Tips to Make Your Pre-PCS Househunting Trip a Success
PCS anxiety is settling in--some lucky few have orders, while others are still waiting. The torturous inner dialogue within ourselves is, “Do I look, or do I wait?” Waiting for the 100%, Go! to look for available homes in your potential new city is nearly impossible, especially for major-plan-ahead people like me.
This is why I propose a trip to house hunt early.
We’ve done it before, and will certainly do it again because the relief of having some control over your own destiny is worth the money spent. But it can get expensive and time consuming so, I’ve got a few tips to share.
Tips for a Successful Househunting Trip
MilitaryByOwner is the first place to begin home shopping, of course, with rentals and home sales available near every base. Decide early what your priorities are and search accordingly to weed out homes that won’t work.
Does school or commute rank highest? Are monthly payments under BAH most important? Is a fenced in yard for the pets a must?
You might have to dig deeper. Most of us want the best house in the best neighborhood, and sometimes those homes lay low in the hidden world of neighborhood Facebook pages and local community boards.
These houses are purely word of mouth and never make it to any advertised website. Start snooping and joining and, at minimum, you’ll learn specific info about the neighborhood that can only be learned by living there.
Before You Leave
- Research and contact a local real estate agent if you prefer the help. Keep an open mind about the inventories if both renting and buying are an option.
- Travel experts recommend purchasing plane tickets on the weekends, about 45 days out.
- Gather and organize credit card points, hotel, airline, and loyalty cards for free stays and flights. Train trips and car rentals might be available on points, too. Don’t forget about military lodging.
- Plan ahead to make a mini vacation and do a fun activity to break up the house hunting. Visit a museum or a site the locals recommend.
- Find your chosen school’s website to learn about their programs and schedule an appointment.
- Read multiple school and neighborhood review sites like Military Town Advisor and School Quest.
When You Get There
- Between house showings, learn the area and find the places important to you. Doctor’s office, library, Target, or grocery stores and restaurants. Getting lost forces you to learn the city quickly.
- Check out after school activities such as dance studios or community theater.
- Visit your favorite home picks during different times of day to gauge traffic.
- Keep logging into your saved property searches to see if new homes pop up while visiting.
- Find a system of note taking to remember the details of multiple homes. A simple notebook will work.
- If the lease is signed or the sale paperwork is in progress, jot down measurements of rooms and any other questionable architecture or space to compare to your furniture and accessories at home.
Admittedly, these early house hunting trips turn out better when you’re about 80% sure of the transfer. But the less stressed state of mind that comes from a comforting forward trip usually makes up for the uncertainty of heading out early.