7 tips for surviving a PCS or Permanent Change of Station


We are moving… again!

No big surprise, we’ve been in Utah for quite a while, so it’s time for us to venture a little further west.

With that… drum roll, please…

I present to you, 7 tips for surviving a PCS or Permanent Change of Station: 

7. Get organized

I know, I know, it sounds like a no-brainer, but seriously!  You’ll want to take time to go through items you no longer want/need – believe me, my closet took me DAYS.  This will ease the stress later when you’re unpacking items in your new location; the last thing you’ll want to worry about is finding a place to donate or dump your unneeded things.

HEADS UP: Sometimes you’ll have a team of packers come prior to the people who are actually moving your items – so you’ll actually have “packers” and “movers” and sometimes these are two separate contracted companies.  This means you may have additional dates/times to coordinate – you’re going to want to ensure you’re organized and know who is coming when.

TIP: I typically purge all unnecessary things and donate or toss them.  When I have a set date for the movers to come, I will take a few days in advance and completely clean out a room where I will place all items that I will be taking with me.  You can then mark the door with “DO NOT MOVE” so the packers and/or movers do not pack anything you are planning to keep with you.

 6. Empty the trash! 

I had to put this one on here – comical, yes…if you don’t empty your trashcan, the packers will pack the garbage can with the trash in it!  Don’t believe me?  When your items are delivered after sitting in a storage container for a week in the Carolina heat, you’ll thank me for having gone through it, and you not having to deal with the mess!  Yoooou’re welcome!

5. Have an open mind

Moving can bring out ALL THE EMOTIONS.  It can be exciting, scary, and nerve-wracking all at the same time.  Despite moving 8 times in the past decade, I can’t say these feelings go away.  I will say, the more experience, the somewhat easier it becomes to manage your expectations.  

TIP:  Explore the area virtually – I hop on to google maps and look at the areas, that being said, one of the best resources you have is your fellow military spouse cohort / military family – ask about on base living and the best / most popular areas to live off base and get to google-mapping AND of course, most importantly, check to see where the nearest Target is.  

4. Document

Back to the actual moving process – DOCUMENT your items.  If you have valuables you are taking with you on your move – lock them in your car.  It’s not that I am untrusting all the time… okay, maybe a little.. but for good reason.  My husband had quite a few things disappear when he moved from NC to England; typically, you will be reimbursed for items that do not show up at the destination, HOWEVER, my husband didn’t have proof he even had these items.  These items were not documented on his packing list and he did not have photos to back-up the fact that he did indeed possess these items. 

 TIP: Take photos and/or videos of your items; not only will this help if something doesn’t show up when you’re unpacking, but will also help serve as proof of the condition of your items prior to the move in case items are damaged.  If you can, take valuables / sentimental pieces with you!

 3. Search for an online community

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had questions answered and been able to get a “feel” for an area by finding an online community in the area.

 TIP: Search Facebook for “Spouse” or “Wives” groups for the particular base you’ll be moving to.  You can get great ideas on employment opportunities, physicians, things to do -- the good, the bad and the ugly.

2. Have healthy food & snacks on hand 

Yes, you know me… I wouldn’t neglect throwing in a shameless plug for nutrition; in all seriousness, as you’ll be busy packing, monitoring and moving, you’ll want to have some easy/healthy items to be able to grab on the go to fuel that body body!

TIP: For meals, my staple for our family is a rotisserie chicken and steamable veggies (found in the freezer section of the grocery store), almond butter and banana sandwiches on whole wheat have been life-savers when in a pinch.

For snacks, apples, bananas, veggies and hummus or guac individual-sized cups, lean deli meat & string cheese, protein bars, and protein shake are my go-to.

Extra credit: It’s always good to have some bottled water on hand and for travel as well!

1.  Expect the unexpected

Can we say, “hashtag military life”?!  Yes, we sure can – and you likely have experienced this even if you’re new to the military spouse life.  Expect changes in dates, times, and even locations… expect things to not go exactly as planned… expect things may break, things may go missing, and things may get damaged. 

I am not trying to be a Negative Nancy here, but the absolute, 100% best tip I can give you is to TRY to find humor in the things you can’t control that don’t go as planned.  This is your story, and it surely is an adventure you’ll look back on someday and say, “Heck yes, I survived.”  Wear these accomplishments with pride! 

I’d love to hear your tips about your PCS or relocating experiences.

Rachael MeyerComment