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The PCS Budget

Where does one start when trying to budget for a PCS?  I'm sure that different people make different choices, but I like to start with researching the housing situation at our new duty station.

What is the on-post housing situation?  Do you want to live on post and, if so, how long is the wait list?  This first question has a great deal to do with starting a budget.  If you decide you want to live on post and the wait is fairly short, you have to decide how long you can afford to live in temporary quarters.  Then you can decide whether to wait for permanent quarters or to start looking off post.

If you have to (or decide to) look off post, you first need to know what your BAH will be so that you know what price range you need to be looking at.  When renting, you need to plan to pay the Security Deposit and any Pet Deposit/Fee required.  When buying, you need to find out what loan amount you are qualified for and then decide what you can afford to put down as earnest money, how much closing costs will be, and if necessary, how much a down payment will be.   

Aside from being the most expensive part of a move, I would say that finding housing is probably the most stressful part of a PCS, also.  Even after finding a place to live you may still need to be concerned with your budget.  Do you have adequate storage in your new home or will you need to purchase new shelving or even rent a storage unit?  Do you have carpeting or do you need to purchase new rugs?  Some items seem so minor, but really add up in the end.

Aside from housing, leave could also be a huge factor.  If your spouse is taking leave in transit, that could affect your money situation.  You can expect to receive DLA upon arrival at your new duty station, but may also request an advance prior to travel.  If you do this, you may have more money during leave, but find yourself running short when you reach your final destination.  It is imperative that you keep track of your spending and have an idea of what you will need later.  Of course, it won't be an issue if you have already budgeted for your leave/vacation.  Not always an easy thing to do, but a great idea.

Now, knowing myself like I do, I'm sure that after I publish this post at least a couple of other things will come to mind.  Of course, I'll be upset with myself for missing them.  However, I trust that if I did pass over something important one of you more knowledgable spouses out there will set me straight.  And I'm grateful for it.  :)

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