Introduction to the PCS Move Checklist
The journey of a Permanent Change of Station (PCS) move can be a challenging process for military families. Whether you’ve done it before or you’re new to the experience, each move comes with its own set of unique circumstances. That’s why we’ve compiled this comprehensive PCS Move Checklist. It’s designed to help you navigate the ins and outs of a military relocation, providing you with a step-by-step guide to ensure no detail is overlooked. From the moment you receive your orders to the final unpacking in your new home, this checklist will act as your roadmap, ensuring you have all you need for a successful transition. The intention is to alleviate some of the stress and uncertainties that often accompany such significant changes, enabling you to focus on what truly matters – your family and the new adventures that await you.
Early Preparations: What to Do Months Before Moving
When the prospect of a PCS move becomes certain, the first rule is to start planning as early as possible. The process can seem daunting, but initiating preparations months in advance can help you manage tasks effectively and reduce stress.
As a first step, make sure you have a clear understanding of your entitlements and benefits, including your moving budget, temporary housing allowances, and travel expenses. Contact your base’s transportation office or visit the Defense Personal Property System (DPS) online to learn about your options.
Next, begin decluttering your home. A PCS move is an excellent opportunity to go through your belongings and decide what to keep, sell, donate, or throw away. Remember, the less you have to pack, the easier your move will be.
Also, start researching your new location. Get to know the cost of living, local schools, healthcare facilities, and recreational opportunities. This information will help you to visualize your new life and make informed decisions about housing and other necessary arrangements.
Finally, keep an open line of communication with your chain of command and support network. They can provide vital information about your move, connect you with resources, and offer much-needed emotional support during this time of transition. The more prepared you are, the smoother your PCS move will be.
Selecting Moving and Vehicle Transportation Services
Choosing the right moving and vehicle transportation services can significantly impact the success and ease of your PCS move. You’ll typically have two options: a Do-It-Yourself (DITY) move or a government-contracted move.
In a DITY, or Personally Procured Move (PPM), you’re in charge of packing, transporting, and unpacking your belongings. While this option requires more effort, it does offer the possibility of making a profit if your expenses are under the government’s estimated cost.
On the other hand, a government-contracted move involves the military contracting professional movers to handle your belongings. This option can alleviate a lot of stress, but it also means you have less control over the process.
Deciding which option to choose depends on your personal circumstances, preferences, and comfort level. It’s important to weigh the pros and cons, taking into consideration factors such as time, budget, and the amount of belongings you have.
As for your vehicle, if your new station is within the continental U.S., you’ll usually be expected to drive. However, if you’re moving overseas or if driving is not feasible, the government can arrange for your vehicle’s shipment.
Remember, it’s crucial to make these decisions and inform your Transportation Office as early as possible to secure your desired move dates and ensure a smoother process.
Financial Planning and Budgeting for a PCS Move
Successfully managing a PCS move goes beyond just packing boxes and hiring movers – it also involves smart financial planning and budgeting. The military provides various allowances and reimbursements to cover your moving costs, but understanding these benefits and managing them effectively is crucial.
Firstly, familiarize yourself with the different types of allowances. There’s the Dislocation Allowance (DLA) to cover miscellaneous moving costs, Monetary Allowance in Lieu of Transportation (MALT) for travel costs, Per Diem for meals and lodging during travel, and Temporary Lodging Expense (TLE) or Temporary Lodging Allowance (TLA) to offset the costs of temporary housing.
Be aware that some of these allowances are paid regardless of your actual expenses, while others require you to submit receipts for reimbursement. Thus, it’s essential to keep all receipts and maintain detailed records of your expenses during the move.
Consider setting up a separate savings account for your PCS move. Having a dedicated account can make it easier to track expenses and ensure you’re staying within your budget.
Moreover, remember to factor in the cost of living at your new location. It can differ significantly from your current one, affecting your daily expenses, housing, taxes, and more. Online cost of living calculators can be a useful tool to get a sense of what to expect.
Lastly, don’t hesitate to seek advice from financial counselors available at your base’s Family Center. They can provide personalized guidance to help you navigate the financial aspects of your PCS move. Planning and managing your budget effectively can alleviate financial stress and set you up for a smooth transition to your new location.
Packing and Organizing Your Household Goods
Packing and organizing your household goods can be one of the most time-consuming aspects of your PCS move, but with a well-structured plan, you can make this process more manageable.
