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PCS help...stocking up...warnings I'm receiving, etc.


LisaKinVA
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So, I just got off the phone with our sponsor's wife...who gave me a long, long, list of things to stock up on, and what I should expect (military wives not being friendly, military kids not being friendly, being an outsider, crime, filth...and some of the bright side, too).

 

 

While I get the idea behind stocking up on things, how does one stock up on training bras? I can pretty much figure out how to stock up on other things, but this one has me a bit o.O

 

Other things to stock up on: underwear, socks, towels, clothes, rugs, sheets, slippers, robes, rain boots, rain coats (my kids have never had rain boots OR rain coats), umbrellas, shoes, paper towel, TP, toothpaste/rinse, spices, canned goods, canning supplies, craft supplies (assuming school supplies fit in here, too).

 

YIKES. I'm having trouble just concentrating on the great purge...the thought of spending a few grand to stock up on some of this before we go has me a bit dizzy (weight for HH goods really isn't going to be an issue), although I will be packing up some Target Cubbies and shelves flat-packed to take with us (in lieu of similar furniture that won't survive).

 

Furniture wise, this is what I will be taking:

 

Sectional sofa

Chair

Coffee Table

Entertainment Unit

Table w/ 6 chairs

Table w/ 4 chairs

2 night stands

3 large wooden bookcases, 2 small wooden bookcases

3 small chest of drawers, 1 blanket chest

16 flat-packed book cases

10 flat-packed cubbies (different sizes, some will function as night stands, others clothing or game storage).

8 sets of large plastic shelves, 2 sets of small plastic shelves

2 metal storage cabinets

1 full-size futon

1 full-size bed

2 Queen size mattress sets w/ frames

1 King size set w/ frame

2 Twin Beds w/ frames

 

I know stuff takes up more room when it's packed...but we're allowed 2 checked bags, each, plus our carry on and personal item each...I've been told my school/work related books will go under professional goods (which needs to be on the orders) and won't count against the HHLD goods). I'd like to buy the book cases and take them with us for two reasons (1) cheaper and (2) I won't feel the need to bring them back in 5 years.

 

The massive purge is going well. One more weekend should have us pretty much cleared out of non-essential paper, and most of the games/toys are now sorted. I'll be going through the hand-me downs this weekend to do another purge, and make lists of things that might be needed.

 

I know there are lots of military families here...and the stuff I find most discouraging about this move is that my kids will find it difficult to make friends, because the military families keep to themselves and don't really "mix" with the civilians. They might be polite, but they won't "take us in," or invite my kids to things, etc.

 

Is this true? My oldest is heading into his last 5 years of school...I'm taking him away from everything and everyone he has ever known. That is hard enough...but I can only imagine how crushing this will be to him if he is given the cold shoulder simply because his family is CIVMAR vs. active duty :( He's such a social, good-natured kid. What miserable, lonely, high school experience are we dooming him to, if this is true? My oldest daughter is so sensitive and kind...my younger three will probably be fine...okay...I think I'm going to cry now.

 

This is such an emotional roller coaster already...I know I can handle being a loner. But, I wanted more for my kids...

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Other things to stock up on: underwear, socks, towels, clothes, rugs, sheets, slippers, robes, rain boots, rain coats (my kids have never had rain boots OR rain coats), umbrellas, shoes, paper towel, TP, toothpaste/rinse, spices, canned goods, canning supplies, craft supplies (assuming school supplies fit in here, too).

 

I'll leave others to think about the specific military aspects.  I've lived in quite a few countries, however, and I have to say that all of them, even less developed countries, have everything you list here.  And if the spices and canned goods aren't quite the same, isn't that part of the fun?  I really think that you don't need to worry about stocking up.  

 

Best wishes

 

Laura

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Try not to freak out too much just yet. A lot of stuff might be different in Italy (toiletries, styles of undergarments, socks, etc.) I'd take enough to get you through till your first trip home. The sheets and towels might be good advice. When we moved to Argentina, the sticker shock on those items was incredible. I bought the bare minimum and brought some back on our first visit back to the US. If you'll have access to a PX, I'd skip the toiletries. If not and you're very tied to a brand, bring it with you. If you'll have trouble finding clothing in your size, bring it with you. Other than that, you should be fine. Kids' stuff will be available for sure. If your weight limit is huge, take advantage of it.

 

Can you get other opinions about how to make friends? How many people have you heard from on this subject?

 

If your kids are eligible to join scouts, sports teams or other activities, I'm sure they'll make friends. You might have a tougher time, but you've got the Hive.

 

An international move is super stressful, so I'd concentrate on packing and paperwork for now. The rest will sort itself out eventually. If you haven't read it, I'd recommend The Poisonwood Bible. The packing/moving scenes will be great stress relief for you right now.

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If you have access to base, find out if there is a 4-H club. The University of Arizona mentors some military clubs in that country. Once kids have found common ground through an organization and common interests, it may be a lot easier to form friendships.

 

I think I would be inclined to not stock up quite so much on the canned goods and spices, and attempt to be adventurous learning the art of local cooking. But, take enough that you can make food the kids might be homesick for at the beginning.

 

Faith

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I know this is one person's experience...and we are not the same people. I spent the better part of the first 30 years of my life moving (or so it seems), so I know that some of this is true (not sure about the military aspect, as that flies in the face with all my dealings with officers and enlisted families throughout the years...of course, that is all stateside, vs. OCONUS, and much of my dealings were in a professional/teaching capacity...so they were paying me ;). This just adds another layer of emotional stress.

 

Part of the issue isn't that the NEX (exchange) doesn't carry items (although, apparently they don't carry shoes above a youth size 4, or training bras...I've heard about stocking up on bras & underwear from multiple sources, so I'd say that is pretty accurate), but that they run out fast, and things aren't restocked, or shipping is very hit & miss (she ordered a birthday kit in October from Party city, for a party in February and received it in July). And, then the sticker shock that goes along with it (apparently, the water there is very hard on clothes...or maybe it's the washer, I don't know). I'm leaving in 20 minutes...long night ahead (swim meet). We will be involved with the home school group, hopefully the swim team and should be able to continue doing scouts. At least I won't lose my virtual friends at the Hive!

 

Thanks for being here.

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Here's a thought to ponder.  Before I first moved to China, I told my father my salary.  He said, 'But you can't live on that!'  He had visited China and had lived there as a foreigner, with foreign expectations, and inevitably this life is expensive.  I went and lived on that salary, saving enough to travel round China at Chinese New Year and fly to Tibet in the summer.

 

If one takes a few things to get started with then looks around to see how local people live, all the stresses disappear: there is no 'not being able to get things', 'hoarding home-country things', 'waiting for shipments. ' 

 

I would take English-language books and any plus-sized clothes that might be necessary.  Otherwise, I'd learn to live like an Italian.  This might not be what you choose to do, but I just wanted to offer you the thought.

 

Laura

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Does the base you're going to not have a PX/NEX and commisary (I assume they'd be available to you)? Also, it's possible your sponsor is the type to not go out in town much. Moderately adventurous people may find the local economy is not prohibitively expensive to shop in--where it is, the commisary tries to make up for it with subsidized prices, along with bringing in the familiar American stuff. I'd save the stock-up for things you 1. Can't buy online for delivery to your APO/FPO address and 2. You're picky about the brand/type (like if you just HAVE to have shampoo brand XYZ for wx type hair.)

