Presented by Armed Forces Insurance

You’re PCSing. Now What?

couple with moving boxes in kitchen

Disclosure: This is a sponsored article on behalf of Armed Forces Insurance.

Whether this is your first or fifth Permanent Change of Station (PCS) military move, it always comes with unique challenges. One way to alleviate some of the stress of a PCS is to be prepared and organized for the move.

The more research you can do in advance about your next military duty station, the better. Some of the most exciting yet scary parts about PCSing to a new location are finding a place to live, schools for the kids, possibly a new job, doctors, dentist, vet clinic and fun things to do in the area. The list goes on and on. The more you research in advance and stay organized along the way the more prepared you will feel about your next move.

“Where are we going to live?”

This question is critical because not only are you deciding where to live but you will need to consider several things, including schools in the area if you have children, commute times, and cost of living.

First you will need to ask yourself these questions: Do we want to live on-base or off-base? Do we want to rent or buy? Once you make these determinations, there are several resources to help pinpoint your specific zip code.

Choosing to live in military housing is pretty simple because your options are laid out for you. Military Base Housing often comes with a waitlist of anywhere from one month to one year. It is important to get your family on that waiting list ASAP if that is the route you want to go. You may also have to find another place to live until military housing becomes available. If you do need to find another place to live while waiting for base housing to open up, make sure the place you rent has a "military clause" that will allow you to break the lease or find a place to rent month to month. You may also consider an extended-stay hotel if you have a short wait for base housing.

Here are some of the privatized military housing websites around the country:

  • Lincoln Military Housing
  • Balfour Beatty
  • Corvias
  • WinnResidential Military Housing Services
  • HUNT Military Communities

If you plan to live off-base, definitely secure the help of a professional Realtor who specializes in military relocation. A Realtor can only call himself a “Military Relocation Specialist” if he has been certified as such through specific training and testing. He will understand the unique challenges of military life and will be able to help answer all of your questions about where to live, best schools, proximity to the base, etc.

Military Relocation Specialists are the experts and know the area well, saving you time in your research efforts. You will also need to consider the Basic Allowance for Housing (BAH) in determining how much you want to spend. The PCSgrades website is a great house hunting resource that provides reviews on different Realtors and neighborhoods near military bases around the country.

Whether you plan to buy or rent, a move requires you to reevaluate and update your insurance policies. Each state and each home has unique needs when it comes to insurance. There will be new coverages to consider and new policies per state.

Related: Learn about Armed Forces Insurance (AFI) offerings for military families here.

“What do I do with all of this paper?”

As you begin to gather information about your new area, you’ll need a place to keep it all. You’ll also need to keep personal information and military orders at the ready. Many military families swear by having a PCS Binder. There are some fantastic free, printable checklists available online to keep you organized and on track before, during and after a PCS. Carry this binder with you everywhere during your move to ensure that you have the information you need and that it remains secure. Keep these items in your PCS Binder:

  • Your family’s personal information – birth certificates, powers of attorney, wills, passports, car titles, housing information, and multiple copies of PCS orders.
  • Personal property inventory – Document as many of your personal belongings as possible. For high value items, take a photograph or video and include the estimated value, identification numbers, make and model, etc.

“The movers are coming!”

Once you have prepared as much as possible for your new duty station, enjoy your remaining days at your current one. Do the best you can to pick a day or two before your move to either enjoy a fun family day doing your favorite activities, checking off your final bucket list items, or enjoying a BBQ with all the friends you have made.

It is never easy to say goodbye especially if it was a wonderful duty station filled with great friends and memories. Enjoy these last days at your current military duty station as you close one chapter and prepare to move on to the next.

“We’re here!”

You have arrived at your new military duty station. It always takes a while to adjust to your new surroundings. The best way to acclimate to your new town is to get involved in the community. Of course having a family with kids in school always helps. You often meet many new families through school and sports. You can also get involved at your new base by joining spouse groups, volunteering with a local organization, and reaching out via social media.

“How can I find a job?”

If you are a military spouse looking for a job in your new military duty station, a lot will depend on your profession in terms of how and where you will job search. There are several resources to assist you in your employment research, including many job search sites that are military friendly.

There are multiple moving parts before, during and after a PCS, but that doesn’t mean it’s an impossible endeavor. With these tips and the experience you gain along the way, each PCS could be a bigger success than the last.

Sponsored: AFI is in the business of keeping military families safe. To learn more about AFI’s services and commitment to the military community, please click here.

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