Whether it's your first PCS or your eighth, it doesn't make it less stressful. Even if you're using military movers, you want to be sure that you can find everything when you reach your new destination--and you know the importance of unpacking and having your household up and running as soon as possible. By preparing an inventory system in the days and weeks leading up to your move, you can help make the entire moving process smoother.
System 1: A Paper and Folder System
For many traditionalists, this is the easiest way to keep track of your possessions. It may help to start from an existing checklist. Make sure to take pictures of expensive furniture, antiques, or other valuable items as you go so that if they're damaged during the moving process, you'll have proof of their original condition. Keep copies of pictures in the folder with your lists. While you're taking inventory, be sure to set aside any items that you would prefer to move yourself to ensure their safety.
If you prefer to take inventory without using the worksheets, try to organize and label your inventory in a logical way. You can choose to do it by room, by type of item (furniture, jewelry, small appliances), or in another way that makes sense to you. It's best, however, to label each inventory sheet clearly to make it easier to check off all those important items again when you reach your destination.
PCS time is also an excellent time to sort out all the clutter and other items that you don't use anymore. Take the time to get rid of possessions that are worn out, never used, or not useful for some other reason. Do you really need two bread machines? What about your extensive cookware collection? Now is the time to get rid of the items you don't use on a regular basis. Just remember, if you remove it from your home now, you don't have to unpack it later!
There's An App for That
There are plenty of apps that make life easier for military families, but nothing is quite so convenient for a PCS than moving apps. Sortly, for example, is an excellent home inventory system that divides inventory by rooms or by boxes. MoveMatch will store your inventory by box as well as letting movers know which room those important boxes should go in. Moving Van, on the other hand, doesn't just make an exact list of each box's contents. It also lets you search by item so that when you arrive at your new home, you can quickly determine which box has the critical item you're missing.
The downside to a digital inventory, of course, is that most of these apps don't allow space for comprehensive pictures of their items. Make sure that you're taking those pictures. Storing them on your smart phone or on a flash drive will make them easily accessible when you need them.
A Little of Both
Some people prefer to use pen and paper for all of their important moving information. Others prefer a digital solution. Here's the good news: you don't have to pick just one! You might, for example, keep a paper inventory of your goods, but store pictures of your furniture and other valuables on your smart phone. You could also choose to take a picture or scan in a copy of your paper inventory so that you'll have a digital backup just in case something happens during the move.
It's also useful to keep a digital copy of any important papers and other documents. While you'll need the real, paper copies for most important activities — enrolling the kids in school, for example — having that digital copy could come in handy if you need social security numbers, information from a birth certificate, or other information in a hurry and can't find your emergency binder or folder. A copy of your insurance card will work just as well as the real thing if you happen to need it while you're on the road!
When you have a clear, comprehensive household inventory, it becomes easier than ever to keep up with important items. You'll be able to easily determine where things have been packed, where they need to be, and whether or not anything is missing. This organization is a critical part of streamlining your PCS for yourself and your family.
Relobase is veteran-owned and operated out of Pasadena, CA and is dedicated to helping our military personnel and families reduce the financial, emotional, and professional burdens of military relocation. Relobase has leveraged over 1,000 conducted or supervised PCS’s combined experience, military networks, and complex business solutions to develop the Relobase technology, which is currently deployed to more than 100 military bases nationwide.