In Part 1 of this series JD hit the nail on the head when she said PCS’ing can be a stressful time for military families. Packing up your belongings every couple years and moving to a place you’ve never been isn’t always easy.
While Part 1 did a great job of outlining the nitty-gritty part of the PCS process, below I outline the big-picture items to keep in mind during your next move. I can say from personal experience the following items can help lower your stress and make the PCS process much smoother.
Start Researching Your New Base
As soon as you receive orders, start educating yourself on your next duty station. Hit up Google, official duty station Facebook pages, and free resources like MILLIE to learn more about your duty station. Find out what the weather is like there, where the best schools are located, how big the base is, the traffic patterns, amenities available on base and more. This will help you get acquainted with your base and manage your expectations before you even arrive.
Fall In Love With Your Next Duty Station
Did you receive orders somewhere you don’t really want to live? It happens. But instead of pointing out the bad and creating more stress for yourself, look at the positive side of things. During your research look for activities that would be fun for your family in the area. Maybe it’s visiting a national park, being close to lots of museums, having a killer craft beer scene or an awesome on-base water park. Start making some preliminary plans for your family and get excited about the opportunities available.
Do The Math
Before diving into finding a new home, do the math for your new duty location. That includes:
- Figuring out your BAH
- Average cost of living in the area (utilities, electricity, groceries, etc)
- Cost of living on base
- Cost of living off base
- Lifestyle costs (sports teams fees, registration fees, gym fees, etc)
Look For A Home
Don’t wait until you arrive at your new duty station and your spouse is on permissive leave to start looking for a home. Start your search early. Use MILLIE to find great neighborhoods off-base; check out Zillow or MilitaryByOwner to find homes for sale or for rent in those great neighborhoods; visit GreatSchools.org to learn more about the local schools and which one is best for your child; utilize Google maps to help calculate commute times for your family. All of these items play an important role in finding the perfect home, so don’t skip them!
Figure Out Your Pattern Of Life
When looking for a home think about your pattern of life. That will have a major effect on where you decide to live. Consider things like:
- How long your spouse is willing to commute to work
- How long you’re willing to commute to work (if you work or will be looking for work)
- What extracurricular activities your family is involved in
- What type of amenities you need to have nearby
Start the Homebuying/Renting Process Before You Move
Just like I said above, don’t wait until you arrive at your new duty station to buy or a rent a home, if you can. Closing on a house can take 30 to 45 days, so make sure to contact a realtor plenty in advance if you plan to buy.
If you plan to rent sight unseen, consider hiring a Scout to walk through your potential rental, send you pictures and even Facetime you so you can get a better idea of the condition of the house before signing a lease. Taking these steps in advance will make it easier to do a door to door move.
Are you PCS’ing soon or did you just do so? What’re some other big-picture tips you can offer to help ease the PCS process?