How to handle the surprise PCS move

How to handle the surprise PCS move

by Chad Storlie

A military career means moving and sometimes it means moving right away. The surprise PCS is one of the most dreaded events because it turns your world upside down with very little time to adapt, a million questions to answer, and no time to get everything done. 

Follow these tips to help make the surprise PCS as painless as possible and maybe even enjoyable.

Attitude Is Everything – Look for The Bright Side of Your New Adventure. No one can prepare for the unexpected. What you can do is to have a positive attitude about the upcoming move and inspire your family to do the same. This inspiration must be realistic, excited, and not syrupy sweet. Help younger children find the activities they love in the new location to get them excited.

Start the Military PCS Process ASAP. Scheduling movers within the time frame of your orders will be one of the potentially hardest things to do. Literally the day you get orders, schedule your appointment with the installation moving office. Once you have your moving dates, packing dates, etc. then start the rest of your planning on when to turn off utilities and cancel other critical services.

Let Your Local Service Provider’s Know Immediately. Start letting your local service providers from utilities, gym memberships, clubs, and contracted services know when you will be moving. Moving under military orders allows most service providers to not charge a penalty since your reason for cancelling your membership is moving due to military service. Ensure that you cancel services on your precise moving date, so you do not lose any critical services.  

Can You Plan a Weekend Visit to Your New Duty Location? One of the best ways to get the family excited about the move whether it is two people or eight is to schedule a short visit. Seeing a new location, playing in the parks, eating at a new restaurant are all ways to begin making memories and creating a sense of excitement about your new location. Additionally, having all family members see and smell their new city helps immeasurably to remove fear and trepidation from the move. Thinking about a new location is one thing but creating family memories of a new location even before the move starts the new process off right.

Get on The Local Unit Social Media Groups & Find a Sponsor. The local social media groups for the base and the unit can help find housing, understand the best local schools, find babysitters, and a tutor that specializes in geometry. Most military units also provide a sponsor that can help answer questions about the local area. However, social media will be your key solution because it allows you to get multiple answers for a question. Best of all, you already are getting to know new people just like you at your new duty station.

Think About On Base Housing, a Temporary Rental or An Apartment. Housing is one of the most difficult decisions to make when you must move quickly. Think seriously about taking the decision off the table and opting for on base housing or a rental. This way, you can find a location to move into immediately and start setting up a new household. Then, when you are settled in your new location, you can better explore some of the longer-term options available such as buying a house or a more preferred rental.

Don’t Forget About Record Keeping. Make a system to collect all receipts for reimbursement and make a video and digital recording of all household items for insurance purposes. Ensure you understand all the military reimbursement policies and any limitations for reimbursable expenses. A great digital record of all your household items is a good idea for insurance in general and a must have before the movers arrive.

Short notice PCS moves can be a positive experience when you set about to create a personal and family attitude that the move will be positive. Planning, a short visit to get everyone excited, and using social media as a planning tool all help reduce the fear and increase the excitement.  Have a great move!

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