If you have not read Andi's post "my first move," you should do so because she has a funny story to share and some great advice about moving (PCSing). I write this post to give you a bit of advice so you don't make the same agonizing mistake I did on our PCS this summer...
Note to self (and anyone reading this): Find a place to live BEFORE you move!!!
I consider myself a somewhat "seasoned" milspouse and I thought I was getting pretty good at the PCS thing. Well, I was wrong! We PCSed for the 4th time in May. I thought I was going to make this one easy (easier) because I was getting organized (or so I thought) so far in advance. BUT, much to my dismay, this crazy thing we call life prevented us from traveling to our new duty station prior to the move. No biggie... my husband and I have lived there before and we have friends in the area we can stay with until we get a place. So what if we have two kids who bounce off walls because they are only six and three years old! We can handle it, right? Can you say, "What the heck were we thinking!!! Are we crazy? Do we really need to add more stress to an already stressful event?!?!?"
Long story short, we are now stationed in an area that is not near a military post (i.e. no post housing). Prior to moving, I logged onto USAA.com and found some great PCS checklists and other PCS related info. (I suggest you check it out if you are PCSing in the near future.) I also found that USAA has a program called "Mover's Advantage." This program links you with a realtor where your are PCSing and you have a connection to the housing available at your new duty station. Point: use this program if you are thinking about buying a house when you PCS. Mover's Advantage has other "perks" if you buy a house from the realtor they assign to you.
Here's a "picture" of what our last PCS move was like:12 May - Say good-bye to our friends, pick up son from school, start driving. Get into St. Louis (we PCSed from Fort Riley, KS) LATE at night, unpack kids (and three cats), watch kids bounce off walls for an hour before calming down, go to sleep (about 2am).13 May - Get up early (gotta love kids), pack kids and cats back up, start driving. Get to my mom's around dinner time (I think), unpack kids, meet with my brother to take cats to a kennel, watch kids bouce off walls for a few hours, go to sleep.14 May - Mother's Day. Stay at my mom's and try to enjoy some down time while watching my kids bouce off walls in her apartment, send kids to my brother's for a few hours (while I take a badly needed nap), eat dinner with my family, go to bed (late).15 May - ..... drive most of the day and finally arrive at next duty station (about 1am), unpack kids and cats, try to get kids to finally stop bouncing off walls, go to sleep (late).16 May - blah, blah, blah... meet with realtor, check out one house (no thanks), try to entertain kids because it is raining and cold and we can't take them to a park.17 May - House hunting day!!! Drive all over the place, look at about 12+ houses (WITH kids in tow - they were soooooo cranky, as was I), .....decide on a house, call the realtor, make an offer, wait..... while kids bounce off walls (still rainy and cold).
Without boring you to death, we got the house we wanted and then chased our tails trying to find out where we could get someone to close on the house ASAP. NOTE: Get pre-approved for a loan before you move if you plan to buy a house - that is the one thing I can say I did do well on this PCS! The best we could get was 3 weeks (until closing). So, we packed up the kids, put the cats in the kennel, and drove to NC to stay with my husband's mom, sister and her family. Another looong day in the freakin' car!!!!! We stayed at my mother-in-law's for about 10 days, left the kids with her, hubby and I drove back to PA and stayed with a friend until we closed on the house (hubby had to report to work prior to closing). We eventually closed on the house and moved in (all in the same day, actually). The kids rejoined us about a week later and the rest is history.
I say all that to say this.... find a place to live BEFORE you move, get pre-approved for a loan if you plan to buy, and use Mover's Advantage through USAA (and don't forget to print off the checklists that USAA provides).