 

Finding community is unlikely to be a simple "us vs. Them" thing. Your religious community could be key, along with interest-based activities. Also don't think you have to limit yourself to SOFA people. I had a college roommate whose family was stationed in Germany through a good portion of her childhood. She was active in gymnastics out in town, learned a good deal of the language, and made many German friends. One buddy on my ship made a lot of local friends in Japan because he made an effort to learn the language.

 

In short, don't prejudge the place based on one opinion.

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The food items, I would only stock up if you have allergies or the like. That is part of the fun of going. If there is a particular hard to find sauce or spice mix you like, take some (Chinese, mexican etc.). But I am sure with time, you may find a market there that sells something similar. My BIL has an awesome Chinese market around the corner in Berlin, I was so jealous  :tongue_smilie: .

 

Paper goods  :huh: , I have traveled to over 40 countries and never NOT been able to find them. Maybe her family is really particular?? Now it may not be charmin, but baring a skin issue I think you will be ok. Paper towels may cost more than here, but maybe you'll just use reusable cloths more for cleaning, etc.

 

Linens, clothes, yes I would stock up, just because of cost etc. I am sure you could find them, but they may not be the style you want or you may faint from the cost. MIL always takes linens with her home. Kids clothes can be outrageous and to honest, I feel so shy when ILs send the kids clothes from there (Germany, France, Denmark) as they are usually not as good quality and I know they spent $$$ on them. On the flip side I always go nuts taking clothes to the nieces and nephews as I know it is appreciated and they love having "american" jeans etc. 

 

Underwear for sure take. If DH goes alone to visit, he always brings me nighties and lingerie home :blushing:  and all that I have from Europe, well doesn't fit right (even though it says it is my size).

 

School supplies, yes I would load up. They may be harder to find "off season".

And of course take every book you can  :smilielol5:

Ohh..have fun...take lots of pics/videos. 

 

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I thought from the post you were going to somewhere obscure and far away. I would wait until you need training bra's then go and try them on and get someone to post you some if they are too expensive. I'm pretty sure amazon delivers to Italy too and book depository.

 

To be honest I never had such a thing as a training bra and can't really see that it is an essential item.

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Agreeing with others who say not to stress too much.

 

I've read long lists of things people say you should ship to various countries and almost without exception I have been able to find those things in country with a little effort. Or we just happily live without them- and keep living without them when we're in the US. There is nothing wrong with trying to prepare for everything, and some people need to, but make sure it's not going to cause you more stress that it's worth.

 

Also, it's very likely your kids will make friends quickly. I can't comment about the military part, but we've always been able to find friends when we've lived overseas and we've never been part of any specific expat group in the past. Most of our friends have been locals, but it's not hard to find expat friends in our experience if that's what you want.

 

You can do this.

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I poo-poo the warnings :smash: .  I've lived in Italy, Germany, Japan, and a few other lovely places.  Don't bother stocking up on things you can live without.  If your child has specific needs (Jumbo crayons were impossible to get in Japan.)  get those or if you have a favorite bra, hair color or whatever, take a few. 

 

The water in Italy was awful.  We had to use bottled or free filled bottles from post for cooking, drinking or even teeth brushing...It was a pita, but it was a long time ago and may be better today. 

 

Friends, I was a military brat and my best friend in Germany was there with her Civ. dad.   You may feel left out a bit by the number of military functions, but most civ families are invited. When I was an Army wife, many of my friends overseas were expats from the US and other countries.I also made a number of local friends from every country; they were the best guides to everything local. 

 

The outdoor markets in Italy were awesome.  I got the best undies there for next to nothing.  It was strange to buy them from a vendor who wanted to haggle, but a lot of fun and a great deal.

 

Don't freak out, it will be an adjustment, but probably the best adventure you guys will ever have.  .

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My cousin and his family just got back from a year in Italy.  They did not take any spices or canned goods or paper products.  They did stock up on socks, under garments, and shoes in current sizes and the next size up for their girls.

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I thought from the post you were going to somewhere obscure and far away. I would wait until you need training bra's then go and try them on and get someone to post you some if they are too expensive. I'm pretty sure amazon delivers to Italy too and book depository.

 

To be honest I never had such a thing as a training bra and can't really see that it is an essential item.

DD is at the point where she's going to need *something* relatively soon...and if she takes after me (vs. my mother), what size she needs is going to change rather rapidly, too (we may bloom later than most, but when we do, watch out!)

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hi lisa -

 

its all about the experience you want.  if you want everything you have here, only in italy, then your sponsor's wife is exactly right.

if you want to experience life in italy, then you may want to do a few things differently than she's suggested.

 

if you want your kids to fit in, buy clothes in italy.  if you want them to look american, buy clothes here.  (re raincoats, etc). 

typically, we take what fits the kids now that we already own, and then buy what we need where we are as they grow. 

 

it usually takes less than a week before the kids stop wearing what we've brought and start informing us of what they need.  one dd, age 5 at the time, went to school for her first day in england.  she came home, said it was great, and announced, "i don't need a lunch box; there are hot lunches.  none of the girls wear jeans; i need a pinnie.  and shoes to go with.  and a jumper... that's a sweater".... and off she skipped.  a year later, she's back here in school, comes home after the first day and announces "i need a lunch box; the lunches here are horrible and you have to pay for them.  everyone wears jeans.  i need running shoes.  and a hoodie... that's a sweatshirt." and off she skipped.

 

if we really don't like something, then we have family and friends happy to shop and ship.

 

i've always bought furniture once i get to where i'm going, so taking sheets that aren't metric, etc, makes little sense.

but you have a whole list of furniture you're taking, so if those things need sheets/slip covers/whatever, it would make sense to take them.

that said, the px near us in england and in germany had amazing sheets at amazing prices, so ???

 

english language books can be hard to find... and you'll discover a few favourite things that you really miss, and those will be the things you bring back with you after a visit home or that you ask someone from home to send you.

 

mostly, there is almost nothing you can take/leave behind that wil be disastrous.  have fun and focus on enjoying being with friends you'll miss....

 

ann

 

 

 

 

 

 

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with regard to training bras.......We just discovered Coobie bras (thank you Hive for that!!!!).  The "one size" fits a wide range and might be a solution for you. 

 

with regard to "socializing and mixing"......That is just hit or miss.  We have moved to areas that were very welcoming and accepting of new or transient families.  Our previous duty station was not very welcoming of folks who "weren't from around here".  You really won't know until you get there.  I always hesistate to give too many opinions when someone asks me about a location.  The very thing that might drive me nuts, might be something you like! 

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To me the 'bring stuff' advice is going to really boil down to a question of what this experience means to you. I agree with Laura- you can get most of the stuff on the list in the places I've lived and visited. You might not find the brands you used at home, and you might not find the same quality, but ... so what? If you want to live your same life in a new place - take the stuff you were advised to take. But it really sounds to me as though you're excited about the adventure, so hunting down difficult to find items in local shops might be something you enjoy. And a specific comment on the canning supplies - we live in Australia, and lived in a suburb with a lot of older Italians and the little corner store carried canning lids in big bags next to the big bags of dried legumes. That certainly suggests to me that you'll find canning supplies easily within the local markets.

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DD is at the point where she's going to need *something* relatively soon...and if she takes after me (vs. my mother), what size she needs is going to change rather rapidly, too (we may bloom later than most, but when we do, watch out!)

I will admit my first bra was a c cup.

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Oh, someone 'experienced' told us to bring canned goods and such from Texas to Belgium. I shipped a couple of cases of green beans because she said she could never find them in the store.

