Our moving to Stuttgart Germany experience and things we wished we knew before we got here. Tips for a military move to Stuttgart.
(The view from our hotel room. It’s a great place to make timelapses.)
We made it to Stuttgart, Germany in one piece. We are so happy to be here. The months leading up to the move were a whirlwind. We moved out of our house on May 21st and have been living out of our suitcases since then.
We didn’t leave the Cape until June 9th, but because it takes so long to get our things moved over here, we packed out early and moved into temp housing on base.
Our last days were filled with friends, take out, and travel. My best friend had a baby, so I took a quick trip to Cleveland to say goodbye and meet the newest Coastie cousin. (He is DELICIOUS.)
(All of our stuff for the next few months. 2 suitcases, 5 carry-ons, a camera bag, and a booster seat.)
We said goodbye to our friends on the Cape and drove to New Jersey to say goodbye to my family. We had a perfect beach day and ate allllllll of the things that we are going to miss. I ordered all of our favorite things from our favorite restaurants and it delivered, it was like a favorite things party. A buffet of the best of South Jersey.
We said our goodbyes and headed to Annapolis to say goodbye to the rest of my family. We spent a beautiful day at the Gibson Island Club were my brother is the pro. We drove to Baltimore and checked into the hotel for our last night in the US.
Early the next morning, Wes went to the terminal to ship our car. This took hours longer than we had anticipated. If you are shipping a car internationally, have it detailed right before you do this, it would have saved a lot of time.
He came back, we killed some time, and our last meal was at The Cheesecake Factory. Random – but that is one place where everyone can get something that they really like. Not always easy with my picky eaters.
We boarded the plane around 9pm and flew through the night and landed to Heathrow. None of us slept on the plane, I think that we were too excited/nervous/overwhelmed. We had a 6 hour layover and got into Stuttgart early evening. Needless to say, we were exhausted. We were up for 36 hours, and desperately needed a shower.
(The Saturday flower market downtown.)
We checked into the hotel, ate some dinner and crashed. I woke up the next day at noon in a panic when I realized that we slept through check out. We showered, dressed, and then moved to a different hotel (poor planning on my part). It was a German holiday, so most things were closed. We were so tired, it was actually a nice thing. We didn’t feel obligated to get out and explore at all.
Jet lag is real. It took about a week to feel human again. My theory is that it takes a day for each hour. The kids did better than we did.
The next morning we flew to Rome and started on a 2-week vacation to Italy and Greece. I’ll write about that trip in another post. We had gone back and forth about taking this trip after we checked in and I am so grateful that we took it before.
Last night over a Hefe at the hotel bar, my husband asked me if I like it here. Without hesitation, my answer was yes.
(Hotel living at its finest. Crisp sheets and slippers.)
We’ve been living in a hotel for three weeks, 24 days as of today. While being Eloise for a bit is fun, I miss having a home and I really miss cooking. I am ready to unpack, never see the clothes that I brought with me again, and start life here. I feel very unsettled and am craving some stability.
As far as moving goes, this was a pleasant move, dare I say pretty easy. Sure, there are a lot of moving pieces, but at the end of the day it means that we get to live in Europe for a few years. How amazing it that?
Our sponsor family went above and beyond for us. I can’t even begin to thank them adequately for how amazing they have been. I did take notes for when it is our turn to do it for the next family that moves in.
(Our first German meal. Schnitzel the size of Clay’s actual head.)
I feel like we were very prepared for this move. We did as much as we could before we left, and the rest was taken care of during in-processing. Moving onto an Army base is a completely different beast than a Coast Guard base, and they hand hold you through a lot of the transition.
Housing here is complicated. We were fortunate to get a house where we were hopeful to live and we should move in the next few weeks. Base housing is mandatory and how long you wait for a home depends on when you checked out of your last unit, how many dependents you have, and what is available. If it weren’t for the kids, we wouldn’t want to live on base, but it makes life so much easier when we do.
We did end up getting what we wanted, so it’s a nice balance. We want to live in Europe, and to live on the economy as much as we can while we are here. The base we will live on is the closest to the city, but furthest away from the other bases. People think we are nuts, but the commute is worth it to us to have some space, quiet, and to be close to the center of town. I drove there last week to register Clay for school and the view is breathtaking.
If you found this post because you are looking for some info on moving to Stuttgart, welcome! You are probably a little freaked out and excited. I understand that is how I felt too.
What I wish that I knew before moving to Stuttgart, Germany:
1. As soon as you start in-processing, you will be given a book/pamphlet that will answer every question you have. Cars registration, drivers license, cell phones, school, housing, all of it. I read it the night we got in and after an hour, I knew where to go, what to do, and what needed to be taken care of right away. (The Facebook groups are really helpful. There are a lot of different personalities, opinions, and while everyone is well-intentioned, it can be very overwhelming.)
2. You only spend a few days where you in-process (Panzer), and there are buses that take you from base to base, so find something that is in a good location with public transportation if you aren’t going to have a car when you first get here. We are in Vaihingen and there is a train station and a bus stop right outside the door. Wes can walk to work and we have a lot of amenities in our neighborhood. I really like being in town because it has forced us to get out and explore. We take the train all over the place, have found the amazing public pools, parks, shopped in the grocery stores, and tried lots of restaurants. (Hindsight, I would have booked something with at the very least a kitchenette. I would like to make my own breakfast or at least be able to have some food in our room. The service in the hotel is amazing, but a month is a long time without cooking anything.)
3. Get your APO box before you come. (Our sponsor did this for us months before we got here.) You need that address for most things when you are checking in. It’s easy to get and it’s nice to have an American address. And yes – Amazon ships here.
4. Be open-minded. Base housing is mandatory. There are 4 bases, and they are spread out across the city. We live on one, Wes works on another, and right now the kids go to school on both of those bases. But next year, William will go to school on a different base. So we will be spread over 3 bases. There isn’t a perfect housing situation here. Be nice to the housing people, they are just doing their job and using what they have available. If you are looking off base, a friend gave me a tip. She said that a lot of the houses they looked at were advertised as 3 bedrooms, but really were 5 or 6. Her “3 bedroom” house is HUGE and has plenty of room.
5. It seems like it is a huge deal, but it really isn’t much different than any of our other moves. Take a deep breath and relax. Everything worked out just fine (and in some cases better than I thought it would) and people have been incredibly helpful. Enjoy the process, it’s a really amazing opportunity.
(The Black Forest on the way to an alpine coaster. There are a lot of places to pull over take in the view.)
If you are headed this way and have a question, I am happy to answer you if I can. Send me a message through my contact page and I’ll get back to you as soon as I can.