How to PCS Better
You’ve been selected for orders. Congratulations! Relocating can be an exciting time, but it can also be met with a few challenges. You might be a seasoned pro, or maybe this is your first big move. Either way, Better Homes and Gardens McKenzie Realty is here to help you prepare for this change!
PCS (Permanent Change of Station) refers to the relocation of active-duty service members and their families. It can be a stressful time for everyone, so we’ve put together a few tips to help you prepare so you can navigate the process smoothly. We’ve included the main points for you to consider as well as some pro tips from those who have been through the process before. Read below for more!
Where are you going next?
We’ll start with the easiest one first. Once you get your hard copy orders, let the research begin! It’s a great idea to research the area where you will be living to get a good idea of your new location. Focus on the basics first: where will you live? Does the new duty station provide housing? Do you need to be on a waitlist? Maybe you’re looking to rent. Look for different locations that accommodate your lifestyle, but make sure you pay attention to travel times!
If you’re planning on purchasing a home at your new duty station, or need to sell before you leave, get in contact with a trusted real estate agent as soon as possible. Look into real estate programs that have special offers for active-duty military or veterans; the Homes for Heroes program we offer is a great one! Buying and selling real estate can be an important consideration during a PCS move, and the sooner you can connect with an agent, the better! They will help you understand your loan options and what kind of timeline to expect. With careful planning and the right resources, you can successfully navigate the real estate market during a PCS.
PRO TIP: If you plan to buy, consider what kind of home you are looking for and request your agent to put you on listing alerts that fit your needs.
What about the fam?
If you have children that will be moving with you, consider where they will go to school and if you’ll need childcare. Many daycares have a substantial wait list – it’s best to get on the one you want as soon as possible! Don’t forget to look for fun things to do as well. What kind of family entertainment is in the area?
If you have a partner that will be moving with you, consider where they may want to work. Do they work in a specific field that could be limited by location? If they are planning to work, surfing online job boards is a great way to see what the area has to offer! If they are planning to stay home, it’s a great idea to search in mapping software for what is in the local area that may align with their hobbies/interests.
Don’t forget your furry friends! If you’re traveling overseas, your pet will need a flight reservation as well as specific, air-line approved kennels. Make sure to consult your veterinarian, as they can give advice for traveling specific to your pets’ needs. While you’re there, ask for a copy of their most up-to-date medical record to keep with you! Also, consider what amenities they might need while traveling. Do they need calming aids? Travel bowls? If you will be staying at hotels periodically, ensure they allow pets before making a reservation!
Relocating can be stressful for the whole family. Take the time to prepare your family for the move, both mentally and physically!
PRO TIP: Check for social media groups that may be in your new neighborhood! These can be a great source of local information!
Planning for a large move is a great chance to spring clean (even if it’s winter!). Go through your belongings and declutter your home. Having a rummage sale or selling your items in an online marketplace can really help you to downsize, as well as save money for emergency PCS funds! You can also use this opportunity to donate your items to local shelters or donation centers. Downsizing now will help with the process of packing & unpacking your home.
Consider organizing your finances as well! Are there any subscriptions or reoccurring payments that need to be adjusted? It’s always a great idea to have emergency funds set aside (some PCS pros suggest $2,000 – $5,000 depending on a CONUS or OCONUS move). Don’t forget about your entitlements! Work with your personnel/human resources department to have a full understanding of what allotments you’re entitled to and when you can expect them! Many of these funds may not be available to you until after your move.
PRO TIP: Create a PCS binder or planner. This is a great place to keep a moving checklist as well as important documents, such as birth certificates & your POA! Just make sure you know where this binder is at all times, as losing these items can make your move extremely stressful.
Lastly: Stay Positive!
While relocating can be a stressful time for you and your family, it can also be exciting! This is a major milestone and, if handled efficiently, it can serve as a great memory. While there are bound to be snags in the process, remaining positive will help the process to go smoothly.