 

I don't know where she was shopping, but we found lovely, wonderful green beans--several varieties--both canned and fresh. Oh, the fresh ones....

 

We found great clothes, lots of spices, and fun adventures all over Europe. When you find a great English bookstore (look for Waterstones)you'll be set.

 

That said--take lots of English language books. Take Ranch dressing mixes if you love them. Take over the counter meds (Sudafed comes to mind) or trust the local pharmacist.

 

There will be a few things you'll miss, but you'll find other lovely, wonderful things. Don't stress--there are Pizza Huts all over the world. Your kids won't starve. :)

 

I'd be HAPPY to go with you and help you acclimate!!!!!

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Depending on where you've lived in the U.S., you might find that rain coats and rain boots are more important than you'd think. They are easy to do without when you just go from the house to the car to the store/church/school/etc. When you leave the house, walk to the bus/train/metro and then walk again to get to where you are going, staying dry becomes more important.

 

On the other hand, my mom insisted I take 6 packets of TUMS to Switzerland with me when I was in college. During my three months there, I used exactly one. Not one packet. One pill.

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Happy, do not underestimate the reluctance of some people to explore and experience overseas. I recall a Boatswain's mate on my ship (forward deployed from Japan) who had a teenaged son. She had been there two whole years and the first time she went out in town in the country was when our ship went to a liberty port on the other side of the country from the base!

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Happy, do not underestimate the reluctance of some people to explore and experience overseas. I recall a Boatswain's mate on my ship (forward deployed from Japan) who had a teenaged son. She had been there two whole years and the first time she went out in town in the country was when our ship went to a liberty port on the other side of the country from the base!

You are right, of course. Makes me SAD and baffled.

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So, I just got off the phone with our sponsor's wife...who gave me a long, long, list of things to stock up on, and what I should expect (military wives not being friendly, military kids not being friendly, being an outsider, crime, filth...and some of the bright side, too).

The thing about the military is that you have to find ways to connect with that crowd. We are typically very busy people with a lot of demands upon our time. But, if you are involved in the community, then it should not be a problem. Will you have access to post? Try joining the BSA troop or 4H group on post. Try attending chapel and/or Bible study there. I had a lot of friends who were German and ex-pats from other countries like the UK because I was involved with LLL at the time. 

While I get the idea behind stocking up on things, how does one stock up on training bras? I can pretty much figure out how to stock up on other things, but this one has me a bit o.O

Other things to stock up on: underwear, socks, towels, clothes, rugs, sheets, slippers, robes, rain boots, rain coats (my kids have never had rain boots OR rain coats), umbrellas, shoes, paper towel, TP, toothpaste/rinse, spices, canned goods, canning supplies, craft supplies (assuming school supplies fit in here, too).

 

I don't think stocking up on ANY of that is necessary. The only things my mom sent to Germany were the very regional things that she shipped me when I lived in Virginia. For the record, many moving companies will not ship food or spices of any kind. So, you need to talk to your moving company about that ahead of time, if you plan to try and bring stuff with you.

YIKES. I'm having trouble just concentrating on the great purge...the thought of spending a few grand to stock up on some of this before we go has me a bit dizzy (weight for HH goods really isn't going to be an issue), although I will be packing up some Target Cubbies and shelves flat-packed to take with us (in lieu of similar furniture that won't survive).

 

Flat packed furniture is an okay idea, but there is an IKEA in Italy. You may be better off waiting to see what will fit in your space.

I know there are lots of military families here...and the stuff I find most discouraging about this move is that my kids will find it difficult to make friends, because the military families keep to themselves and don't really "mix" with the civilians. They might be polite, but they won't "take us in," or invite my kids to things, etc.

 

Is this true? My oldest is heading into his last 5 years of school...I'm taking him away from everything and everyone he has ever known. That is hard enough...but I can only imagine how crushing this will be to him if he is given the cold shoulder simply because his family is CIVMAR vs. active duty  :( He's such a social, good-natured kid. What miserable, lonely, high school experience are we dooming him to, if this is true? My oldest daughter is so sensitive and kind...my younger three will probably be fine...okay...I think I'm going to cry now.

 

This is not my experience *at all*. We have always had civilian friends of all sorts. Maybe she's not finding ways to connect with the military population. 

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Lisa,

 

I live in India- pretty much the other side of the planet from the US and I think the stocking up advice is RIDICULOUS!  The only reason I can imagine buying any of the things on the list is if the quality in Italy is bad or if it is just too overpriced.

 

What I can say is that everything on your list would be available in India.  However, what we don't have here are places like Costco where you can buy high quality for low prices. 

 

Do you have free shipping of all your items?  If so, then stocking up on those items that you have to have in a particular brand might be ok.  Are you sure you will have enough storage space for everything in Italy?  American houses tend to be larger with more storage areas than houses in other countries.

 

I think you and your kids will have a wonderful time even if you have to wear Italian underwear and use Italian toothpaste!

 

Enjoy!

 

Cammie

 

 

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I am a long time lurker and I think have only written a post once but I just couldn't ignore this one.  

 

I agree with the other posters.  I have been a military spouse for over 15 years and have been stationed in Germany and currently we are in Japan.  I have never known another military spouse or their kids to shun a civilian family.  I think if anything we jump into friendships perhaps quicker and perhaps more intensely than others.  We know we don't have the time to let a friendship simmer because by that time we'll be packing up again.  Perhaps that makes some people uncomfortable.  And some people are just negative nellies.

 

As for bringing stuff with you, if there are particular brands of shampoo or toothpaste or something that you just can't live without then you could stock up on that.  If you're not picky you can find everything you need "on the economy" or at the PX/BX/NEX.  WIll you have access to the military post office?  If so then don't worry.  I get anything I order from Amazon in less than two weeks.  Many other stores ship APO too.  If there is something you really need you could ask a family member to send it to you.

 

Living overseas is stressful at the beginning.  And you may very well be homesick for a bit.  But it gets better and often times by the end of your tour you don't want to leave.  Good luck, you can do it.  You and your kids will do awesome.  Just make the effort and you will have friends.

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Living in Malaysia for the last 4 years, here is what we get from the states:

 

underwear (for me and my youngest ds. I dont like the way the panties here fit and ds is small but likes to wear boys' boxer briefs and the boys here typically wear bikini underwear)

 

clothes- only for me and dh because everyone in Asia is built like a 12yo American boy and none of their clothes fit me (I am a size 8/10) or dh who wears XL. My kids are fine though.

 

sheets- if you are bringing your own beds then you will need to bring sheets . The mattresses and sheets are different sizes overseas.

 

shoes- aren't you moving to Italy? Home of beautiful shoes? Here, the problem is no half sizes. Other than that, shoes are no problem.

 

canning supplies, craft supplies (assuming school supplies fit in here, too)- maybe. I don't know anything about canning. I know scrapbooking supplies are impossible to get here so I moved to digiscrapping. School supplies are no problem to find either. Their kids do go to school in Italy! But a particular brand might be a problem. Like there is very little crayola here but we can get faber-castell.

 

Are you not allowed to shop outside the military base? Even if the commissary ran out, can you still shop at other stores?

 

We didn't even bring a single piece of furniture with us when we moved. We sold it all before we left and bought stuff here.