First, create an inventory of all your belongings. Document each item with a brief description and photograph, and if possible, note its approximate value. This inventory will not only help you keep track of your goods but also be invaluable in case of loss or damage during the move.
If you’re opting for a government-contracted move, you don’t have to worry about physically packing your belongings – the movers will do that. However, it’s essential to separate items you don’t want them to pack, like important documents, valuables, or items for your travel. The movers will pack everything in sight, so consider designating a “do not pack” area in your home for these items.
For a DITY move, gather all packing materials well in advance – boxes, packing tape, bubble wrap, and markers for labeling. Pack room by room, starting with infrequently used items. Don’t forget to label each box with its contents and the room it belongs to. This will make unpacking and settling into your new home much easier.
Another crucial aspect is to consider the weight limit for your move, which depends on your rank and whether you have dependents. For a government-contracted move, the movers will provide a weight ticket. If you’re moving yourself, you need to weigh your rental truck empty and then again when it’s full to determine the weight of your goods.
Stay organized, and don’t leave packing to the last minute. A little bit of effort each day will make your PCS move a lot less stressful.
Medical and Healthcare Preparations
Addressing your family’s medical and healthcare needs is a crucial part of the PCS moving process. This involves not just transferring your healthcare coverage, but also ensuring that any ongoing medical needs will be adequately addressed at your new location.
Start by scheduling any necessary medical, dental, or vision check-ups for all family members well ahead of your move. This can help to identify any issues that might need to be addressed before moving, and also ensures you have up-to-date records to provide to new healthcare providers.
Inform your current healthcare providers about your move and ask for referrals if possible. Request copies of all medical records for each family member, including prescriptions and any ongoing treatment plans. If anyone in your family has special medical needs, make sure to arrange for continued care at your new location.
Next, if you’re covered by TRICARE, update your information in the Defense Enrollment Eligibility Reporting System (DEERS). You may need to switch your TRICARE region and possibly your plan, depending on your new location. Contact a TRICARE representative to discuss your options.
Additionally, remember to refill prescriptions to ensure you have enough medication to last until you can establish care at your new location. Also, compile a list of emergency medical facilities in your new area, so you know where to go in case of an urgent situation.
Taking the time to organize your healthcare arrangements can provide peace of mind that your family’s medical needs will be met during and after your PCS move.
Special Considerations for Children and Pets
When undertaking a PCS move, the needs of children and pets require special consideration to ensure they are prepared for the transition and their wellbeing is maintained throughout the process.
Children, especially younger ones, may have difficulty understanding the concept of moving. Start by having open and honest conversations about the move, what it means, and what they can expect. Assure them that their feelings are valid and that it’s okay to feel a mix of excitement and apprehension. Involve them in the process where appropriate, such as letting them pack a box of their favorite things or showing them pictures of the new area.
Remember to communicate with your child’s school about the move. Arrange for the transfer of school records and look into enrollment procedures at the new location. If your child requires special education services, start coordinating early with the new school to ensure services are in place when you arrive.
Pets also require careful consideration. If you’re moving overseas, research the country’s pet import regulations well in advance as some locations require lengthy quarantine periods or specific vaccinations. Check with your veterinarian to ensure your pet is healthy for travel and up-to-date on vaccinations. Plan ahead for pet-friendly accommodations during your journey, and prepare a travel kit for your pet that includes food, water, a leash, and any necessary medications.
A PCS move is a significant change for every member of your family – including the smallest or furriest ones. Giving extra attention to their needs can ensure the transition is smooth for everyone.
Final Preparations: The Weeks Leading up to the Move
As the date of your PCS move approaches, there are several final preparations to make in the weeks leading up to the big day. It’s a busy period, but staying organized can help ensure nothing slips through the cracks.
Start by arranging the shut-off or transfer of utilities at your current home, and setting up utilities at your new residence. This includes electricity, water, gas, internet, and cable services. If you’re renting, coordinate with your landlord about cleaning and final walkthroughs to ensure you receive your full deposit back.
Next, update your address with all relevant parties. This includes your bank, insurance companies, subscription services, and family and friends. Also, set up mail forwarding through the USPS to ensure you don’t miss any important correspondence.
Start consuming perishable food items and cleaning supplies. The less you have to move, the better. Plus, some items are prohibited by moving companies, such as cleaning chemicals and certain food items.
