7 Tips for a Successful Military Move
If you’re facing a permanent change of station (PCS) in the near future, you’re not alone. The average military family moves 6-7 times – or every 2-3 years – over a 20-year military career. That’s about 10 times more than a non-military family. With each move, you’ll undoubtedly lean more about the easiest and most efficient ways to move (you may even choose to do it yourself and save the stipend provided by the military), but if you’re just getting started, here are 7 tips to make your next PCS even more successful.
Get Your Date on the Calendar
As soon as you receive your PCS orders, it’s a good time to mentally start the process of preparing for your move, and laying the groundwork for a smooth transition. More than 225,000 Department of Defense and U.S. Coast Guard household good shipments are slated for movement during the summer months, and compounding with civilian moves, creates a peak moving season from May to August. The sooner you can request your pickup and delivery dates, the better. Make an appointment with your Transportation Office (TO) /Personal Property Shipping Office (PPSO)/Personal Property Transportation Office (PTO) right away and explore the various options available to you for your move. Use this time to ask any questions and get all documents that you will need to complete for the move.
Once you have a date set, notify your current housing office or landloard about your move out date, making sure to find out the requirements for cleaning and other regulations for the move-out. Remember that your move date is not set in stone until confirmed with you TO, so you’ll want to make that happen before setting your final move-out date. Now is also a good time to check with your finance office to plan for the expenses of the move and learn about any relocation benefits you might be eligible for.
Next, contact the family center at your new base to learn about their relocation services and the new community you’ll be joining. If you’re considering living off base, try your best to plan a trip or two to your new city if possible to search for housing in person, and be on the look out for military housing scams. Remember to contact the Transportation Service Provider (TSP) as soon as you arrive at your new duty station, and make sure that have all of your current contact information. They will help arrange delivery of your personal property shipments as well as temporary storage if needed.
Sort, Declutter, and Save
Another step to begin right away is going through your household items to prioritize what you’ll take with you and what you can part with. It’s a great chance to declutter and make a little extra cash by having a yard sale to get rid of unneeded items. Start gathering all your important documents and family records into one place, and begin sorting your clothing and other household goods (HHG), keeping in mind that the military does assign a weight limit of what it will move for you – typically around 2,000 pounds – based on rank, family status, and type of PCS (overseas and unaccompanied tours have different limits). If you are going overseas, start thinking about what you’ll want to ship, what can be sent as unaccompanied baggage, and what can go into long-term storage, considering that electric current is different and houses are generally much smaller. Simplify as much as you can! It’s also a good time to start documenting and creating an inventory for your items, listing them by room; you can even use a smartphone app to keep track of your household items in case of loss or damage.
Utilize Your Online Tools
If you haven’t yet explored it, now is the time to check out the Defense Personal Property System (DPS) portal, Move.mil. It’s important to keep your contact information updated on the site, as it will put you in direct contact with your government movers. There are several helpful pamphlets available here as well, on topics like shipping or storing your personally owned vehicle (POV). It’s also important to start thinking about shipping any firearms you may have, as you will need to abide by the laws of your new state or country of residence. If you are returning to the U.S., from oversees you’ll have to fill out forms from the ATF and the process can take as long as 6 weeks.
Consider a Personally Procured Move
Formerly known as a Do It Yourself Move (DITY), you might benefit from a Personally Procured Move (PPM) if you’re willing to roll up your sleeves, stay organized, and do the work yourself. With a PPM, the government will pay 95 percent of what it would have cost it to move you; if you spend less than that amount (proven by your receipts), you can keep the difference, and make a nice chunk of change. A PPM is also allowed more time, so you may find it a bit less stressful, and you may also enjoy the control it gives you over the process. You’ll need to apply for the PPM at your meeting with your Transportation Officer, so be sure to ask about the option then. Remember that you will be reimbursed after the move, so keep all receipts and be sure to submit all the required paperwork within 45 days of completing your move. Military.com has a great guide on tips for a successful PPM.
Start a Calendar and Checklist
Just like any major event, a move has many moving parts and action items that should be executed at different times. It’s a great idea to create a move calendar and count back to at least three months out to give yourself ample time. Military.com features several time-based checklists that help ensure you don’t miss any details, even the smallest. For example, it’s a good idea to get one last dental and medical check up with your local health care providers before you move, and you’ll want to refrain from ordering any new items for delivery at your current location. Using these checklists can help simplify the last few weeks and days before your move and help reduce overall stress for your family and yourself.
Organization and planning can help you focus on saving a happy and meaningful farewell to your current station, and have time to focus on the new adventure that lies ahead.
Written by Megan Hammons