By Melissa Renahan, Military Spouse and Writer
“If I knew then what I know now…”
When you look back on your first PCS experience (or any PCS for that matter), there are inevitably things that you WISH you knew. They say that hindsight is always 20/20, yet maybe there is a way to gain insight from those who have gone before you and shed a little light on the situation…and decrease your stress level.
I asked a few wives who recently survived their first PCS to share what they WISH they knew before hitting the proverbial road…
Betsy Eves, an Army spouse who recently PCS’d to Grafenwoehr, Germany had lots to offer – probably because her first PCS was such a big one. For starters, she said to save, save, save before you go! She estimates that saving (or having access) to at least $3,000 for extra expenses during travel and upon your first arrival is safe. Why not use Sargeslist to generate some of that extra money before you go? Cleaning out the garage can really benefit you in other ways, like when it comes to paying for lodging at the new duty station while waiting on the military to reimburse you.
Eves also recommends having funds so that you can rent a car (especially when you are heading overseas and your one car shipment may take more than a few weeks).
“Plan ahead, save money for the car. It’ll be well worth it to have a vehicle until your car arrives. Usually there are car rental agencies on base – which are usually a lot cheaper than on the economy,” said Eves.
Sara Braden, yet another newly PCS’d Army spouse, wanted to remind everyone set to embark on the PCS road not to stress!
While that may fall under the easy to say, hard to do category, Braden is right. If you are doing a partial DITY or letting the military move everything, they are responsible for packing, transporting and unpacking your things – plus they are insuring it arrives unbroken. So try and keep that in mind and take a deep breath when you feel overwhelmed.
“Definitely do the ‘I’m getting rid of stuff before we move’ months ahead of time,” said Braden, who actively used Sargeslist to purge her crowded new house. “We did it on the back end and I think doing it before we moved would’ve been better, but either way, it does feel good to get rid of stuff you don’t need/use.”
When it comes to housing, both wives had pieces of advice to impart.
“If you plan to live on base at the next duty station, plan to get on the housing list as soon as your husband (or whomever the servicemember is) has orders. Its not always a quick process, so this can make it easier once you get there,” said Eves.
Conversely, Braden wanted to remind those who need to sell their home at the old duty station to get started as soon as possible. Evaluating whether you want to (or can) sell your home or want to rent it out can take some time and waiting until the last minute won’t make anything easier.
Finally, Eves also wanted to remind families to use the services offered by the military to ease a PCS. From the Relocation Readiness services (which can fall under the Army Community Service, Airmen and Family Readiness Center, etc., depending on your branch of service) to other PCS courses that may be offered for OCONUS locations, learning about your new home before you go can be beneficial.
Few other things to keep in mind:
1. Plan your road trip out ahead of time if you are driving. From mileage per day to hotel reservations, set plans will make it all go smoother!
2. Take care of your movers! You are not required to feed them and be hospitable, but believe me it goes a long way to ensure that they are extra careful with your things.
3. Pack as much household goods as you can…within reason. Things like bedding, towels, some general kitchen items and an air mattress can really make the transition into the new place easier while you wait for the moving truck to arrive.
4. Keep all of your important documents in one place that you can access on the trip! So not send these with the movers.
Hope this helps you prepare to PCS, with less stress, hassle and maybe even a smile on your face because of what you knew ahead of time!