Whether you've been expecting new orders to come down or a change of duty station comes as a complete surprise, it's important to get your family squared away ASAP. Before you go off kicking and screaming because you’re PCSing to a brand-new place, know that you can ease the stress by planning ahead and researching from a distance.
While your spouse is working on out-processing and clearing the installation, the Internet is your go-to resource to have your family PCS ready and be prepared in no time. Here are three quick and easy tips that will help you start the PCS process on the right track.
How to Plan a Kick Butt PCS1. Get to know where you're going. Now that your new duty station is on paper, hit Google and find out where it’s at on the map. Most likely, you’ve heard of the place and have an idea, but it’s good to visualize and actually see the location of where your family will be living. This will also give you a chance to figure out how you should approach the move -- to DITY or not to DITY?
You should also hit social media. If you put a call-out, a friend of yours might have just come from your new duty station or better yet, you might already have a friend there. The SpouseBUZZ Facebook page can offer some great Feedback from people that know more about the area too.
2. Evaluate your housing options and establish check-lists. Of course, on-post or base housing is an option, but it’s good to get a sense of what else is out there. Craigslist is one resource you can use to start your search for available housing that everybody can utilize. It’s a website that can be hit or miss, but there's also military specific housing sites like the Automated Housing Referral Network (AHRN.com), that has been around for 10 years.
AHRN.com is a valuable - and free -- PCS resource for the military community, which offers a one stop shop for families. Military members can enter their new duty station and housing specifications to receive a list of possible housing options. In addition, AHRN.com incorporates your spouse’s BAH rate and streamlines the search process. It uses RentSmart, so you know the rent averages of the area and lots of pictures to help you determine the right home. You can also search by pet policy and other data points to enhance your housing research.
The key to a smooth move is organization -- so AHRN.com created the PCS ToolKit to help military families keep the details together. With a checklist that offers recommended timelines, a budget worksheet to keep the finances in order and a detailed outline of PCS entitlements, the Toolkit helps reduce stress and expensive mistakes. In addition, AHRN.com launched a blog dedicated to tackling the more personal challenges of PCSing and the military lifestyle. From renting with pets to preparing for the kids’ new school to tips for self-managing a rental property, the blog addresses the broad range of questions that come along with frequent moves in the military.
3. Embrace the change and get your game face ready. Consider how your life will be different at your new installation. Is the weather going to be warmer than you’re used to? Or are you headed to Alaska and don’t own a parka (let alone know what that means!)? Make sure those details are on your radar. Be sure to check out AHRN.com’s PCS Email Series that delivers the data you need right when you need it.
What does your new duty station look like? What do I need to know about the area? What are the best schools? What are the best neighborhoods? What is there to do? Have your family put together a special “duty station bucket list” to create some excitement for your brand-new journey. There are so many brand-new and cool things for your family to do. Use social media like the SpouseBUZZ Facebook page to help you craft the right list for your family.
With a detailed plan mapped out, your family is set for a smooth transition to a new duty station. Although you have every “t” crossed and “i” dotted, be on the lookout for changes. It’s difficult to prepare for the unknown, so just get your game face ready and know that you have a big military community on your 6!
Post by AHRN. AHRN.com has been serving military families for ten years and as a thank you, in June 2014, they are holding a very big giveaway celebration, so be sure to check it out!