Considering moving to Stuttgart with kids

41 posts in this topic

Posted

My husband just got a job offer to work on post at Stuttgart. He is a civilian employee, so I know there are ton of great benefits to moving there. The thing that worries me the most is what life will be like for me. I have three little kids (ages 4, 2, and 5 months) and am worried about going crazy at home. Does the post offer preschool for my oldest? If so, what kid of experience have you had with it? Is there a good community of people? Are there things that I will be able to get involved in WITHOUT having to put my kids in day care? Also, I have a degree in Theatre. Is there anything like that I could get involved with. I've never lived outside of Utah, Idaho, and Arizona, so I'm really nervous about this decision. If any other moms have insight, please share!!!

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Posted

Welcome to Stuttgart you’re gonna love it here and it’ll be a great adventure. Stuttgart is a big community with lots folks from everywhere in the US (as well as German and other European employees). We are comprised of 4 separate installations (named Patch Barracks, Panzer Kaserne, Kelley Barracks, & Robinson Barracks). As a CIV you’ll have a 99.9% chance you’ll be living off-post on the economy (along with most everyone else –we almost all live off-post). We have a great theater community with many productions (and awards); a great Arts and multi-craft shop; a lively outdoor recreation center. You said civilian employee -contractor or civil service (i.e. GS)? It matters as the entitlements vary depending on the category. Also if you know the org (EUCOM, AFRICOM, etc...) he will work for we can tell you (mostly likely) what post he will be working on.

Hourly care can be a challenge for some.

Full-time care can be had at facilities on-post (there’s a waiting list sometimes).

I am not a Mom (nor have I ever been one) & I do not have kids (though I have been one).

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Posted

PS: I´m not a mom!

Really? I keep hearing that you're a bad mother...

:D

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Posted

You can find out a lot by googling activities in Stuttgart. There is an English Children's Library downtown and two English Playgroups that meet in Vaihingen. There's also a very international community here and hence the International Women's Club of Stuttgart is very popular. If you e-mail them, they'll send you a list of events. There are tons of Americans and other English speakers living off base. My son and I go to the zoo and the museums pretty often, and there are lots of seasonal events that your kids will love. Try to find housing near a bus or train stop to make things easier. There's also a Stuttgart Moms facebook group and Stuttgart Kinder Relief for babysitting swaps and activity ideas.

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Posted

Thanks for all the info! I'm really excited about the theatre on post. I've done some reading about it and it seems like it will be a good outlet for me. Lblaney, thanks for the info about the groups. I will be sure to look them up. I'm glad there are a lot of family friendly things around. Is there much within walking or biking distance? I'm thinking of getting a bike with a trailer thing to take so I don't have to drive, and since we will only have one car. My husband accepted the job offer today, so we will be there in a couple months! I think he is working for AFRICOM, but I know he is working in Panzer. He is a civil servant. Is it hard to find a house off post for a reasonable price that my family will fit in? We will need at least 3 bedrooms. Is the 90 days they give you to find housing enough, or should I start getting an idea of where to look now? This is so out of my comfort zone that I don't even know where to start. Thanks again to everyone for all the info. I know lots of people have done this and loved it. I'm excited to start a new adventure!

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Posted

Congratulations - I think you'll like it here, and it's a great opportunity to broaden your (and your family's) horizons. I'm not with the military, but I live in Stuttgart - and I like it much more than I thought I would, TBH.

Please read this TT Wiki page on renting accommodation in Germany, as there are quite a few differences to what you are used to from back home.

And also, please use the search function, there is a lot of knowledge and good advice here on TT. The basic search will give you any threads that have your key words in the title, the Google-powered search option will give you any threads that have your key words in at all.

Some examples of threads that might be helpful are:

* Family of 4 (plus 2 dogs) moving to Stuttgart

* Advice for civilian moving to Stuttgart

* Family of 4 and a dog moving to Stuttgart

* Where to rent a house in Stuttgart

* Stuttgart realtors/housing - best approach

* Moving from Florida to Stuttgart

* IT contractor living and working in Stuttgart

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Posted

Your rent and utilities will most likely be covered by entitlements. As your husband is a civil servant he is in all likelihood entitled to Living Quarters Allowance (LQA) and Post Allowance (PA). His hiring authority will require him to fill out paper work to determine eligibility but as long as he has been in CONUS (continental US) for 2-years and the job announcement included it then he should have no problem qualifying for it. LQA pays for your rent, utilities & trash (in large part it pays for these items -just not 100%). Post Allowance (PA) is designed to offset the cost of the increased cost of living here. Amounts for both are adjusted by the Dept of State for everyone. LQA and PA are nontaxable entitlements and not reported to the IRS (but they show up on your LES as nontaxable amounts). Your LQA will easily cover the rent for anything other than a small mansion.

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As you said your husband is working at Panzer get your hotel booked on Panzer (Panzer hotel) as most everything is there. The other hotel is at Kelley (home of AFRICOM).

