Call him the Rambo of corporate nomads. Stan Sutliff, of St. Louis, has moved a half-dozen times in the past dozen years and the chemist-turned-manager is proud to share his combat-tested survival tactics, such as this one for getting an easy-to-remember telephone number:

"This is awful, but I call the phone company and tell them I have a learning-disabled son and I need a simple number," said Sutliff, whose current phone number ends in 1234.

Although such tactics may ease the burden for former Howard County resident Sutliff, the veteran corporate movers who once dutifully packed up when told to are now burdened by a host of new pressures and are wearying of the relocation routine, according to therapists, real estate agents, relocation counselors, economists and corporate recruiters.

The good corporate soldier of the 1960s is beginning to balk.

The volume of corporate transfers has leveled off, according to the Washington-based Employee Relocation Council, which tracks 302 member companies. Some economists have even predicted that relocation activity in the area may decline, as the region's baby boomers age and seek a more stable lifestyle.

"I've worked with some families who seemed to be good at moving, took it in stride, but on the fourth or fifth move, one spouse or the other breaks down and says, 'That's it. I just can't do it anymore,' " said Susan Jacobson, a Columbia therapist. "They crack."

Costs are a major deterrent; pricey areas like the Washington-Baltimore region are especially jolting.

Even more vexing, relocatees often have working spouses, with career needs as complex as theirs.

Sometimes, now, the "trailing spouse" is the husband. These pressures, together with the inherent loneliness and disorientation of moving, take a toll.

Meg Durso, for instance, seemed almost embarrassed the other day to admit to a bit of depression. Last month, she and her husband, Michael, moved to Laurel from the Philadelphia area for the best of reasons -- Michael was promoted to a job at International Business Machines Corp.'s Bethesda office.

They have a nice new house -- their third in the past four years -- with cathedral ceilings in a subdivision where the freshly tarred cul-de-sacs have names such as Winner's Circle Way.

So what was wrong?

"I wave to everybody, and they look at me like I have three heads," said Meg Durso, 25. "I know I should have a more positive attitude, but I've walked around the neighborhood and said, 'Hi, welcome, I'm new here, too' and they look at me like, 'Who cares?' "

Some are no longer even surprised by their post-move fits of depression, such as Kathryn Brown, of Fairfax, who in the past five years has been in Utah and Michigan as well as Virginia.

"It seems every time we move, it takes me six months to get over the blues," said Brown, who is working part time.

"I have the thought, when we're wallpapering and painting, 'Oh, I hope we're not just doing this again so we can move," said Brown, who has two young children.

Many of those who do move are demanding that employers assist their spouses or partners in job searches. They also are asking for increasingly expensive relocation benefit packages covering: real estate fees, closing costs, house hunting trips, temporary living costs and even mortgage assistance. According to the council, the average cost of such packages in 1989 was $38,600.

Such benefits can sometimes help with the serious "sticker shock" that hits many relocating to the Washington-Baltimore area.

"In order to have an acre, you've got to be a millionaire," complained Michael Durso, 33, who looked in Montgomery and Prince George's counties before settling in Howard.

Brown described much more severe stress when she and her husband, a lawyer and government consultant, moved from Salt Lake City to a small Michigan town for his last job. "That was horrible, the housing market was falling apart, we lost hoards of money," Brown said.

Real estate agents witness the exact moment when the grim truth sinks in for first-time house hunters from, say, Texas or Louisiana.

"We cut them right off at the ankles," said Jan Yanero, of the O'Connor, Piper & Flynn real estate firm. "They just can't seem to grasp it."

After a few moves, however, many acquire a wisdom about home purchases: Sever all attachments. Good resale value is everything.

"The last house, I went with a mauve carpet on the staircase, the hallway and the living room," said Durso, "and it was a real problem."

The veteran movers, one real estate agent observed, "always stick with earth tones, inside and out."

At least, when choosing a home on such objective criteria, the decision happens fast. Michael Carliner, an economist with the National Association of Homebuilders, said veteran movers tend to purchase their homes quickly, sometimes without one spouse even seeing the place.

"I've seen it several times where the guy is going around {the house} videotaping," Sutliff recalled. "Then he fed-exes the tape to the wife."

It's the kind of idea Sutliff would like to have had himself. To discuss moving with him is to plunge into an awesome level of mind-boggling detail.

"There's new driver's licenses to get, credit cards and you've got to find decent doctors, decent dentists, places to get the carpets and curtains steam-cleaned, somebody to make up a new will. . . . "

A new will?

". . . Every state has different ways they want you to write them," said Sutliff, 43, the manager of business research for Monsanto.

Sutliff even finds positive aspects to his frequent moves, like having a pocketful of business cards from previous employers.

"When I travel I can get discounts from Avis because some of my old companies had corporate employee discounts," Sutliff said. "I keep three old business cards in my wallet at all times."

Since the late 1970s, Sutliff and his family have moved from Indiana to Chicago to Detroit to Midland, Mich., to Howard County to St. Louis, where he now lives. Sticking, as he does, to what he calls "a standard executive house," he has occasionally forgotten which one he's in.

"It wasn't surprising," he said. "In Chicago, our address was Kingsbury Drive, amd in Midland, it was Kingsbury Court."

Being inside doesn't always help.

"Where did I put the wooden salad bowls?" Sutliff said he found himself once saying after moving in. "I know where I put them in Baltimore but where are they in St. Louis?"

"The wife" as dutiful follower is a stereotype still rooted in reality, according to statistics, but it's a role that's changing.

"One bad thing, the woman has to sacrifice -- put that in the paper," Meg Durso said, several weeks ago. Since then, she has found a position in Rockville as a personnel counselor and said she is content with the job.

Brown remains more bitter. A school psychologist, she has had to obtain professional certification in every new state. Moving, she said, "is like starting all over again for me."

Newcomers often must deal with those career stresses at a time when they have no friends, nearby family or other support systems. Some frequent movers said they simply learn to make friends quickly. But they acknowledged that transience taxes their social lives and their children's.

"Within the time I was with Dow, my children had three sets of best friends who moved out of Midland," Sutliff said. "We've had people who say we don't want to establish a strong relationship with you, because you work for Dow.

"My daughter just completed the seventh grade and she has been in four different school systems," said Sutliff, who says his migrating days are over.

For now, the Dursos are upbeat about their new neighborhood, hoping that when the rest of the street is occupied and when they begin to have children, they'll find friends. Michael Durso still smiles when he repeats International Business Machines Corp.'s in-house nickname -- "I've Been Moved" -- and says the couple could move again in four or five years.

Meg Durso, hearing this, does not smile.