Countdown To Moving Day: PCS (Permanent Change of Station) Relocation Checklist

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Spring is set to arrive and, for many military families, it’s relocation season again. Yet some will spend too much time enjoying the fresh air and not enough on basic planning that will help avoid the potential financial pitfalls of a PCS.

For a PCS (Permanent Change of Station) move, you have three choices of how to transport your household goods: commercial movers hired by the military, a DITY (do-it-yourself) move, or a partial DITY move (a combination). The military will pay for your move based on the estimated weight of your household items, not to exceed the weight allowance determined by your pay grade.

Talk to a counselor at the personal property office or transportation office (the name varies according to the branch of service) to help determine whether a commercial or DITY move, or some combination, is best for you. When considering expenses such as a one-way rental truck and storage until your new housing is ready, a DITY move may not prove as profitable as you expect.

Use this master relocation checklist as you prepare your move:

12 weeks to go: Upon receiving orders, contact your personal property office and schedule a counseling session to submit paperwork. Begin a file to track moving and house-hunting expenses. Whatever is not covered by allowances is tax deductible. Identify your “sponsor” at your new command so you know whom to ask questions. Begin researching housing and kids’ schools in your new city. Search for child care. If you own your home and wish to sell, contact a realtor to put it on the market.

11 weeks to go: Compile an inventory of household possessions and valuables, including photos and serial numbers. Meet with the counselor to submit paperwork and provide an estimated weight of household goods. If you exceed the weight allowance, get an estimate from your movers and start saving now to pay for the extra amount.

10 weeks to go: Receive moving dates from the personal property office. Call movers to schedule a pre-move meeting. If you have decided on a DITY move, reserve a rental truck. Meet with a counselor to obtain an estimate of how much dislocation and travel allowances you will receive. Begin to plot a budget and a timeline for travel.

9 weeks to go: Spouses, update your resume! Start your job search now. Review family records (legal, medical, insurance, birth certificates) and set them aside in a group. Get checkups, if needed, and obtain copies of medical records. Notify homeowners’, renters’ and auto insurance of your address change and make sure you are covered in transit. Check to see if your bank is located in your new hometown or sign up for a national bank.

8 weeks to go: Clean out your closets and garage. Hold a yard sale or donate items for the tax deduction. If you plan to live off base, go house hunting now and try to sign a rental contract. If you will live on base, contact the housing office and ask to sign up for the waiting list.

7 weeks to go: Check school schedules and transfer the children’s records. Have fun planning your travel; turn it into a vacation!

6 weeks to go: Take pets to the vet and obtain health certifications and medical records. Give one month’s notice to your employer and get a letter of referral. Use the remaining two weeks to plan your move.

5 weeks to go: This is the drop-dead date for obtaining housing in your new hometown. Notify your current landlord as required by your lease. Discuss a time to review your home and get a refund of your security deposit.

4 weeks to go: Obtain a change of address kit from the post office. Send change of address cards to family, friends, magazine subscriptions, etc.

3 weeks to go: Contact utility companies to cut off service and obtain letters of referral. Notify them of your forwarding address to pay final bills and get refunds of any security deposits. Get a list of utilities in new hometown from your landlord or real estate agent and contact them to set up service.

2 weeks to go: Make reservations for overnight stays during your last night in town and, if appropriate, for your travel. If you plan to drive, have your car serviced. If shipping your car, have it picked up.

1 week to go: Notify credit card companies of your address change. You will need to use the new address when verifying any purchases.

Don’t freak out! The military is required to pay for moving your family and household goods – and that’s a pretty good deal! But proper preparation will make the experience far less stressful.

By Meredith Leyva

About The Author

George Morris

In his 40-plus-year newspaper career, George Morris has written about just about everything -- Super Bowls, evangelists, World War II veterans and ordinary people with extraordinary tales. His work has received multiple honors from the Society of Professional Journalists, the Louisiana-Mississippi Associated Press and the Louisiana Press Association. He avoids debt when he can and pays it off quickly when he can't, and he's only too happy to suggest how you might do the same.