Welcome to Stuttgart Germany
If you are moving to Stuttgart for the first time, there are bound to be MANY questions. This is especially true if you have a family and/or have never been stationed overseas. There are many things to think about and I don’t want you to get overwhelmed. That is why I created this blog post to get newbies like you ready for your adventure overseas. And yes, it will be an adventure and some things will frustrate you. But know that we’ve all been there and support you too. So where do you even begin? Let me share the top 7 things you can do now before you get orders and right after you get orders.
After accepting a job, but before you get orders you can:
Get a unit sponsor
This is the most valuable part of your transition. They can guide you through where you need to go, pick you up from the airport and help get you set up before you show up. If you don’t have one, then you can get started with Facebook groups below.
Facebook is a thing here
Add yourself to these Facebook groups now: Stuttgart Friends, Stuttgart Military Community, US Army Garrison Stuttgart, Stuttgart Area Events and Celebrations, Military Landlords, Families DO Travel, Stuttgart Friends All About Travel, Stuttgart Housing Preview, Moving to Stuttgart, Stuttgart Friends Buy and Sell, USAG Stuttgart – Panzer Resale/Buy Sell Trade Anything, and PCSing at SI Suites. There are many more but these are just a few to get you started. Start reading the posts and don’t ask your question unless you’ve exhausted all the posts and no one has asked the question in a few months. Believe me, your question has been answered unless it is very specific and unique.
If you have school aged kids and you want to send them on base for school, add Panther Parents (HS), Patch Middle School PTSA (MS), Stuttgart Elementary School PTA, Robinson Elementary 2020-2021 Parent Bulletin Board and Patch Elementary PTA. There are 3 elementary schools (Patch, Panzer and Robinson) and only 1 middle school and 1 high school. You can choose to take your kids to German schools in your town but there are pros and cons to each. I send my kids on base for several reasons:
- This was a tough enough transition, why add language to the transition?
- The teachers and administrators speak English
- Teachers are fantastic and actually care
- School buses go to most towns in the area
- High school has AP classes
- Elementary and middle school have after school clubs
- Before COVID, HS clubs mostly meet during school hours, but now meet online after school
- They follow US holiday schedule not German holidays
Almost each town has their own Facebook page too and is made up mostly of English speaking families with ties to the military: Schonaich Friends, Sindelfingen Friends (EN), Dettenhausen Friends, Steinenbronn Spouses, Vaihingen Friends, Holzgerlingen Friends (English speaking) are just a few.
Sign up for the Stuttgart Citizen online
Stuttgart Citizen is a great online resource about our military community. It is basically our local newspaper and has up to the minute stories about things that affect us PLUS translated German news that affects us too. Sign up so you can get the articles delivered to your email.
Get the Garrison app now
You will also also want to download the Stuttgart Citizen app so you can make appointments on base, check out hours of the BX and Commissary, food trucks available, and other services like library hours, MWR, hair salons, day care etc.
After getting orders, you or your sponsor should:
Get your PO Box
Getting a PO Box is important because you can start sending things there immediately and reroute mail from magazines, insurance companies, mortgage, banks etc. Each base has their own but the bigger one is on Patch. I would recommend picking the one you will work on or live closest to. Of course you won’t know where you live until AFTER you get here so you might as well pick the post office near your office location. That way you can check it during lunch time or after work.
However, there are certain things you CANNOT send via mail and here is the list. Make sure your friends and family don’t send you anything on this list either otherwise you could be subject to a German fine and/or the item will be removed from the box. Plus you also now have to fill out a USPS customs form electronically indicating what is in the box. If there is anything on the list that you need (prescriptions, favorite skin cream etc) bring it in your luggage.
Reserve a hotel room
If you can stay on Panzer Hotel, that might be the easiest place for you. it is located on Panzer and once you get out of quarantine, you can walk to the BX and food court. Panzer also hosts the Housing office, Drivers License test, CPAC for civilians, Army Community Service for translation services, furniture & kitchen rental, Passport office, UTAP and VAT office plus the Bowling Alley and Gym. These will be useful to you in the future.
During COVID times, meals have to be ordered and brought to your room. Once in quarantine, you cannot leave the room unless you have a dog and have to walk them. Otherwise, everyone stays inside for 2 full weeks. Again a sponsor is very helpful and can get you a reservation at the Panzer Hotel, SI Suites near Kelly or Marriott Sindelfingen. All 3 have meal service options and even Facebook groups to connect with others during that time.
Register your kids online at their schools
Once you have orders and you know you want to send your kids on base (contractors dependents are not automatically allowed and have to be put on a wait list), you can sign them up online. This is one part your sponsor cannot do for you. The schools here fall under DODEA and as stated above there are 3 elementary schools: Stuttgart Elementary (on Panzer), Patch Elementary (on Panzer temporarily until construction is completed for the new school on Patch) and Robinson Barracks Elementary (near downtown Stuttgart). Most people will not know where they are going to live until you come to Stuttgart. GS Civilians cannot get housing until they arrive and cannot live on base. Your best bet is to pick Stuttgart Elementary or Patch Elementary and you can always transfer once you know which town you will live in. The bus transportation office is located at Stuttgart High School and has a map based on bus routes to determine which school your child will attend. These maps are only available to pick up in person due to security reasons, so having your sponsor pick up one for you is invaluable.
There is one middle school on Patch called Patch Middle School and one high school on Panzer called Stuttgart High School. Contact info and registration can be found on the links. You can also find the weekly newsletters sent out to parents to keep them up to date on all the school activities. Keep in mind if you have school aged kids, you might want to live near the school they attend. If they have after school activities (or during school), you can easily reach them without taking 30+ minutes to reach them.
These are just the first few things to get you started and acclimated before you show up to the Stuttgart area. There are many checklists the working member will receive when they arrive in their new unit. A sponsor can be a great help but the Facebook pages are a tremendous and valuable resource.