PCS Time Crunch? 5 Essential Tips You Shouldn’t Skip

5 Essential Tips You Shouldn't Skip When You PCS

It’s practically common knowledge that a Permanent Change of Station (PCS) is time consuming and not to mention involved…very involved. That’s why our spouses warn us early on in our relationships that constant moving is a part of the military lifestyle.

In an effort to ease the time-consuming nature of PCSing, there is a wealth of information on the web to help us with every aspect of a military move. NextGen MilSpouse put together a great tip sheet that rounds up useful websites, worksheets and other applicable resources. Did you just get orders? Check it out here.

Aside from all the checklists floating around from our favorite military organizations, there are still tasks that often get overlooked or you run out of time before the packers arrive.

Yet, there are certain things that your military family really, really (and I mean REALLY) shouldn’t skip.

5 Essential Tips You Shouldn't Skip

Be sure to carve out time to do these 5 things for your next PCS:

Conduct a Home Inventory

You’ve probably heard horror stories of families missing out on damage claims, lost certain items or even become victim of an unexpected disaster while moving. In a lot of cases, those families lose out in the actual cost of their goods because of the lack of documentation. There was a recent story of an Air Force family losing a safe with a whole lotta valuables during a PCS. Because they didn’t document the safe, there is no solid proof that it was actually moved. Talk about a huge bummer!

The Automated Housing Referral Network (AHRN.com) created a video series and a unique worksheet as part of their PCS Toolkit that explains the important nature of a home inventory for EVERY military family.

Seriously, be detailed when recording video and taking pictures of major appliances and electronics in working condition. In addition, include the serial numbers or critical components in your shots to back up any claim you might have to file if the item is damaged or doesn’t turn up at your next duty station. This is the best way to protect your household goods.

Stick to Your PCS Budget

Budgeting for a PCS always lands on the radar, but sometimes it’s more like a generalization than an actual breakdown of figures and entitlements. Or, if you’re like me, you start doing all the leg work like writing down your budget and calculating, but lose out on the process during the actual move.

Making sure you have your entitlements correct saves you from out-of-pocket expenses and surprise charges.

For example, my husband and I signed our lease mid-afternoon, but still had to move in all our stuff from the rental truck. We were too exhausted to lift a finger by that point, so we decided to stay at a hotel that night to recharge our batteries. Since we technically already had a residence, we were not reimbursed for that lodging expense. That’s why creating some buffer room in your PCS budget is important. You really never know how things will turn out!

Related: Ridin’ Solo (Or Moving Solo): How To PCS When Your Spouse Is Away

Create a Pet Resume

While searching for a new home, we take every family member into consideration…even the furry ones. Sometimes, it gets discouraging because a lot of rentals might not allow pets or maybe only accept small-sized pets. Despite the size of your beloved pets, military families should put together a pet resume for potential landlords or property managers. Not only does it show responsibility, it can give landlords or property managers that won’t consider pets a chance to get to know your additional family member. In your pet resume, put together a detailed rundown of references, recent vaccinations and any other relevant information.

Make an Appoinment with Base Legal for a Power of Attorney

For my husband, it was the scariest thing he’s ever done…give legal reins to another person, but I wouldn’t have been able to plan our PCS with it. The beauty of a Power of Attorney (POA) is that you can make it limited to only certain things. I encourage you and your spouse to meet with legal services to discuss what type you need for your upcoming PCS.

My husband was overseas during a majority (in reality all) of the planning process of our most recent PCS. Without it, I wouldn’t have been able to do a lot of scheduling or planning. Even if your husband is local, consider obtaining one as a “just in case.” Seriously, you never know what will happen.

Purge Before Packing

Even if you think you’ll have enough room at your next home, take the time to evaluate what your family has accumulated. Purging can save you from hoarding goods that you really don’t need. It’s also a good way to add to your PCS budget with a garage sale or donate unwanted goods to a local charity. Really, this purge will help you feel good and start fresh.

What critical things do you never skip when planning your PCS? I would love to hear your list. Tell us in the comments. 


  1. I like to research the area for groceries, nearest gas stations, and even my favorite chain stores and restaurants. It helps us decided which neighborhood(s) would be preferred in contrast to proximity to the base.


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