If you’re doing a government-contracted move, make sure to separate and clearly mark items that will not be packed by the movers, like travel documents, valuables, and essentials you’ll need immediately upon arrival at your new home.
Lastly, have a plan for moving day. Know who will be taking care of children or pets, prepare refreshments for the movers, and have a checklist handy to ensure nothing is forgotten.
While these final weeks can be hectic, remember that every task completed brings you one step closer to settling into your new home and starting your next adventure.
Moving Day: A Detailed Guide
Moving day is the culmination of all your planning and preparation. It can be hectic, but with a detailed guide and well-structured plan, it can proceed smoothly.
If you’ve opted for a government-contracted move, the movers will take care of packing and loading your belongings. Be present during this process to oversee the packing, answer any questions the movers might have, and ensure all items are properly accounted for. They’ll provide you with an inventory list – make sure it’s accurate, as this is what will be used to identify any potential loss or damage claims.
For a DITY move, you’ll be the one orchestrating the day’s activities. Have a plan for loading to maximize space and protect your belongings – heavier items should go in first, towards the front of the truck, with lighter and fragile items loaded last.
Regardless of the type of move, keep your “do not pack” items separate and ensure they are not accidentally loaded onto the moving truck. This should include essential items you’ll need for travel and immediate items for when you arrive at your new home, like toiletries, a few changes of clothes, important documents, and valuable items.
Keep hydrated and nourished. It’s easy to overlook taking care of yourself during the hustle and bustle of moving day, but staying in good shape is essential to keep the day running smoothly.
If you’re leaving a rented property, a final walkthrough with the landlord is typically conducted to assess any potential damage. Make sure the property is cleaned and any agreed-upon repairs have been made.
Finally, before setting off, take a few moments to say goodbye to your old home and neighborhood. Moving is not just about the physical transition, but an emotional one too.
Moving day can be long and tiring, but with good preparation, a positive attitude, and a dash of patience, you’ll be able to tackle it head-on. Your new adventure awaits!
Settling In: What to Do After Arrival
Finally, after all the planning, packing, and traveling, you’ve arrived at your new home. Settling in is an exciting phase as you start your new chapter, but it also comes with its own to-do list.
Unpacking is usually the first major task. If you’ve opted for a government-contracted move, the movers will unload your belongings and can unpack boxes upon request. However, you may prefer to unpack yourself to organize things according to your liking. If you’ve done a DITY move, it’s time to roll up your sleeves and start unloading. Remember to cross-reference with your inventory to ensure all items have arrived and in good condition.
Begin by setting up essential rooms first, like bedrooms and the kitchen. Having a place to sleep and cook can make your new house feel more like home. Gradually work through the rest of your belongings and take your time to decide the best place for each item.
Next, register your new address with the local post office if you haven’t already, and make sure all relevant parties have been notified of your new address. Also, remember to update your car insurance and registration to reflect your new location.
Start exploring your new neighborhood. Locate essential services like grocery stores, banks, and healthcare providers. If you have children, familiarize yourself with their new school and arrange for their enrollment.
Don’t forget to check in with your new command within the timeframe provided in your orders. Also, visit your new base’s housing office, family center, and any other relevant facilities.
Remember, it’s normal for settling in to take some time. You might feel a mix of emotions, from excitement to homesickness. Reach out to support networks, both personal and those provided by the military community.
Moving can be a whirlwind of activity, but once you’ve unpacked and started to establish a routine, you’ll begin to feel more at home. Remember, settling into a new home and community doesn’t happen overnight, so give yourself and your family time to adjust and soon enough, you’ll start feeling at home.
International Moves: Additional Checklist for OCONUS
Moving overseas, or Outside the Continental United States (OCONUS), adds another layer of complexity to a PCS move. While many elements are the same, there are additional considerations to keep in mind.
The first step is obtaining your passports and visas. If you don’t already have a no-fee government passport, you will need to apply for one through your installation’s passport office. While tourist passports cost money and are for leisure travel, no-fee passports are used for official government travel. Your command will guide you through this process. Be mindful that this can take some time, so get started as soon as you receive your orders.
Language and cultural preparation is another significant aspect of an OCONUS move. If you’re moving to a country where English is not the primary language, consider learning some basic phrases or enrolling in a language course. Additionally, learn about local customs and societal norms to help you integrate more comfortably into your new environment.
