For military families waiting on PCS orders, spring can be a painfully long and frustrating season. Maybe you know your service member will move, but you haven’t received official orders yet. You’re itching to start preparing for the upcoming PCS, but you feel like your hands are tied and you don’t know where to begin. Or perhaps you’re one of the “lucky ones” who actually has orders in hand! But you’ve never been to the new duty station before, so all the research and unanswered questions feel completely overwhelming.
The moving truck won’t arrive for a few months, so what tasks can you complete between now and then?
- Clean out the closets. You can start this process any time, even before you have official orders. The earlier, the better! Start by getting rid of obvious things you don’t need anymore: outgrown clothes, broken furniture, unused toys or books, and any hazardous materials like paint, propane or oil (movers won’t pack these). If you go one room or area at a time, it will feel less intimidating. When you find items that can be donated or sold, either post them on the local marketplace page, plan a garage sale or drop them off at the base thrift shop.
- Get paperwork in order. No matter where you move, you will want to get your family’s paperwork organized. You can begin this task now. First, gather all legal documents like birth certificates, social security cards, marriage certificate, wills and powers of attorney into one location like a binder or small safe. Then gather all family members’ school records, medical records and other essential paperwork. You’ll want to hand-carry these with you, so they won’t get lost in moving boxes.
- Weigh your move options. There are basically three options for a PCS move.
- Let the military move everything with their contracted Transportation Service Providers aka moving companies.
- Do it yourself and get reimbursed (this is called a PPM or personally procured move).
- Do a combination of both, called a partial-PPM, where you load some items into your car or moving truck, but let the military handle the rest.
There are pros and cons to each option, and of course it depends on where your family is moving to and from. For an OCONUS move, you must do the full military move. But if you’re moving a shorter distance, you might consider the other options. Start researching now, discussing your budget with your spouse, and figuring out which type of move would be best for your family this year.
- Make moving reservations. Once you’ve decided on your preferred moving method, start making plans! For this step, you will need to know your duty station and approximate report dates. If you’re doing a military move, apply for your move through DPS to get assigned a moving company and packing dates. Do this as soon as you have orders to get your preferred dates. If you’re doing a PPM, you can start now to reserve your moving truck, storage containers and any help you are hiring to pack and move. You can also begin to gather packing materials —either by reusing boxes from neighbors or by purchasing new boxes online. Ensure you save all receipts for moving equipment rental and packing materials. The receipts are key in filing for reimbursement upon completion of your PPM. If you are moving to or from an overseas location, this is also a good time to consider your vehicle transportation plans. If you need to ship your second vehicle, this payment is not reimbursed by the military. Start pricing car shipping companies now and make your reservations early.
- Schedule medical appointments. One big task many people forget before PCS season is the importance of visiting all your doctors and specialists before you move! It will probably take a few months to get settled and arrange appointments at the new location so it’s best to make final appointments for every family member at the current location. Call doctors, pediatricians, dentists, orthodontists and any specialists that are part of your family’s care routine. If your child is registered in the Exceptional Family Member Program, make sure their appointments and records are up to date. It’s a good idea to tell each doctor you are moving, so you can sign medical release forms for their office. This will expedite records transfers to your next location.
There’s so much to do when you PCS, but you can start working on these tasks now. The earlier you start, the less you will have to do in the final weeks of your move. Wishing your family a smooth and successful PCS season!