 

It is a stressful time for you but just know that Italy is full of people living happy lives without shipments from the US of all these items. I always tell my new staff the same thing... Don't move here expecting it to be America just in another place. Embrace the strangeness of it all! Make friends with your Italian neighbors. Don't limit yourself to being friends only with the american military people. Go to a local church. Eat at local places. Shop the local stores. Step out of the bubble and experience life in Italy. That is what makes it fun!

 

I am super excited for you!

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Thanks everyone...I appreciate the perspective.

 

Furniture -- there is an Ikea, but I have heard from people who were in Germany first, as well as just there from the states, that Ikea in Naples is almost double the cost of what it is in Germany. Ikea bookshelves are much nicer than what I'd be bringing...but I can buy/bring 5 or 6 of the cheapies for the cost of one Ikea bookshelf in US$ (I'd rather put the books out, than keep them in boxes...and if I have the money, I could always replace things). It really is a cost-saving measure ;) There will be some furniture we purchase over there...but I don't want to overly rely on that at first (take my time, pick up some nice pieces I really like).

 

British Berkey is also on our list. The thought of spending over $90/month for drinking water for five years...ugh. The Berkey, plus the purchase of distilled water for ironing should be a good item to purchase and have delivered to our APO/FPO, so that it is there when we arrive. I'll probably also get a couple of water storage containers (one for the fridge and one or two as back up...).

 

I'll wait on the rainboots/rain coats, but bring one umbrella per person, plus probably a couple of large ones.

 

I'm going to stock up on some "trainers" for the big kids...I know 11yo dd's foot is growing and will probably grow 3 sizes in the next year (I wore a size 7 until high school), so getting a size 5, 6, and 7 doesn't seem like a bad plan. Same with getting some plain brown Mary Janes, and a few pairs of boots for winter...warm tights...that kind of thing. I need to clean out all of the little girls' tights anyhow (they don't always hand-down as well...and I know many have holes, etc.). We just cleaned out the socks ;)

 

I'm also going to purchase some new undergarments for me...and the older kids (to keep on hand). Seems like a wise choice, as well as pick up rugs!

 

Apparently, the hard water really takes its toll on the clothes. I have had the same towels since 1997...they are a bit faded, and some of the edges are ravelling, but sponsor said they brought NEW towels with them, and they have holes...thinks the water is just really hard on the clothes.

 

Thank you again...I'm a bit less panicked. Another swim meet tonight (last night's was postponed due to weather. I really, really need to finish up some sorting/purging today.

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Good grief.  You don't need to stock up.  Europe is quite progressive and has all the modern conveniences (though France and Germany need to figure out what toilet seats are!).  I buy most of our food on the economy (that means off post), because it's cheaper for the most part, and fresher.  We do not have water delivered (water in Germany is gross too).  I buy all our water at Aldi.  It's 19 Euro cents per 1.5L bottle.  We drink nothing but water, and even with all of that, we never spend anywhere NEAR $90/month.  I buy 3-4 of the 6 packs a week, which adds up to around 20 Euro a month.  I *think* they have Aldi in Italy, but I can't remember.  Even if they don't there are grocery stores where you can buy water.  The commissary sells water too, but for the same size I buy at Aldi, it's roughly .50 per bottle.  You can find most American items at the commissary.  Besides, the stuff you can buy on the economy is usually quite good.

 

For anything else you need, you can usually buy it on Amazon and have it delivered to your APO address.  I get boxes from Amazon all the time.  The PO workers know me by name, which is kind of embarrassing.  

 

I have never seen civ spouses or kids snubbed by military spouses.  Our local spouse's club is for military and civilian spouses and our hs group also has civ and military families.  There is a hs group in Naples.  Their yahoo group is here.  This may be the same group, but there is also a facebook page for a hs group there.  You can find it here.  

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Agreeing with everyone else. Just want to add: Our international move took longer for me to adjust to than the the four previous PCSs we made. So, be aware of that possibility. We've been here 14 months and I'm completely settled. Could even go without the bases if necessary, but they sure do make things nice.

 

Edited to add: I stayed in Florence for one month about twelve years ago. We filled water containers and left them out overnight, which made the water taste fine.

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Lisa, I'm going to come at this from a bit different tack, since I didn't grow up military, but lived overseas as a missionary kid.  From the vantage point of a third culture kid, I wanted to encourage you to do as some of the other posters have said and help your family to think of this experience as an opportunity to embrace all the adventure and new experiences of living in a new country but also do your best to create overlap in your lives with your Italian neighbors and not pursue only activities with expats living in the country, whether off or on base. 

 

A great way to do that is through kids activities, whether sports clubs or activity classes, or play dates with neighbors. 

 

My parents went to a year of language school when I was three (they left me at home during the days with a Spanish only nanny) and then we moved to Honduras when I was not quite four.  They moved into a neighborhood, not into the airbase housing, and my playmates were the kids up and down the street  (literally a dirt street; dirt poor families (cooking over earthen stoves and outhouses in the back yard, but good playmates.)  For one glorious year, I learned Spanish through play, until I turned 5 and had to go to kindergarten.   Within 9 months I was fluent in childish Spanish.  : )  My parents also made the choice to attend a local church. 

 

When I went to school at an MK school, many of my expat peers did not know Spanish at all.  It is inconceivable to me, because we weren't in a tribal area or anything like that, but true, nonetheless.

 

I consider my upbringing to have been a magical childhood.  I had friends who were expats, got to be a day student at a private boarding school (I didn't like that at the time) so had a great education, but best of all, I still have friends overseas, and as a bonus, I speak Spanish fluently--what a boon!

 

I hope your kids adjust well and that they look back on their Italy years with great memories.

 

 

 

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So, I just got off the phone with our sponsor's wife...who gave me a long, long, list of things to stock up on, and what I should expect (military wives not being friendly, military kids not being friendly, being an outsider, crime, filth...and some of the bright side, too).

 

 

 

 

I know there are lots of military families here...and the stuff I find most discouraging about this move is that my kids will find it difficult to make friends, because the military families keep to themselves and don't really "mix" with the civilians. They might be polite, but they won't "take us in," or invite my kids to things, etc.

 

Is this true? My oldest is heading into his last 5 years of school...I'm taking him away from everything and everyone he has ever known. That is hard enough...but I can only imagine how crushing this will be to him if he is given the cold shoulder simply because his family is CIVMAR vs. active duty :( He's such a social, good-natured kid. What miserable, lonely, high school experience are we dooming him to, if this is true? My oldest daughter is so sensitive and kind...my younger three will probably be fine...okay...I think I'm going to cry now.

 

This is such an emotional roller coaster already...I know I can handle being a loner. But, I wanted more for my kids...

Consider the possibility that this may be this woman's reality because of who she is. Who wants to "take in" or extend invites to people who sound as if they lead with the negatives? You know that sweeping generalizations are illogical, I suggest you disregard your helpful sponsor's wife's helpful advice on the unfriendliness of military families and make your own reality once you get there. I am a very friendly military (retired) wife; my SIL is a DOD civilian wife. We're polite to each other, but don't really like each other (understatement) and didn't hang out when our husbands were both working on the same installation.

 

When you like people, have things in common, and they're enjoyable to be around - you tend to do things with them regardless of where dad works.

