For those beginning the PCS process, I have created a page about our move here. Check out PCSGeilenkirchen.wordpress.com for even more info!
When you arrive your sponsor will take you to base and help your family get settled and checked in. You will get ID cards and licensing and much more.
Here is some of our experience:
Licensing – You will need to study prior to your test. This isn’t the worlds easiest test, but it is very easy if you take some time to read the booklet they provide you or if you study online.
If you or your spouse has a CAC card, you can take the drivers license test online BEFORE you PCS. The scores are good for at least 30 days, so take the test, print out your scores and don’t loose it in the move. Once you’re at GK, you just watch the mandatory videos, give the personnel your test scores, fill out some paperwork and you’re done!
After the test, you’ll get a paper temporary license and then your permanent one will come in the mail in about thirty days. There is no photo on it so no worries about a crazy hair day!
If you think you have a ticket coming (aka you got flashed while speeding), the below has some info on fines and such. NOTE: Any points on your license related to speeding are placed on license for the person who registered the car, regardless of who’s in the picture. You can identify the person the points should go towards after you receive it. This will hopefully keep anyone from having their license taken for 30 days or more.
Furniture: You can borrow furniture until your household goods arrive. Also, you can get closets (wardrobes or shranks as the German’s call them), a washing machine, dryer, dishwasher and a fridge (if you need them) for the entire time you are stationed here. The supply office is located at Schinnen and your sponsor should be able to get you over there to set everything up.
AFN: The military member is eligible to go to Supply and have an AFN box issued. This will be no cost to you and they do have the satellites and cables available as well. If you need professional installation, that does come out of your pocket unless you somehow convince your landlord to pay for it!
Postal: http://www.oconus.com/ZipCodes.asp This website lists items that can/cannot be mailed. The zip here is 09104.
Buying second hand items: Some things (transformers are one), are expensive new. You can save a bundle buying second hand items. There are many resources for this.
1) GKswap.org – great place to find all kinds of things from cars, fans, transformers, furniture, etc.
2) Park and Sell – Spring through Fall, you can drive on base during the park and sell and you will find people selling their items. Usually these people are PCSing. Toys, clothes, books, movies, transformers, small kitchen appliances. All kinds of things! It is held on the second Saturday of each month at 10am in the dental clinic’s parking lot on GK. For more info see our posts under Shopping>Used Items.
3) American Womans’ club thrift store. This is in U.S. dollars and is located across from Schinnen’s bowling alley. They do have strange opening hours depending on if they can find volunteers. Usually though, they are open Thur/Fri from 11-3ish. Stop by and see if there is a sign on when they will be open next. Everything you can imagine is sold here. I bought a 220v crockpot for about 10 bucks and it was in the original box and looked completely unused.
If you’d like to consign items, call first for an appointment (0031-46-443-7436). If you can’t reach them on the phone, then email firstname.lastname@example.org. All proceeds go to support the Tri-Border community
4) Several other resources are available on Facebook. I’ve listed them here.
Savings on utilities: It is possible to save VAT (value added tax) on some goods and services. You can find an explanation of the VAT form and their uses here. Please note that there are German and Dutch VAT forms. You have to use the one corresponding to the country the business is in.