7 Tips for a Smoother PCS

So your family got orders to the other side of the country? Great! Now what?!

Disclaimer: I am not a PCS expert. In fact, we’ve only had to PCS as a family once in my husband’s 10+ year naval career. Nonetheless, these tips saved us a few unnecessary headaches along the way.

When making a move to another state as a single person (read: without children), your mentality is different. The potential stressors are different. The anxiety levels are tapered. What you haven’t figured out yet, will figure itself out when you get there.

NOT when you’re a family of four with two toddlers and two small dogs.

We found out we were leaving our “nest” back in January 2021. We were leaving the house we built together in 2017, the house we brought our two boys home from the hospital to. The house we made a home. Our orders read: NAS Pensacola. We were headed to the Sunshine State!

The first thing that came to mind was “what’s the job market like there?” The next thing I pondered was “where the heck are we going to live?” Before I knew it, I was knee-deep in Facebook groups and in the archives of Google trying to find a place for The Gardners to call “home.” Knowing that no place will ever feel like, or amount to, the home we created for ourselves in Chesapeake, VA.

Everything was on the table. Apartments, condos, townhouses. Places for sale. Places for rent. In the housing market we were in, options were of the utmost importance.

Here are a few tips to help make your first (or next) PCS move smooth:

1. Plan to visit before your move date. If your family has the means to visit your new place of residence before your actual move date, by all means do it! You will be able to find your absolute “no” areas and areas of potential. This will help narrow down all the other searches that will come.

2. Get organized. Make a list of all the bills paid in your current household and map those bills to the prospective vendors in your new location. This will ensure you don’t move into your new home without… setting up the Wi-Fi.

3. Secure your shelter. Let’s face it, things happen. We were one month out from our move-date with no place to live. Instead of waiting on the universe to lay out our cards, we ensured we had a backup plan for at least two weeks at a local hotel (suite with kitchenette).

4. Three letters - DMV. Determine the requirements for moving vehicles from one state to another. Changes in insurance minimums. Potential changes in insurance service provider.

5. Secure the bag. Now is the time to be frank and honest with your current employer, if you have one. You are a human with needs, and a few of your basic needs are food, water and shelter. All of us which you’d have none of if you were suddenly unemployed. Ask your employer if WFH options are available and if the answer is “no,” start your job search NOW.

6. Get on as many childcare waitlists as humanly (and financially) possible, even site unseen. The pandemic has impacted EVERYTHING including childcare centers.

7. One woman’s trash. Seriously, sis. Throw it away now. Don’t let the people come and pack up things that will ultimately be unpacked, questioned and trashed at your new location. Take the time to comb through your belongings and rid yourself of the “fluff.”

What are some unconventional things that helped your family get through a PCS?

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