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The only food type items I would suggest taking are spice mixes (Poultry Seasoning, Ranch mix, etc.) that you use a lot or a few items that you normally have for holiday meals (homesickness always hits me worst at the holidays).  I've lived overseas (i.e. outside the States) for 23 years & I've always been able to find what we needed locally.  A few things I do prefer from the States (jeans, underpants, socks, shoes for me & jeans, socks, shoes for my dc) but we can & have made do fine with local products.  Children's books are so-o-o-o much more affordable & have much more choice in the States.  About half my luggage allowance would be books when we would visit my folks.  Enjoy your adventure & as others have suggested, make the effort to be involved in some way in the local community.  JMHO

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I too think the stocking up advice is ridiculous. The only thing I recommended to families who were moving to Japan were good bicycles because the local ones were either crap or expensive top-of-the-line and they are too big to ship. If you have an FPO/APO I wouldn't worry about most of that stuff. I had huge things like baby swings shipped free (Amazon) and Penzeys spices does FPO as well.

 

No one is going to shun you because you are a civilian, though you might have to put some effort into meeting people. I really think its a non-issue.

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I am confused... you are going to ITALY? That's a civilized first world country; you can get shoes, clothes and underwear there. I would make sure each person has a well stocked wardrobe for *right now*, but I would not anticipate growth. The advice to stock up on toilet paper and such things is ridiculous; you are not going to the jungle.

Not being familiar wioth the military: are you not allowed to shop in regular stores???

Italians eat VERY well; embrace the new culture and have lots of fun!

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I am confused... you are going to ITALY? That's a civilized first world country; you can get shoes, clothes and underwear there. I would make sure each person has a well stocked wardrobe for *right now*, but I would not anticipate growth. The advice to stock up on toilet paper and such things is ridiculous; you are not going to the jungle.

Not being familiar wioth the military: are you not allowed to shop in regular stores???

Italians eat VERY well; embrace the new culture and have lots of fun!

:iagree:

 

But the idea that there is only one country in the world where you can buy underwear was intriguing. It does leave people in far off countries wondering what do people in America think we are wearing under our clothes.

 

 

 

 

 

 

(joke)

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:iagree:

 

But the idea that there is only one country in the world where you can buy underwear was intriguing. It does leave people in far off countries wondering what do people in America think we are wearing under our clothes.

 

 

 

 

 

 

(joke)

We just assumed everyone else is going commando. You mean you aren't? (also joke)

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Hi Lisa,

 

    Are you going to be associated with Signonella or with the Nato group in Naples?

 

  I lived for three years at a Nato base in Belgium.  We actually lived on the economy in the best house and property we have ever had.  Anyway, we had a homeschooling group there and it was open to anyone homeschooling, including we had civilian employee families, missionaries, contract employee families, and non Americans- I know we had British while we were there for three years and we may have had a Canadian too.  We were in a community where only between 25-30% of the base was American-- it didn't matter at all.  I loved the area.  All the nationalities were so friendly.  We did have an very small American base about 15 miles away from where we lived though probably 10 from the Nato military headquarter (SHAPE).  The government employees could use the commissary and PX.  However, there were things we couldn't get easily-  file folders for some odd reason.  Socks, like already mentioned,were an issue - though not an issue when we visited Spain since they wear socks apparently.  (Most European countries the women never wear socks except if exercising and most don't do that specifically- they tend to be much more active as part of their lifestyle- walking a lot, for example, but don't do set exercises as much- IMHO, much more healthier).  In 2003-2006- they were wearing hosiery with both pants and skirts or dresses.  They tended to wear dress shoes a lot more- pumps, slingbacks, etc.

 

Now when we moved there, I had a entering Junior in high school, a upper elementary and a lower elementary kid.  We were allowed to enroll kids in any classes we wanted and could also use library services.  We didn't since my oldest wasn't interested and I really wasn't interested in driving 10 miles roundtrip twice a day, taking my younger kids with me.  In most European countries, the driving age is older (18) and it is super expensive to get a license for the first time.  You will most likely get a license from the base if you are NATO, anyway.  We had to take a written exam on traffic symbols and things like that.  They provide you with a booklet to study.  I found it easy even though symbolic language is usually quite difficult for me but I do take tests well.  OTOH, people who hadn't at least looked over the booklet often failed.

 

In terms of what we did to have the kids make friends and be involved= the youngest was first in Brownies then GSA, the middle was in Girl Scouts, and the oldest was in Boy Scouts and Venture Scouts (BSA but co-ed).  Both girls went to a Girl Scout camp in Germany.  My son went a few times to Boy Scout Camp in Germany- at least one time he was a volunteer teacher at the camp, and he also went with the Venture crew to a castle camp out in Germany and then later a trip by Ryan AIr- take advantage of the super low air prices in Europe- to Barcelona.  All kids did art classes of different kinds at the Nato Base- the girls mostly did ones that were organized for homeschoolers and my son took adult drawing and painting classes.  The girls attended a Canadian Day Camp with trips to fantastic amusement parks. All kids participated in the many festival days on NAto base= the American base had a little bit going on but most people were stationed at the NATO base.  Everyone attended one of the chepels- there were two different chapels with different types of services in different languages and there were also independent churches and missions in the area catering to English speakers- though we did have a few Belgian civilians attending our chapel services.  We had a youth group which was one for all the chapels and my daughter attended a youth trip to the Netherlands which included skiing in an indoor fake mountain.  With the youth group, both of my older kids did a week long mission service project which involved painting a local orphanage and then playing soccer with the kids living there.  All of my kids were involved in a few theater productions which were put on by the NAto base community theater group and my girls also did the Missoula Children's Theater workshop. 

 

Other opportunities at our base including swim teams. other sports teams. lots of field trips- we took advantage of some of those, and many other things.  We were at SHAPE (Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe) and while there were thousands of people there, you tend to start recognizing many, many of them. 

 

Finally, we are military and I have been living the life for going on 26 and a half years.  I have hardly ever met any military that only wanted to stick to making friends with military.  Much more often, we have met civilians not involved with the base who didn;t want to get to know us.  I have always felt a kinship with other transient folks be they military, civilian employees coming along, or private sector people who just move a lot.  I know that I make a particular effort to be welcoming to newcomers and I am  an introvert.  In fact, both my dh and I have voluteered to be greeters at our church because we know how it feels to be new.  My youngest, the only one living still at home permanently at this stage, also tries hard to be very welcoming to new kids she meets at any activity.

 

Finally, Lisa, pm me with your phone number and I can call you talk, if you wish.  I have free long distance in the US.

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Hi Lisa,

 

    Are you going to be associated with Signonella or with the Nato group in Naples?

 

  I lived for three years at a Nato base in Belgium.  We actually lived on the economy in the best house and property we have ever had.  Anyway, we had a homeschooling group there and it was open to anyone homeschooling, including we had civilian employee families, missionaries, contract employee families, and non Americans- I know we had British while we were there for three years and we may have had a Canadian too.  We were in a community where only between 25-30% of the base was American-- it didn't matter at all.  I loved the area.  All the nationalities were so friendly.  We did have an very small American base about 15 miles away from where we lived though probably 10 from the Nato military headquarter (SHAPE).  The government employees could use the commissary and PX.  However, there were things we couldn't get easily-  file folders for some odd reason.  Socks, like already mentioned,were an issue - though not an issue when we visited Spain since they wear socks apparently.  (Most European countries the women never wear socks except if exercising and most don't do that specifically- they tend to be much more active as part of their lifestyle- walking a lot, for example, but don't do set exercises as much- IMHO, much more healthier).  In 2003-2006- they were wearing hosiery with both pants and skirts or dresses.  They tended to wear dress shoes a lot more- pumps, slingbacks, etc.

