PCS Moving Tips

When you are moving or “PCS’ing”, everyone has learned that you contact the transportation office, check your documents and/or research the place you are going to live. What’s even better is knowing genius PCS moving tips so you can have a great move. Here are 25 of them.

1. Wait to start planning… no, really. Once you have orders in hand, legit, tangible, orders, THEN you can start planning. There’s no use in creating stress when it can be delayed.

2. Start a diet… for your house. Moving from duty station to duty station, you tend to accumulate a lot of crap stuff. Move room by room to either give everything  a home or put it in the sell/donate/throw away pile.

3. Binder Time. Bust out the binder, it’s time for paperwork. Get a sturdy binder with sleeve protectors, labels, and dividers, and fill ‘er up with all of your important documents. It also helps to create a folder in your email and file any correspondence that pertains to your PCS there.

4. Wait in line. Get yourself on the list ASAP. What list you ask? There’s two important ones: Military Housing List and Childcare List. Research what housing you qualify for, and get on the waitlist if possible. As for childcare, even if you “think” you “may” be pregnant, put the little embryo on there. Childcare lists take FOR-ev-er.

5. Purge. That box in the corner that never got unpacked from the previous move? Get rid of it. If you haven’t used it in 3 years, chances are you won’t need it. The exception is if you’re moving from warm weather to cold weather, and you’ll need coats and jackets. Let’s not end up on an episode of “Hoarders”.

6. Photo/Video OF EVERY ANGLE. You know that taking photos for inventory is a must, but remember to take photos/video of every angle. The movers thought they could get away with punching a hole in THE BACK of my couch. FAIL. I noticed and thankfully took pictures of the back of the couch at our previous duty station.

7. Fresh Start. Wash all of your linens that have been piled up in the back of your linen closet (you know what I’m talking about). If it looks and smells dingy, throw it out. This include curtains, tablecloths, napkins, etc.

8. Big and Little Ziploc bags. These bags are great for packing and keeping similar things together like utensils, silverware, toys, or that giant box of pens (of only which half of them work). Also use them to keep tools and hardware attached to their furniture.

9. Keep all high-value items together. Make sure you’re there when the recorder is writing down everything. If you have the boxes for electronics, leave it out for them to pack (otherwise they might shift any damage blame on you).  And oh yeah, please remember where they packed the remote controls.

10.Sample Size.  Liquids and chemicals don’t get packed. Don’t bother throwing a fit when you see all that wasted money. Instead, in the month or two before you leave, don’t buy large quantities of liquid of chemical items (see you later, Costco!). Try buying sample sizes to avoid waste.

11. Get a really big purse or extra travel bag. Don’t fill it up all the way. There will last minute items or things that weren’t packed or you picked up during the transition of moving. Throw these items into the big bag.

12. Beg for a playdate.  You are much more likely to have friends offer to keep your kids when you are moving out than when you are moving in. Not only should you say yes to any offers of help with your kids, but you should actively ask for help on moving days.  People are willing.

13. Eww.Toss toilet brushes, plungers, old sponges, old mops and brooms. I don’t feel like this needs explaining.

14. Be nice. Especially to the packers. Don’t just be cordial, but be friendly. Learn their names, ask if they need anything. They’re the ones handling your stuff, remember? Some moving companies refuse tips. Bottled water and snacks are always a nice touch.

15. Put aside a few dollars. It’s time for takeout. And sandwiches, lots of sandwiches. The environmentalists will kill me, but perhaps a few days before you pack out only use paper plates and utensils. That way your stuff is guaranteed to be clean and dry.

16. Don’t pack “EVERYTHING”  For ones with kiddos, leave a few toys out to entertain the little ones when the moves arrive. They’ll also need some entertainment when you travel. If you can, call a babysitter to watch the rugrats while the movers are there. If you have pets, reserve some food and treats for your fur-baby.

17. First Day Box. Pack a First Day Box. As in the box you need on your first day at your new place. Include toilet paper, paper towels, shower curtain. More toys for the kids.

