Top 7 Mistakes When Making a PCS Move

Overspending and inadequate research are the two most common mistakes when moving to a new home, according to USAA and Sandee Payne, author of “That Military House: Move It, Organize It & Decorate It®.”

Nearly 40 million Americans move each year1, including more than half a million active military personnel. Following is a list of the seven most common mistakes families make when they move, based on Payne’s experience as a military spouse who frequently moves:

  1. Spending beyond your budget.Be aware of the hidden costs when buying a home. Consider the financial obligations beyond a mortgage that add to the cost of homeownership, including: city taxes, utilities, insurance, and maintenance – not to mention the length of a commute, given the fluctuations in gas prices. And remember updating expenses such as granite counter tops, plantation shutters, or a pool or spa.
  2. Not researching your new community. Use the Internet to research real estate listings and to learn about your new home, city, local amenities, school ratings, crime rates and children’s activities. Talk to parents in the community who can provide firsthand insight on the topics that are most important to you. Make sure to understand your neighborhood by day and by night before moving in.
  3. Lacking a household inventory.Use photos, video or a notebook to document valuable items. This will help you file a claim if an item is lost or damaged. Store them in a moving file or on a thumb drive.
  4. Not watching how boxes are organized. One of the most common mistakes when moving to a new home is placing large items, like lawn equipment, next to boxes containing valuables in the moving truck. Keep a watchful eye on those packing for you if using a moving company.
  5. Moving all belongings. Not everything has to go with you. Pack suitcases and storage bins as if you’re going on a short vacation. Include essentials for the first few days in your new home. And take the time to separate items into sections of keep, sell, donate or discard before you pack.
  6. Dismantling your electronic equipment without labeling wires. Take photos of the connections, and place the wires in a single box. Knowing how to reinstall your kids’ computer games can be a lifesaver.
  7. Not keeping important documents with you. Hang on to important documents so you can easily re-establish your lifestyle. These are needed at every stage of a move, from making travel arrangements, registering children for school and establishing new physicians using your prior medical records.

“Moving your family can be overwhelming, but technology and timely advice can be the ace up your sleeve,” said Payne. As a military spouse who has moved all over the world seven times in the first 10 years of her marriage, at times on her own and with children while her husband was deployed, she advises that “Military families often move to cities they’ve never visited. I learned that it’s about finding a place that fits your family’s lifestyle with minimal disruption. It’s critical to have online tools and resources you trust, placing you in control of your move.”

To help take some of the stress out of relocation, USAA’s Home Circle provides members access to detailed information about real estate financing and insuring, as well as research, through a computer, iPhone®or AndroidTM regarding homes, rental properties, schools, local amenities, military bases and more. In addition, USAA members can get up to $3,100* when they buy and sell their home through the USAA’s MoversAdvantage® real estate assistance program.

“At USAA, we’re committed to helping our members with the entire moving process. We strive to understand and anticipate our members’ needs and provide innovative solutions that make their lives easier. That’s why we created Home Circle – a free program that guides members through making one of their largest financial decisions,” said Rich Novak, USAA Home Circle assistant vice president. “Since our members move frequently, they can turn to Home Circle to help them find, finance, insure and even rent a home.”

34 percent of consumers agree with Payne. They would prefer to search online for a new place to live, compared with 10 percent who would use newspapers or other printed materials.

About USAA
USAA provides insurance, banking, investment and retirement products and services to 8 million members of the U.S. military and their families. Known for its legendary commitment to its members, USAA is consistently recognized for outstanding service, employee well-being and financial strength. USAA membership is open to all who are serving or have honorably served our nation in the U.S. military – and their families. For more information about USAA, or to learn more about membership, visit

1 According to the U.S. Census Bureau and its Current Population Survey released in May 2010.

MoversAdvantage® offered by USAA Relocation Services, Inc., a licensed real estate broker and subsidiary of USAA Federal Savings Bank. Not available for employer-sponsored relocations, or for transactions in Iowa or outside the U.S. This is not a solicitation if you are already represented by a real estate broker.

Obtaining a mortgage from USAA Bank is optional, not required to utilize the MoversAdvantage® program, and can be acquired from other sources.

Cash bonus limited in some states. Bonus ranges from $350-$1,550 based on sale price of home sold/purchased. You must enroll in program before contacting participating real estate firm and be represented by that firm at closing to qualify for bonus.

Home Circle™ is a program provided by United Services Automobile Association. Availability, eligibility restrictions and fees may apply to certain banking, insurance or ancillary products. Property and casualty insurance provided by United Services Automobile Association, and its affiliate property and casualty insurance companies is available only to persons eligible for P&C group membership. Loans subject to credit and property approval. Bank products provided by USAA Federal Savings Bank, Member FDIC. Purchase of a bank product does not establish eligibility for or membership in USAA property and casualty insurance companies. Equal Housing Lender. Some products provided through Home Circle are provided, directly or indirectly, by third-party providers. Each company or provider has sole liability for its own products.