Best PCS Tips For Military Families
Tips For Military Families Set to PCS
Summer means PCS season for military families. While you might not be moving this year, you probably know plenty of people who are, and your own PCS could be coming up soon too.
PCSing can be a stressful time. You have to move your home, your kids, your pets, and figure out how to start over somewhere else. The whole process can be exhausting so it is important that you stay organized when going through a PCS. Here are some of the best tips to help you PCS as a military family.
Before The Move
Declutter and Organize
Before you even move you will want to take the time to declutter and organize everything you own. You should go through things and get rid of what you don’t need. You also want to make sure you know what you own, where it belongs, and how important the items are to you. This will help once the movers come and pack up each of your rooms.
Saving money for a PCS is a must, even if you are doing a full military move. You will need to have that money for extras that come up such as extra food, hotel stays, and anything else that can come up. Save as much as you are able to, and then save some more. You won’t regret that.
Once you have official orders in hand, you know where you will be going and you can investigate your options. You will need to decide on where you will live, either on post or base or off. You might not have a choice, or the decision could be up to you. You might have to get on a waiting list to live on post or base or you might not have any off post or base options. This all depends on your location and where you will be moving to.
During a PCS you are going to need to have certain pieces of paper with you. Anything from your official orders, to marriage certificates to IDs for everyone in your family. You are going to need to make check-lists of what needs to be done, and you want to have all that information together in one spot. Your PCS binder doesn’t need to be super professional, but it needs to be something you can carry around with you, every step of the way.
During The Move
During the moving process, you are going to need to stay as organized as possible. Movers will come on certain days, the service member will need to do things on certain days, you will need to know exactly what you are supposed to be doing for the PCS every day. Some days you might only have one thing to do, others, 10. Make lists of everything you need to do and when you need to do it by.
Plan For The Movers
If the military is going to move you, plan for the days they will come. In a lot of cases, they will be at your home for two days, packing up everything and putting it in crates, and then their truck. If you have small children, it is probably a good idea to make plans for them to be somewhere else during the process. You should also make plans to feed the movers and provide them with bottled water. They will be appreciative and feeding the movers is common in the military community.
Know Where Your Valuables Are
There are household items that are very valuable to you. If you will be driving, you might consider bringing these with you in the car vs letting the movers pack them. That way, there is less of a chance of something happening to them. If you are traveling overseas, this can be more difficult and if something is not replaceable, storing the item stateside while you are overseas can be a good idea. Household items can get broken, or worse, stolen, and storing the item might be the best way to keep the item safe.
Plan Your DITY Move
If you don’t want the military to move you, you can do a DITY or what is now called, a PPM (Personally Procured Move) instead. With this type of move, the government will pay you 95% of what it would cost for them to move you. You will also receive certain travel allowances. Many people move this way to have more control over the move, and if you don’t spend the entire allowance, you can pocket the extra money. If you are moving overseas, you won’t be able to move yourself and must rely on the military movers to do so.
After You Get There
Decide Where To Live
If you haven’t already done so, you will need to decide where to live. In some cases, this means going out and looking at possible rentals, in others, it means waiting for a spot to open up in housing. Think about the pros and cons of living on or off post or base in your area and what would be best for your budget. If you receive BAH, you will want to stay below that when it comes to picking a place to live.
When it comes time to unpack, you will want to do so smartly. Try to get your unpacking all done in a timely manner, and decide the best place in your new home for each item. The sooner you get unpacked, the sooner your new home will actually feel like yours.
Get To Know Your New Area
Spend some time driving around your new area, getting to know where everything is. This is even more important if you are feeling down about the move or wish you never left your previous duty station. Your new duty station will have a lot to offer you and your family and getting out there is the best way to see what that is.
Give Yourself Time To Adjust
If you are not feeling the love right away, that is normal. There can be an adjustment period after you move. You will need time to unpack and settle in. Try not to judge your experience at your new duty station based on the first few weeks. In time, you will start to make friends, learn more about what there is to do in the area, and start to feel like this new place is home too.
PCSing can feel like one of the biggest chores you have to deal with as a military family, but PCSing can also bring you to new and interesting places and allow you to experience things you otherwise wouldn’t have been able to experience. Do what you can to stay calm, organized, and patient through the process and you should have a much better experience during your next PCS.
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- The Army Changes DLA Policies
- Preparation for an OCONUS Move
About the author
Julie Provost is a freelance writer, blogger, and owner of Soldier's Wife, Crazy Life, a support blog for military spouses. She lives in Tennessee with her National Guard husband and three boys.