 

Now when we moved there, I had a entering Junior in high school, a upper elementary and a lower elementary kid.  We were allowed to enroll kids in any classes we wanted and could also use library services.  We didn't since my oldest wasn't interested and I really wasn't interested in driving 10 miles roundtrip twice a day, taking my younger kids with me.  In most European countries, the driving age is older (18) and it is super expensive to get a license for the first time.  You will most likely get a license from the base if you are NATO, anyway.  We had to take a written exam on traffic symbols and things like that.  They provide you with a booklet to study.  I found it easy even though symbolic language is usually quite difficult for me but I do take tests well.  OTOH, people who hadn't at least looked over the booklet often failed.

 

In terms of what we did to have the kids make friends and be involved= the youngest was first in Brownies then GSA, the middle was in Girl Scouts, and the oldest was in Boy Scouts and Venture Scouts (BSA but co-ed).  Both girls went to a Girl Scout camp in Germany.  My son went a few times to Boy Scout Camp in Germany- at least one time he was a volunteer teacher at the camp, and he also went with the Venture crew to a castle camp out in Germany and then later a trip by Ryan AIr- take advantage of the super low air prices in Europe- to Barcelona.  All kids did art classes of different kinds at the Nato Base- the girls mostly did ones that were organized for homeschoolers and my son took adult drawing and painting classes.  The girls attended a Canadian Day Camp with trips to fantastic amusement parks. All kids participated in the many festival days on NAto base= the American base had a little bit going on but most people were stationed at the NATO base.  Everyone attended one of the chepels- there were two different chapels with different types of services in different languages and there were also independent churches and missions in the area catering to English speakers- though we did have a few Belgian civilians attending our chapel services.  We had a youth group which was one for all the chapels and my daughter attended a youth trip to the Netherlands which included skiing in an indoor fake mountain.  With the youth group, both of my older kids did a week long mission service project which involved painting a local orphanage and then playing soccer with the kids living there.  All of my kids were involved in a few theater productions which were put on by the NAto base community theater group and my girls also did the Missoula Children's Theater workshop. 

 

Other opportunities at our base including swim teams. other sports teams. lots of field trips- we took advantage of some of those, and many other things.  We were at SHAPE (Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe) and while there were thousands of people there, you tend to start recognizing many, many of them. 

 

Finally, we are military and I have been living the life for going on 26 and a half years.  I have hardly ever met any military that only wanted to stick to making friends with military.  Much more often, we have met civilians not involved with the base who didn;t want to get to know us.  I have always felt a kinship with other transient folks be they military, civilian employees coming along, or private sector people who just move a lot.  I know that I make a particular effort to be welcoming to newcomers and I am  an introvert.  In fact, both my dh and I have voluteered to be greeters at our church because we know how it feels to be new.  My youngest, the only one living still at home permanently at this stage, also tries hard to be very welcoming to new kids she meets at any activity.

 

Finally, Lisa, pm me with your phone number and I can call you talk, if you wish.  I have free long distance in the US.

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Hi Lisa,

 

We are across the Adriatic, in Montenegro, which has way less goods available than Italy.  In fact, when passing through Italy, we stock up there while living here.  When the kids were little, we bought our arts and crafts supplies in Italy....

 

Things we do bring from overseas/request as gifts:

 

1. English language books

2. TJs Toasted Sesame oil (for making Asian meals)

3.  Choc. chips (though if you have access to a commissary, not necessary)

4. One Jar of molasses (Christmas baking--ditto above)

5.  One Large can of pumpkin (for Thanksgiving pies--ditto above)

6.  Husky/plus size of clothes (if needed--not applicable to us any more but one of my two boys is a husky build and European clothes sport that sleek European fit....) and Petite (I'm only 5'2" and look best in clothes cut to a petite build...)

7.  ETA: A jar of pb (for an occasional quick meal and pb cookies--pb is too expensive and too heavy to carry over for frequent use).  Anyway, the kids like Nutella and Eurocrem just as much for a fun spread on toast...

 

Also, there is a "Big Box" store chain similar to a Costco called Auchan--they are scattered all over Europe, and I know there are several in Italy...  We stop there for "stocking up" (ceci/garbanzo beans, parm cheese, tomato products, canning supplies (just won't be Ball 2-lid but the superior clasp with rubber ring) and EVOO) before heading home to MNE....

 

The best undies and shoes we buy locally come from..... Italy!  So no worries there.

 

Have fun!

 

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Caveat:  When I lived in Europe, I was single.  I have traveled there since with my children, but that's not quite the same.  I also was not associated with the military in anyway, so I've never seen what's available in the base store -- what do you call it, the PEX?  So my shopping experiences were all local culture.

 

Don't let your sponsor freak you out.  It's really no different than any other long distance move.

 

You could arrive there with nothing but the clothes on your backs, your passports, and your credit card, and you would be okay.  You can get everything you need there, as long as you don't expect everything to be exactly like the American kind.

 

Everything else is really about convenience, not need.  It's more convenient to bring the clothes you already have than to have to shop there, but it's not more convenient to have run around shopping here for things you think you may need there.  It's more convenient to wait to see if you really need it, and then shop there.  Same for furniture, since you have the household goods allowance thingy (I'm not personally familiar with how that works). Otherwise, it totally would not be worth the cost of shipping.

 

I looked at your list and will point out, just in case nobody did, and all these are -- they have them; they are just different:

 

If you are bringing American beds, make sure you bring enough American bedding, particularly fitted sheets.  The "standard" is a different size there.

 

You are probably bringing American recipes.  You should be able to find most ingredients, but what you won't find is American measuring cups and spoons.  They cook by weight there.  (100 grams of flour, rather than 1 cup.)

 

They have most spices, but not the same spice blends.  I couldn't find taco seasoning, or poultry seasoning, for instance, but could find sage, thyme, rosemary, etc. once I knew the translation.  They do have packets, but they are for local dishes.  So in Austria, you can get a packet of goulash seasoning.  Take a few for special holiday meals, or know what's in them so you can get the spices separately. 

 

Deodorant there seemed to be just deodorant, and I'm used to anti-antiperspirant, so that, I missed.  

 

The only other thing I can think of is tampons.  Here, the plastic applicators are the most common, followed by cardboard, and only rarely the "no applicator" kind.  There, it has been the opposite, though it seemed to be shifting last time I was there.  "No applicator" was most common, followed by cardboard, and only rarely plastic.

 

Oh, one more thing:  paper size.  Their's is taller and narrower, so you'll want to buy their binders to use with their paper, or be prepared to trim to fit..

 

You know, though, all these things are just fun, "well, that was a funny thing to take for granted" kind of things.  It's all good.  Life goes on.

 

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We will be stationed in Naples. My husband will work at CAPO, most of the kids' things (other than swimming) will be at the Support Site (where base housing is).

 

We have already made contact with Pack/Troop 007 (oldest thought this was cool), for the boys. My younger son should have all of his Webelo Activity badges done/Arrow of Light/Compass Points...and essentially be ready to bridge. Oldest son will be a Life Scout on his way to Eagle when we arrive (badge work...badge work...badge work!) There is an active Homeschooling group...we don't do GS, but there are several families interested in AHG (lucky me, I'm a registered leader...guess who will probably be drafted). We can't start an AHG Troop, but the girls can "act" like one, although they will all be registered as "Trailblazers."