18. Label boxes yourself. I know the packers might label boxes. From experience, they either write it really small, really messy, or not at all. When you’re unpacking, it’ll be easier to find things to unpack if you know where they’re going.

19. Outsource cleaning? Consider hiring a local cleaner because then 1) you don’t have to do it 2) cleaners understand how meticulous it has to be for a moveout 3)  you don’t have to do it.  4) you don’t have to spend money on cleaning supplies or see them go to waste. 5) you don’t have to do it. If you would rather clean on your own, divide up the chores, start the week before the packout, so it’s not so overwhelming at the end.

21. Empty. As is empty the trash, the dishwasher, the refrigerator, the washer and dryer for anything that may be left behind.

22.  Now’s the time to be picky. When you get to your new place, take photos before you move in. Document anything and everything that could even maybe possibly be wrong. Turn it into the housing office. Your new landlord will consider you the biggest effing diva, but at least they know you’re not kidding around.

23. Only open one box at a time.  Once you open a box, empty it completely then break down the box. THEN you can move on to the next box. Otherwise you will have a bunch of half-open boxes, and nowhere to put things.

24. Pick up the packing paper as you go. It makes for less stress when you can actually walk around the floor. Assign one or two boxes to be the packing paper box. Before you throw it out, post to your local housing or spouses facebook page to see if anyone will need it.

25. Stay positive. Moving sucks. We know. Focus on the good things like: maybe you’re getting away from the neighbors, a better house, better area, closer to home, etc.

Check out my etsy shop for the ULTIMATE PCS BINDER PRINTABLE KIT or printable art pieces for your new place.

What are some genius PCS Moving tips that have worked for your family?

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10 Comments on 25 Genius Moving Tips for PCS Moves

  1. Jaimi@TheStayatHomeMomSurvivalGuide
    June 13, 2014 at 4:32 pm (4 years ago)

    This is a great list! We are preparing to PCS with kids cross-country. I try to have some travel/moving related books that are age appropriate for them. Also, some simple special activities for the car ride has been a priority as well. They go through the emotional challenges of a move too, so I try to keep that in mind and deal with it together as a home team. Off to pin this post!

    • JD Collins
      June 14, 2014 at 8:27 pm (4 years ago)

      Oh man, pcs with kids…cross-country? you’re a hero! lol. thanks for stopping by!

  2. Carrie
    September 20, 2015 at 1:48 pm (3 years ago)

    After 15+ years at our first and only duty station we are packing up our family and heading to Italy on orders. Do you have any advice as to what to send in the unaccompanied goods? Aside from the normal crockpot,coffee maker, vaccuuum, winter clothes, linens, towels and such? Thank you!

  3. Kim
    November 9, 2015 at 4:00 pm (3 years ago)

    It may cost a bit more than cardboard boxes, but we have invested in plastic totes with lids. They stack up nicely and you can always use them for storage when not moving. 🙂

    • JD Collins
      December 8, 2015 at 8:39 am (3 years ago)

      great tip!

  4. Ginger Harrington
    March 8, 2016 at 6:37 am (2 years ago)

    Hey there, I’m social media coordinator for Planting Roots: Strength to Thrive in Military Life. Love this post and will be sharing it on our FB page this evening. Enjoying your site!

    • JD Collins
      March 14, 2016 at 11:25 am (2 years ago)

      Thank you!

  5. Brittany Fichter
    March 25, 2016 at 3:19 pm (2 years ago)

    Thanks for this post! We’re looking at probably PCSing soon, and I’m already in “planning” mode. I really like your shower curtain suggestion for the First Day box. I haven’t labeled my specifically before, but a helpful tip a friend gave me at our last base was buying those bright garage sale dot stickers, and assigning a color per room. Each box from the kitchen gets a yellow sticker, each bedroom box gets a green sticker, each living room box gets a pink sticker, etc. Then, at the new house, put a sticker on each door post so the packers know which rooms to put the boxes in. It was a life saver!

    • JD Collins
      April 13, 2016 at 10:19 am (2 years ago)

      Great tips!