Consider the voltage difference when moving overseas. The United States uses 110-120 volts, while many other countries use 220-240 volts. This can affect your ability to use electronics and appliances, so you may need to sell or store items and purchase new ones at your destination.
Take note of any quarantine requirements for pets, which can vary greatly by country. Some countries require pets to be quarantined for specific periods upon arrival, so ensure you’re aware of the process and have prepared your pet as much as possible.
Finally, keep in mind that housing and cost of living can vary greatly when moving abroad. You may be moving to a place where houses are typically smaller, or where certain amenities are not standard. Cost of living can also be significantly different, so it’s important to adjust your budget accordingly.
Moving overseas can be a unique and enriching experience, despite the additional complexities. With thorough preparation, you can ensure a smoother transition for you and your family. Remember, this is an exciting opportunity to explore a new part of the world and broaden your horizons!
Resources and Tools to Assist with Your PCS Move
A PCS move involves a lot of planning and organization, but fortunately, there are several resources and tools available to assist you throughout the process.
- Move.mil: This is the official DoD moving portal. Here, you can find the most current regulations and entitlements, as well as a wealth of resources related to PCS moves.
- Military OneSource: This platform provides comprehensive information on every aspect of military life, including PCS moves. It offers free resources, counseling, and services to help you navigate all stages of your move.
- Plan My Move: This is an online tool that helps you create a custom checklist for your move. You can input your specific details, and it will generate a timeline and checklist tailored to your PCS move.
- MilitaryINSTALLATIONS and MilitaryHOMEFRONT: These DoD websites provide valuable information about your new installation and community, including housing, childcare, schools, healthcare facilities, and more.
- TRICARE: The official TRICARE website provides information about changing your healthcare coverage when you move.
- Installation Specific Social Media Groups: These can be an invaluable source of firsthand information and advice. They can help you connect with others at your new location even before you move.
- Personal Financial Management Programs: These programs, available through your installation, offer free financial counseling to help you budget for your move and understand your entitlements.
- Your installation’s Transportation Office or Personal Property Office: They can provide you with guidance on scheduling your move, understanding your entitlements, and solving any issues that may arise.
Remember, a PCS move can be a challenging process, but with the right resources, you can navigate it more smoothly. Don’t hesitate to seek help when you need it and take full advantage of the assistance available to you. Happy moving!
Common Mistakes to Avoid During a PCS Move
While a PCS move can be an exciting new adventure, it also comes with challenges. Here are some common mistakes to avoid to make your move as smooth as possible:
1. Not Starting Early: One of the biggest mistakes you can make is not starting your preparations early enough. As soon as you get your orders, begin planning. This will give you ample time to tackle all the necessary tasks and ensure you don’t miss any important details.
2. Failing to Budget Properly: A PCS move can be expensive, even with reimbursements. Not taking the time to create a comprehensive budget can lead to unexpected costs and financial strain. Make sure you understand what is and isn’t covered by the government, and budget for additional costs like meals, lodging, and unexpected expenses.
3. Not Documenting Your Belongings: Properly documenting your belongings before a move is essential for identifying any potential loss or damage claims. Take photos or videos of valuable items, and keep a thorough inventory. Don’t rely solely on the inventory created by the moving company.
4. Overlooking the “Do Not Pack” Items: Movers will pack everything in sight unless told otherwise. Ensure that items you’ll need for the trip or immediately upon arrival at your new home are set aside in a clearly marked “do not pack” area.
5. Neglecting to Research Your New Location: Take the time to learn about your new community before you arrive. Understand the local culture, the layout of the military base, school options, and any specific regional considerations. This will help alleviate some of the uncertainties that come with moving.
6. Not Checking Your Entitlements: Make sure you understand your entitlements for the move. This can include allowances for Dislocation, Per Diem, and Temporary Lodging Expenses. If you’re unsure, your installation’s Transportation Office can provide guidance.
7. Not Verifying Your Insurance Coverage: It’s essential to understand what your insurance covers during your move. Check your renters or homeowners insurance, vehicle insurance, and the coverage provided by the moving company to ensure your possessions are protected.
8. Forgetting About Your Pets: If you’re moving with pets, remember that they have needs too! Some states or countries have strict pet import regulations, and pets often need time to adjust to a new environment.
By keeping these common mistakes in mind and planning carefully, you can ensure your PCS move is as stress-free as possible.