The holidays are over, and your next major challenge is only a couple months away: the spring PCS. You’d like to say you’ve been preparing for this event for months, but that would be a lie. Save for a few of you out there, you completely forgot you had to uproot your life and move again this spring, thanks to the madness of the holidays.
The good news is there’s still time to get your rear in gear! Make it your first new year’s resolution or goal that you’ll be able to check off right away. (Conquer a short-term goal and your longer-term resolutions will seem easier to accomplish!)
Now that you’re motivated and feeling like you can take on this monumental task (because I know you can!), let’s take a look at the following ways you can prep for your spring PCS.
Start Your Research
If you haven’t figured out housing already, now is the time to do so. With BAH rates recently changing, first go online and figure out how much BAH you can expect in your new area. Then, stop by MILLIE to see if they have a base guide for your new installation. You’re not going to find reviews on this site, but you will find tons of great information on the off-base neighborhoods, local schools and housing prices -- all of which will help you decide where to live.
If you know living on base is the right choice for your family, call now to find out if there’s a wait list and if you can get on it. Too many military families wait too long to find out about on-base housing options and end up having to find an off-base option at the last minute.
If you know living off base is the right choice for your family, start your home search on MilitaryByOwner. Once you’ve narrowed down a couple options, you can hire a Scout to walk through any rental homes you're considering, take photos, and even give you a rundown of the neighborhood. It’ll make renting site unseen much less risky and can help you avoid missing out on your ideal property.
If you know you want to buy a home, believe it or not, a MILLE AgentHero can help you get the home buying process started before you leave your current duty station. They, too, can check out properties for you and help you take advantage of the VA Loan process.
Whatever method you choose, try to find a property before you PCS. This gives your family the chance to skip extended hotel stays and move right into your new place!
Make another small New Year’s resolution to clean out the house. Spring cleaning isn’t in the cards for you, as you’ll be moving during that annual tradition. So grab some leftover shipping boxes from the holidays and start filling them up!
Start by finding all of the “junk” in your house. Old paperwork, Mardi Gras beads, cookie bouquet baskets, old clothes...you name it. If it’s junk or doesn’t get used regularly and isn’t a treasured item, it’s time to say farewell. Remember, you’ve got a weight limit, so why waste those precious pounds on junk?
Then go through your wardrobe, your kitchen, your living room, and the rest of the rooms in your house and take a good long look at the items in each. Do you use all of these items regularly? Have you outgrown them? Could someone less fortunate benefit from using the second version of an item you own? Again, see where you can lighten the load of your HHG and also spread some love to others in the community.
Did your kids receive a bunch of new toys for Christmas? Have they outgrown some of their other playthings? Ask your kids to be part of the process, too, and have them get rid of and donate anything they don’t use anymore or that there is excess of. It’s a great lesson for them and takes some of the work off you!
Have beautiful artwork in your home? A handmade dining room table? Heirloom furniture? A valuable collection of toys or comic books? Now is the time to get all of that appraised by a local appraiser.
This may seem like an over-the-top step, but if your items really are that precious, it’s good to have documentation on hand for when things go...awry...during the moving process. Then you’ll have hard evidence of just what those items are worth so the moving company can’t short-change you for reimbursements.
It’s time to start eating your way through the house. Take a look at your dried goods, liquor cabinet, dressings and sauces, and freezer items and start using up those items in the next couple months. Throw a party, start making creative meals...do anything you need to use up those items. It’ll reduce the amount you have to throw away or pack in your car when it comes time to head out.
Dust off your camera and go through your house and photograph EVERYTHING. Every inch of every room with everything in it. I even went through our huge DVD binder and photographed every page, just in case any of my Harry Potter DVDs went “missing.” It sounds insane, and it kind of is, but when your couch turns up at your next duty station scratched beyond belief, you’ll have photographic evidence that the damage was from the movers, not your kids. Make sure there’s a time stamp on all of the images and then store them in Google Drive or Dropbox for safe-keeping.
Don’t Forget Lassie
No matter where you’re headed, but especially if you’re going OCONUS, it’s time to get your pet into the on base veterinary clinic. They’ll be able to make sure everything is okay with your pet and update any shots or procedures that need to be done. Even if you have an off base vet that you love, getting them into the DoD system is never a bad idea. They keep all paperwork stored in an online system that’s accessible at any base (with a vet clinic) anywhere in the world. So if your pet’s paperwork goes missing, you’ll have an electronic back up.
In the months leading up to your move, and especially about two weeks before the packers arrive, go through and wash everything in your house. Comforters, blankets, sheets, towels, clothing, rugs, even the curtains. It will make all the difference in the world when you show up to your new place and everything is clean!
While there are TONS of other things you can do to prepare for your spring PCS, these items will help you get off to a great start (and even make the process less stressful for you!).
About the Author: Alexis Miller is the Social Media Coordinator for MILLIE, a website dedicated to making the PCS process easier for military families. Their free information on duty stations, experienced AgentHeroes and helpful Scouts are all resources military families can tap into any time they have to PCS. When Alexis isn't busy working for MILLIE, she's doing yoga, rock climbing, fly fishing or traveling.