to constantly eat out and of course that is expensive as well. Save on purpose for the move, you will get paid back.
I do have a couple of “more on that soon” comments and I’ll be quick. We stayed at an amazing hotel – not for the amenities but for the staff – and moving with the military is sometimes easy and often frustrating but if you try to find something positive, it can be an overall good experience.
I am doing a photo a day on instagram if you are interested. 🙂