Planning Your OCONUS PCS Military Move

Thu, May 16, 2019 @ 08:05 AM MILLIE Military Life, PCS Moves

By MILLIE Scout Chelsea Sipe

The official orders are in hand, and you are moving overseas! The rush of emotions overwhelms you, and the questions come faster than you can find answers to them.

If this is your first OCONUS (Outside Continental United States) move, it’s ok. There are so many amazing resources, tips, and tricks out there to help you make sure this move is a success! Check out the top questions for planning a PCS military move: OCONUS.

Planning Your OCONUS PCS Military Move

Planning Your OCONUS Military Move

1) How is an OCONUS move different than moving in the Continental US?

  • You’ve probably moved already with the military, but this is different because you are moving overseas. That could mean to Hawaii, Alaska, Asia, Europe, or beyond!
  • Your household goods will be crated. This should be done at your residence and you should watch them seal each crate before the truck leaves.
  • The military will pay to ship ONE vehicle; you need to decide what to do with the other. You can either pay to store it, sell it, or pay to ship it privately.
  • There are three shipments: Household Goods (HHG), Unaccompanied Baggage (UAB), and Storage. All of these are included and free for service members. The HHG shipment is for the bulk of your furniture and household items. The UAB shipment is for the items you need as soon as you arrive (linens, kitchen items, extra supplies). Then finally, the storage shipment--you’ll need to decide what you want to store. Typical items include larger furniture, 110v appliances for overseas moves, and items you don’t think you’ll want.
  • If you have pets, you need to start researching the requirements to bring them. Look into cost effective and pet friendly airlines, see which paperwork is required and give yourself plenty of time to meet the deadlines.

*Pro Tip: Get a power of attorney so that as a spouse, you can handle some of the items on your own.

2) What can I do to make my OCONUS move run smoothly?

  • Make sure your sponsor attends a levy brief. This brief is required for any service member moving OCONUS. Details include how to book flights, scheduling packing out dates, per diem rates, how many nights of hotel are permitted, and more.
  • Make sure your official orders are CORRECT! Check to make sure they include all members of the family and their information is correct. Your orders are your gateway to everything, so always double check.
  • Get organized! Purge items you no longer need, put smaller items into small plastic containers or baggies, clean all of the items before they are packed, and separate items you’ll need (birth certificates, jewelry, important documents).
  • Label all the boxes before they go on the truck. You might have a language barrier if this is an overseas move, so color coding the boxes can make your life so simple. Purchase moving labels online or use different colored stickers or markers. Figure out a system that works for you and make sure you write it down, so you don’t forget!

*Pro Tip: Have a separate room, closet or use your car to store all items you don’t want packed. This includes your travel documents, personal belongings, wallet, and keys.

3) I’m so nervous about this move. Where can I connect with other families?

Moving has changed so much over the years. It used to be you had to rely on your sponsor to give you information, but now you can easily find resources on the web.

Facebook: Be sure to do a search for you new military base. Facebook groups are popping up everywhere and they are a wonderful way to connect with families who are experiencing the same process or have already moved. You can ask questions, read past posts and start feeling a sense of community. Moving the MILLIE Way is a thriving group with weekly live streams featuring duty station experts (a.k.a. military spouses) from around the world!

MILLIE: From PCS checklists to a toolkit for military landlords, MILLIE has loads of relocation resources. If you need any help with your home while you are overseas, check out MILLIE Scouts, military spouses who can check on your rental and even tenants while you are gone! 

Google to find some great military family blogs written by other military spouses. You can find just about everything on the internet, and connecting with another spouse might just be the thing you need to feel comfortable about your upcoming move.

*Pro Tip: Write down your questions, keep a binder or notebook with all the moving details, and start researching early.  

4) I want to take full advantage of this new adventure. Where can I find information to get me excited?

  • Moving is stressful, but finding things to look forward to can ease the stress. Chances are the OCONUS move means a new place to explore and counties to visit! 
  • Write down a bucket list of things you want to do. If you have kids, get them involved!
  • Connect kids to other children close to their age. Having someone around the same age to explain all the child related concerns and having a friend when they arrive can help kids get excited about the upcoming move.

*Pro Tip: Start a Pinterest Board to organize all the adventures and bucket list items. Then it is easy to find and reference!

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About the author: Chelsea Sipe is a military spouse and previous military dependent with over 33 years of military moving experience. She is a mother of one little boy, a licensed special education teacher and a Millie Scout. After living around the globe, including a recent move to Germany, she started a family travel blog to encourage other families to travel. Check it out at

MILLIE is an online community and digital marketplace that connects members of the military and their families with specialized knowledge and trusted resource providers to remove the stress and anxiety of PCS’ing. Check out MILLIE’s Installation and Neighborhood Guides, our network of Veteran and military spouse Realtors, and Scout, our on-demand task service composed of military spouses.