5 tips to help with the PCS purge

5 tips to help with the PCS purge

by Stacy Roman
Stripes Europe

‘Tis the season for the sights and sounds of the age-old military rite of passage — moving. Getting notified of a permanent change of station (PCS) is guaranteed to ratchet up the anxiety levels in even the most laid-back person. Before the movers arrive, I’ve found there’s one thing most people do to help make things a bit easier on both ends of the move: the PCS purge. Although it can be daunting once you get started, here are a few tips to keep in mind when the process feels overwhelming.

1. Slow and steady wins the race. When we get a new set of orders, my gut instinct is to frantically flit around the house and start pulling things out of closets. Without fail, about halfway through, the adrenaline dissipates, and I’m left with piles of stuff in each room while I take a pizza and Netflix break on the couch. Go slow and systematically go through one room or one area in your house at a time. It creates less mess and helps keep you organized.

2. Cut down on bulk. Is your couch beginning to swallow you up every time you sit down? Maybe the wood on your coffee table is starting to bow or your mattress has hills and valleys forming from years of wear and tear. Identify the bulky items you plan on replacing at your next stop. By purging these, you’ll free up precious weight in your household goods shipment and you won’t have as much of a challenge when it comes to playing furniture Tetris in your new home.

3. Designate and separate. When you start going (slowly) through your belongings, create different piles— literal or not — and make lists to go back to as you go along. Figure out what to keep, what to sell, what to donate and what to trash. For instance, the extra EU-spec beverage fridge with plenty of life left goes on the “sell” list. The clothes my kids outgrew and only wore maybe once? Into the “donate” bag. The cracked yard tools and buckets? Into the trash or recycling bin they go. But those gnome glühwein mugs? Definitely keeping those.

4. Part ways with any duplicates. If you got more than one of the same item, see which one is in better shape and say “adios” to the one that doesn’t work or isn’t in great working condition. If you have items in non-temporary storage that will be delivered at your next assignment, pull the list and compare it to what you have. Moving to Germany, we purchased an identical vacuum to the one we accidentally put in storage in the States. I’m only going to need one, so I’ll likely sell or donate the one we purchased here.

5. Let the mystery box go. Is there a box or two hanging out in the garage which hasn’t been opened for a few moves? It’s time to let it go. Unless it holds memories and keepsakes from your past, odds are you don’t need what’s in there. We had an unopened box follow us for five moves. When we finally decided to see what was in it, we realized we had been moving dried-up pens and old reference books which were sorely out of date. Needless to say, they’re no longer accompanying us on our moves.

It’s tempting to survey your things and just give up, especially if you’ve been in one location for more than a year or two. It’s easy to accumulate items and knickknacks. Going through your belongings methodically and clearing out the unnecessary items will help keep your organized. You’ll thank yourself when you’re unpacking less boxes on the other side.

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