Thank you all so much for your support over the news of Joe's upcoming year-long deployment; it's meant a lot to read all of your comments.
Now that we've had almost a week to get used to the idea we have some decisions to make; and of course the military wants these decisions yesterday! To say I've been consumed with all the choices and what-ifs and what-nots is an understatement. We had an 8+ hour drive back from OK and believe me we hashed it out over and over about what the best decisions would be and the pros and cons and still haven't come to a definite decision on anything!
One decision is whether Joe wants to come back to this base after the deployment or get orders elsewhere. He's not guaranteed his first choice, but he does receive priority preference. He's been stationed here 9 years come Nov and I guess you could say we're used to it. We know we don't want to retire here though and would like to go somewhere else for a change (although I realize the grass isn't always greener on the other side!) So the first decision is to submit a list of bases we'd like to go to.
The other decision is the choice of us staying here, or moving "back home" (and I refer to "back home" loosely since I don't have a hometown, back home would be moving in with my mom and stepdad in MD) . Years ago I was of the opinion I wouldn't move back home just because Joe would be gone for a year - I'm an adult and have my own life and didn't see the need to move back home. That was pre-children and when I had a job. Even after Kayla was born I still didn't see the need to uproot everything and move in with my mom; I knew families who did that, but I didn't think it was worth the trouble of moving. When Joe received the phone call last Mon he did bring up the possibility to me and again my initial reaction was not to move because we're settled here and would get through it. I did ponder the possibility of having my mom move out here with us though!
Then Joe reminded me that if I did move to MD we would receive BAH. For the non-military BAH is 'basic allowance for housing', extra money, or a stipend, in your paycheck - if you're not living in military housing you receive BAH to help pay for rent/mortgage and utilities. BAH rates are based on your rank and the area's cost of living so it's different all over the country. So he decided to look up the rate for where my mom lives just to see, and it's $2000 a month, when you multiply that by 12 months, well I'm sure you can do the math!
This isn't money I would need to touch at all - I would automatically put that aside every month because we would live off his base pay like we do now. This would be "extra" money and at the end of the year we will be able to put away $24K just from the BAH alone, and we would get the full amount because his paycheck is tax-free while he's deployed. Once I started thinking about it like that I realized this is a great opportunity for us to put a large amount of money away for our future - it could be a down payment on a house, college savings account, retirement account...
But it's still not that easy to just say, 'ok let's move!' - so much to still think about. There are pros and cons for every decision. Here are some of the things I've been thinking about to try and help us make this decision.
Reasons for staying here on base: - We wouldn't have to move (although if we stayed we would most likely move to one of the newer, bigger houses on base in the next couple of months, so we would be packing/unpacking) - Kayla wouldn't have to move in the middle of the school year (but since Joe's orders upon returning would probably be Feb/Mar she would be moving in the middle of the following school year anyway) - I'm "settled" here- I'm used to the base/town and everything being so close. I have most of what I need on base within 5 min - BX, Commissary, Post Office, gas station, library, church, gym, school - It would feel weird not living on base anymore, although Andrews AFB is about 1/2 hr from my mom's place - I'm involved with MOPS, the enlisted spouses' group, and a Bunco group I play with monthly - Since Joe deployed last year I'm familiar with the support we would get from on base organizations - I've been "on my own" for almost 15 years and I think it would take some getting used to not living in my own house, having my own things etc. - We wouldn't have to make another cross-country drive (ugh! just the thought of it!)
Reasons to move: - I've already mentioned the extra money we would make from living off base - Being close to family and having that support - There is a MOPS group in town - There is a Down syndrome support group - My sister comes home from college just about every weekend and Kayla absolutely adores her Aunt Kelly - Live-in babysitters! - I get along great with my mom, so I know it wouldn't drive me crazy to move back in with her - I think it might actually help Kayla cope with Joe being gone if we were around more family - she would have other adults there for her, who love her and can help provide support...it wouldn't be just me she was depending on. I know she will still miss Joe, but it might be a nice distraction to have grandparents and her Aunt Kelly around
If we move we would have to put pretty much our whole household in storage though... there wouldn't be any need (not to mention room!) to move everything to MD if we move in with my mom...we wouldn't need any furniture, dishes, cookware, etc, so everything would go into storage except clothing, personal belongings like photo albums, paperwork, toys, books etc. We need to find out if the military will move our stored stuff to his follow-on location, and if they'll move the other household goods to MD - otherwise we can only bring what will fit in the van and Joe's truck, which will fill up really quickly!
It would also help to know where Joe will be stationed next. It wouldn't make a lot of sense to move us to MD if he ends up getting orders on the west coast! However if he got orders somewhere on the east coast then we would already be in MD and be closer for the next move.
I don't really want to make another cross-country drive so soon, but we can't really fly out there because we have our vehicles to move too...so much to think about!
Stressed already? Check!
We're leaning towards moving to MD, we just need to figure out some details and get some questions answered. I've put up a poll on the right side bar...(disclaimer - I am not basing such a big decision on the results of the poll, I just think it would be fun, and I'm curious, to see what the majority would do in this situation - provided you have a good relationship with your mom/parents and could handle living at home again!)