Things I Wish I was Ready for Before My First PCS


A perfect, timely, low-stress move is about as rare as a Bigfoot sighting. I understood this going in to my first PCS, but there was still part of me that thought I would be lucky. My husband and I moved to Georgia in October – it was our first PCS. Housing opened almost immediately, and I was feeling privileged. The only thing left was to wait for the moving trucks to roll up and to see my PCS knight in shining armor (the driver) hop out.

Our expected delivery date came and went and so did many days after that. I quickly became close phone buddies with our moving coordinator, as my husband and I lived in empty quarters with just the things we moved ourselves in the car. It became almost funny how late our things were, and we both had a few laughs about it.  When I asked for the millionth time when our goods would be delivered and I was told, “Ma’am, we don’t know where the driver is,” I realized my husband and I were just going to need to settle in and make do with what we had. I tried my best to turn this into a learning experience and compiled these tips for other MilSpouses preparing for moves. 

The PCS Binder

This is my favorite piece of advice from a wonderful Army wife of over 20 years. (Hi, Mom!) Keep a zippered binder, complete with page protectors and dividers, and lovingly refer to it as your PCS Binder. This will become your lifeline. Our binder contains a section for each family member (including pets). In it are our birth certificates, passports, Social Security cards, marriage certificate, religious documents, vaccination records and military documents, including multiple copies of our orders. Keep this binder with you at all times – when the movers are on site, put the binder in your car so it doesn’t get accidentally packed. Keeping these important documents organized and always knowing where they are will help maintain some sanity throughout the packing and unpacking process. When arriving at your new duty station, you will easily be able to sign the kids up for school and soccer, register pets on post, and anything else you need to do with the help of the binder.

Persistence is Key

Moving companies can give approximate delivery dates, but nothing that they tell you verbally is a guarantee. The best thing you can do to ensure a swift process is keep calling and be kind when you do. If the process doesn’t go smoothly, buy a few lawn chairs or bring them in the car with you, plop them in your empty living room, and enjoy a few hundred games of Gin Rummy.

A Little Preparation Goes a Long Way

Having a list of things that you are in charge of can help minimize disasters if the movers end up being late, and there are some wonderful spouses who have put together a packing list of goods to move with you. Taking the time to properly put together a first-day box will make delays less bothersome. To any newly engaged military couples, here is a registry tip: Ask for a great air mattress. We packed ours in our first-day box, and it saved us (and our backs) for a few weeks while we waited for the moving trucks.

Our life can get a little hectic. We’re finally settled into Fort Benning and are getting ready to move to Fort Campbell this fall. No two moves will ever be the same. At some point along the way, you’ll likely add more pets, kids, a deployed spouse, or an overseas PCS in the mix and it will be a whole new experience. Rely on those incredible seasoned spouses to help you through and share your own practices with those just starting out. The moving truck will show up eventually!

Nora Anderson
Written By Nora Anderson
Army Spouse

Nora became a brand-new milspouse in 2018. Her first lesson: 12 moves as an Army brat will never be enough preparation for this whirlwind life.

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2 Comments

  • Katie says:

    Wahoo! That’s my sister!!!
    So proud of you, Nora!

  • Kitnewy says:

    Just want to add that the ACS office is your best friend upon arrival. The lender closet will provide you with basic necessities when you find yourself in the above situation. We have now been through 4 moves. We move again this Sept. Nora is right, none of them are the same. I want to warn you that though none are the same ever move we have had we had goods stolen, lost, or broken. It is a fact no one cares about your stuff like you do. Ourfirst move was to Germany so we could not carry with us all that we do going cross country. Movers showed up when it was raining, my husband was deployed and they didn’t speak English well enough to communicate. My great grandmother gave us her wedding China as our wedding gift. You see it coming don’t ya? Yep the movers saw the fragile label did not care and dropped the box shattering everything inside. Now of course we have no receipt and the design was old do it is not on the market anymore. The company will not put sentimental value into consideration so we ended up with100$ for a 200yr old family airloom. So my 2nd tip is if it is of great sentiment keep it with you. Expect things to get damaged, to be forever to get items fixed not replaced and to find those venders yourself. The above binder is best for keeping all receipts because it’s on us to prove our cases! Good luck and HOOAH!