Ship your car as soon as you have orders and use a rental car in the US. Rental cars are expensive in Europe (and not reimbursable expense) and it really, really, really, really stinks to be w/o a car and trying to visit houses for rent (or going place). Germany has excellent mass transit but as American we love our cars…and you have a family w/small kids so I’m guessing a car is indispensable. Ensure your car is up to date on all of its maintenance and repairs and has good tires. If it breaks you’ll be ordering parts (and waiting for them) from the US while the car sits in the lot broken. Might want to buy a used 2nd hand car when you get here (unless your husband is taking the kids to work…).

In-processing: Get day care and attend it if at all possible >>ESPECIALLY the hospital tour and the Army Communities of Service (ACS) briefing. If you’re not normally a Dept of the Army Civilian don’t worry about this being an Army Garrison. It may say Army in the title but they serve everyone (USAF, USN, USMC, USA, USCG, DOD, etc…).

Reserve hotel as soon as you have orders.

Ship car as soon as you have orders and use a rental in the US.

Speak up if you have pets as TT folks can offer you sound advice in this area.

Speak up if your husband is retired mil or not (affects health care).

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Posted

not sure what's available in Stuttgart, but a few US-friendly hoteliers here can provide a car with the room and still stay under the per diem housing allowance.

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Posted

I manage without a car since we're not affiliated with the military or contractors and don't get that great gas discount or other subsidies. We just live like other German families that don't have multiple vehicles. The public transportation accessibility depends a lot on where you live. Make sure to ask your realtor or contact office about it before you rent a place. The bike with the trailer is a good idea, depending where you live. Hauling several kids uphill might not be possible, so be sure to check out the terrain ahead of time. Also keep in mind that being close to a bakery and grocery store is very helpful as well.

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Posted

A hotel off-base will likely require a non-availability statement (NAS) before they'll pay for it -in high PCS season it's common to get them.

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German bus service only gets you close to the base gate, they are not allowed on-post. There is base bus service from base to base run by the Gov but they do not pick up at the gate.

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Points I forgot to mention:

1. All GS get military commissary & exchange privileges and a standard gasoline ration of 400L per car/month at slightly above US prices (it beats paying EU prices -it's x2 cost). You will be issued an Esso card good at any Exchange gas station in Germany or any Esso station in Germany (the exchange manages the transaction and billing).

2. Your car will be issued German plates by the US Vehicle Registration office. Your car must pass a vehicle inspection –this is NOT A US state inspection, it’ll be more thorough; be sure your car is in sound mechanical condition prior to shipping. Download the driver’s manual (see link below) and study it now as you’ll need to take a written test to get your USAREUR drivers license (it’s easy but with kids, and hotel, and new job, and new place, etc… you’ll have no time so study before you come and have less stress later. To drive your car here you’ll need a , USAREUR lic. Be sure you have an unexpired US Driver’s lic. (hubby too).

3. Privileges are based on the SOFA. Status of Forces Agreement: a SOFA stamp will be put in your tourist passport and in your husband’s Official Passport (which if he does not have he will get). As a spouse you do not get an Official passport.

4. Buy a GPS with EU maps (and EU & German speed/safety cameras).

5. You will get an Overseas dependent military ID card (gets you on-base and shows your privileges).

6. Your sponsor will arrange for you to have an on base post office box prior to your move here –it the equivalent of a US PO Box and it’s free; it will function as a US address. They are APO AE addresses (Army Post Office Armed Forces Europe). Note on mail, mailing times are extended as compared to the US as the USPS only picks up and delivers to the Army in NY. From NY to EU it is handled by the Army (at no extra cost, but it’ll take a little longer to get here/there). No FedEdx or UPS service --just USPS.

USAG Stuttgart http://www.stuttgart.army.mil/

Relocation Assistance http://www.stuttgart.army.mil/Home/in-out%20processing.html

Fuel Prices: http://www.afneurope.net/GasPrices/tabid/87/Default.aspx

USAREUR Vehicle Reg http://www.hqusareur.army.mil/rmv/basic_pov_information.htm

Base Newspaper (Citizen) http://www.stuttgart.army.mil/News/Citizen.html

Stuttgart Family & Moral Welfare & Recreation (FMWR) http://www.stuttgartmwr.com/

USAREUR = US Army in Europe

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Posted

If you are on Facebook, consider joining The Stuttgart Friends page A mine of information about living in the Stuttgart Military community. They can help answer questions about everything from housing to local customs, schools, shopping etc...

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Posted

Thanks for all of the links and info! This is really helpful. My husband isn't retired military and we don't have pets. As soon as the funding gets approved he should get his orders and we will ship our van. It would be way to hard to go anywhere with our 3 kids without it. I've seen some things on different threads about insurance. Do we need to get German car insurance as well as renters? How does that work? Will we keep our same health insurance since my husband is already a GS employee here in the states? As far as passports go, do any of you know if my kids all need passports? Is there some age requirment or do they all get them no matter how old? Thanks for info on driving. I've been a little worried about that.

