PCS Moves: Five Tips for Military Families

For many military families, moving is a regular part of life. Permanent Change of Stations (PCS) orders can occur as often as every year or every three years and can provide the opportunity to explore a new area of the country or the world.

Although it may seem daunting at first to change bases, these five military moving tips will help to make your move seamless and stress-free. Sit back, relax, and embrace the adventure that awaits you and your dependents with this ultimate guide from Carvaygo.

What Is a PCS Move?

More than 400,000 members of the military have a Permanent Change of Station (PCS) order each year. A PCS order is a long-term relocation, lasting 20 weeks or more, that will typically take active duty military members and military spouses and families more than 50 miles away from their previous base.

A PCS order can take you to a new area, a new state within the U.S., or relocate you outside of the country. PCS is not limited to specific branches of the military; it is a constant of military life across them all, including:

  • Air Force
  • Army
  • Navy
  • Marine Corps

On average, service members will relocate approximately 2.6 times throughout their service. Many military families will relocate as many as six times during the career of their family member in the military.

For more information about how this works, the Department of Defense (DOD) offers a website called MilitaryINSTALLATIONS.

What Can I Expect From a PCS Move?

Depending on whether your move is within The Continental United States (CONUS) or Outside The Continental United States (OCONUS), there are different circumstances a military family can expect.

If you are moving to an area within the United States, you will be able to navigate your move with the help of a Transportation Service Provider (TSP).

The United States Transportation Command can help to set up moving services to transport your belongings to your new base location. Alternatively, you can complete a personally procured move and receive government reimbursement for transit costs.

If you are moving outside of the United States, it is a good idea to check with your Transportation Office to determine any weight limitations and how to transport your vehicle.

In addition, there may be specific limitations when bringing the number of items you can bring.

How Can I Make My PCS Move Easier?

Several tips can help you make your PCS move easier, regardless of whether you are moving outside the continental United States or across the country. Keep reading to learn how to streamline your move and

Take Initiative

When moving to a new base, you must take the initiative before the relocation begins.

Service members can schedule a meeting with their department’s local transportation office and arrange moving services with the help of the family center at their new base location. Doing so can help you to stay ahead of any necessary moving preparations.

Members can interface with a moving sponsor, receive family housing and temporary lodging, and get transportation assistance with the help of a family center. You can also consider the Defense Personal Property System, often included in your travel entitlements, to manage some of your moving needs.

It is also recommended to hire a moving or transportation service provider ahead of your move and to find temporary housing accommodations if there will be a gap before moving into military family housing.

Organize Everything

Organization is vital to streamlining your move and making it as stress-free as possible. Settle the pickup dates and delivery dates early in the process. Going through your belongings, appliances, and valuables and determining what will come with you will help you to prepare for the moving process.

There may be some items you choose to place in storage or discard to reduce the number of things you need to transport. It is a good idea to determine what appliances will be included in your new base housing to help you decide what is not necessary to bring with you.

You may consider sending household goods shipments before moving day to help ease the transition to your new duty station. This is one way to do it yourself without ignoring the benefits of relying upon a moving company.

Not only is it a great idea to organize your personal belongings, but it is also recommended that you organize your paperwork and documents.

A PCS binder is an excellent way to organize and keep track of important documents during your moves, such as medical records, marriage certificates, birth certificates, passports, and school records.

Many families use labels to keep track of the items they place in boxes, which will help simplify the packing and unpacking processes. Labeling is also needed for fragile items to ensure that they are kept upright and handled with care during transit.

A checklist can also help you ensure nothing is forgotten or missing from your PCS binder. A checklist can also help you feel confident that every step was taken care of for your move, including transportation services, any necessary government reimbursement, and items needed for your relocation.

Do Your Research

Before you move, it is crucial to research the best options for moving to ensure that you are cutting down on costs and lowering your workload. By enlisting the help of a trusted transportation provider who will reduce car transport costs, you will be able to avoid unnecessary work for you and your family.

Researching packers and movers and hiring a highly recommended service will help you save time and energy during the moving process.

Since military families have a tight-knit network and community, it is a good idea to consult other families with PCS orders to find trusted services that have worked well for them.

There are numerous resources at the disposal of military communities that can help to limit stress and complexity during and after your move.

Your department’s Relocation Assistance Program can provide assistance and resources both after and before your move, including housing, orientations, employment opportunities, schooling, and any other information relating to your move and your new base location.

Using a military sponsor or a member of your service who will help your PCS move will allow you to receive advice and research what precautions and preparations you should take.

It is also a good idea to research and determine whether you qualify to move with a personally-procured move or PPM and to decide if this is the preferred option for your family.

With a PPM, it will be up to you to plan, procure a transportation provider, hire a moving service, and handle the moving process independently, with reimbursement from the government.

Prioritize Lodging

Planning and prioritizing your lodging arrangements is necessary when moving with your family.

If you have a gap between when you arrive in the base location and when you settle into your new base home, it is a good idea to arrange a hotel, Airbnb, rental, or another method of temporary housing.

If possible, try to see your new home before moving to determine your living accommodations and help you ensure you are not bringing any unnecessary items.

Take a Flight

Once your belongings are on the way to your new home, getting yourself and your family to your new base location is the next step. Military families can drive or fly to their new location, depending on the distance.

However, driving long distances can strain your vehicle and your family. Harsh weather, challenging road conditions, and an increased likelihood of accidents can all impact your route and make driving an unnecessary added stress.

Flying can streamline your transportation process, and with the help of a transportation provider, you can relax and let us handle the rest. By enlisting the help of a service provider, such as Carvaygo, you can trust that your vehicle will arrive from point A to point B with care, safety, and transparent tracking services.

The Bottom Line

Although moving can seem daunting at first, the countless resources at your disposal will help you to ensure that you, your family, and your valuables are taken care of every step along the way.

By researching, taking the initiative, staying organized, and prioritizing your lodging, you can stay ahead of any moving stress and streamline the process. Entrusting the help of a car-hauling service provider can take the work off of you and let you enjoy your trip to your new home.

Carvaygo is in a network of more than 30,000 trusted carriers, so you can sit back, relax, and enjoy your move.

Are you interested in car-hauling services? Get in touch with us today.

22 Packing & Moving Tips for Military Families | Spacewise
PCS: The Basics About Military Permanent Change of Station | Military One Source
Military PCS: The Complete Moving Guide | My Move

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