Preparing for the Ultimate Move: Understanding Military Permanent Change of Station
Moving can be a challenging experience, but for military personnel, it is a way of life. With regular deployments and transfers, military families often find themselves packing up and relocating more frequently than their civilian counterparts. One of the most significant moves in a military member’s career is the Permanent Change of Station (PCS). Understanding the PCS process and adequately preparing for it can make the transition smoother and less stressful for the entire family.
PCS is a relocation process that requires military personnel and their families to move to a new duty station. This can be within the same country or overseas. PCS orders usually come with a specific timeline, and it is crucial to start preparing as soon as possible to avoid any last-minute stress. Here are some essential steps to help military families prepare for the ultimate move:
1. Research and Plan Ahead: As soon as the PCS orders are received, it is crucial to gather information about the new duty station. Research the area’s cost of living, climate, schools, healthcare facilities, housing options, and other essential factors. This will help in making informed decisions and getting prepared for the new environment.
2. Create a Moving Binder: Keeping all the necessary paperwork in one organized place is essential. Create a moving binder to store documents like PCS orders, medical records, housing information, school documents, and other critical paperwork. This will ensure that everything is easily accessible when needed.
3. Contact the Transportation Office: Coordinate with the military transportation office to discuss shipping personal belongings, vehicles, and pets. It is important to understand weight allowances and any restrictions on certain items. Planning for these logistics early will help avoid any surprises or delays.
4. Sort and De-clutter: Moving offers an opportunity to declutter and get rid of unnecessary items. Sort belongings into categories like keep, sell, donate, or discard. This will help reduce the overall weight of the move and make unpacking in the new home more manageable.
5. Notify Service Providers: Contact service providers such as utilities, internet providers, and insurance companies to cancel or transfer services. Ensure that all bills are settled and notify them of the upcoming move to avoid any unnecessary charges or complications.
6. Prepare for the Sale or Rental of the Current Home: If you own your home, prepare it for sale or rent. Consult with a real estate agent to determine the best strategies for selling or renting in the current market. If renting, consider hiring a property management company to handle any tenant-related concerns while you are stationed elsewhere.
7. Make Travel Arrangements: Depending on the distance, military families may need to plan for a long-distance move. Research travel options and book flights, arrange for temporary lodging if needed, and plan for transportation to the new duty station.
8. Notify Schools and Healthcare Providers: Inform your children’s schools about the move and request transcripts and other essential documents. Also, notify your healthcare provider to request copies of medical records and referrals if necessary. Being proactive in transferring important records will ensure a smooth transition for your family.
9. Prepare the Family: Moving can be emotionally challenging, especially for children. Include them in the process, explain the reasons for the move, and support them through the transition. Research activities and resources available at the new duty station to help ease the adjustment.
10. Stay Organized: Throughout the moving process, it is crucial to stay organized. Keep a checklist of tasks, deadlines, and important contacts. Utilize technology tools like moving apps or spreadsheets to keep track of everything. Staying organized will reduce stress and help ensure a successful move.
Moving is an inherent part of military life, and while each move presents unique challenges, understanding the PCS process can help military families prepare and adapt to their new surroundings. By conducting thorough research, staying organized, and communicating effectively, military personnel and their families can ensure a smoother and less stressful transition to their next duty station.