This might be a weird question, but what kind of furniture should we ship? Beds? Couches? etc... or should we just get things when we get there. I know we aren't supposed to ship big things, but I'm worried about the expense of buying everything new when we get there. Is there anything you wish you had brought and didn't or vis-versa?

Is there anything about traveling between countries I should be aware of? I have sister-in-law in England, so we will probably travel every once in a while.

On post do we use dollars or Euros? Can we just use our regular debit card on the economy?

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Thanks for all of the links and info! This is really helpful. My husband isn't retired military and we don't have pets. As soon as the funding gets approved he should get his orders and we will ship our van. It would be way to hard to go anywhere with our 3 kids without it. I've seen some things on different threads about insurance. Do we need to get German car insurance as well as renters? How does that work? Will we keep our same health insurance since my husband is already a GS employee here in the states? As far as passports go, do any of you know if my kids all need passports? Is there some age requirment or do they all get them no matter how old? Thanks for info on driving. I've been a little worried about that.

This might be a weird question, but what kind of furniture should we ship? Beds? Couches? etc... or should we just get things when we get there. I know we aren't supposed to ship big things, but I'm worried about the expense of buying everything new when we get there. Is there anything you wish you had brought and didn't or vis-versa?

Is there anything about traveling between countries I should be aware of? I have sister-in-law in England, so we will probably travel every once in a while.

On post do we use dollars or Euros? Can we just use our regular debit card on the economy?

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This blog may be a good source of information for you: http://lifelessonsmilitarywife.com/

The family was first posted to Germany, then Belgium and now again Germany.

If you want to read it chronologically, it starts here: http://lifelessonsmilitarywife.com/?paged=78

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car insurance - yes, mirascon will probably be the cheapest

renter's insurance - recommended but not required. Also legal and liability insurance are often recommended.

health insurance - dunno

passports - !!! drop what you're doing and get them now! Yes, kids too!

furniture - bring your beds and couch - some people like the german stuff, some don't. A lot of American-sized bedroom sets may, or may not, fit in a typical german house so if you have larger stuff you might want to consider leaving it behind.

some countries require breathalyzer kits, some require carrying spare bulbs, almost all require first-aid kits, safety triangle and safety vests. Many countries require toll stickers (vignettes) - they're sort of a badge of honor for people when they return to the US (how many cars in the US have Swiss toll stickers on their windshields?). You should keep your passports with you when traveling, though you'll seldom be asked to show them. In addition to the USAREUR license (valid only in Germany), you should probably get an IDL too.

dollars on base, euro with a few vendors (incl. BK)

US debit card - only good on base. "on the economy" is a term best avoided when talking to folks not associated with the military, although a few will know what you're talking about most won't

Enjoy the adventure and don't be afraid of the Germans, they're generally very nice people. I have yet to run into a grumpy one or endure any malice when I ask them (politely in german) if they speak english. Of course learning german will likely make your life here easier and more enjoyable, but it's certainly not mandatory.

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I visited the Child Development Center at Patch recently. Basically, if you are looking at child care (in my case under 3 years old), they base the monthly fee on income. I think the most they charge regardless of income is around $600 / month. My wife was mainly talking, so I wasn't paying much attention. But I think this fee is for daily care. They also have hourly options for their members. I believe it is $4 / hour.

If you are considering this option, make sure that all your kids' vaccinations are up-to-date. You may want to call them in advance and ask for immunization requirements. My kid had to get a Hep A shot before they can process the application.

http://www.stuttgartmwr.com/cys/cdc/

In terms of things to do for kids, there are plenty of English playgroups available. If you have Facebook, there's an active group called Stuttgart Moms. You may find additional playgroups and activities on there.

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FEHB: yes you’ll keep it. Generally you pay upfront and then claim reimbursement from FEHB. 1000’s of GS here use it, have been for decades. You can be seen at the military clinic on a space available basis –they will bill you. Otherwise you see a doctor on the economy (German health care is very good). Hospitals: only German hospitals here in Stuttgart (again, health care here is very good). (In-processing will cover hospitals including the children’s ER -don't miss it!).

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Bank Account: Recommend opening an account with the local Credit Union here (Service Credit Union/SCU) (either that or the DoD Bank, but the credit union is better). SCU allows you to pays your local bills online and in Euros.

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Posted

I'm in a similar situation except our kids are in college, and I'm not a mom either.

However, we are moving to Stuttgart this spring - finally got my orders :D

My question is, there is the best place to stay while looking for a rental on the economy?

I'm digging the location of the Pullman Stuttgart Fontana - is this a good place to set-up as temp quarters? We'll be working on Patch.

Thx

-N8

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Yes it's pretty central to everything, you can take a bus to Patch or walk (about 15 mins) and it's located right beside the train station and about 15 minutes from the centre of Stuttgart. Not sure if the price of a room would exceed your daily allowance, you'd have to check on that as it's quite pricy there.

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