 

School -- We are planning to home school, and planning to take advantage of the DoDEA partnership (especially for the oldest two) for specific classes. What I don't know is what classes will be available, and what the schedule would be...and if they can take high school level classes, while only considered an elementary school student (11yo dd is technically a rising 6th grader, but she is doing high school level work pretty much across the board...Algebra, Geometry, Biology, foreign language...she thrives on the challenges). I don't think there would be any issue with my rising 8th grader to take classes with the high school students, since they are in the same building...and an 8th grader taking high school classes isn't that unusual). I could easily see my children taking half their course load at the DoD school (between electives and more advanced, core courses. The main reason I can't get questions answered is due to the fact that their Liaison officer has PCS'd out, and her replacement isn't there.

 

Shopping -- I do plan to do most of my fresh meat/veg shopping on the economy...mainly because this will hopefully make it easier to buy high quality foods (I know the commissary does stock some foods...but considering so much of the "bad" stuff isn't allowed in the EU foods, why should I pay extra for "good" foods to be shipped from the US to the commissary, when I can just get the locally sourced stuff?). I plan to shop at the Commissary/NEX for household goods/soap/etc. I will continue to get my Coconut Oil through Tropical Traditions, and Bread Beckers also ships to APO/FPO. Some of that may be more expensive to do than state-side...but it will still be less than any other alternatives of which I'm currently aware.

 

Clothes -- I think it would be prudent to stock on some things state-side (especially for my oldest two who are hitting growth spurts). It can take several months for things to ship (shipping is apparently hit/miss), and if I *know* my 11yo is about to take off with her growth, it makes sense to prepare. While I can't wait to slip on some nice shoes for DH and I...the thought of paying 60Euro (on sale) for kids shoes when they are going through 3 sizes in rapid succession makes me a bit faint...lol) Oldest DS is growing out of his size 16 jeans...they look a bit "floody" -- and his feet are looking like flippers again (our feet tend to grow first, and then our bodies catch up...). I also think (based upon what I'm hearing about things not lasting in the wash), that replacing items we have that are already on the worn side...such as middle dd's underwear that has been handed-down a couple of times...is probably in our best interest as well. I won't go crazy. My mom can always fill a flat-rate Priority Mail box with girls undies and ship them. But I think having some of these on-hand would be a good move (I am going to need some, myself...as is DH). DH and I are going to eliminate anything worn/stained, otherwise "hack around" clothes from our closets...we'll keep a couple of work shirts, but get things down to what we really use/wear. Goal for DH and I is to eliminate about half of our clothes. Same for the kids. I'll wait to purchase a nice coat until we get there.

 

I'm not sure what activities there will be around us, but I do know that there are supposed to be swim teams and dance classes on the economy, too. All of these activities require transportation of one sort or another -- and that is what has hampered getting involved in more than YMCA and Scouting here. With 5 kids, I just can't drive everyone everywhere. If we are on public transport, the oldest two can probably get where they need to go, but I wouldn't trust the younger three at. all. (even though I used public transport alone at 10, my 10yo son is not nearly responsible enough for that yet...UGH). We are planning to participate in the Swim Team (Naples Tiger Sharks), but none of my children are interested in Soccer (which they could do on the economy everywhere...)

 

So much of what we can/will do is going to be dependent upon where we live...so we can't really "decide" anything. All I can do is gather information and look at the options, but until we find a house everything is up in the air.

 

I'm plugged into several FB groups WRT Naples. So I'm looking for recurrent themes in making some of these decisions. People without children (or with one or two...or with really little children) will have a whole different set of "musts" "where to live", etc. than those with older children. People who live on-base (because they want to) will have different opinions from those who don't want to live on base (and those who have been robbed will have a different outlook from those who haven't). There is one FB group dedicated to mocking who they feel are "stupid" people over there (they mock people for asking questions about life over there...telling them to just "relax and wait until they get there"...yeah, I've been mocked already...whatever, if they need to mock people to make themselves feel superior, I guess that says more about them than me). I've gone through the files people have posted (what I wish I knew, what to bring/not bring), so I try to ask questions that are more specific (from specific groups). Like asking about bringing a "Big Berkey" -- since so many people pay $90/month for water, because apparently, we aren't supposed to use the tap water for drinking/cooking (supposed to be part of the lease agreement). Problem with the Berkey, is that it doesn't remove any minerals (which here in VA is fine, there aren't too many...but apparently the water there is really, really hard...so particle counts are much higher). So...I'm looking into what would be best. At $90/month for water (cheaper option involves lugging it myself, which I've been told is a real pain), It doesn't seem out of the question to spend extra $$$ to be able to filter water at the house for cooking/drinking.

 

THANK YOU everyone. This is a really difficult transition for us. While there are some things that are definitely exciting, I have found my emotions are all over the map (it's hard to leave family, I worry about my kids, and my family is VERY negative about all of this). At times, there seems like there is so much to do that I just get "stuck." My husband just took a load to the dump. And, I've got a growing pile in my Living Room for Freecycle...we have about 20 more boxes to get through today, before I start on sorting stuff for Freecycle and Weecycle (local kids' sale). I need to be finished with all of the sorting this week, so that we can finish up projects around the house.

 

We meet with one realtor on Monday, and have left messages with 2 others regarding property management. While I would LOVE to sell the house vs. rent it, the amount of work we would have to do (or have done) to sell is roughly $10 grand, vs. roughly $3k to get it ready to rent. Making matters worse, dh and I are usually on the same page about everything...but right now, he is so caught up in the excitement of moving, he is just all over the map (he *almost* brought home a PUPPY!?! for us to take to Italy with us...SERIOUSLY! As if I didn't have enough to do with 5 kids and a house to get ready to rent out...let's add a PUPPY!!!) It's beyond frustrating. I'm just grateful he gave in and took a load to the dump (he didn't want to, he wanted to start a different project, but all I can see are the piles of stuff ready to go to the dump just cluttering up and interfering with the rest of the junk we have to clean out). My brain is in serious overdrive, and I have a freelance job to finish up...but I can't quiet my head enough to write. It's all a jumbled mess. At least I can keep up with the laundry, though, right?

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I am confused... you are going to ITALY? That's a civilized first world country; you can get shoes, clothes and underwear there. I would make sure each person has a well stocked wardrobe for *right now*, but I would not anticipate growth. The advice to stock up on toilet paper and such things is ridiculous; you are not going to the jungle.

Not being familiar wioth the military: are you not allowed to shop in regular stores???

Italians eat VERY well; embrace the new culture and have lots of fun!

I'm confused as well. It wouldn't occur to me to stock up on anything when going to Europe!

 

I assume the OP is not allowed to shop or anticipates very limited funds being in in the military?

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I'm confused as well. It wouldn't occur to me to stock up on anything when going to Europe!

 

I assume the OP is not allowed to shop or anticipates very limited funds being in in the military?

I am guessing that most of the "stock up" items have more to do with cost to purchase rather than availability. From what I'm reading, it can take awhile to get reimbursed for TLA expenses, and one goes through money quickly during TLA...I have no experieance with this, so I'm taking their word for it). Since we have the available room for HHG shipments, the thinking is that I can save money in the long-term by stocking up on certain items we go through. If there are brands I love...I should stock up now and take it with me. Stock up on allergy/prescription meds...not because they aren't available, but because of the amount of time it takes to get scripts changed over, or for civilians to get in to see doctors/dentists to get prescriptions renewed (civilian's can only expect to receive emergency care with the base hospital/dentist...which makes things both more expensive, and can make things a bit more difficult).

