For the average American, Memorial Day weekend is a time for reflection, rest, relaxation, and good times with family and friends. For many military families, this time of the year is one of the most hectic. Some have to put their plans for the summer on hold as they prepare for a permanent change of station (PCS).
Roughly 2 in 3 military moves take place during this period as that’s when kids are out of school. While officially it’s the officer whose station is changing, their spouse plays a critical role in ensuring the move is as seamless as possible. Here are some useful tips military spouses can apply to make the PCS hiccup-free.
1. Research the New Duty Station
Military families have little control over the PCS decision itself. They can, however, be better armed for the move if they take the time to understand their new community and home well before the actual move. This research should start immediately the PCS decision is communicated to the military family.
The spouse should pay the greatest attention to the elements that have the most direct impact on their family’s quality of life such as schools, commute times, nearby grocery stores, and neighborhood amenities. Nearly all of this information can be easily found on the Internet.
2. Immediately Commence House Search and Selling Processes
Once a military family receives confirmation that they are required to move, they must commence the search for a home to buy or rent at their new location as soon as possible. At the same time, if they own the home in their current station, they should kick off disposal procedures immediately or alternatively look for a tenant ready to move in when they leave.
Searching for or selling a home can take weeks or months so the earlier you can get the process going, the better. Working with a real estate agent will help expedite it. Nevertheless, not just any agent will do. Find someone who has experience with PCS and understands all the dynamics a military move comes with.
3. Create and Stick to a PCS Budget
Moving is always an expensive affair and costs can quickly spiral out of control. The last thing you need when you move to your new station is financial stress as this could cloud your ability to see all the positive things about your new residence. Whereas you’ll eventually be reimbursed for the moving costs, it’s important to understand the limitations of your moving benefits and stay within them.
Ultimately, how much the PCS move will cost largely depends on the volume, value, and nature of your belongings. For instance, you may need to contract an auto shipper to move your vehicle to your new home (see PCS my POV with Executive Auto Shippers) as opposed to driving it there.
4. Embrace Your New Community
Military families won’t always end up in a place they would normally want to live in. Sometimes, PCS will lead you to a duty station that is less-than-desirable. Yet, since you don’t have a choice but to move, you’ll have an easier time if you can look for and embrace the positive aspects. Military spouses play an especially important role in this regard and can help their partner make the most of what looks like a setback.
Every place, no matter how hellish, has at least one positive. A military spouse may be in a better position to find such positives when compared to their partner who may be overly fixated with the negatives. Positives may include lower living costs, beautiful scenery, cultural diversity, or access to a major city.
5. Don’t Move with Unnecessary Stuff
Each of our homes is probably filled with stuff that we have acquired over the years but no longer use and are now accumulating dust in the garage, attic, or backyard. When planning for the move, military spouses must adopt a ruthless approach where things that are no longer needed or are much cheaper acquired at your new neighborhood than shipped there, are left behind.
For example, if a household item has not been used for the last months, consider discarding or donating it.
Many elements of a PCS are outside a military family’s control. However, these tips are useful in ensuring that whatever process is in the family’s control is executed relatively smoothly.