It’s PCS (Moving) Season! My 6 Best Tips

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“We’ve got orders.”

Even though my husband hasn’t said that in many years, I can still hear those words coming out of his mouth. I still feel the pause, the brief moment of held breath, when friends say them to me.

0719 aOrders are funny. In their most basic form, they are just a simple piece of paper with writing on it, yet they control so much of our lives. Sometimes we can’t wait to receive them, and other times they appear unexpectedly, without warning. But within their immeasurable weight, they carry hope, concern, adventure, frustration, and even fear.

We’ve experienced orders that came through smoothly, orders for which we had to be approved for travel, and orders that didn’t include the children and me when they should have. Orders for one move came down a mere five days before my husband had to leave. Good thing we thought they were coming and I had already started preparing!

All kinds of moves

We moved with only the barest necessities from Ohio to Texas, then with the full load to Alaska. We followed that with a partial DITY (Do-It-Yourself) move to Montana, and then completed a TDY (Temporary Duty Yonder) en route PCS (Permanent Change of Station) to North Carolina.

We’ve dealt with air travel, driving across country, loading vehicles on ships, and watching everything get crated. We even negotiated with one ridiculous national company who wouldn’t let us out of our monthly contract because, in the words of their customer service agent, I wasn’t required to move; only my husband was. You can imagine how well that went over.

Because of that terrible experience, I’m thankful for the companies that are determined to step up, understand the difficulties of military life as best they can, and make changes to their policies and products to make transitions easier. Not just companies that make the annual list of Miltary Spouse Friendly Employers who make it easier on military spouses who want to work outside the home, but companies like SimpliSafe who protect your home without a contract and with a wireless security system you can move with you.

In addition to seeking out great companies like those, here is my best advice learned from a lifetime of moves.

If you are moving

  1. Organization matters. No one can be prepared for everything, and sometimes things will go wrong that you simply can’t prevent, but in general, the more organized you are, the smoother the move will go. If you like lists, check out my free Moving Checklist.
  2. Weight matters. You can check online Department of Defense guides for more information, but weight restrictions are based upon rank and number of dependents. You can usually estimate 1,000 pounds per room, not counting bathrooms or storage rooms. Add weight if you own particularly heavy furniture or a lot of books, and don’t forget to keep in mind appliances, tools, and yard equipment.
  3. Create an “OPEN FIRST” box. Personalize this pile for your family, but include things like a towel and washcloth for each family member, linens for beds, toilet paper, and extra toiletries. Once the packers seal the box, mark it in big letters so it is easy to find in the mess of boxes at your new home.

If you are expecting new neighbors

  1. Be friendly. They’ve just said goodbye to so much, and now these new neighbors are trying to figure everything out. A smile and a kind greeting can make the whole day easier for them.
  2. Be ready to share convenient phone numbers and store locations. Once you’ve been in town for a year or so, you know where to order pizza or buy the best sushi. But remember that new folks are overwhelmed trying to unpack boxes, feed their family, and find the local Walmart. Be ready to share what you’ve learned.
  3. Open your heart and home. Maybe you won’t be best friends with the new people down the street, but taking the time to say hello and offer your phone number in case of emergency can help settle nerves if the water heater bursts or their dog gets out of the fence.

Working together, we can make this a great PCS season!

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I have never seen a more practical guide to the military move than this one resource! It covers all my years of lessons learned and then some. ~Laura B, Amazon

I wish I would’ve had this book before our moves, but am so thankful I have it for future reference. I highlighted a few passages to look back on for our next PCS. I especially appreciate the free (very detailed) packing list available at Carrie’s website! This book should be included with every set of orders. ~Leah W, Amazon