 

The other thing is sticker shock. I'm told that bathroom rugs at the NEX are about 4x what they would cost here...so, if I plan on a house with 4 bathrooms, buy the rugs here and ship them. Floors are marble and get quite cold (which after spending 10 years with a concrete basement floor, I know how bone chilling it can be during the winter), so I'm told to bring rugs. I can buy rugs there, but in addition to the extra cost, getting larger rugs to your home can be the challenging part...if they are shipped with your HHG, they are delivered ;).

 

Style is another issue...apparently, at the NEX the girls' clothes are made for "hootchie girls" (lots of complaints about that one). But, I since we are trying to "live" more Italian, fewer but NICER clothes are in order ;) Hence, my idea for Lands End. In Italy, name brands are highly prized...and the teens do tend to dress more "American" (but with name brands). I need to start giving myself mani-pedis though...and get rid of my "beater" shoes.

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Clothes -- I think it would be prudent to stock on some things state-side (especially for my oldest two who are hitting growth spurts). It can take several months for things to ship (shipping is apparently hit/miss), and if I *know* my 11yo is about to take off with her growth, it makes sense to prepare. While I can't wait to slip on some nice shoes for DH and I...the thought of paying 60Euro (on sale) for kids shoes when they are going through 3 sizes in rapid succession makes me a bit faint...lol) Oldest DS is growing out of his size 16 jeans...they look a bit "floody" -- and his feet are looking like flippers again (our feet tend to grow first, and then our bodies catch up...). I also think (based upon what I'm hearing about things not lasting in the wash), that replacing items we have that are already on the worn side...such as middle dd's underwear that has been handed-down a couple of times...is probably in our best interest as well. I won't go crazy. My mom can always fill a flat-rate Priority Mail box with girls undies and ship them. But I think having some of these on-hand would be a good move (I am going to need some, myself...as is DH). 

 

Just another thought: my children changed their taste in clothes when they changed country - they had different influences and began to like different things.  I saw that as a positive sign of immersion in a new culture.  Hobbes is still wearing the hand-me-down jeans, etc. that Calvin wore in Asia, but his taste in tops is quite different in this new land, and I have been happy to go with that.  You may find that your son prefers Italian jeans and your daughter Italian underwear.

 

L

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Not being familiar wioth the military: are you not allowed to shop in regular stores???

 

Certainly you are allowed to shop in regular stores! But, I had to have my mom ship maternity clothes to Germany because I was way too short for anything in the local shops. German stores have all of the basics and some very yummy local specialties, but you can't find certain items used in Mexican cooking (as an example).

 

I shopped a lot on the local economy, but there were many things I could only find on post and a handful of things that my mom would ship to me.

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The other thing is sticker shock. I'm told that bathroom rugs at the NEX are about 4x what they would cost here...so, if I plan on a house with 4 bathrooms, buy the rugs here and ship them. Floors are marble and get quite cold (which after spending 10 years with a concrete basement floor, I know how bone chilling it can be during the winter), so I'm told to bring rugs. I can buy rugs there, but in addition to the extra cost, getting larger rugs to your home can be the challenging part...if they are shipped with your HHG, they are delivered ;).

 

 

I know you don't know about housing yet, but the part I bolded, "a house with 4 bathrooms", doesn't sound like any housing situation for the average to well-to-do family in Italy or the rest of Europe.  Most families live in flats, some in small houses; those living in the countryside tend to have houses (shared multi-generationally) with a bit of land, but 4 bathrooms???? 

 

However, I must say that those working directly for the state department (diplomatic personnel) have *very* nice homes and the four bathrooms might be the norm there....  Perhaps that will be your situation?  Just genuinely curious.  I'd hate for you to ship a bunch of stuff (even if free) and then have no room to move in your new home.

 

Also, I feel for you--getting ready for a major overseas move is one of life's more stressful events...  Be kind to yourself, especially, knowing that you'll make mistakes but you'll all survive. :001_smile:

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I know you don't know about housing yet, but the part I bolded, "a house with 4 bathrooms", doesn't sound like any housing situation for the average to well-to-do family in Italy or the rest of Europe.  Most families live in flats, some in small houses; those living in the countryside tend to have houses (shared multi-generationally) with a bit of land, but 4 bathrooms???? 

 

However, I must say that those working directly for the state department (diplomatic personnel) have *very* nice homes and the four bathrooms might be the norm there....  Perhaps that will be your situation?  Just genuinely curious.  I'd hate for you to ship a bunch of stuff (even if free) and then have no room to move in your new home.

 

 

I was wondering about that too.  Do you have assigned housing?  

 

One bathroom and maybe one shower room attached to the master bedroom might be more usual in the UK; FWIW, my job allows me to see house plans for newly designed houses every day, and it's very, very rare to see four bathrooms.  I'm not sure about Italy.  

 

L

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We're given a rate for housing/utilities (we'll have close to $60k a year for housing...which is actually significantly more than we spend here) Houses in the area for about 2500/mo are either 2BR/2BA on the beach with stunning views (and a horrible commute for me) or 5 Bedrooms, pool, 3 bathrooms, basement 7 car garage...it really runs the gamut, and depends upon which area we go to. Bacoli is not the same as Pozzoui or Licola or Aversa...the landlords there are very competitive for people (especially with the mandatory base housing in effect now for active duty military). Five years ago, it was standard NOT to have kitchen cabinets and appliances as part of the package, however based upon what I'm seeing, these rental homes have kitchens with cabinets more often than not. The bathrooms vary greatly as well (some are tiny and some are HUGE with tiny sinks and showers). Tubs seem to be standard, with small showers here and there. I've even seen a house with a walk-in closet and a walk-in pantry! As well as a "Glass House" (glass closet doors, glass room partitions, glass "railings"...definitely not a house for a 4yo or a dog).

 

I have been told we definitely want a detached home (the quiet hours with a houseful of children and shared walls are apparently a bad combination ;) ), a pool and an alarm system...with an easy commute to the SS and Capo, on a DoDEA bus route. Beyond that, it's how the house "lives." (There may be 7 bedrooms, but they could be tiny...one for each child -- or perhaps we get a 4 bedroom, but the kids' bedrooms are HUGE, so we use one as an office and pile the girls in one and the boys in another). I'm just going by the photos of the various houses and what I'm being told by those there.

 

We plan to drive the areas FIRST before looking at homes...taking into account public transportation, ease of getting onto the highway/driving to/from base, markets (food), safety, :smell:, etc. Once we find which areas we LIKE, then start looking at houses. I just figure there is no point falling in love with a house that has a commute either dh or I will wind up really hating. I personally can't imagine having 4 bathrooms (I think 3 is plenty, and we could make due with two...I really don't want to go back to one for the 7 of us...lol). I need a room to use for an office. We need a girls' room, a boys' room, a room for dh and I...a good kitchen space, a good family/dining space...and a good space for school/play (could be an attic space or a basement space). Beyond that...we're good.

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Oh...as a funny, on the "spices" side...Giant had a gas point special and Taco Seasoning on sale was a part of it. For each 7 I purchased I got 500 gas points (50 cents off a gallon, up to 20 gallons). There was a limit of 10 offers. I think I have enough taco seasoning to last me 3 years ;) So totally worth the back-stock (I didn't even have an inkling we'd be going to Italy when I bought this stuff... I just did it for the gas points...because I really "made" money on the deal. I would have purchased the gas anyhow...I saved nearly $70 on gas and spent about $50 for the spice packets, and now I'm stocked for Italy...haha)

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