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A Newbies Guide to PCSing

Moving is listed as one of the most stressful events a person will face in their lifetime. As a military household, moving is a common occurrence that comes with its own set of challenges. The paperwork, uncertainty, and rules that come with a PCS are enough to make any newbie think “What did I get myself into”. Don’t despair. The good news is that there are many resources available and, coupled with this guide, will get you and your family ready for your new adventure at your next duty station.

Get in Touch with The Appropriate Agencies

It is important to get in contact with the right agencies as soon as you know when and where you will be PCSing to. There is no need to wait for official orders.

Housing Office

If you are planning to live on base, make sure you reach out to the housing office at your new duty station. Typically, there is a wait list for on-base housing so the sooner you get on the list the better.

Travel Management Office

The TMO will assist you in moving your family and belongings. You will need to weigh the pros and cons of a TMO vs. DITY move. Once you have decided which type of move you will be doing, the office can help set you up with housing allowances and give you information on how the process of your desired move will work.

Defense Military Pay Office

The Defense Military Pay Office will help you fill out necessary paperwork and aid in travel reimbursements. It is helpful to prepare a list of questions you will have on reimbursement amounts, timeframe, etc.

Entitlements When PCSing

There are many entitlements available when it comes time to PCS that help alleviate financial pressure. We wrote an in-depth article about the various entitlements here.

Evaluate Your Budget and Save, Save, Save!

When planning your PCS, it is important to do research on the area surrounding your new duty station. You will want to look into factors such as:

  • Average Cost of Rent or Average Cost of Purchasing A Home
  • Cost of Living (California has a higher cost of living than North Carolina)
  • Daycare Costs (if applicable)
  • Commute Costs (if applicable)
  • Average Pay for Job

If you or a spouse will be working outside the home you will want to start looking for a job on sites such as Indeed or Monster. You can also apply for base jobs. Securing a job before arriving at your new location can alleviate the stress of losing one source of income and help with planning your new budget.

Another important factor in evaluating your budget is savings. While the government covers most of the costs of the move, sometimes you won’t see some of the money until after the move has been completed. Therefore, it’s important to have some savings set aside to cover the costs. Do not stress yourself out over savings! Remember, any little bit helps. There are financial counselors on base who can assist you with financial planning.

Get Rid of Clutter

Once you know you will be PCSing, start going through each room and getting rid of items you no longer use or want. The rule of thumb is if you haven’t worn, played, or used the item in the last three months then do away with it. An excellent way to declutter is to host a yard sale or post items for sale on Facebook Groups to earn some cash. There is also the option to donate to local non-profits.

Touch Up Your Resume

If you or a spouse will be working outside the home, now is a perfect time to touch up your resume. Fill in any new jobs, volunteer work, and newly acquired skills. There are mock interviews held on base, as well as counselors available to help you update your resume. Do not forget to update your cover letter also. If you are looking to add job skills or enhance your current ones, sources such as LinkedIn Learning can be beneficial in improving your resume.

Research New Home

This step goes hand in hand with evaluating your budget. As you research the examples mentioned in Step 3, you will want to look at off-base housing (if applicable) and find a trustworthy realtor. We can help you in finding a trusted realtor who has experience working with the military community! This is also the time to look at fun activities in the area, support groups, schools, and neighborhood safety to name a few. The more prepared you are for your new duty station, the more emotionally secure you will feel.

Take Inventory

Preparing an inventory is a crucial step prior to moving. It’s well known that moving companies are not the most delicate, so it’s important to have documentation of items in the event that they are lost or broken. Treat this as insurance for your belongings. Go through each room and take photos/video and log the items.

PCSing can be stressful for anybody, not just those new to military life. The amount of work that needs to be done before moving is overwhelming. However, with the help of various agencies and this guide you will be well on your way to becoming a PCSing pro!