Moving to a European country adds some complication when deciding what to bring with you on your PCS. Here are some guidelines. Of course, if you’re not sure, bring it with.
Things to Bring
Bed frames/Matresses/Sheets – German bed sizes are different from American sizes and AAFES selection for these items is limited. Size of items can also limit what you buy online.
Lamps – Your 110V American lamps can work over here with the addition of a plug adapter and a new 220V light bulb.
Duel Voltage Items – Check your TV, desktop computer, printer and other big ticket items for the text”100-240V and 50-60Hz”. Items may have a switch on the back to change voltages or the power cord might have a transformer box connected that allows you to use the item on European power. You may also be able to buy a new compatible power cord for some items, like a Wii. If your item is not duel voltage, you can still use it with a transformer, but it’s better to limit transformer use if you can.
Lawn mower/Yard tools – Most Europeans use electric lawn mowers, so if you have a good gas mower, bring it with.
Rugs – Most houses here are wood or tile flooring throughout. Carpet is rare. You can buy rugs here too if needed.
Grill – Grills can be expensive in Germany. If you already have one, bring it with. You can buy propane at several locations in the area.
All-Season Tires – Germany requires that cars have winter or all-season tires during winter weather. If you have summer tires, you will have to change to winter tires and back every year. Buying and installing will be cheaper in the States.
GSM Cell Phone – If your phone is GSM compatible, you should be able to get it unlocked by your current cell phone company or another service. You can then just switch to a new SIM card when you choose your new phone plan.
Specialty Food Items – Your favorite nonperishable rubs, spices, and sauces that you probably can’t get over here.
Things to Leave
110V Microwave/Toaster/Coffee Pot – It is better to buy 220V kitchen items that you use regularly. Transformers suck up the maximum wattage they are rated for while they are on, plus they take up valuable counter space. You can buy these items second hand for cheap or at a local store easily. If you’re not sure if you’ll use the item often, you can bring these items along and replace with 220 as needed.
Those Boxes in the Attic – The ones you haven’t seen since you moved into your last house. While most German houses in this area are big enough to store those items, don’t waste space and PCS weight on things you haven’t looked at in 3 years if you can avoid it.
Washer/Dryer – You will be issued a European washer and dryer to use for the duration of your tour. You also get an American sized fridge, a closet sized wardrobe (1 per family member plus 1 extra for uniforms), and a kitchen cabinet/microwave shelf.
Plug-in Clocks – 110 clocks will run slow on European voltage.
Things to Bring on the Plane or Mail to Yourself
You can sign up for your APO Box 30 days prior to your PCS date. Your sponsor will need a copy of your orders to set this up.
Sheets/Towels/Pillows/Blankets – To use between moving out of temporary housing and receiving your household goods (HHG) shipment. You can get loaner furniture for this in-between time instead of using inflatable mattresses, but they don’t provide sheets.
Toys for the Kids – I think this is self explanatory.
Important Documents – Keep them on your person during the PCS. It’s good to have a digital back up copy too.
Clothes for the German Weather – The temperature in this area can vary widely. Check online weather sites prior to your arrival and pack accordingly. If you’re coming in the summer, it is still wise to pack a sweater or fleece, just in case. Raincoats are nice to have on drizzly days too.