What You Can Do Now to Prepare for a PCS Move Later


Post from MilitaryByOwner

PCS moves can feel chaotic, like everything happens all at once with little to no control over what’s going on around us (which is partially true!). Short-notice moves, in particular, leave little room for us to be anything but reactionary.

But not all moves are fast-paced. Some allow months to plan. So when we have the extra time on our hands, whether we bargained for it or not, we have the perfect opportunity to prepare ourselves for the mad dash that is to come.

1) Start making PCS checklists

Type A people have already done this. I know, because I am one. We have lists for our lists. Feel free to judge all you want, but it makes us happy -- end of story. Lists might not be everyone’s forte, but they can be a useful tool when planning your move, especially when it's too early in the process to physically move stuff around, your move is on hold...or there’s a global pandemic.

  • The “unaccompanied goods” list. If you have two shipments to plan for, make a list of which stuff you can live without right now and what you want to be at your next duty when you get there. It might help you decide by determining which things you can live without the longest.
  • The “stuff I’m taking with me” list. Without fail, it seems that something that’s not supposed to go with the movers somehow gets packed up and shipped off with them, doesn’t it? If you’ve got the extra time, start thinking through what you plan to keep with you. Then, when the movers are a few days out, gather everything on the list and put in an empty closet, close the doors, and tape an X across it.
  • The “discontinue service” list. You can’t call and cancel your utilities today. But you can create a reminder to make sure that you don’t forget. Housing, schools, electric, gas, internet, water, waste disposal are all businesses that need to know you’re moving. You don’t want to cancel service while you’re still in the house, so create a list with their information, so that when it’s time to make calls or cancel online, you can go down your list.

Note: Don’t forget to submit a change of address with USPS. Most bases will have a general delivery address you can use for forwarding mail until you have your next address. Or, you can submit a hold on your mail and forward it after you're established.

2) Purge your belongings

Short-notice movers don’t often get the opportunity to go through their stuff and toss the things they don’t need. If you have time while you're waiting for your move to roll into motion, go through all of your belongings. It’s surprising how many things we can accumulate and stuff into nooks and crannies in just a couple of years.

Create keep, toss, and donate piles where you can shed some extra weight before you make your next PCS move.

3) Budget for the unexpected

Every PCS move costs money, even when you let the military movers do the heavy lifting. The military offers a Temporary Lodging Allowance and per diem during a PCS move, but that doesn’t always hit your account on the front end. It’s a good idea to take a look at your expenses and figure out how much to plan to spend. Then set that amount aside now so that you’re not in trouble should the government allotment not come through in time. Budget for:

  • Lodging
  • Gas
  • Food
  • Rent and security deposit if you plan to rent at your next duty station.

Don’t forget to account for the cost of eating out after the movers come and you’re camping out in an empty house.

If you’re doing a do it yourself (DITY) move, then the budget gets a little more complicated. You have a few more things to factor and can expect to spend more money out-of-pocket upfront on:

  • A moving truck (don’t be afraid to quote moving truck companies to one another to negotiate a lower rate)
  • Moving supplies
  • Rent and security deposit if you plan to rent at your next duty station
  • Gas (substantially more expensive for moving truck than a car)
  • Food

4) Prep for movers

I’ll be the first to admit it, the second you start taking personal things down from the walls, the less it feels like home, and the harder it is to relax. Many would prefer to wait to pull down pictures, curtains, and decor throughout the house to avoid the transient phase that leaves us feeling unsettled. But acting now creates more time for you to do the tedious tasks like repairing holes in the wall and repainting (if you need to) before the movers come and the rush to get to your next duty station begins.

And if you’re a homeowner prepping your home to sell, you need all the time you can get to polish the house top to bottom!

Another great thing to do in preparation for your PCS move? Find your next home. If you’re hoping to live on base at your next duty station, call ahead and get on the waitlist. And if you’re planning to live off base, start your research now. Find out the favorite neighborhoods and whether you want to buy or rent. And when you’re ready, hop on MilitaryByOwner to find the perfect space for you and your family!

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