8 PCS Planning Pro Tips

Pictured from behind, a woman and boy each carry a cardboard box toward a yellow house with a white railing and American flag, implying the house is part of military family housing.
Pictured from behind, a woman and boy each carry a cardboard box toward a yellow house with a white railing and American flag, implying the house is part of military family housing. (Fort Campbell, Kentucky, Public Affairs Office)

It's funny how some basic information related to a permanent change of station becomes a "PCS basic" and sticks in your brain for the rest of your military career. But a PCS basic crucial to your family may not be one for another. No one-size-fits-all solution protects everyone, so all you can do is tailor preparation to your own needs and hope for the best!

For the brand-spanking-new PCS'ers, we're covering a few things to make the first transition go smoothly. New movers, mid-career movers and veteran vagabonds: You will find something to improve your next PCS. Keep these next-level-of-moving basics to tuck in your back pocket for reference just when you think you've mastered the whole system.

1. No PCS Is Perfect

This is the best PCS basic tip. Accept this truth and just do the best you can, knowing you'll get to up your game in a few years.

2. Schedule Early

Since most military moves happen during the typical summer "PCS season," you might think it would be easier then. This seems logical because the government should be preparing masses of moving companies to relocate their forces worldwide.

Not so much.

In the summer, available moving companies are in short supply, and so are the packing and unloading dates. Don't wait. Scheduling the days as early as possible is the best option.

The same scarcity factor applies to military lodging or just plain old lodging. Finding a hotel that accepts pets and has a refrigerator, adjoining rooms and parking for a U-Haul truck becomes difficult in the summer, and the options shrink. Book early.

3. Tackle PCS Tasks Incrementally

Small victories build toward bigger goals. Ticking off the small, more doable items one by one keeps the momentum going in order to face the bigger hurdles. Don't waste this precious energy; you'll be tired soon enough!

For example, handle practical details such as scheduling a final haircut or visiting essential services well before the hectic packing and delivery days.

4. Don't Pull Kids Out of School Too Early

If you can take advantage of them being occupied out of the house, do so. Use those school hours to maximize your packing and purging efficiency.

5. Update Your Amazon Prime Address

This one is self-explanatory!

6. Don't Put Off Cleaning

Leaving the house-cleaning until the final pack-out may seem logical since the house will be empty. However, underestimating the time required to achieve a thorough cleaning is a common mistake, especially to achieve "inspection clean" or "get-your-whole-deposit-back clean." This is an error not only for PCS newbies but also for veterans.

Avoid this pitfall by spreading out deep cleaning tasks over several weeks or hiring a professional cleaning crew. You'll be amazed how quickly a team of pros can get it done.

7. Pay Attention to Small Details

One little thing can bring the PCS process to a screeching halt -- not to mention what happens if multiple items are neglected, such as:

  • Expired military IDs and passports
  • Pets that run out of flea prevention or escape from the car and run down the highway without updated tags
  • A lack of Benadryl
  • A puny snack collection
  • A missing phone charger
  • Forgetting to turn on electricity and water for the new address
  • Toilet paper and cleaning supplies for the new house
  • Disinfectant wipes for bodies and hard surfaces

It takes only one PCS move to correct the grave error of misplacing moving company paperwork and waiting past the deadline to file for reimbursement of broken or missing household items.

8. Delay Inviting Guests

Wait until you're settled in your new home to invite friends or family, or put them to work unpacking.

Because we're all kind, gentle souls, we offer our new residence to family and friends to visit for a vacation, especially if we're stationed in Hawaii; Washington, D.C.; or California (feel free to enter any other heavily vacationed locale).

Give yourself a few months to get settled before visitors descend. Or make them help deconstruct boxes to earn their keep.

While there's no formula for a flawless move, tailoring your preparations to fit your unique circumstances is key. Whether you're a newcomer navigating your first PCS or a seasoned veteran refining your approach, here's to your next moving adventure!

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